Meditation can become an important part of any lifestyle or routine.
Are you wondering how long you should meditate? You’re not alone.
Millions of people have embraced this ancient practice and millions more are thinking about it right now.
One of the biggest obstacles that people face when first beginning to meditate is the length of time it requires.
There is really no set answer as to how long someone must meditate to begin experiencing the benefits of this practice.
It all depends on the personal needs which must be met, how much time is available, and what kind of environment the meditation time occurs.
Length of meditation is important, but so is the quality of the meditation.
Meditating for 45 minutes with constant interruptions and distractions may not be as beneficial as meditating for 15 minutes without any distractions.
If you want to know how long you should be meditating, then here are some helpful tips that can help you achieve the best results from your time.
This way you can meet your own unique needs and maximize the time you do have to meditate.
#1. You Don’t Have To Meditate Just Once
How many times per day should you meditate?
I generally meditate about 15 minutes per meditation session and meditate 2x per day.
Sometimes I feel like meditating for longer periods of time, say between 30-45 minutes for both meditation sessions.
I don’t usually meditate for longer than an hour in a single session.
This is what works for me.
Dual daily meditation sessions may not be right for everyone. You might also find that having more than 2 sessions in a day is a better structure for your day.
What’s nice about meditating is that whatever time you spend during the day is cumulative.
Meditating for 20 minutes 3x per day is equal to someone meditating just once, but for an hour in that extended session.
This means you can fit meditation into the breaks you have in your schedule pretty easily.
If you get two 15 minute breaks at work during the day and an hour lunch break, then you could meditate for 10 minutes during those break periods and wind up with 30 minutes of meditation time without any other changes to your routine.
#2. You Shouldn’t Feel Pressured
Meditation helps to relieve stress.
The amount of time one meditates shouldn’t cause anxiety.
Instead of setting a specific time limit, results tend to be better when you allow a meditation session to resolve on its own naturally.
This means if you are a very structured person who depends on routines, having a 15 minute meditation session which works with your current schedule can be a good thing.
If you’re a creative person who has an unstructured schedule, then a 30 minute meditation session today and a 10 minute session tomorrow might be equally beneficial.
If you feel that you’re putting pressure on yourself to make it to a certain time while meditating, then it is better to stop short of your time goal.
Sometimes just meditating for four minutes, as long as they are an undisturbed four minutes, can be just what your mind and body needs.
#3. Challenge Yourself
One of the most common reasons why meditation doesn’t happen or doesn’t happen as long as it could is because we feel like we must meditate in a certain way in a certain place.
We imagine someone sitting in the lotus position in a beautiful valley, surrounded by sunshine, and the birds are singing pop tunes in the background.
In an ideal situation, the lotus position does an excellent job of limiting physical distractions. Yet every person is unique.
There are many ways you can incorporate meditation into your daily habits. People meditate in the shower. They meditate in bed right after they wake up.
Some people meditate while walking a nature trail.
There are no set rules here, so challenge yourself to try something new if you’re struggling to find time to mediate each day.
You might find yourself getting into a longer meditation time that better fits your needs.
#4. Set Realistic Expectations
There are two things that can prematurely kill a meditation session consistently: boredom and unrealistic expectations.
Boredom occurs most often because of the nature of our society.
We are constantly bombarded with stimulation.
From the need to get through emails to watching our favorite TV shows to overnight deliveries from our favorite online stores, we have been conditioned to want everything right now.
Meditation doesn’t work that way.
Although it only takes 4 days in a row of meditating for about 20 minutes each time to begin experiencing the physical benefits of this practice, that’s a long time to wait today.
Why meditate when you can just drink a Red Bull and get stuff done?
Overcoming boredom can be difficult.
Not only does it take willpower to be still, but there must also be an element of willingness.
If you’re not willing to let go of your distractions, your immediate gratifications, and your current lifestyle, then meditation isn’t going to be able to help much.
On the other end of this spectrum are the unrealistic goals we set for ourselves when first beginning to meditate.
If you’re not used to dedicating 30 minutes 2x per day toward monitoring your breathing and listening to or labeling your innermost thoughts, then a better goal would be to build up to that level.
Try 15 minutes 2x per day instead. Or try 5 minutes 3x per day.
Or just do 2 minutes once per day.
When your goal is to build up from this introductory level of meditation, as long as you do a little bit better each day, you’ll be well on your way to knowing what length of time is going to be right for you.
#5. Tag It On
Let’s say that part of your morning routine includes a 15 minute shower. Guess what? You could spend 5 minutes getting clean and 10 minutes meditating.
Maybe you have an afternoon tea when you get home from work every day.
You’re already taking time for yourself. Tag on your meditating to this time and you’ll likely get another 10 minutes.
You’ve just added 20 minutes of meditation to your schedule without much effort at all.
For those who really struggle to establish a consistent time of mediation every day, tagging it onto their already relaxing activities is a great way to make meditation enjoyable.
It eliminates the idea that you’re robbing yourself of personal time, gives you the chance to experience meditation’s benefits, and it becomes fun because you’re already doing something fun.
Now if you find driving fun, maybe don’t start meditating while you’re driving. Be safe about how you tag meditation onto things.
In doing so, you might find that getting up to 1 hour of meditation 2x per day isn’t as hard as you originally thought it would be.
#6. The Style of Meditation Matters
When we discuss meditation, the idea that many people have is that there is this one general concept we’re talking about.
Everyone meditates in generally the same way… right?
There are 100+ different types of meditation that can be individually practiced.
Out of that number, there are more than 20 different types that are regularly practiced today.
What is often pictured as the “only” type of meditation is called “zen meditation.”
One thought or one task is examined at a time in a comfortable position.
When you’re told to focus on your breathing, this is zen meditation being discussed.
This type of meditation needs a good 15-20 minutes once or twice per day for maximum benefit.
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of finding the perfection in every moment we experience.
Tastes, sounds, and feelings are all part of this practice. Mindfulness is one part attitude and one part meditation, so you could realistically practice this form all day long.
Loving Kindness meditation is more about giving than receiving.
Practitioners choose to look at the good moments of their lives, but then extend those feelings of wellbeing into blessings for their family and friends.
Mantra meditation is another interesting method and it works well for those who feel like they need to be doing something more than just sitting around and breathing for awhile.
A mantra is a single word, phrase, or series of words and phrases that are repeated over and over again. Here’s a fun fact: saying the Catholic rosary is actually a form of mantra meditation.
Now here’s the best part of all this: you can pick and choose elements of any or all of these forms of meditation and all of the others not mentioned here to create your own unique style.
Many people incorporate mantras into zen meditation.
Practicing loving kindness meditation after mindfulness is also quite common. It all depends on what you’re passionate about.
When you find your passion, you’ll find that the time requirements for meditation stop mattering so much.
Instead of it feeling like a job, it feels more like part of your life story.
#7. What Is Your Purpose?
There are many reasons why people choose to embrace meditation.
Some want lower levels of stress. Others are looking to tap into their deep creative centers. These are all specific ways to describe what the overall purpose of meditation happens to be: to find your balance.
Finding your personal balance depends on what is going on in life.
If life is pretty stress-free because you are playing video games throughout the day, having takeout provided for free at night, and someone is paying all your expenses, then you may not need much time dedicated to meditation.
Your life is pretty much already in a balanced zone.
For someone working 10 hours days, cooking dinner at home every night, taking the kids to school every morning, and scheduling doctor appointments between soccer practice, gymnastics, and trying to clean the house, then this is a person who is struggling with their balance.
More time with meditation will be required to achieve the best results possible.
How long should I meditate? It’s an interesting question at this key point.
Think about what your life has going on. For every hour you don’t get to take time for yourself, a good rule of thumb is to give yourself 5 minutes of meditation to help balance things out.
For the 10 hour working parent with 2 additional hours of responsibilities, 12×5 = 60 minutes of meditation for balance.
For the person living at home with no responsibilities except the 20 minutes it takes them to prepare breakfast and lunch, then 2 minutes of meditation per day might be enough to achieve balance.
A word of caution: if you are putting in days that are longer than 12 hours, then sleep may be more important than meditation at the end of the day.
Try to schedule meditation time in the morning instead. Otherwise you might find yourself falling asleep as you count your breaths.
#8. Can You Meditate Too Much?
The answer to this is “sometimes.”
It all depends on what is going on in one’s personal life.
If there are some emotional instability issues because some locked away issues are seeing the light of day, then the benefits of meditation could be happening too quickly.
We all lock painful memories away. The only problem is that these memories don’t go away. They stick around until we’re ready to begin dealing with them.
This means the length of time you meditate is up to what you’re feeling up to doing.
If 15 minutes of meditation is causing you to cry more, get angry more, or it makes you lose your conscious focus, then maybe knock it down to 10 minutes to see if your balance improves.
Maybe I’ve created more questions than answers for you today.
It would be nice to say, “Meditate for 20 minutes twice per day and you’ll experience awesome results!”
It is entirely possible this could happen. It is also possible that it could be too much time or too little time.
The first step in deciding how long you should meditate is to determine the type or types of meditation you intend to practice.
Then consider how out of balance your life happens to be right now when it comes to taking time for yourself.
Combine those two components together and you’ll begin to create the recipe needed to determine how long you should meditate to receive the best possible results.
Listen to your body and you’ll find the answer that works best for you.