How Long Should You Meditate For?

Amber Murphy
Amber Murphy

Chances are someone already told you how great meditation is and that you should try it. Meditation has only recently become a trendy habit among people from all around the world. Still, the reality is that it has been around for centuries, and its benefits have been enjoyed, especially in the Eastern world. Many people are now benefiting from meditation, as it can help to reduce stress, achieve serenity, and heal naturally. So yes, the benefits of meditating are several well-known, and with the stressful lifestyles many of us are leading, some time off the world can only do good. But the reality is that we are living in a world where stress and work seem to go hand in hand and where life seems to run at a pace that doesn’t allow us to access our inner pace. All the responsibilities on top of you and your daily preoccupations might not leave space to meditation nor yoga. But do you have to set apart the right amount of time to meditate effectively? In this essential guide, we will answer the fundamental question many ask themselves: “how long should you meditate to see results?”.

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Why do people give up on meditation?

Many don’t even consider starting meditation with the excuse that they don’t have time to dedicate to it. Others simply think that only yogis or hippies do it, as “they have nothing else to do.” Well, as you might guess, such claims are wrong. Meditation is something that everyone can benefit from, you only have to do it in the right way to see the benefits.

In reality, the most practical reason why many feel they cannot meditate is that after a while, they get bored or tired of practicing. Indeed, it can be extremely challenging to start meditating, especially when practicing for more extended periods. You are trying to deal with your mind and thoughts, which you would surprise to learn is not something we are very used to do. But will progress in meditation only come if you should meditate for more extended periods to see some progress?

You will find out that meditation can be more accessible than what you thought. Keep reading to discover everything you should know about the meditation practice and its duration as well as how to measure your progress without getting things wrong.

How long should you meditate for?

Woman sitting in field, meditating

This is arguably one of the most asked questions for everyone interested to start meditation. With much-praising meditation, from millionaires to celebrities, it is common to be curious about it for its several benefits. As said before, many are concerned not to have enough time to spend in “clearing up your mind.” The reality is that no matter how much time you spend meditating, everything can be helpful if done correctly. After all, something is better than nothing, right?

For those looking to a straight-up answer to the question “how long should you meditate for?”, unfortunately, there is no such thing.

Let’s be honest about it: there have been several studies on meditation. Different institutes have come up with different ideas about the standard (or ideal) duration of a meditation session. But let’s summarize the most exciting findings.

Some claim that when you have enough experience, the optimal length of time to meditate is 40 to 45 minutes every day, broken into two daily sessions of 20 minutes each. Others suggest that shorter sessions of 10 to 15 minutes during the day can be more productive. But the real answer regarding how long you should meditate for is that it depends on you. Meditation’s success and benefit do not rely on numbers. Instead, it depends on the person’s intention. This is why it is best to meditate for as long as you can and how long it makes you comfortable. Finally, it also depends on the types of meditation you are practicing. A Vipassana meditation practice might be longer than a Loving-kindness meditation practice.

Of course, if you are just starting, start with baby steps. Even 5 minutes might seem very long when trying to meditate, trust me!

How long should you meditate for? If you’re just starting out and learning, start with 5-10 minutes a day. As you gain more experience and comfort with the practice, increase to 20 minutes a day.

How long you should meditate for depends on your experience

Even if it sounds easy, sitting quietly for prolonged periods is not as simple.

Try to set some time for yourself to dedicate to meditation, but keep in mind that initially, your mind might not be ready to work for longer sessions. To start with, spending 5 minutes per day will be more than enough. When you feel ready, you can gradually increase the duration. Concentrating can be hard, and as a beginner, you can try practicing several times per day for a few minutes to gain some familiarity with the practice.

After gaining reasonable control over your thoughts during meditation, you can try to practice for up to 20 minutes per session. You’ll notice that you are ready to progress when you can concentrate after a few minutes of warm-up.

Those who are more experienced with meditation can do it for even longer than 30 minutes and start concentrating after a few seconds. Of course, if you are just beginning, imposing yourself to meditate for so long can only be counterproductive. Remember that those who can sit still for long have trained little by little for years to get to where they are now.

Don’t worry about how much time you spend meditating. Your commitment to the practice will lead to great results and will make you continue progressing. What’s more important when you’re learning to meditate and just starting out is frequency. The more consistent you are, and the longer you stick with the practice, the more success you’ll have.

Finally, if you go on a meditation retreat, you’ll find yourself meditating for hour long chunks, several times a say. So the optimal length also depends on your goal and commitment.

Minimum meditation length to see benefits

Man sitting on edge of cliff, overlooking clouds in the distance

As mentioned, no matter the amount of time you have at disposal, meditation can be useful if you do it with the right mindset and intentionally. To get the most out of it, you should try to practice meditation daily if you can. Instead of focusing on how much time you are meditating for, you should assess the quality of your sessions, to have an opinion on their effectiveness. You might want to clarify to yourself the results you are looking for from meditation to have a better view of your progress. Do you want to meditate to find your inner peace or to reduce anxiety or stress? Or are you meditating to find deeper meaning? With clear goals in mind, you will have an easier time to achieve the results you are looking for.

The scientific benefits of meditation, and studies around it, show that as little as 20 minutes per day of meditation can result in considerable benefits, including the enhancement of brain function and the improvement of your overall mental health. Start with little time, and gradually increase the duration of your session when you feel more comfortable. Indeed, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of meditation no matter your sessions’ duration.

All you need to do is to sit in a comfortable meditation posture, somewhere rather quiet and close your eyes. Remember that there is not one single way deemed right when it comes to meditation. People are different and need different times to get familiar with meditating. To start with, aim to gain awareness about your mind and thoughts and don’t push yourself too far. A few minutes a day are more than enough. Also, to keep focus and to reach results. Don’t forget to have it very clear what is that you want to achieve with meditation.

The bottom line

People who decide to meditate do so for different reasons. Meditation teaches patience and acceptance, but most of all, it brings out the best version of yourself: more relaxed, gentler, and kinder. But also more connected with yourself, therefore more aware of your actions and thoughts.

It might be worth stressing that you will not see results immediately: patience is key with meditation. For those asking themselves how long enough it is for meditation sessions, the answer is not as simple as you might have wished for.

As you might have learned by now, there is no standard time to guarantee a productive meditation session. Effectiveness lays behind the quality, not quantity. If you can, meditate when you are sure you won’t have to deal with interruptions or outside noise. Many prefer meditating in the morning or before going to bed, but if you can, try to incorporate short sessions throughout your day to clear up your mind and release some of the stress.

Remember that everyone is different, with unique strengths and weaknesses, and a personality that might require different session durations. Thus, it is hard to give you clear guidelines on the ideal meditation session, as it all comes down to your own needs and patience.

Try not to be too tough on yourself and be aware that meditating can be a challenge, especially for beginners. If you feel you don’t have enough time for meditation, do it for 2-5 minutes a day, whenever you can, and with consistency, you’ll start seeing results.

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