Meditation can help with stress reduction, improving your health and well-being. Meditation has a learning curve, and there is no rulebook to reference. You’ll find that when you limit yourself to rules, meditation can start to feel like more of a chore than a graceful act. So, how long should you meditate for?
The perfect length of time to meditate for is however long you can withstand it. For more advanced practitioners, meditating for more than one hour can become counterproductive. The best practice would be to meditate how long you wish but no longer than one hour.
How to Approach Meditation
The benefits of meditation are endless. From clearing the mind to getting in touch with your soul, you’ll find there aren’t limits.
The idea that you need to meditate for a certain amount of time should be approached with caution. Meditating for longer periods of time may seem beneficial but you risk becoming addicted to the feeling of meditation rather than experiencing it as the tool as it is.
Meditation is a fleeting experience if you are only chasing the feelings that a session can bring. You’ll encounter various experiences while meditating ranging from utter bliss to feeling full of sorrow, and the primary wisdom is that these feelings will pass.
Being perfectly centered during a meditation session teaches you that at the moment, no matter how you feel, that it is all part of the journey. The essential human experience is experiencing all ranges of emotions from ecstasy to sorrow. After a few dozen meditation sessions, these life lessons will become apparent.
Instead of trying to run from your emotions and internal life conflicts, meditation gives them to you on a silver platter. Digging through months and years of internal battles may be overwhelming in the beginning but over time you’ll become adjusted to facing the demons within.
Understanding first exactly how meditation teaches you through experience is going to be vital to know how long you should meditate for.
What Happens When You Meditate for a Long Time?
The perfect amount of time to meditate is however long you can manage at first. In the beginning, it can be hard to even sit still for a minute or two.
Begin by sitting down and seeing how many minutes of meditations you can keep focus on your breath. If you start to feel overwhelmed, then stop immediately. The next time you begin meditating, try to last just that little bit longer.
It’s a marathon, not a race.
It can be frustrating not understanding why meditation doesn’t work for you in the beginning, it can take some time.
Your only goal is to actually sit down and practice, nothing more.
When you meditate for longer periods of time, there is less work being done. Instead of a sharp mind, the mind transitions into a more dreamy state. While it does sound enticing, the only thing you’re doing is chasing the dragon.
Instead of meditation being utilized for centering yourself or releasing inner conflict, it begins to resemble a chase for euphoria. Meditation should be used wisely and with purpose rather than just a method for you to “feel good”.
I would recommend sessions no longer than 1 hour, any longer than that and you risk putting your good intentions in jeopardy. If you would like to continue meditating for longer periods of time, ensure that you get up and reorient yourself every hour or so. If you’re not careful, you’ll wonder how you fell asleep the next day!
Let the Journey Unfold
When you begin your journey into meditation it is vital to remember that there are no specific answers to your questions.
Everyone will go through their own experience which unfolds uniquely.
Instead of focusing on how often you should meditate in a week, let yourself decide that answer. If you only ever feel like meditating once per week or it becomes too uncomfortable for you, there is no reason to use force.
As someone who has meditated for over a decade, I find myself in a back-and-forth relationship with meditation. I do not force myself to meditate every day nor do I have a specific amount of time I meditate for. I find that when I do force myself to meditate, the results aren’t quite what I was hoping for.
The importance of meditation isn’t on the session itself, it is bringing the lessons that meditation shows you back into your reality. Over time you will start realizing you have become more grounded, centered, and less attached to thoughts that would usually ruin your day. This is what your meditation journey is about.
Like a Feather
What does a feather look like when it’s in the air?
It floats without resistance.
The same idea should be applied to your meditation sessions. In the first few sessions, you might experience your mind wandering and give up before you see any results. The fruits are there to be taken, it requires some patience.
Instead of forcing yourself to be a certain way while you are meditating, let the moment breathe through you.
If you have a busy schedule, are anxious about a circumstance, or feeling down, embrace these moments for what they are.
Meditation is forcing you to look at the current state of your mind. It’s common to want to run away and distract yourself but when you sit down for a session, there is nothing left to be distracted from.
Don’t view meditation as something that is inherently painful or daunting, meditation wants to show you how to be still.
Walk into your present moment as much as you can.
This will be your key to fully utilizing your meditation sessions. Instead of looking at it as some chore that is bothersome, start seeing the magic. I promise you if you stick with it for a month or two of regular practice you will start to see why everyone is constantly recommending meditation is one of the best tools to ease the mind.
It all starts with the feather. Be the feather, float.
Should I Find a Meditation Teacher?
If you’re having difficulty experiencing mindfulness meditation, it can be beneficial for you to hire a meditation teacher. Learning how to incorporate balance into your meditation sessions can be helpful.
You’ll learn mindfulness and be introduced to breathing meditation. Some people find difficulty in beginning their journey into meditation exercises. If that’s you, then the result of working with a qualified teacher will be immense.
Ask any question you may have, meditation is not naturally intuitive for everyone. Learning how to begin a meditation practice will be worthwhile for any hopeful meditator.
Bringing It Together
Your meditation experience is anything you want it to be. If you can only practice for five quality minutes at a time, that’s enough. There isn’t a magic number to focus on. The main results of meditation can start to be felt after a few sessions have been done and the sensation of being centered comes into awareness.
If you are more trained in meditation, do not try to meditate for longer than an hour and think that there may be some secret to be found. Everything is already here, in the present moment. Utilize your sharp mind instead of it turning into a dull-dream during your longer sessions. Get up and go for a walk if you would like to meditate for longer periods of time.
Remember that meditation is a graceful act like a feather floating. Using a strict set of guidelines to try and have a “good” meditation session will only frustrate you further. Be open, be kind to yourself and meditation will take care of the rest.