How Long Should I Meditate?

In this article we'll address one of the most common questions for any meditator: How long should you meditate.

While there is no single answer to this question, there are some best practices in terms of meditation length. To help you figure out what meditation length is ideal for you, we'll look at a few factors to take into account. They are:

  • Your desired goals around meditating. Specifically what are you looking to solve with meditation - it it more peace, prosperity, love, self-realization? ​
  • Your day-to-day schedule, both work and personal.​
  • The current length you are meditating. Don't worry if you aren't meditating...we'll talk about how to overcome this.
  • Creating a Meditation Habit​

    In today’s hectic world, our schedules often compete with our ability to meditate. If you are struggling to meditate don’t feel discouraged. Even meditators who’ve been meditating for years can struggle to find time to sit.  In my own meditation practice, I’ve experienced many periods where I struggled to find time to meditate, or where I needed to cut my meditation short for a work or personal reasons.

    Therefore it’s important to emphasize a key point:

    It’s far better to meditate for a single minute, then to not meditate at all.​

    In the book Tiny Habits, author BJ Fogg indicates that just a small action can have profound and compounding ripple effect. While meditating one minute a day may not yield the fastest results, you will build the habit and reap the rewards in time. Also, you’ll likely find that the 1 minute you intended to meditate turns into 5, 10 or even 15 minutes. 

    Like exercising or any other good habit you wish to cultivate, getting started is half the battle. Therefore keep yourself accountable to meditate – even if all you can do is 1 minute. 

    Also, next time you tell yourself you don’t have time to meditate – try a simple trick. See if you’re spending time watching television, aimlessly look at your mobile device or gossiping with a friend. If this is the case, then calmly stop yourself and do that single minute of meditation…

    Determine Your Meditation Goals​

    I suggest you check-in with yourself and ask “what am I trying to achieve with meditation?”.

    It’s critical you level set around the personal goals you want to achieve with meditation. For understanding where you want to end up will ultimately determine how much time you need to put in. 

    To illustrate this further, let’s look at the example of someone trying to get fit. A person who wants to be a bodybuilder will have a far different view of fitness than someone who just wants to lose a few pounds. Therefore the bodybuilder will likely spend far more time at the gym then the individual who’s casually looking to get into shape. 

    If you are looking to get to a level of deeper inner peace, love, joy, etc. then you need to put more time in on your meditation. Like anything in life – what you put in is what you get back out. Regardless of what your intention is when you enter meditation – you must hold yourself accountable to  time you devote to getting to the proper level of focus and concentration will . 

    There’s a reason beginning meditators quit. Just like there is a reason people who buy gym memberships in the New Year quit. If you don’t have any goals or outcomes you are holding yourself deeply accountable too, then you will drift along and ultimately quit. So figure out why you want to meditate, picture the outcome you want to achieve and then hold yourself accountable to getting there.

    How Long To Sit In Meditation​

    That said, temper your expectation of what you can achieve based on the current level you are at. Just like someone joining the gym in the new year – doing a 2 hour work out session when you haven’t been to the gym in months will be self-defeating and lead to you getting frustration. 

    While it may not be practical to dedicate a room to just meditate, at minimum you should carve out an area within your house to meditate. Having this dedicated meditation space will have a profound effect on your meditation. For like the altar, it helps inspire and shift you into a meditation mindset.

    Defining a Meditation Schedule​

    Before worrying about how long you should meditate, first figure out when you will meditate. 

    As we discussed, you need to view meditation as the habit it is. Therefore, step one is create a meditation schedule! To get true momentum, your routine should be on a daily basis. Remember one minute a day can be a routine onto if that’s all you can give.

    The next question is when is the best time to meditate. We cover this question in more depth here. Though in summary, the best times of the day to meditate are:

    Right after you wake up​​
    Before you go to sleep​

    While these are the best time to meditate, that’s not to say you can’t meditate at any other point in the day. The key is to meditate when you have uninterrupted time to sit and focus on your meditation practice.

    Focus on Consistency and Quality, Not Duration

    That said, temper your expectation of what you can achieve based on the current level you are at. Just like someone joining the gym in the new year – doing a 2 hour work out session when you haven’t been to the gym in months will be self-defeating and lead to you getting frustration. 

    Brian

    Brian

    Looking to help educate meditators at all levels, Brian is an avid meditator who likes demystifying the art of meditation. He helps provide simple techniques to help office workers, parents, students and those from all walks of life find methods to bring more peace, calm and joy into their life.