Meditation is the art of contemplating. A lot of people show interest in it, until they get bored and move on. So, it is important that newcomers get the answers they are looking for. These questions, if answered properly, could direct a person to a peaceful and happy life.
How Long You Should Meditate
The most important thing to be started is to find a duration that seems achievable, and that keeps you motivated. Without that, it will never be part of an established daily routine. It’s also important to remember that when it comes to awareness and compassion, quality always takes precedence over quantity. So, it’s better to actively cultivate these qualities than to sit like a statue wondering when the session will end. Some meditators use light therapy for comfort while meditating to ensure maximum quality, click here to know more.
Yet, what is the optimal amount of meditation? Well, science is still working on this equation. Many of the recent results seem to indicate consistency rather than duration. So, 10 minutes a day, every day of the week, will probably be much more beneficial than 70 minutes a day of the week.
It also reflects traditional meditation teachings, which obviously respect the value of long sessions in specific settings and for those who are very experienced as well as those who most of the time foster a “few and often” attitude. This bite-size approach helps us discover the stability of consciousness in our daily lives, rather than just an isolated practice that we practice and abandon.
As for the last question: not wanting to sit on the fence, it’s all a matter of balance. If the session seems unbearable and continues to feel unbearable, and we cannot discover the source of this resistance, then this is not a time well spent.
At the same time, it is often in these most difficult sessions that we discover the best of ourselves. But alone time is unlikely to be a good judge of that. So, I recommend that you stay at your sweet spot, 15 minutes, a little over 10 minutes to make it seem difficult, but not as much as 20 minutes to seem unnecessary or demotivating. Does this sound like a plan?
Apply Mindfulness Practices to You Daily Life
You should also try to work as much as possible and integrate mindfulness into your daily life, not just reserving 10 minutes a day in fixed time slots. Ideally, and in its purest form, meditation should be something that we regularly do at every moment of awakening. It helps to be present and attentive to thoughts, feelings, sensations, etc.
For those of us in the West who live hectic and busy lives, this is easier said than done. However, there are many ways to incorporate mindfulness into small daily tasks.
Try to be careful when doing small tasks that you can typically “misplace,” such as even washing up. Try to “register” and pay attention to the sensations of hot water, the sounds of hitting the water, etc.
Whenever you are inevitably waiting for something (for example, queues, traffic jams, meeting rooms), try to activate your attention. Try not to ruminate or dream, but to be present in front of sensations, sounds, thoughts, etc.
Do the same when you are walking somewhere. Instead of getting lost in your thoughts, try to familiarize yourself with the feeling of your feet on the ground, noises like passing cars, the wind blowing on your skin, etc.
Try to look at it like this: “These things take your time anyway, you can also use that time effectively to better train your mind to be present and aware.” Find some time to spend time closed to nature and animals while paying attention to completely natural images, sounds or things.
Regular meditation will also help you to detect more quickly. Even when you are not in this conscious state in everyday life, when your mind has drifted towards thoughts, memories, dreams, etc. You can quickly go back to the present moment.
It is difficult to do this consistently unless we live in a monastery, but anything that we can do every day with our formal practice will be useful.
Formal practice is excellent in the early stages to train us in awareness at all times so that we can more easily activate it in daily life.
Proper Meditation for Best Outcome
As mentioned earlier, quality matters more than how long you should meditate. Here are some quick tips for proper meditation, to make sure you make the most of your time. The amount of meditation may be necessary, but the quality of the meditation you do is even more so.
Let’s see some tips for meditating effectively:
- Find a calm and comfortable space where you will not be interrupted.
- Turn off all phones, TVs, computers, etc. Eliminate all distractions.
- Concentrate on real observation of reality as it is, on breathing, sensations, ascending/descending abdomen, etc. Try to be constantly present in the moment, not just “rolling” the 1 0 minutes you plan to do, but really not being there.
- Whenever the mind wanders, do not see it as a mistake, because that is what the spirits will always do.
- Try not to “force” breathing, but let it breathe on its own. Just try to observe what is there, even if sometimes it is nothing.
- The critical thing for mindfulness is not to wander, it is to notice it and to draw attention to the moment that builds the “muscle” of mindfulness and concentration.
- There are times when some people are just too restless or their minds too restless to meditate. Acknowledge this and return to meditation at another time.
- Check out our mindfulness resources page for a great series of introductory meditations to get started.