If you are brand new to meditation, start here.
This is a question I have asked myself for years. I don’t think there is one right answer that will serve everyone, but rather, it is based on personal preferences and current lifestyle. I have read many different opinions on the subject, and it seems that anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes a day are recommended.
A Personal Preference
I have found that 20 minutes a day seems to be the optimal amount of meditation time for me. Twenty minutes is a period of time in which I can really feel the benefits of meditation, but also feels accessible. Twenty minutes doesn’t take away too much from the time available in the day to get things done.
I personally like to do my own silent meditation for a period of 20 minutes in the mornings, after I have spent about the same amount of time doing yoga. This is a habit I have been working on developing for a long time.
I find that yoga and meditation go hand in hand. I practice yoga not only to get in a good stretch and for the mental and other health benefits, but because it prepares me for my meditation session. I hate to not have time after doing yoga to meditate. Not that yoga is ever a waste, but it feels slightly cheapened to me if I don’t get at the very least 5 minutes afterwards for meditation.
If I didn’t plan out the day well enough to get in a full 20 minutes, a session lasting 5 or 10 minutes is better than nothing. Especially if you are brand new to meditation, starting out with just a few minutes a day is a great way to get started.
If I lay down to meditate on a weekend day, without the constraints of time, I tend to fall asleep and could end up laying there for 40 minutes to an hour. As awesome as an hour of meditation a day probably is, I am not at a place in my life where I feel the desire or need to dedicate a full hour to meditation. I would say the vast majority of people probably feel the same way. Just carving out 20 uninterrupted minutes is a major challenge, but the benefits are worth it.
How to Time Meditation
Until a few days ago I would meditate in the mornings until an alarm went off on my phone. This is my last chance alarm before I have to get to work. Although I recently changed the ringtone to “chimes” so it would be a bit more soothing, it is still a ringtone. Everyone knows a ringtone can put you on edge, especially if it is one that is interrupting something relaxing, such as sleep.
I found that I started to anticipate the ringtone during my meditation. The other drawback of using a traditional alarm is that it doesn’t go away until you turn it off. So rather than gradually coming out of a great meditation session, you have to open your eyes to swipe the alarm off on your phone. Not very zen.
I downloaded a free meditation timer app on my phone a while back, but never took the time to explore it in depth until the other day. The app is called “meditation timer”. I found it by just searching in the app store on my iPhone for “meditation timer”.
This app has all the options I think a meditation timer would need. You can set any duration of time that you would like to meditate for and set a preparation time duration, which defaults to 10 seconds. The app also allows you to select your preferred alert sound to start and end the session. I am currently using the “bell” sound, set to chime 3 times when I start and end meditating.
Don’t Worry, the Clock Didn’t Break
As much as I say I believe 20 minutes is the ideal time for meditation, I was surprised to find that I felt the app wasn’t working the first time I used it, because it seemed like such an insanely long period of time. I kept thinking about checking my phone, but then told myself not to. I finally gave in and looked at the timer on my phone when it said there was only one second remaining! I felt pretty silly, but wanted to point that out because I think that could happen to someone else.
The next day that I used it, the 20 minutes still felt like a really long time, but I resisted the temptation to check the time and just tried to really enjoy the time of silence. Sure enough, it went off at 20 minutes. I am here to say that the app works, and 20 minutes may indeed feel like a crazy long time even if you have meditated before.
This also helps to reaffirm my belief that 20 minutes is plenty of time for me to meditate. There are days when it feels like it goes by more quickly. Generally this is just the right amount of time for me, as it allows me to go into a deep state of relaxation and stay there for what feels like an extended period of time.
Whatever amount of time you choose to start with, any amount of time spent in meditation is helping to make your whole life better. I could not believe this more strongly. Meditation time is allowing creative ideas to develop, and increasing your power to bring your dreams into reality. We just have to patiently wait and work for it.
How much time do you prefer to spend meditating?
image credit: The Kelee