How Much Time Should I Meditate for it to be Effective?

The Benefits of Meditation Are Well Established, Both Scientifically And Anecdotally.

Whether it’s mindfulness meditation, Taoist or Zen meditation, or transcendental meditation, those who practice it daily report lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, and greater feelings of peace and serenity.

Meditation improves concentration and mental clarity – and who can’t use more of that?

How to Meditate Effectively

How often, and how long, do you need to meditate for it to be effective? Different schools of thought exist on this question.

One commonly held belief is that you should meditate for 20 minutes, twice a day, to achieve maximum benefit. However, just as someone new to jogging wouldn’t start out by running a 5K, those new to meditating generally do better by working their way up to longer stretches.

Meditate — Even If You’re a Beginner!

For beginners, “Shorter is better,” says Wendy Suzuki, a professor of neural science and psychology at New York University. A self-described “yo-yo meditator,” Suzuki explained to Big Think that her early attempts were thwarted by trying to meditate for too long in one sitting.

Instead, 10 minutes at a time may be all that’s necessary for those new to meditation. Other experts recommend starting out in even smaller increments: Five minutes or less.

“The most important thing is to just start,” Morgan Dix, co-founder of AboutMeditation and the OneMind Meditation podcast, told “The next most important thing is to be consistent…. The way I see it is, 5 minutes is 100% more than no minutes.”

The Key to Meditation

The key, many experts say, is to meditate every day.

Meditating for 10 minutes a day, seven days a week, will have far greater benefit than meditating for 70 minutes, once a week.

The reason is twofold.

  • First, forming a habit takes repeated and regular reinforcement; infrequent practice seldom yields mastery of anything.
  • Second, once we acquire the habit of meditating, we begin to experience its benefits in purging our minds of the stress, worry, and fear that build up over the course of a day.

It’s the same way with sleep: We can’t stay up 24 hours a day for five days, and save all our sleeping for the weekend. We need it every day.

Whatever your experience level, experts agree, do what works for you. Meditation isn’t homework. The goal is simply to feel better.

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