How Long Should I Meditate for Maximum Health Benefits?
Think of meditation as a powerful tool that can help you tune into your innate ability to be mindful and present. The experience of meditation is associated with a myriad of health benefits, and that’s one of the main reasons so many people are enthusiastic about the practice.
Whether you’re looking to try something new or you’ve meditated for years, you probably have some questions about this activity. One common question people have is about how long you need to meditate for to reap the maximum health benefits of the practice. Luckily, we’re here to answer that question and more.
Today, we’re going to run through the answers to all of your most pressing meditation questions.
What is Meditation?
We encourage you to think of meditation as a skill. That means that you’ll get better at it as you gain more practice. Most people won’t be “natural” at meditating the moment they begin, but we all have the tools within us to succeed at this practice.
The most important thing is to have patience as you flex this new muscle and refrain from harshly judging yourself. Meditation seems simple, but it can be difficult at first. In the true spirit of the practice, offer yourself grace as you navigate your journey and garner more experience meditating. There are also different types of meditation, so if one doesn’t speak to you, another might.
One of the reasons this wellness practice is so widespread is because it doesn’t require a membership to a fancy gym or a ton of equipment. In fact, you can meditate right in your home, whenever you want. Additionally, you can incorporate it into your daily life and make it part of your routine. There are also several different ways that you can meditate, so if one isn’t working for you, another one might.
How To Learn To Meditate
Learning to meditate can be extremely rewarding. It’s a relatively simple practice, but don’t worry if you struggle the first several times you do it. Like we said, it’s a muscle you need to grow and develop. And we’re here to help you learn how.
The first step to successfully meditating is choosing the correct location to meditate. You should select a spot that’s peaceful and comfortable. That means that a living room surrounded by your talking family members probably isn’t the best spot. That corner of your bedroom with string lights and plants hanging overhead? Perfect.
Once you’ve selected your spot, you can dive into the practice itself. You can choose to sit on the floor, a chair, kneel — as long as it feels comfortable to you, it’s perfect for meditating.
Your next step is to set a time limit. When you’re first starting out, the concept of sitting in one place for an extended period of time can seem daunting or overwhelming.
Eliminate that by choosing an amount of time that feels more realistic, such as five or ten minutes. You will work your way up to longer durations, but don’t pressure yourself right away. Remember: this is supposed to be a relaxing experience!
Next, begin to breathe in and out. Notice the sensation of it entering your physical body and then exiting. You might get distracted with thoughts or observations. That’s normal, but refrain from becoming attached to them. Meditation is about being mindful and letting go — not getting attached.
You might be wondering what exactly mindfulness is. This word refers to the ability to show up in the present moment and be fully engaged in the experience that’s unfolding in front of you. Becoming more mindful is one of meditation’s greatest gifts it gives a person.
After you’ve meditated for your desired amount of time, it’s time to open your eyes (if they’re closed) and gently raise your head. Take a moment to collect yourself and observe how your body and environment feel.
That’s it! Once you’ve followed these steps, you’ve successfully meditated.
What Are Some Potential Health Benefits of Meditating?
There are innumerable health benefits that are associated with meditating. Once you experience for yourself how transformative the practice can be, we’re sure you’re going to be hooked.
Some of the reasons that people choose to meditate include:
- A decreased level of stress
- An improved ability to concentrate
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced anxiety and depression symptoms
A decreased level of stress: When you meditate, you’re essentially choosing to prioritize the here and now over the future or past. You’re showing up for both your body and mind. This can be extremely beneficial when it comes to destressing. Think of meditation as almost a time out. It provides you with the space you need to nurture yourself and slow down.
An improved ability to concentrate: The practice takes concentration, but not in the traditional sense. Meditating allows you to focus inwards and concentrate on what really matters, not the busy noise of everyday life.
Lower blood pressure: Of course, meditating isn’t going to cure high blood pressure, but it can support you on your journey towards a healthier blood pressure level. Meditating in addition to taking care of your body in other ways can prove to be a dynamic combination.
Reduced anxiety and depression symptoms: Did you know that a 2009 study completed by researchers at Stanford University revealed mindfulness meditation can help those with social anxiety? It’s true. Whether you suffer from this type of anxiety or other types of anxiety or depression, meditation can be helpful.
How Long Should I Meditate for Maximum Health Benefits?
There’s a lot of debate regarding how long you should meditate to get the maximum health benefits from the practice. The truth is that there is not a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. We’ll dive into why.
First, we’ll remind you that meditation is supposed to be a restorative, calming experience. If you’re anxious trying to find time to squeeze in an hour long meditation, you’re better off opting for a shorter meditation that won’t stress you out. Meditation is about cultivating mindfulness — not cultivating more anxiety.
Second, we also think it’s important to note that if you can only squeeze in a few minutes a day, that’s certainly better than nothing. We want to encourage you to avoid looking at meditating as something that is only helpful if you do X amount of minutes of it. Any amount of this practice can help you on a journey towards becoming a more mindful, aware individual.
It’s largely assumed that 20 minutes or more of meditating per day will help you get the health benefits that you’re seeking. Still, 10 minutes can prove to be beneficial, too.
Of course, the more time you spend meditating the better you’re going to get at it — it’s just like any other skill, after all. Nevertheless, having realistic expectations is key to getting the most out of your meditation.
In addition to this, you are in charge of the benefits meditation can give you--not the amount of time you spend doing it. If you’re really engaged with the practice and you can only give it 10 minutes, that’s better than spending 40 minutes doing it only half-engaged.
It’s all about the effort that you put into it; remember that!
How Does Meditating Contribute to My Overall Wellbeing?
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Taking a holistic approach to your health is important, and choosing to meditate can help.
If you’re looking to get the full benefits of meditation, just remember that it’s more important to dedicate yourself to the practice and do it everyday than to do it for an extended period of time. Good luck!
What is Meditation | Headspace
How Long Should I Meditate? Long Meditation Sessions | Mind Works
7 Benefits of Meditation, and How It Can Affect Your Brain | Insider
How long should you meditate? -- By Paul Greene, Ph.D. | Manhattan CBT