"How often do I have to meditate to get the benefits?"
This is a common question among beginners.
Truth is, to become good at meditation and get the most out of your practice, you have to do high-quality meditation every day.
Quality vs. Quantity
Whether it’s learning an instrument, learning a new language, or learning to meditate, it takes practice to master.
Often, the amount of practice is not as important as the quality of the practice sessions.
For example, getting ten minutes of high-quality meditation practice is better than 30 minutes of unfocused practice.
(Moreover, the unfocused practice usually makes more harm than good because the brain gets wired for mind-wandering instead of focused attention.)
Quality is not measured by how often you lose focus during a session, but rather how many of these times you bring your attention back.
If you spend your whole session thinking about everything that stresses you, then that’s low-quality practice. On the other hand, if you bring your attention back whenever your mind wanders, that’s high-quality meditation.
The takeaway here is that you should make your practice sessions as high-quality as possible.
Consistency Is Key
Another thing to consider is the consistency of your practice.
You probably know that repetition is vital for learning. That’s why the best way to master a skill is by practicing it every day. Actually, the amount of practice is less important than the consistency of your practice.
By continuously practicing meditation for a long period of time, you will get better results compared to practicing only once in a while.
This means that you will get the best results if you practice daily.
However, missing a day or two will not affect your practice negatively as long as you get back to your practice schedule as soon as possible.
So, What’s the Right Amount of Time to Meditate?
It’s better to meditate often and for short sessions than the opposite.
Of course, depending on your goals and other commitments in life, the amount of practice you can get will vary. If possible, meditate multiple times daily for about 15 minutes every time.
Some people have the opportunity to meditate several times a day, others only once a day. Your sweet spot is not the same as mine. And that’s perfectly fine.
Meditate as much as you like, and don’t overthink it. Find what works for you and stick to it!
Tips for Establishing a Daily Meditation Routine
"OK, I know I should meditate every day, but how do I make it a habit?" I hear you ask.
No need to worry. Here are my best tips for establishing a daily meditation routine.
- Have the right attitude. The first step towards making meditation part of your daily routine is to have the right attitude towards it. You want to take your practice seriously, but yourself less so. Don’t aim for perfection in the beginning and remember to smile often.
- A few minutes of meditation is better than nothing. If you can’t find time for meditation, remember that practicing for a few minutes is better than nothing. Try these two-minute mindfulness exercises for inspiration.
- Meditate first thing in the morning. When we say "I’ll do it later", it will almost certainly not get done. By beginning your day meditating, you make meditation a top priority. It’s also an excellent way to center yourself for the day ahead.
- Integrate it into your daily routine. Pick a habit that you do every day (for example brushing your teeth) and meditate afterward. Using a habit already in your routine to trigger a new habit helps it stick.
- Find a good teacher. A good teacher can inspire you to practice. The teacher can also help you if you get stuck.
- Know your “why". Why do you practice meditation in the first place? To feel calmer? To get better focus? Or something else? Knowing the reason for your practice can be a huge motivational factor.
Even if you don’t have time to meditate for more than once a day, try to be mindful as often as possible.