How many times a day should you meditate? While there is no real ‘should’ most people get the optimal benefits from meditating 1 to 3 times per day for 10 minutes to 40 minutes at a time.
Many studies have been done on meditation and how it affects brain activity and emotional states. Reaching a meditative state, instantly triggers several centers in the brain.
From a physiological point of view, meditation reduces stress by reducing cortisol levels. It also regulates the immune response.
From this point of view, meditating more certainly can increase the benefits. There are limits though and for many yogi’s and monks it is about pushing the limits.
Trying to do ‘too much’ often defeats the purpose. The desire for a specific outcome leads to using force which diminishes the effectiveness of meditation.
One of the great ‘breakthroughs’ in the western world has been the adoption of meditation. This age old ‘religious practise’ was seen as a new age idea not that long ago. It was snubbed by many people because of ignorance.
There are still a lot of preconceived ideas about meditation that are just plain wrong. You do not have to sit in the lotus position with 12 lit candles and a dark room to meditate effectively.
You can meditate while waiting in a que. You can meditate while walking to work. Meditation is all about reaching a mental and emotional state where the mind becomes less dominant.
This means that your thoughts and your emotions take a back seat. At first this is strange because in your day-to-day life, the thoughts and emotions dominate your life.
Every thought leads to another thought and every thought leads to an emotion. Our lives end up being a jumble of thoughts and emotions which ultimately dictates our behaviours.
Finding the perfect meditation routine is deeply personal and is something that will constantly evolve. Let’s briefly look at some ideas around how many times a day you should meditate and how that could look in your every routine.
How Many Times A Day Should You Meditate
Many people want to know how many times a day should you meditate. This question almost always comes from a ‘logical’ thought process that goes something like this:
If you meditate for 10 minutes, you get a benefit of X.
If you meditate for 20 minutes, you get a benefit of 2X.
The idea that you can ‘accelerate’ your results by doing more is a very logical way of looking at things. We tend to think that doing more or trying harder is the solution to ‘speed up’ the process of getting what we really want.
This is your analytical mind at work. That is what it is designed to do. If you are a very ‘left brain’ person then this is a common way of thinking.
There is a saying in business that doing more of what doesn’t work, won’t make it work any better. Most people try to force the issue.
They want some sort of result from meditation and will try and push really hard to get that result asap.
Meditation does not really work like that. Could you go to the gym for 5 hours every Sunday and get the same benefit you would from going to the gym for 1 hour a day, 5 days a week?
Meditation is about patience and practise. There are no real goals to reach and measuring ‘results’ are almost impossible. Trying to speed things up will almost always lead to a burnout.
The act of deliberately stopping your ‘life’ every day and having the discipline to sit down and meditate is as important as the meditation itself.
If you exercised for 30 minutes EVERY day for just 6 months, would you see dramatic changes in your body and your physical health?
Of course you would. Every single person who does that will see positive changes. The problem is with having the disciple to do it every day.
This is why monks and yogi’s are so set on discipline. It’s about teaching your mind and training yourself to follow your own commands. For them the practise of meditation is as much about the actual ritual as it is about the content of the meditation.
When it comes to how many times a day should you meditate, that gives us some background to make a better decision. The two main questions are:
- What can you commit to
- What will give you the most benefit
Committing to mediate 5 times a day is a tall order if you have a busy life. Unless you have nothing else to do with your life, this will be a challenge.
If you do commit to meditate 5 times a day, you may be able to do it for a few days but when stuff comes up, your commitment and routine goes out of the window.
You feel defeated and give up.
Does meditating more really give you more benefit? While it most certainly does, the problem is that trying to do too much often results in doing it with the wrong intention.
There are essentially 3 common approaches to how many times a day should you meditate. There are of course no hard and fast rules but these 3 approaches have been proven to work for most people who live busy lives.
1. Morning and Evening Meditation
The idea is to meditate in the morning when you wake up and in the evening just before you go to bed. This is a very popular meditation routine and the theory behind this routine is based on very sound research.
When you wake up in the morning, your mind has not fully ‘kicked in’ yet and you haven’t had the chance to start thinking about all your problems.
It is the time of the day when your mind is most at ease and you will experience the least amount of resistance when you meditate just after waking up.
This is the ‘easiest’ time to reach a meditative state as you have not been confronted with your every life yet. Your brain is also still in a ‘theta state’ which is akin to a meditative state.
The major benefit of doing this is that you start your day with a very peaceful and powerful state.
Meditating just before going to bed has a similar benefit. When you sleep, your mind tends to dwell on the most dominant issues of the day.
By meditating before you fall asleep, you can empty your mind of these thoughts and have a more peaceful and a much deeper sleep.
You can also use this time to clear your mind of distractions and ‘implant’ ideas and goals that you want your subconscious mind to work on while you sleep.
The biggest challenge I’ve found with doing a morning and evening meditation routine is with staying awake. With guided meditations it is very easy to fall asleep again early in the morning or just before bed time.
Also, overcoming the ingrained morning routines of waking up and having a coffee/tea or a shower can be a challenge.
It takes a lot of discipline to overcome that hump of avoiding everything else when you wake up and go straight into meditation.
2. Mid-Day Meditation
Mid day meditation routines can be incredibly helpful and beneficial as it allows you to calibrate yourself during your day.
This can be done once or twice a day – mid morning and/or mid afternoon and lunch times can be very convenient.
If you are in a stressful job or a job that causes you distress then finding time during the day to meditate can be very beneficial. The problem is often with finding a discreet place where you can meditate.
Thirty to forty minutes of meditation in the middle of the day can help you to center yourself again and align your mind for the rest of the day.
You will feel refreshed, rested and inspired.
3. Multiple Daily Meditations
There are many different meditation practises but most of them can be done for 10 minutes or 10 hours. Reaching a meditative state is the key though.
Different meditation practises are all different means to the same end. We often get caught up in the means and forget about the real end.
Short 10 minute meditations can be very powerful. When you first start meditating, a 10 minute meditation may feel like an hour. If you are experienced then a 10 minute meditation mau feel like 10 seconds.
The body benefits from movement, and the mind benefits from stillness.– Sakyong Mipham
In a state of meditation, time becomes irrelevant. Finding that place of bliss and peace within yourself causes you to lose your connection to the time-space reality of everyday existence.
This is part of what makes you feel so good after a meditation.
Doing multiple short meditations at various times during your day can be a great strategy for someone who is busy and on the run during the day.
There are many great guided meditations that are short and aimed specifically at this strategy.
Also, if you first start out you may only last 10 minutes before your mind starts going nuts and ‘forces’ you up and away from your meditation.
That is okay.
This can be a way to practise as well and doing multiple shorter meditations can help ‘train’ your mind.
Why Do YOU Meditate?
The vast majority of people who take up a meditation practise have a reason why they meditate. This is not strange at all, since we all do what we do with a purpose.
The reason why people take up meditation is a big often driver of the question how many times a day should you meditate.
What you get from meditation is often not what you want from meditation.
Most people take up a meditation because they want to experience a greater sense of inner peace. You may have stress or anxiety in your life or you may have an issue you want to move past.
In this case, meditation can be a ‘tool’ that you can use whenever you feel overwhelmed. Not only will it provide instant relief but over time it will diminish your stress and anxiety.
If this is you, then you might want to try the ‘mid-day’ strategy I discussed earlier. Having a go-to meditation you can do quickly and on the run can be a great tool to have with you at all times.
If your main goal in meditation is to reach higher states of consciousness and to expand your awareness then you may want to go much deeper with your meditation practise.
The morning and evening meditations will benefit you most since these are generally the best times to reach really deep meditative states.
When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.– Lao Tzu
If you are meditating because you want to manifest something or you want to achieve a specific answer or a specific outcome then the tendency is to do too much.
I’ve found that with people who predominantly want to use meditation as a tool for manifesting, the desire to speed up their results often overcome them.
We all want what we want and we want it now! This is normal. You need to realize that meditating more does not necessarily help you manifest things faster.
I would say that meditating ‘better’ will help you more than typing to mediate more often or meditate for longer.
What I mean with better, is to make sure your intention is not for secondary gain, that you meditate for the sake of inner peace, love and joy and that you do not get consumed by your attachments.
People who have the most issues with meditation are usually those who are dead-set on getting something out of it.
Relax. Let go and let God.
Allow your meditation practise to take over and let your soul guide you to wherever it may. When you surrender and let go, you get to experience peace and contentment much easier and much faster.