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How Long Should You Meditate: Finding Your Optimal Practice

If you’re new to mindfulness meditation, one question you may have is, “How long should you meditate for?” I know that’s something I always asked myself when I first started practicing mindful meditation.

And while it may not seem helpful, the real answer is: it depends.

The amount of time you spend doing daily meditation will depend on your specific lifestyle and goals and the type of meditation you’re doing.

To help you find your optimal practice, I’ll review the factors you should consider when meditating and suggest some possible guidelines to help you decide how long you should meditate.

Exploring the “Magic Number” of Meditation

how long should you meditate - a group of people meditating

You may have heard that meditation teachers say there is a “magic number” when it comes to meditation lengths, such as 20 minutes or 30 minutes. And, it’s kind of true…

But it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

The fact is, there isn’t a “perfect” length of time to meditate. The optimal length and amount of time will depend on the particular needs you have at the moment and the type of meditation you are doing. While some periods such as 13 minutes, have been shown to improve memory and focus, you might need more time to achieve other goals.

Here are a few factors you’ll probably want to consider when deciding how long you should meditate:

Your Personal Goals

When it comes to finding your optimal practice, your goals are a pretty good starting point. Ask yourself, are you looking to: reduce anxiety and stress? Improve focus? Or explore the deeper aspects of your practice?

Dive deep and discover what you’re actually looking to get out of your practice.

Knowing your goals will help determine the type of meditation you should be doing and how long you should meditate for.

For instance, if your goal is to reduce stress, you may benefit from short sessions where you meditate for as little as 10 minutes daily.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to explore the deeper aspects of meditation, then you may want to aim for a longer meditation session, – such as 30 minutes or more.

Your Experience Level

If you’re just starting out with meditation, you probably don’t want to start off with a 10-hour meditation retreat. (But if you do, more power to you!)

In general, when you are new to meditation, it’s best to start with shorter sessions and then gradually increase the length of time, as you become more comfortable with the practice.

For those who prefer meditating in a sitting meditation position, it might be challenging to maintain it for long periods, especially when you’re just starting.

Otherwise, you might feel discouraged that you don’t have the skills to meditate for an extended period of time, and that just isn’t true.

Here’s an example: if you’re new to meditation, try starting out with 5-10 minutes of practice, increasing it to 10-15 minutes after a few weeks.

how long should you meditate - man leaning against a tree meditating

Your Schedule/Lifestyle 

When it comes to meditation, consistency is key – and this means fitting time for meditation and mindfulness practice into your everyday life.

Integrating meditation into daily life can have a significant impact on your overall well-being.

So, when deciding how long you should meditate for each session, consider the amount of time you have available each day.

If you have a super busy day and only have 5 minutes to spare, then that’s plenty of time for a quality morning meditation session. Even a short amount of time done regularly has been shown to have mental and physical health benefits.

On the other hand, if you have more time available for meditating – say 30 minutes or more – then that’s great too!

We all live busy lives and have various responsibilities, so you should never feel like you have to fit a certain amount of time into your meditation practice or risk “not doing it right.”

The most important thing here is to make meditation a part of your routine and do what works best for you.

Your Personal Preference

Let’s not forget that your actual preference matters here too.

If you find that 10 minutes of meditation is enough to get you into a peaceful state, then great. Or if you prefer to meditate for longer periods, such as 30 minutes or even one-hour meditation practice – go for it!

At the end of the day, your optimal meditation practice is going to be the one that works best for you. I’d recommend experimenting with different times and seeing what feels best.

Benefits of Different Meditation Styles

how long should you meditate - a woman meditating by a lake wearing headphones

Just like there are different lengths of practice, there are also varying styles of meditation. Some focus on breathwork and relaxation, while others emphasize the benefits of mindfulness and awareness.

And depending on the type of meditation session you’re doing, the “ideal” length can vary greatly. For instance:

  • Mindfulness Meditation: This type of practice is typically done for a longer period – anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour – and focuses on being present and aware of the moment.

  • Loving Kindness Meditation: Also called Metta Meditation, sessions of this style can last anywhere from 10-20 minutes and involves cultivating an attitude of kindness towards yourself and others.

  • Transcendental Meditation: This type of practice typically involves repeating a mantra for 20 minutes twice daily. The goal here is to gain access to a deeper level of consciousness that allows you to achieve a state of deep relaxation and mental clarity.

  • Walking Meditation: This meditative practice is done while walking and can range from 5-30 minutes. It’s a great way to move your body and connect with nature while also cultivating mindful awareness.

  • Yoga: Yoga classes are typically around 1 hour long and usually involve various physical postures and breathing exercises. It’s a wonderful way to combine meditation and physical activity.

No matter what type of meditation style you choose, remember that there is no “right” amount of time that you should meditate for.

The important thing is to find what works best for you and stick with it!

Making Meditation a Daily Habit: 10 Tips to Help You Get Started

how long should you meditate - a woman meditating in a forest

Meditation can be a great addition to your daily routine – but I know it isn’t always easy to stick with. Here are some tips to help you make it part of your regular practice:

  1. Set aside a specific time for meditation and mindfulness each day

  2. Start with a shorter meditation time, such as 5-10 minutes, and gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable

  3. Create a peaceful and comfortable environment for meditation, such as a quiet room or outdoor space

  4. Use guided meditation apps or audio recordings to help you focus and stay on track

  5. Use physical reminders, such as placing a meditation cushion or yoga mat in a visible area, to prompt you to meditate daily

  6. Practice mindfulness in everyday activities, such as focusing on your breath while walking or washing dishes

  7. Join a meditation or mindfulness group to stay motivated and accountable

  8. Keep a journal to track your progress and reflect on your experiences

  9. Be patient and compassionate with yourself, as meditation and mindfulness can take time and practice to master

  10. Make it a priority by scheduling it into your daily routine, just like you would with exercise or other important tasks

Related: How To Establish A Mindfulness & Meditation Habit

The Takeaway

Meditation is a powerful tool for improving mental and physical and mental health, but the optimal session length depends on various factors.

So whether you prefer short or long sessions – it doesn’t matter. Meditation is great for everyone, and whatever you have enough time for is the right length of time for you!

For more beginner tips on how to begin a meditation practice, check out our guide on Meditation for Beginners: Tips to Start When You Don’t Have a Clue. Good luck, and happy meditating!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be construed as professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms of any mental health condition, we strongly advise consulting with a qualified healthcare professional.

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