One very common questions from meditation beginners or people who are interested in meditation but haven’t tried yet is: what is the best meditation length? I wish I can give you a 100% sure answer but there is no such thing because meditation is not an exact science. But fortunately, there are some good recommendation that are commonly accepted and it should work very well for most people. In this blog post, I am going to share with you the common answer of what the best meditation length is and what I actually feel about this recommendation.
20 Minutes of Meditation AM, Another 20 PM
A very simple and straight forward way to explain the commonly accepted best meditation length is to have one 20-minute meditation session in the morning, another another 20-minute session either after work, before dinner, or before sleep. That means it is suggested to have a total of 40 minutes of meditation each day, and to be separated into two sessions. That’s actually what I have tried to do may be in my third months of meditation. (In my first two months or so of meditation, I can’t yet concentrate for too long. It’s around my third month that I can more naturally meditate for over 20 minutes.) During that time, I found this amount or length of meditation very good in terms of making my mind clear. Yet, I eventually didn’t stick to this routine and I will explain more about that decision later.
Fitting the Total of 40 Minutes into the Daily Schedule
If you can fit the 20 minute in the morning and 20 minute in the afternoon or night into your daily schedule easily, that’s nice. It is very likely a good routine for you to keep your mind almost always at a relatively calm and quiet state before stress level builds up. However, I find it a little difficult to spend 40 minutes on meditation each day. It’s not that I don’t see the importance of meditation, it’s just that it is always good to be subjective and see how helps you achieve the best balance. For example, I consider my best use of 40 minute free time to be 10 minutes of meditation and 30 minutes of book reading.
Why 10 Minutes Work for Me?
Instead of having two 20-minute meditation sessions each day, I only have one 10-minute session in the morning. It may sound too little but I will tell you why that it is perfect for me. First of all, let’s revisit what we are trying to achieve with meditation. We are trying to clear and reset our mind so that we can think very clearly and rationally. Some people may have a super busy and noisy life that it takes more time to quiet the mind. I live a pretty simple life that I only take ten minutes to reset my brain. May be meditating for another 10 minutes make my mind 2 percent of clear or so, but I definitely feel that my 10-minute meditation may have already may my mind say 80 percent clear, which already make me make better decisions and work more efficiently.
Meditating for Hours?
Up to this point, I have told you that I only meditate 10 minutes a day because that’s enough for me to clear my mind and I want to spend time to do other things like reading books. Okay, now, let’s assume that I simply have hours of free time today that I just have nothing else to do and my mind is super noisy that 10 minutes of meditation isn’t enough. Would I meditate for hours? The answer is no because I have experienced headache when I meditate for too long. My headache usually happens to me when I meditation for more than 40 minutes. I initially thought that only myself is experience this strange headache. However, after doing some research, I find that it is not uncommon to have headache if you meditate for too long. I am pretty sure that there are people who can meditate for hours and don’t feel any headache, monks who spend hours on meditation everyday for example. But since all we are trying to achieve with meditation is to have better mental health and to have a better mind to use, there is no need to risk having headache to me.
Consistency is More Important than the Total Amount
Some of you may think that my 10 minutes of meditation each day is too little. You may argue that they can meditate for 40 minutes in a less busy day and simply skip meditation in a busy day and the totally weekly meditation may still be double or more than double my amount. If that works for you, stick to your plan. The only thing that I would point out from my experience is that consistency to me is more important that the total number of minutes that I put in. I think of meditation as stretching my body. It makes more sense to me to stretch my body for 10 minutes everyday before my body stress reaches a high level than to stretch my body for 30 minutes every three days.
Find Your Best Meditation Length
Just like a lot of other things in life, finding the optimal meditation length that works best for you is a trial and error process. First, you have to find a practical length that you can actually fit in your daily schedule consistently. Second, you have to meditate enough to make your mind clear. Third, you don’t want to meditate too much that you experience headache. Having these factors in mind and by trying different combination of length of meditation and when in the day to meditate, you will find your optimal answer. When you find your optimal routine, try to stick with it everyday so that meditation can become your habit.
In conclusion, the most common recommendation suggests that you should meditate 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon or night. I find it more ideal to only meditate 10 minutes in the morning. I find it enough to keep my mind clear and it doesn’t put too much pressure on my daily schedule.