You can define meditation in many different ways. That is to say, there’s a lot of techniques, philosophies and perspectives on what meditation actually is. While most casuals view meditation as a practice or activity that one undertakes for a certain amount of time during the day, meditation essentially is about cultivating conscious awareness of yourself and the moment as it is. Depending on which of these two definitions you decide to pursue, the question “how long should I meditate” naturally gets two different answers.
If we apply the first definition on meditation, namely that it is an formal practice or activity that one undertakes during the day, preferably in a serene meditation space with a comfy meditation cushion to sit upon, well then the duration depends entirely on what the practitioner wishes to get out of the meditation session. For beginners, even a 5 minute daily meditation practice is sufficient to prove useful and beneficial in terms of relaxing the body and mind. For intermediate meditators who wish to probe deeper into the mechanics of their minds, anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes of daily meditation is good. When it comes to advanced meditators or spiritual seekers who wish to realize their “true self” or deep relaxations of the psychological monkey-mind, I recommend 30-60+ minutes of daily meditation.
Recommended duration of a meditation session
- Beginners: 5+ minutes
- Intermediate: 15-30+ minutes
- Advanced: 30-60+ minutes
Now, if we switch gears to the second definition of meditation I laid out in the introduction, namely that it’s the cultivation of conscious awareness of the yourself and the present moment as it is, well then it wouldn’t make sense to put a time limit on meditation. We are conscious and aware beings and being aware and conscious is what we do during the waking state. Why then should we put a limit to this cultivation of conscious awareness. In a sense, the more conscious and aware we get the more we’re alive.
Having said that, the first definition of meditation can be seen as a lifestyle habit and practice that one incorporates into ones daily life in order to improve or relieve oneself from stress, anxiety and worry to name a few. While the second perspective on meditation is just that, a perspective or paradigm which one tunes into whenever the opportunity arises. In other words, for the cultivation of conscious awareness, you don’t really need to sit down in a quiet and serene place, instead you can and should do it everywhere and anywhere.
Best meditation technique for beginners
If you’re a beginner whose looking for a simple and versatile meditation technique to relieve some tension in the body and mind, awareness of breath is most likely one of the best beginner-friendly techniques to try out. The breath is a fascinating biological process, a process which happens automatically but which we can affect through our own will. As a meditation technique, awareness of breath is essentially about observing the natural mechanics of the breathing process, without trying to change it. This remarkably simple technique allows you to shift your attention from the turmoil of the mental world into the immediateness and calmness of the physical.
Meditation is essentially about coming to terms, intuitively, psychologically and existentially, with what one is, namely a conscious being exploring a magnificent universe. This exploration is something we do from the cradle to the grave. Thus when it comes to genuine, time is an illusion or at best, redundant.
Daniel Seeker is a wandering dervish and lifelong student of the past, present and future. He realized deep relaxations of the psyche when meditating in his hermit cave on the island of Gotland. His writings are mostly a reflection of that realizaton. Daniel currently studies history and philosophy at Uppsala Universitet, as he is currently writing his B.A. thesis in history which explores how Buddhist, Yogic and Hindu texts were first properly translated and introduced to the western world in the late 18th and 19th century.