How Often Should I Meditate?
This is a question we’re asked regularly in both our sitting groups and on social media, and it’s a good question. The truth is that I can’t say for certain what is best for anyone other than myself, but I can share my experience as a teacher and meditator myself. The simplest answer is that consistency is best. I try to sit every day in meditation. Sometimes, I may be traveling for work or spending time on vacation on Tehiya, busy with family, or have things pop up and may only sit for a few minutes. However, some beats none!
Why are you asking yourself the question how often should I meditate? Chances are that your intention is to relieve some suffering, reduce anxiety, or cultivate more ease in some way. So first, it may be useful to recognize that we wish to give meditation a chance to really help us. As such, it may be useful to dive in rather than dipping our toes in, This doesn’t mean you have to believe everything you hear or follow any teacher or tradition blindly. Rather, investigate meditation by giving it a real shot and practicing regularly.
My recommendation is to try sitting daily or as often as possible. Set an intention for yourself that actually feels doable. Can you commit to sitting every day this week for at least five minutes? If that feels overwhelming with your schedule, can you do every other day for 5 minutes? Or maybe just two minutes of deep breathing before going to sleep at night? Find what feels right for you and your lifestyle, but don’t forget to give yourself a loving nudge!
The Benefits of Regular Practice
There are really several reasons that regular practice helps us. First, we get more opportunities to practice when we are sitting regularly! Although I do recommend building up to sitting for longer periods, it can be helpful to meditate in different states of mind. However your mind and body are in the moment that you’re reading this, it was slightly different 12 hours ago, 18 hours ago, or 4 days ago! As we sit regularly, we get to approach the mind and our experience with different perspective. This may be subtle, but you’ll notice the difference in sitting when you’re sleepy and sitting when you’re anxious!
Second, consistency gives us a powerful opportunity to build upon our practice. Sitting in meditation regularly allows the mind to connect dots more easily. Insight, compassion, and concentration can build upon itself. The closer our points are together, the more easily we can non-consciously connect the dots. Our concentration or insight may carry from sit to sit. If we’re able to sit daily for even 5 minutes, we can really begin to build in our practice.
Finally, regular practice helps us build a habit. I have found that when I sit regularly, it becomes a habit. I am much less likely to talk myself out of meditating if I am meditating every day. Creating a plan of action and practicing regularly helps us to build the habit of meditation. This is of course helpful in continuing our practice. However, it’s also extremely helpful in building mindfulness and compassion in our life outside meditation. As meditation becomes habit, the mind will return to mindfulness, concentration, and kindness more easily in daily life.
Tips for Practicing Regularly
We already mentioned this, but set an intention for yourself! Don’t overdo it; make your intention something approachable and possible. Start with just this coming week. To what can you commit? How many days a week and for how long will you meditate? These aren’t all-or-nothing goals. It’s natural that we won’t be perfect with our intentions, so don’t beat yourself up too much!
Personally, I find that meditating at a consistent time is most useful. For me, it works best to meditate in the morning right upon awakening and at night after dinner. There may be times that work better for you, but set a time. This can help us follow through, build habit, and make meditation a priority.
If you can, find a friend or loved one with whom you can share your commitment. When you have somebody else who is interested in meditation in your life, you can use each other as a community for one another. Set intentions together, check in regularly, and be accountable. We sometimes call this an accountability buddy, and it is incredibly helpful at building our ability to build new habits.
We love the app Insight Timer and have been using it for years. It has tons of great meditations on it, you can connect with other meditators, and join discussions about all different types of meditation. One of its central features is the meditation timer and log. You can set a timer and track your meditations. It feeds the ego a bit, but it’s fun to see how many consecutive days we have meditated for, how long we usually meditate for, and when during our days and weeks we meditate most often. Even though it is feeding the ego, it can help us to see the consecutive days as we don’t want to lose our streak! I highly recommend checking it out.
If you have any questions about your practice or want to talk to a teacher about meditation, just email us at Info@FindASit.com.
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