The perfect time to practice


You are probably hearing more and more about the many reasons for practicing meditation.

From relaxation to spiritual connection, the benefits of practicing meditation seem to be endless.

At the same time, so are the different ways of practicing. How do you know if you are reaping the benefits of mindfulness and meditation in your life?

Should you train quickly before your morning shower or do a marathon session on the weekend?

This piece digs into research to discover the ideal length of time to sit on your cushion so you can get the most out of your meditation.

Overall, researchers have identified five characteristics that determine the effectiveness of meditation practice:

  • instance or frequency of training sessions
  • duration or duration of the practice
  • compliance with practice instructions
  • competence, cultural relevance and understanding of the context in which you practice
  • enjoyment

In a 2017 study, the researchers found that participants responded with greater attention to everyday events on the days they meditated. They also found that sticking to the practice and practicing for longer periods of time had positive results.

Another 2017 study found significant links between the length of meditation practice and positive emotions.

A 2018 study of inexperienced meditators found that 8 weeks but not 4 weeks of 13-minute daily meditation decreased negative mood, increased attention, improved memory, and decreased anxiety.

This implies that repetition counts.

According to another 2018 study of Indian practitioners of the Brahma Kumaris Rajayoga (BKRY) tradition, researchers found that it was skill, not length of practice, that determined whether meditation resulted in improved well-being. to be.

Nonetheless, they found some correlation between duration of practice and measures of well-being.

The bottom line

Meditating regularly for 8 weeks for 13 minutes a day has been shown to be sufficient to benefit your practice.

It is important to note that the skill or skill in meditation is inherently difficult to define.

In the above-mentioned study of Indian practitioners, researchers defined “competence” as the degree to which practitioners are immersed in their particular school of thought.

In other words, understanding the context of what you are practicing and why will improve meditation results. The same is true when it comes to a sense of cultural or spiritual significance.

These characteristics usually do not correspond to what we consider to be “proficient” in something. This may be appropriate, as many meditation experts refer to “the beginner’s mind” as the way to be truly good at meditation.

In Zen Buddhism, the word shoshin, or beginner’s mind in Chinese, is to approach a subject with openness, enthusiasm and without prejudices or judgments. This is the recommended way to approach meditation, even as a seasoned practitioner.

By bringing the “beginner’s mind” to each practice, you empty yourself of hoops to jump or feelings of pride or unworthiness and you just sit back in the moment.

This “being with what is” is the essence of skillful meditation.

So what does all of this mean in terms of the ideal length of time to meditate?

The research above implies that 13 minutes of meditation per session is enough to reap the benefits. Yet consistency can be just as important.

Practicing for 13 minutes once every few months is unlikely to provide as much benefit as practicing daily for 5 minutes.

Ultimately, there is no “magic number” for how long to meditate.

The most important thing is that you choose a duration which is:

  • realistic
  • practice
  • reproducible
  • pleasant

A 2020 study of novice meditators found that when participants experienced positive emotions during their first exposure to meditation, their frequency and duration of their practice increased.

In other words, you are more likely to stick with your practice if you enjoy your meditation and associate it with positive feelings.

It might sound like a no-brainer, but there is a common misconception that meditation should be intense or hyper-focused to be beneficial. The truth is, finding the edge between discomfort and relaxation is where the magic of meditation happens.

If you force yourself to sit up but all you think about is what you’re going to eat that day or whether your leg is asleep, you’ve probably passed the discomfort threshold and entered some tough territory. . .

Remember to take it slow. Meditation is not a marathon. It’s more about surrendering than conquering the clock.

When in doubt, keep this formula in mind:

Pleasure x Frequency x Duration = Optimal Meditation Practice

A 2017 study found that in a sample of 55 mildly stressed adults aged 50 to 80, body scanning, sitting meditation, and breathing exercises were the most popular practices.

Whatever type of meditation you choose, it is important that you benefit from it.

Here are some of the many types of meditation:

Finding the types of meditation practices that are best for you is a matter of trial and error.

Start with a guided meditation video on YouTube or Spotify. Refine your search by specifying the type of meditation you would like to try.

There are also many meditation teachers on Instagram that you can check out.

Try Mindfulness & Meditation or Transcendental Meditation to find a teacher in your area.

Ultimately, the most important step you will take in your practice begins. Be realistic and start where you are.

If you have a busy schedule, start with just 3 minutes a day to sit still, listen to your breath, and just be. Once you have that, increase it up to 5 minutes.

You may find that over time you begin to rejoice in your practice the same way you look forward to a tall glass of water on a hot day. Some days you may even forget to look at the clock altogether.

Like many things worth doing, there is no formula for defining the perfect meditation practice.

While studies have shown that 13 minutes can be a great place to start, there are a variety of other factors that affect the effectiveness of your practice. These include frequency, duration, and cultural relevance.

Whether your practice lasts 5 or 45 minutes, remember that consistency is probably just as important as time. On top of that, enjoying your practice is an important part of the Presence journey.

Crystal Hoshaw is a longtime mother, writer and yoga practitioner. She has taught in private studios, gyms, and one-on-one in Los Angeles, Thailand, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She shares conscious strategies for self-care through online classes. You can find her on Instagram.

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