How Long Should You Meditate To Get Real Effective Results

By Kenny Lee | Meditation

Oct 10

If you’re picking up meditation or in the process of doing so, one popular question that pops up on your mind would be “how long should you meditate?”, Because the notion of spending months sitting on your meditation cushion with nothing to show could be pretty discouraging.

While it’s true that meditation is often picked up as a religious practice in certain cultures, but meditation has also been associated with numerous health benefits, and provenly so. It is only natural that you’ll be having expectations for your own practice.

In my previous post, Ellie, a mother of two asked also shared the same curiosity. My answer to her was it generally takes one to two months before you can actually ‘feel’ improvements emotionally or mentally. I’m definitely speaking from my point of view, and that lead me to seek out more information on how long meditation sessions should really be for new practitioners.

 How Your Brain Looks Like After 8 Weeks Of Meditation

Let’s take a look at some hard proven fact before we check out the experience of other meditators.

If you read my post on the 31 benefits of meditation, you would notice that I dedicated a section on how it changes our brain structure. I think the best way to backup verbal testimonial is to have some scientific images of meditator’s brain before and after meditation.

How Long Should You Meditate To Get Real Effective Results

Photo Taken From yang-sheng.com

This is a result of a study performed by Harvard University where 16 people are given an 8-weeks mindfulness-based stress reduction practice. The people in this group are required to do an average 27 minutes of guided mindfulness meditation and other mindfulness practice every day.

Here’s what happen after 8 weeks of mindfulness practice. Gray matter volume increases in the brain region related to learning and memory, emotion regulation, sense of self, and perspective taking. For more details of this study, read this article by Dr. Kevin Chen).

Is it meditation effective when it really matters?

It’s one thing to meditate for weeks for the sake of feeling more peaceful or creating more joy. But let’s take a look if the positive effect of meditation is still as effective when it comes to treating common mental disorders like anxiety.

Meditation has been known to helped relieve anxiety attack, when practiced under the guidance of therapist or meditation teachers. Anxiety disorder is becoming more common among global populations and it will be interesting to find out how effective is meditation as a self-help treatment.

RECOMMENDED: 21 Mindfulness Meditation Tips To Keep Meditation Simple

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center conducted a specific study to study the areas of the brain that were activated and deactivated during meditation-related anxiety relief.

The study found that the anterior cingulate cortex, a primary region believed to relieve anxiety, was activated when subjects participated in four 20 minutes sessions of mindfulness meditation.

While the result may not always be identical, this particular anxiety sufferer managed to stop the anxiety attacks after just two weeks of practicing meditation. 

Meditation Teachers on How long should you meditate

When asked the question of “how long should I meditate” by practitioners, Bodhipaksa of Wildmind Buddhist Meditation stated that “any amount of meditation is better than none”. Here’s the full article.

Giovanni Dientsmann of LiveAndDare started with 20 minutes of meditation every day.

In, Mindfulness In Plain Englishby Bhante Gunaratana, beginners are advised to start with 20-30 minutes session and gradually extend it to an hour after a year.

If you find 20 minutes of meditation difficult when you’re starting out, it’s ok to start with 5-10 minutes, according to Morgan Dix, who’s been meditating for more than 20 years.

NO MEDITATION IS TOO SHORT, YET..
How Long Should You Meditate To Get Real Effective Results

You should sit in meditation for 20 minute every day, unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for 1 hour. – Zen.

With the hectic lifestyle that most of us are used to, it could be tough to spare even 5 minutes to meditate. (Or it could be an excuse that we are giving ourselves.

While it is entirely possible that 5 minutes of meditation each day could result in positive well-being, some of us could need more than that before actually going into the ‘meditation state’.

A Headspace apps user commented that increasing meditation session from 10 to 20 minutes resulting in a positive experience.

reddit2

Here’s what happened when for the first 10 minutes when you start your first few meditation session.

  1. You close your eyes.
  2. You watch your your breath.
  3. Your mind wanders after 10 seconds
  4. You bring your mind back to your breath.
  5. Repeat step 2 and step 4.
  6. You stop meditating after 10 minutes.
  7. After a couple of weeks, you wonder why you’re not feeling any difference.

This may sound unpopular but the first 10 minutes is what it takes to “warm-up” a beginner’s mind for meditation.  Your mind needs time to slow down the thoughts and calm down the jumble of emotions you’re experiencing.

When you are meditating for at least 15 minutes per session, that’s when you will start to see progress in your meditation journey.

SURRENDER ALL EXPECTATIONS WHEN YOU”RE MEDITATINg

You just read that it takes around 1 to 2 months for you to enjoy the benefits of meditation. Or 2 weeks if you’re doing everything great. And you know you need to do at least 15 minutes a day for meditation to get anything out of it.

 

That said, it’s important not to force yourself into meditating. Don’t turn your meditation into a series of thoughts like “Is it 10 minutes already? or 5?” and keep having the urge to look at the clock.

RECOMMENDED : Best Ways To Meditate When You Are Tired and Stressed

That’s not meditating. It’s purely thinking. And it’s one of the common obstacles that new meditators find themselves in.

If you’re just starting meditation, the Aware meditation app will be helpful in keeping you focused on your practice.

Over To You :
Did you hesitate to pick up meditation practice because you wonder if it would ever work out for you? Or have you been meditating 10 minutes daily without seeing results? Share your thoughts on your meditation experience here.

Related :

About the Author

I struggled with social anxiety for at least 15 years, without really knowing what I was going through. Eventually, I defeated my social phobia and conquered the fear of public speaking.

Leave a Comment:

(26) comments

Jojo October 10, 2016

I could certainly use meditation. I have problems with stress and anxiety and also problems to concentrate. I often get distracted when I do something and then I unmotivated and try to do something else. In other words it is hard to focus on something. Could meditation help me with this??
I also wonder, when you are really stressed, how can you calm down enough to start the meditation? I mean it must be important to concentrate in order to meditate. I have only tried meditation a few times and those times I had the guidance of an instructor.
Thank you for a great post.

Reply
    Kenny Lee October 10, 2016

    Hi Jojo,

    Meditation does help with focus. But you need to give it time. You can check out some helpful guided meditation audio in my post here. This will help you to focus.

    As for meditating after a stressful days, I know it can be tough. You can try some helpful tips here.

    Hope it helps.

    Cheers,

    Kenny

    Reply
Fray October 10, 2016

Hi Kenny,

I’ve dabbled with various techniques and methods over the years, but I’ve never really lasted more than a few months. I find Headspace to be very soothing, and it always calms me down, but I just can’t seem to stick with it for great lengths of time.

The one thing that I have had great success with, and which helps with my writing and creativity is listening to Binaural Beats. I find a good track, regardless of the frequency, will completely zone me out. My mind goes totally blank, and I experience a beautiful sensation of complete nothingness.

When I come around I feel amazing, and my creative juices are free flowing again.

I’m not sure if that is classic meditation like you’re describing, but it certainly works for me. Is it just a placebo? Who knows? But to be honest, I don’t really care as the benefits I receive are worth it.

Do you have much experience with Binaural Beats?

Reply
    Kenny Lee October 11, 2016

    Hi Fray,

    I’ve experienced binaural beats before. It works wonder like you said. Good for relaxation. If relaxation is all that you crave, then by all mean go for that.

    But if you are looking to build mindfulness, concentration or other benefits here, then I suggest you do meditation (Headspace) after listening to binaural beats. It will help.

    Cheers,
    Kenny

    Reply
Marlinda Davis October 10, 2016

Oh wow, it looks like I need to start meditating. I think I’ll bookmark your page.

I have to say that I’m not a big fan of brown color schemes but I love yours and how your picture design compliments it so well.

Good information and question response. Its always good to see someone so invested in helping their readers. tfs 🙂

Reply
    Kenny Lee October 11, 2016

    Hi Marlinda,

    Thanks for loving my site. Do let me know if you need further info on meditation.

    Cheers,

    Kenny

    Reply
Hannah October 10, 2016

This is so helpful,. I have been trying to do 15 or 20 minutes of meditation every night before I go to sleep. I’ve been so much calmer and more positive, to the point that I’ve actually seen some major changes start to occur in my life!

Reply
    Kenny Lee October 11, 2016

    Hannah,

    I’m happy to hear good things are happening to you in your life. Do keep it up.

    Cheers,
    Kenny

    Reply
valia October 10, 2016

I like this; very informative. I like the different sections. I have been meditating for a while but it is a good reminder of certain things.
thank you
vee

Reply
    Kenny Lee October 11, 2016

    Hi Valia,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Kenny

    Reply
Toni October 10, 2016

I think this is a wonderful post, and it helps to remind people they need to literally “stop and smell the roses” from time to time. I love the quote too! Yes, people can and should meditate, and they can begin just about anywhere even if only for a few minutes at a time. From there, they can build up to 10 or even 20 minutes a day.

Reply
    Kenny Lee October 11, 2016

    Hi Toni,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. Meditation requires commitment before anything starts to happen. May people don’t realise that. That said, we shouldn’t force ourselves to meditate. Instead, set an intention to do so and follow through.

    Cheers,
    Kenny

    Reply
Kevin Pola October 10, 2016

I have always been interested in meditation and alternative means of managing stress and quality of life. It has been a long time since I last meditated and I am thinking very seriously of getting back into it. You have a lot of great tips on how do start again. I find it very hard to concentrate and read where it is better not to fight the random thoughts that keep interupting meditation. What is your view on this. Thanks for a dreat post. Cheers Kev

Reply
    Kenny Lee October 11, 2016

    Hi Kevin,

    Don’t fight the random thoughts that interrupts you. It won’t work and meditation it’s not about that. Instead when your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breathing or meditation objects. Mentally note that you are “thinking”.

    Keep doing this and you feel your mind gets tamer. Forcing it only leads to frustration.

    Hope it helps.
    Cheers,

    Kenny

    Reply
Rosa October 10, 2016

Hi Kenny,

Thank you for sharing. With the busy schedule most people have, they find it hard to make time for meditation. Each day brings so much stress and frustration sometimes due to the day’s activity I can see how meditation can help one overcome the stress and bring a more calm way of life. Great post!

Reply
    Kenny Lee October 11, 2016

    Hi Rosa,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The harder we find time to meditate, the more we need to make time for meditation.

    Cheers,
    Kenny

    Reply
Sarah Prince October 10, 2016

I’ve just started a meditation routine and have been at 20 minutes now for a couple of weeks. I saw improvement right from the start even with 5-10 minutes. I’m no expert, but I love the benefits already!

Reply
    Kenny Lee October 11, 2016

    Sarah,

    It’s great that you are gaining much from the meditation. What specifically improves in your life?

    Cheers,
    Kenny

    Reply
Melanie October 11, 2016

I found this really interesting because I started meditation recently because of anxiety. I sometimes do wonder if it is really working on me , because yes, I am either asleep or restless after 10 min. Sometimes before! The cushion for the back is really helpful to know too. thanks

Reply
    Kenny Lee October 11, 2016

    Hi Melanie,

    If you are new to meditation, I’ll suggest trying guided meditation before the unguided practice. It will help to ease your mind so meditation becomes easier.

    Read this. How Guided Meditation Audio Helps Kickstart Mindfulness Practice

    Hope it helps.

    Cheers,

    Kenny

    Reply
Liz October 11, 2016

I have meditated for years and I agree that the first 10 minutes is like a warm up, and I have noticed that the more I meditate the more I notice that this is the case.

Do you ever use binaural beats to enhance your meditation experience? I actually found using sound technology changed everything for me and made meditation much easier and I noticed more measurable results. What are your thoughts on this?

Reply
    Kenny Lee October 11, 2016

    Liz,

    I’ve experienced binaural beats prior to meditation. It works wonder especially you are stressed. I’ll say it complements meditation well. But should never replace the actual practice itself.

    Check my post here Best Ways To Meditate At Home When You Are Tired and Stressed.

    Cheers,

    Kenny

    Reply
Heine October 11, 2016

Hi Kenny,

Thank you for the advice about meditation for Panic Attacks.

I am going to follow the steps for at least two weeks 😉

Heine

Reply
    Kenny Lee October 12, 2016

    Heine,

    Do let me know how does it go for you after 2 weeks.

    Cheers,
    Kenny

    Reply
Lawrence October 11, 2016

Hey Kenny =)

Really enjoyed reading this post because meditation is such an important practice to get into.

I meditate for 20 minutes every day and I feel wonderful. It’s definitely down to consistency =)

Thanks again for another useful post which will helps lots of people!

Reply
    Kenny Lee October 12, 2016

    Hi Lawrence,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Cheers,
    Kenny

    Reply
Add Your Reply

Leave a Comment: