“How long should you meditate?” That’s a question I get asked frequently. We all know that meditation is a great way to ignite your mind and connect with peace.
Meditation is also a wonderful way to become more mindful of your surroundings, reduce stress and improve your health. There is no right or wrong way to meditate. There is only what helps you.
But what is meditation and how can you use it to create your ideal life?
What Is Meditation
Most days, we run around with a “normal” brain that is dealing with stimuli from everywhere. The “normal” brain also is quite a chatterbox telling us when not to do things and reminding us of our mistakes.
Unfortunately, our “normal” brain also neglects to remind us of when we need batteries when we’re at the store but is happy to remind us when we reach for a torch.
Have you ever wondered why you remember everything when you’re laying down to go to sleep? It’s because the stress is gone, and you’re relaxing. Meditation can help you connect with what needs to be done as well as allow you “reprogram” your brain.
Another state that your brain can be in is “concentration.” That’s where you have amazing focus. It’s very different than meditation, but both require practice. Although if you have a really great novel that you’re reading, the focus is effortless, isn’t it?
When you meditate, you are calming your brain so you can focus on what you choose. It could be a word or a sound. There are also guided meditations that help you to visualize and release negativity.
Benefits of Meditation
Have you ever wondered why people meditate? There are so many benefits to regular meditation including
- Better focus in other areas of your life
- Reduced stress will allow you to make better decisions
- Enhanced mindfulness allows you to be fully present when communicating with others or handling problems
- Improved health by reducing blood pressure and lowering stress
- Increased mental faculties
When you make meditation a routine, you’ll see improvements in so many areas of your life that you’ll be glad you started.
How to Meditate
You first will need to choose which type of meditation you want. If you’re not sure, mindfulness meditation is the easiest for starting. You will want to be in a comfortable place where you can practice.
You should start with three to five minutes three times a week. Then you can choose to build it up from there if needed.
I recommend having a timer on hand that you can set. This helps keep you from constantly checking the time on your smartphone. And speaking of the phone, try turning it to airplane mode. There are a lot of good apps available for music and guided meditations. Within some of those apps, you can set a timer.
You can also find a therapist that can help you start.
Often in the beginning, negative memories will surface, and it may be uncomfortable for you. Part of learning to meditate is to gently observe the emotion and then release it to the world. You don’t need to hold on to it anymore. That’s part of why meditation is so helpful for your soul. You can release a lot of old baggage.
After you’re in a comfortable position, relax as best you can and then practice your particular type of meditation.
If you’re doing a concentration meditation, keep it positive. For example, focus on words like “love” or “joy” rather than “remove my pain.”
Keep a pencil and some paper near you so you can write down thoughts that will not go away, or perhaps that you don’t want to forget when you’re done. Then reassure your mind that you’ve captured it so you can go back to peace.
Please don’t criticize yourself if your thoughts wander. That happens to everyone. What you can do is acknowledge and accept then bring your focus back if that’s your purpose in meditating.
That’s why I suggested that mindfulness is easier at first because it’s ok to let your mind wander and be an observer.
Should I Sit or Lie Down?
This is actually a personal preference. Some people feel that lying down is more beneficial because it allows all of your muscles to relax. However, others don’t want to be tempted to fall asleep while lying down.
Do I Need Special Equipment?
No, you don’t.
Some people have meditation cushions for sitting on. Others use small benches that elevate you 10 to 20 cm off of the ground. Then there are meditation mats which are similar to yoga mats but thicker.
Some people like incense or essential oils in a burner for a peaceful smell.
There are meditation candles that allow you to focus on the flame. And there are songs and apps with music that can be played while meditating. There are other apps that play bi-aural beats or chimes to help you focus. Other apps have guided meditations for you to meditate upon.
You can even meditate outdoors in a park or anywhere else you enjoy. Water can be a great focus for a meditation as well as wind moving through leaves.
What Are the Types of Meditations
Sometimes called concentrative meditation. You focus on a breath or a mantra while regulating your breathing. When a thought pops up, you gently let it go and return your mind back to your single point of focus.
You can use items such as a candle or a fire in the fireplace or firepit for focusing on. Some people prefer sounds or regular chimes.
In contrast to basic meditation where you focus, mindfulness meditation has you open your mind’s lens to encompass everything. You don’t judge. You just observe sights, sounds, and smells.
You are the silent witness.
Yoga is actually a very good way of practicing mindfulness meditation. You observe how your body feels as it moves through the positions.
Did you know you can even meditate while driving? What? Yes, you can practice mindfulness while driving. You’ll become a safer and more aware driver. An added bonus is that your stress will stay low.
If sitting still and doing nothing just makes you more stressed, you should consider doing a walking meditation. You can become very mindful of your body and environment as you walk. You could also choose to focus on your body starting with your feet and moving up to the top of your head.
This type of meditation was talked about a lot in the 1970’s thanks to the Beatles. Usually, you work with an instructor who will walk you through the process of entering into the meditation with a unique mantra.
The mantra is your focus word or sound that you repeat. Think “ohm.”
If you choose this type of meditation to experience, you should practice at least twice a day every day. Your goal is to become one with the Universe while elevating your consciousness.
This type of meditation is often a guided meditation that you listen to. However, you can also choose your own journey. Perhaps you will decide to visualize flying on a cloud to visit another city. Just think. We used to get in trouble for daydreaming or woolgathering and what we were really doing was meditating.
Resources for Meditation
There are plenty more, so you should Search for your particular device.
So How Long Should You Meditate?
The answer really comes down to “As long as you need to.” Some people are able to come to complete clarity within a minute or two because they’ve trained their brains to quiet down quickly.
Other people find that an hour or even two is what they need to be successful during the day.
If you’ve been putting off learning to meditate because you think it requires an hour or two, then now is the time to jump on the bandwagon! It’s wonderful for everyone – from children to seniors.
Leave a comment with your favourite way to meditate.