Some people spend 12 hours a day meditating. Others meditate no more than a minute a day. Which is the right approach? When are the best times to meditate? Which option is the best for you and your lifestyle?
As with most things in life, there isn’t one correct answer to these questions. In fact, your personal practice will likely change over time. Instead, here are some guidelines and tips to live by as you’re creating your meditation practice.
When and how often should you meditate?
Wade in Slowly—Don’t Jump
Sustaining a meditation practice is about consistency. It’s about picking a pace that works for you over the long run, rather than creating a fast burst of intense meditation. That’s why the “wade, don’t jump” mentality is important.
If you’re just starting to meditate, don’t try to jump in with an hour a day. Don’t even try 30 minutes a day. Instead, try just five or 10 minutes a day. If that seems daunting, go for two minutes.
The goal is to start with a practice that seems just slightly too easy. Maintain that schedule for a month, then slowly add to it. Starting slow helps ensure that your new meditation practice really sticks.
Pair Your Practice With Other Daily Rituals
Make your meditation a part of a daily ritual. Throughout your day, you probably already have a number of different rituals. A ritual is anything you do every day, at the same time of day. These include making your morning coffee, brushing your teeth, working out, getting home from work, showering, having a glass of wine at night, etc.
Try to pair or include your meditation practice into a part of your existing daily rituals. For example, you can add a 10-minute meditation in front of your daily exercise. Since you’ve already got one habit down, it can be a “trigger” or a “lead” for another new habit. Pairing your meditation practice to an existing habit or ritual helps cement its place in your day as a regular activity.
A daily meditation practice is one of the most powerful habits you could develop for creating mental, emotional and even professional transformation. But your meditation doesn’t have to be limited to just your daily meditation.
Spontaneous meditations throughout your day can also be immensely beneficial. For example, let’s say you’re about to have a potentially stressful meeting with your boss. Taking a couple minutes to meditate beforehand can be a great way to clear your mind and get yourself to a place of emotional stability beforehand. Or meditating as you drive home from work can be a great way to unwind.
Have a daily practice. But, don’t be afraid to throw in a few minutes of meditation throughout your day, whenever it calls for it.
When Should You Meditate?
The only “goal” when structuring your meditation practice is just to make it sustainable. Start easy. Wade, don’t jump. Pair it with other habits to make it easy to remember. Create something you can stick with and then slowly add to it over time. Remember that you can always meditate more, spontaneously, whenever you want.