How Often, How Long, and How Many Times Should I Meditate?
By Tergar Meditation Community Team • 3 min read
When starting a meditation practice, people ask how often should I meditate, how long should I meditate, and how many times should I meditate. Another question to be asked is whether formal meditation, sitting quietly in an upright posture for a dedicated amount of time, the type of meditation you should prioritize? Is the amount of time I meditate for, the number of times I meditate, and how often I meditate the key questions to be asked? Or is it more important to learn how to meditate anytime, anywhere, in any circumstance?
Actually, Mingyur Ripoche says both formal and informal practices are equally essential to integrating meditation into daily life.
If you’re super busy—like most of us these days—you might be overwhelmed by the idea of establishing a daily meditation practice. And if you’re a beginner, you especially might not want to sit for long stretches at a time. But while formal meditation is an important aspect of practice, the good news is that consistency is more important than the number of minutes logged. Even 15 or 20 minutes a day is perfectly fine. In fact, keeping it short is helpful, because it doesn’t allow too much time for some of the inevitable distractions—boredom, restlessness, and the like.
Some of you will read this and think, “Sitting quietly, what a relief! That’s exactly what I need—to just sit still and get clear.” However, the truth is, you can’t live your whole life on a meditation cushion. And if it’s the only type of practice you have, you’ll discover that the skills you pick up in seated meditation don’t work as well when you’re out in the everyday world. It can come to feel like your practice is on one side and all the complicated challenges of daily life are on the other, and you have no idea how to connect the two.
This is the point of developing a habit of informal meditation. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing; you could be shampooing your child’s hair, or writing a research paper, or sweeping the floor—in any moment you just drop into awareness. Some of you are thinking, “I’m always on the go, in fact, I hate to sit still, so that’s definitely the practice for me!” However, if you only apply awareness while you’re in the midst of mundane activities and never sit in formal meditation, you’ll have difficulty building a solid meditation practice.
“If we try too hard, meditation becomes difficult. But it is so easy.
Meditation is resting in our own natural awareness.”
– Mingyur Rinpoche –
This is why the real answer to “how often should I meditate?” continues to be “short times, many times.” That means integrating meditation into your daily life by alternating the two types. Make time to meditate formally for a set number of minutes, somewhere between 15 to 30 if possible. And, when you’re out in the world, in bad times or good, make a habit of dropping into awareness countless times throughout the day. Gradually, this practice of meditating for “short times, many times” will become second nature.
The idea here is not to struggle to see how long we can stay in awareness, but rather to simply return to awareness of breathing again and again – you can remember this with the phrase “short times, many times.” For the duration of our meditation session, we just allow ourselves to come back like this again and again. Just continue: aware, forget, aware, forget, aware, forget.
Learn meditation under the skillful guidance of world-renowned teacher Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche at your own pace.
Tergar Meditation Community supports individuals, practice groups, and meditation communities around the world in learning to live with awareness, compassion, and wisdom. Grounded in the Tibetan Buddhist lineage of our guiding teacher, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, our online and in-person programs are accessible to people of all cultures and faiths, and support a lifelong path toward the application of these principles in everyday life.
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