How long should you meditate ?

How Long should you meditate
How Long should you meditate?

This is one of the most asked questions on Meditation.

How long should you meditate?

Honestly speaking, there is no single answer.

The answer depend on your expectations with meditation. If you are planning to live in an Ashram, Retreat Centre or any similar institution to devote yourself fully for the development of your spiritual self, then it would be difficult to assign a specific time schedule for your meditation practice except what will be provided to you by your teachers there. Moreover, when you devote yourself in the practice of meditation full time, you will eventually evolve a time schedule on your own.

However, if you are living in a family setup (as a homemaker or the head of the family or a student) then you will be having a whole lot of activities to do on daily basis. As such, meditation will be one of the many other things you will like to prioritize. My advice on the expected duration of meditation  is aimed towards those people who are living a busy and modern life and want to utilize the full benefit of meditation.

So how much meditation is enough ?  

The fact is : it depends.

To really having a feeling of something, as if you have been immersed in the process of meditation, at least 20 minutes are required.

After a very long practice of meditation that was consciously maintained in an extremely busy schedule, it is my personal opinion that a 20 minutes practice of meditation is bare minimum to have an in depth feeling of it.

So if you can spare at least 20 minutes for your meditation practice, that will  be golden.

But what if you can’t spare even 20 minutes a day for meditation.

Then do it for 15 minutes.

If that is not possible, then do it for 10 minutes. Though this duration of 10 minutes is not enough, still with consistent practice, it will produce its desired effect.

But What is you can’t spare even 10 minutes a day for meditation.

If you don’t have time for even 10 minutes for meditation, then it means 2 things:

1) The first thing is that your priorities are highly  imbalanced. How many minutes you spend everyday on Whatsapp and Facebook? If you can’t spend even 10 minutes on meditation then you need to reorient your priorities. In a day that consist 24 hours, finding a time for 10 minute meditation practice is not an impossible task. The only thing that is required is an honest contemplation of your entire schedule for the day and minimize the non-essential tasks.

2) The second meaning (of your inability to find time for meditation) is the brutally honest fact that you simply don’t want to meditate. As simple as that. Because, just like every other thing in life, you can always find time for something that you want to do.

Let me tell you something on the basis of experience of my own and those of numerous other – Meditation is  joy. It is a sort of pleasing addiction with no negative traits of other addictions. Once you start doing it on regular basis, it will start attracting you like a magnate.  It is something that you will WANT to do daily. Once it happen, you will find time for it.

The only thing that is required is a genuine effort on your part to give meditation a try for at least 10 minutes.

You must be wondering why I did not advise to meditate for 5 minutes or less a day? I know that there have been many videos/article on internet where masters have advised their disciple to meditate for whatever duration they want- even if it is for one minute only. While I respect all these masters, I do not agree with that.

A daily practice of only 5 minutes of meditation per day is not advisable. It must be at least 10 minutes for a bare minimum and at least 20 minutes for some substantial gain. However, when you are doing it daily for at least 10 or more minutes a day and if on a particular day, the prevailing circumstances does not allow you enough time, then and only then, you should reduce your practice for less than 10 minutes. On these days, your emphasis should be to at least ensure the continuance of the practice- even if it is for one minute only. But under no circumstances you should make it a daily routine to meditate for less than 10 minutes.

In summation, my answer to the question : How long should you meditate? is as under :

You should meditate at least 20 minutes a day to ensure fastest growth.

At least 10 minutes a day for ensuring any meaningful gain from it.

Never less than 10 minutes per day as a matter of routine.

Only  in unavoidable circumstances, you may reduce your duration to less than 10 minutes.

I hope you have gained something from above article. In case, you have any question, feel free to ask by making a comment below

Meditation and the fear of loosing yourself

I came across a very interesting discussion between a seeker and his master. It has some very important lessons for all of us . Here it it is for you :

Seeker :  When I think of doing meditation, one thing that come to my mind again and again is the fear  of losing who I am. Actually I am a very fun loving guy and the only real life role models I have encoutered in the meditation community are a bit to serious, somber and methodically sobering. I guess what I am saying is that I don’t want to end up like a monk and I have no reference for what a fun loving family guy would look like after going through the meditation.

I hope you understand and I would greatly appreciate any guidance.

Master : 

“I am afraid of losing who I am.”

A drop falling in the ocean is concerned about loosing itself. The ignorant drop does not know that when she falls into the ocean, she becomes the ocean itself. She becomes a part of the ocean. Nobody can tell that this is the drop and this is the ocean.

When you say : I am afraid of losing who I am.

You actually mean: I am afraid of losing my ego.

Hi I am the fun loving guy, the perfect party man. People love to spend time with me. They love my company, my sense of humor , my energy, enthusiasm. They talk about me when I am not there. How important I am for my family and friend! It is really frightening to think that if I continue with my spiritual practice this fun loving personality of mine will vanish and I’ll become a sober, serious guy like a monk. What my friends and relatives will think of me then? I can’t see any role model in Buddhism who is fun loving while still being a spiritually developed man. Shall I become a serious guy?

The real fear is in loosing your ego. Loosing your great reputation as a fun loving guy.

I feel if you are not ready to let go of your ego, you should forget the spiritual path and choose something different. Buddhisms (or for that matter any spiritual path) will not make you a serious or funny person. It will give you a fresh perspective towards life and make you calm and most importantly it’ll melt your ego. It will make you realize how ephemeral our existence is. We all are tiny puppets in the hands of a cosmic string. Just like waves in ocean, we took birth, spend sometime on this earth and then again merge with the existence. In a time frame of billions of years, our life period is just a very small point. So where is the place for ego.

Let me assure you : If you are a fun loving man by your intrinsic nature, spirituality will make you funnier. Because you will realize the stupidity of so many things we all consider so important now. You’ll realize the stupidity of how people argue, fight, and kill in the name of religion. You’ll realize that taking life seriously is itself a stupidity.

So don’t afraid and dive in. you’ll only loose your ego not your funnier nature.
 

In meditation, are you supposed to be a watcher ?

Question: I was trying to meditate today again. I sat on my bedside and did the deep breathing technique then tried to watch with awareness. Eventually, I felt separated from my body, the body was still there and if I needed to move I could but I just felt distant from the body. Then I was focusing on my mind, I felt my body and mind was going into sleep mode. So I tried to keep as much awareness as possible. It was very difficult at many times I felt like I was going to loose consciousness and just dream. So many images and thoughts were flooding in and I kept watching and watching and trying to not fall into the images and dreams. Every moment I got lost into a thought I would realize hey wait! this is a thought it’s of the mind it’s not real! remember to watch remember to watch. Then all of a sudden I felt a sudden jolt push my eyes to look toward my forehead. A lot of pressure in the head area, and then a very relaxing very open expanding feeling. I felt this weird pressure in my tongue. It forced my tongue to touch the top of my mouth area and it felt really comfortable and relaxing. Then my body started to feel like open space as my whole being was expanding into openess, it felt really nice. Then a thought came in and said do not get lost in experiences remember to just keep watching.

This is where things kind of got confusing. The peaceful feeling was fading away and then I felt lots of layers, and lots of dense thoughts and feelings. It was very difficult for my mind to penetrate and then eventually I just faded out of it and had a feeling I should just come out of meditation or I will just fall asleep and dream.

When I go through this experiences I feel a split:

One side gets really excited and feels like I’m progressing and really enjoys the experiences because it doesn’t know what to expect, it’s like an inner journey into the unknown.

Then there’s another side that wants to control and makes sure I’m doing things “right” so it tries to remind me to watch, and it criticize etc.. It feels like the thoughts of the things I read, like reminders that try to help and say do this and do that.

I’m trying my best to describe; when I go into the “inner” being it just gets really confusing and mucky. Like so many voices, so many thoughts, I don’t even know who the heck I’am.. at times I remember I’m suppose to be the watcher, at other times I think I’m the thought, the voice, the mind, it’s like I’m all over the place and yet I’m not. I’m here one moment then I’m there the next. Things usually get so mucky or hard to penetrate that I just fall asleep from mental exhaustion, or I just get out of that state and go back into waking.


Answer : :
Well whatever be the feeling you are facing right now, at least you are on the right path. Such moments will come when you become confused whether to enjoy the experience or just be watchful. This split is also natural. You will be excited on this progress, yet a bit apprehensive of doing things ‘right’. It’s again the nature of the mind which is very subtle and keep arising doubts and confusion in us. My advise to you is not to be very serious and don’t try too hard. Let the progress be natural and gradual. We all have a long way to go. The key to progress is the attitude of ‘witness’. Mind will produce many games like this; but if you keep watching it with a non-attached attitude of witness then soon you will be able to realize your true self.

You says : “at times I remember I’m suppose to be the watcher”

You are not supposed to be a watcher. You are the watcher. You only need to realize this fact. We can realize that thoughts comes, the desires comes, the action comes. However, who makes us realize that they come ? He is already there; the real you. And you don’t need to suppose that. It’s not a belief, it’s a reality.

Ego and mind : Are they same ?

Question: Then there is the ego, I get confused between the mind and ego, I feel they are one yet not one at the same time. From what I understand mind and ego are natural but because of conditioning of society the super Ego and unclear mind has developed. Is it as simple as just watching the super ego and unclear mind act? In the act of witness and watching in neutrality letting it do what it does either good or evil, in watching eventually the super ego and unclear mind will dissolve?

Answer : Ego, in it’s purest form, if we see it closely, is nothing but a very basic feeling that we exists. Ego is what we can call a necessary evil just like the force of friction in the Physics. Ego derives all our worldly activities, it inspires the men to reach the moon and beyond. It motivates us to work hard and achieve success. Ego is what make us feel that we are here. However, it also has a negative tendency to flatten and become big in size. It gives people the false belief that they are the most important person on earth. It corrupts brilliant minds to make evil plans of conquering the world, to enter into a blind race of ambition, fame and glory. In short, it can become very dangerous if not controlled through meditation and contemplation.

Even the enlightened persons have ego. But they have the very basic form of ego. Their ego is limited to sustaining the body for it’s worldly needs like eating, drinking etc. This minimum level of ego is necessary to complete once life period on earth. However, their ego is very controlled and minimal. They don’t feel proud on getting enlightenment, they don’t feel any sense of victory. They just understand the truth that all desires are nothing but an act to enhance this ego. For them no desire remains unfilled because in the first place they no desire emanates from their mind . They have achieved a calm state of true self and don’t need any world satisfaction be it fame or fortune.

So a basic form of ego will remain in all of us. It will be necessary for us to survive. What you need to do is to be watchful of game of the ego and the mind. The mind creates thoughts, these thoughts produce desires which in turn strengthen the ego and make it big – a super ego. As your watch this game as a witness, without becoming a part of this game, you’ll be able to control the mind and the ego.

Understanding the mind through meditation

Question : Are there any techniques or ways in which I can use to help me better understand the mind and not fight it, instead to just understand it watch it and then perhaps eventually it will fix it self?

Answer : There is no technique which can help you if you fight with the mind. Fighting with the mind will only make it more powerful. Try to control the mind forcefully and get ready to fail. Thoughts are food of the mind. And when we become associated with these thoughts, we increase the power of the mind. The only way to control the mind is to be watchful of it’s activity without involving ourselves in it. You need to be a witness of the mind; a witness who observe the mind yet not become one with it. There are many meditation techniques which I have described in the meditation corner. One technique is the ‘Here and Now‘ (which probably you are trying these days) the other technique is Vipassana, the one more is ‘Zen meditation‘.

Mediation is not that difficult my friend. A little bit of practice and a little bit of genuine effort on regular basis – this is all you require. Slowly as you keep practicing it, you’ll start understanding various nuances of the mind and the method to ‘fix’ it. I as a second person can only give you advise to certain extent. Ultimately, we all have to tread our path on our own. The spiritual progress is just like that.

Awareness of body, environment & mind

Question : I find awareness of body and environment is easier compare to awareness of mind. When I try to be aware of the mind, it feels so subtle that I can get lost in it. It’s like when I watch mind it’s like watching a film, a movie, a TV show. Thoughts from the past, future, ideas, etc comes and goes then I get in it, I get identified with the thoughts or I just keep dreaming and thinking and forget I’m watching I’m thinking.

Answer : Yes, awareness of body and environment is easier compare to awareness of the mind. Body and environment are not that subtle. They can be comprehended by our senses easily. But mind is very subtle. It takes sometime to be aware of the mind and to see it as an observer. The best and the fastest way to do this is to spend some time daily on observing the mind in a peaceful place. Try to be alone and make sure that no one disturbed your during your meditation session. This way you keep the external disturbance at the minimum and you only need to work on the inner disturbances of your mind. Slowly you will be start become more and more aware of the mind.