Myth 2: “It is better to meditate for 30-60 minutes a day or longer.”
I get it. A part of you wants to be the guru at the top of the mountain where peace flows in and out like the waves on a beach. And you can't wait to get there. So you think you will meditate your brains out so you can have that peace because this non-peace you are experiencing is so *$!* lousy.
Like going to the gym, starting a diet, or the beginning of a new semester, we can get really enthusiastic about the results we are seeking when we begin meditation. Often, it is only the promises we are told about the benefits of meditation that get us started anyway.
And so I almost hate to tell you-a couple of long sessions meditating will most likely not get you the results you are looking for. Fortunately, multi-hour sessions will probably not hurt you either, and BTW if you are in the middle of a mediation and it does actually hurt, stop doing it.
The real power in mindful meditation comes over a period of time. Weeks, not years, fortunately. But daily, not weekly, in repetition. So what does that mean in practical terms?
Well, fortunately, you don't have to clear your schedule for mega-marathon meditation sessions. The time it takes to get the benefits from mindful meditation is far, far less than a trip to the gym. But to do meditation, you actually have to do it. So you do need to find a way to put it into your daily routine.
Try these things: Research suggests that building new habits into our day occurs faster and easier when we do the new thing as soon after we wake up as possible. So schedule your meditation practice as early in your day as you can. Also, chain your practice with something you know you already do on a daily basis, and it will become a habit faster. So maybe you will chain it with making your daily coffee, reading the morning news, or right before you brush your teeth. One last, but important, thought; schedule only as much time for your daily meditation as what it will feel like is not quite enough.
When you first start a meditation practice, you want to end your meditation time wishing it could have been longer, and therefore looking forward to being able to do it the next day. If that means meditating for only 5 minutes a day, then start at 5 minutes.
Meditation groups can help you stay focused on your practice as well. Gee, where can you find one of those?
Additional resource: Small Move, Big Change by Caroline Arnold.