Regular meditation has many benefits, from stress reduction to anxiety reduction to better sleep. But how to meditate and for how long is not always clear.
May 21 is World Meditation Day, and we asked Vishen Lakhiani, CEO of Mindvalley and a meditation expert with 20 years of experience, how long people should meditate to get the most out of the practice.
“People think that the length of your meditation is what determines the quality of your meditation. [That’s] not true,” Lakhiani told CNBC Make It.
The greatest benefits will occur within the first few minutes [of meditation].
Meditation expert and CEO of Mindvalley
Longer meditation does not always mean greater benefits, and meditating too long can sometimes diminish the quality of your meditation.
Often people assume that an hour is what they should be aiming for, for better quality meditations. But Lakhiani strongly disagrees.
“Dive for one to three minutes in peace”
Contrary to popular belief, “I tell my students, don’t meditate for an hour a day,” Lakhiani says. “Life is bigger than that.”
Instead, he recommends meditating no more than 20 minutes, and sometimes less than five. “For most people, 15 to 20 minutes will give you exactly the changes you need,” says Lakhiani.
“You can dive for one to three minutes in tranquility and you can see remarkable results. The greatest benefits will occur within the first few minutes.”
“Don’t think you need an hour of meditation,” he warns. He suggests using the extra 40 minutes you should have meditated to do these activities:
- To read a book
- Do high intensity exercise
- Spend time with your loved ones
Practice “active meditation”
Most people are too busy to dedicate an hour to meditation, so Lakhiani encourages her students to practice active meditation throughout the day.
“Active meditation is about turning problems into projects,” he says. “If you’re feeling a little anxious or worried about a deliverable you have to do by the end of the week, and you’re stuck, you can imagine yourself completing the project, seeing yourself receiving praise from the boss [and] see yourself so proud of your work.”
This tactic is a form of active meditation also known as creative visualization, and it’s something you can practice several times a day for less than five minutes.
Other forms of active meditation can include practicing compassion for others and reflecting on the things you are grateful for.
Shorter meditations allow you to meditate multiple times in the same day, says Lakhiani. Meditate for “no more than 20 minutes, and you can stack these modalities.”
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