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How long should I Meditate?

 How long should I Meditate?

In general, people meditate from 10 to 30 minutes. Usually it is not the length of time but the frequency that speeds up your approach to the benefits of Meditation. It is just like playing sports or studying. It is better to practise frequently than just once in a while. 

Besides: it is easier to find time for a short Meditation than for a Meditation of thirty minutes or longer. Especially at first Meditating can be hard to do and therefore we advise you to start slowly. 

The first few minutes of a Meditation session are always needed to "get things started". It is just like running. We must first do a warming-up and the first few miles are often quite hard and troublesome. After a couple of minutes we get rid of our thoughts and we begin to relax. 

Often we get a little sleepy in this stage. When we meditate a little longer we notice how our mind wakes up and we can combine relaxation with an alert mind. This is the optimal Meditation situation that we like to get into. 

If you want to meditate for longer than 45/60 minutes, then things get more and more difficult because our natural ability to concentrate becomes weaker when we want to use this ability for too long a period of time. Therefore it is better to start with short Meditations from 5 tot 15 minutes. 

"It is better to strive after short periods of great quality, than to meditate for long periods without being really focussed" The Dalai Lama writes in practically all his books.

It is advisable to use a couple of weeks or months to experiment and to improve your ability of concentration. After that you can, if you wish to do so, lengthen your Meditations from 20 minutes to one hour. 

You will notice the difference and you will experience a deepening of your Meditation. Perhaps you will come to like Meditating so much that you will want to give up your job to become a Zen monk in order to be able to meditate all day long!

We advise you to spend short periods of time Meditating a number of times every day. Meditating every day is an excellent way to train yourself to live for longer periods of time in the NOW. 

Meditate when you are waiting for your turn in the bakery shop, when you are sitting in the toilet or in the train, when you are eating strawberries or when you are walking to your office. You will be surprised how effective such short Meditations are to relax you and to calm you down.

Deciding beforehand how long your regular Meditations should last can help you to make your Meditations easier and deeper. First of all, you often lose every sense of time during Meditations. 

Use a stopwatch so that you do not have to worry about when to stop. In de second place, fixed periods of time help you to resist the temptation to stop too soon. A restless mind will do everything it can to cause you to stop sooner than you intended to. 

Observe your own mind with all its temptations without being carried along with them. That is the real point of Meditating! Look upon the temptations as challenges that can help you to make your Meditations deeper.

It is a good thing not to take your Meditating too seriously or too strictly. Discipline, guidelines en regularity can certainly help you, but you should always realise that Meditating is not a form of working or fighting. 

If you demand too much from yourself as regards your Meditating, it can become hard to live up to your expectations and in the long run Meditating can become a burden instead of a form of relaxation.

A young but earnest Zen student approached his teacher, and asked the Zen Master:

"If I work very hard and diligent how long will it take for me to find Zen."
The Master thought about this, then replied, "Ten years."

The student then said, "But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast -- How long then ?"
Replied the Master, "Well, twenty years."

"But, if I really, really work at it. How long then ?" asked the student.
"Thirty years," replied the Master.

"But, I do not understand," said the disappointed student. "At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that ?"
Replied the Master," When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path."


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