At our Intro to Meditation classes, the recommendation is to start with baby steps: Begin with a short meditation every morning, just 10 or 15 minutes tops, and focus on building the habit of meditation into your life. It’s not necessary to do massive long meditations at the beginning. The most important thing at the beginning is to be like Nike and just do it. For most people, it’s a big deal to establish the habit of meditation and that’s much (much much much) more important than trying to be some kind of superstar and do extended meditations right away.
I got a question from someone after attending her first Intro class asking if it’s OK to meditate twice a day.
And the answer to that is OF COURSE!
It’s fine to meditate twice a day and in fact is the preferred structure over time, but it’s also possible to overdo it at the beginning and burn out. Sometimes people go into “overachiever mode” and try to do too much, and then get frustrated or have expectations that are too high or whatever, and give up on meditation before giving it a chance to work in their lives. Meditation is subtle and the effects build over time. The best way to ensure that you give it the time needed to see those effects is to make it easy to get started. Meditation feels foreign to many people and it’s sometimes hard to stick with it at first.
That being said, it can be a lot easier to build up the initial skills if you do it more frequently. Twice a day is fine, and two shorter sessions can even be better than doing one marathon meditation in the morning. Personally, I wouldn’t suggest doing more than 20 minutes at a time to begin; most people end up just spacing out if they try to push for longer, and spacing out is the exact opposite to meditation – it can do more damage than good. The trick is to stay focused and work it, and if you’re able to maintain that for 20 minutes with concentration, it will actually do more benefit than floundering around for 30 minutes or more.
Again, the most important part of meditation is doing it. If you’re inspired to do it twice a day, then go for it! Take advantage of your inspiration and see where you can go with it – that’s an exciting place to be and you can see results come quickly when you dive in.
For many people however, carving out time for just one meditation can be a big enough task to deal with. So don’t feel pressured to do more than necessary.
Just 10 minutes a day at the beginning is really enough. You can build up the time once you’ve got the practice of meditation ingrained as part of your life.