How Long Should You Meditate For? Can You Meditate Too Much?

A lot of people ask, “how long should you meditate for?” Many also wonder whether too much meditation is dangerous. This article and video will explain the best practices for a safe and solid practice.


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How Long Should You Meditate For and How Often?

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The answer to the first question is different for everyone, though a big factor is the amount of experience you have with meditation.

Beginners are told by some teachers that they should start out at a modest two to five minutes per day just to build a daily habit. As the student becomes used to the meditation, they can increase the amount of time spent meditating.

There are programs such as Transcendental Meditation that recommend that everyone, beginners and advanced students alike, spend twenty minutes twice per day on their practice.

The question of how long to meditate, in my opinion, is trumped by momentum and consistency. Therefore, how often should you meditate is a more important question. Five minutes is just fine as long as you practice every day. Each day builds on the previous day, and the momentum is important. Try to skip as few days as possible.

If you can slip other calming and centering activities into the down times of your day, that momentum will be even better.

I like the idea of aiming for one hour per day, even for beginners. If it gets overwhelming, take breaks during that hour. You can do warm up exercises in between your five, ten or twenty minute sessions.

Warm ups can include stretching, breathing exercises, walking meditations, prayer, chant or anything you find calming and centering. This will enhance your central practice once you go back to it.

Maybe you don’t have one hour per day to spend. 5-20 minutes is fine as long as you keep a momentum in your practice. An hour is better in most cases.

This all assumes you meditate once per day. Many teachers also recommend that you meditate twice per day, once in the morning and once at night. If you spend an hour on it, you can break it into two half hour sessions.

Can You Meditate Too Much?

Too much meditation is entirely possible. Meditation opens you to raw experience. It rewires your brain. It builds gray matter and increases the number of synapses that your neurons have. This leads to greater communication between neurons and between the different parts of the brain. There are pitfalls in this process.

You can liken it to lifting weights. Weight lifters tear their muscles, especially beginners. They create chaos in that physiological system.

After some rest, that system reorganizes itself to a higher level of functioning. This comes after some overwhelm.

You need to get the routine right and not overdo it or you can cause some damage. Giving your torn muscles time to repair themselves is essential.

When you meditate too much, you’re not giving your nervous system time to reorganize itself in a coherent manner.

Meditation sensitizes you and awakens the brain. You do not want to awaken too quickly.

Just like in the case of weightlifting, you want to experience some overwhelm. However, as mentioned, there are limits.

Autobiography of a Yogi author Paramahansa Yogananda used to recommend a limit of three hours per day in meditation. That is, if my memory serves me correct. This seems like a good rule of thumb, though it still could be too much meditation for some.

Keep an eye on yourself. Watch for too many confusing or scary sensations and thoughts. You may be experiencing too much unresolved emotional material that meditation brings to the surface of the conscious mind. You may also be flooding your system with too much sensory and extrasensory information in general.

Unresolved emotional baggage seeks resolution. An excess amount of this stuff seeking resolution at one time overwhelms your bodymind’s system beyond its capacity to resolve it.

Watch for excessive spaciness or a sense of ungroundedness in daily life. These can also be signs of too much meditation.

Having any of these symptoms in small amounts is OK and normal if they soon pass. However, too much may be a sign that you need to reduce how long you meditate. In some cases, it could even be an indicator that you should find a different meditation technique.

Don’t cut back how often you meditate if you’re doing it once or twice per day. Just reduce the time of your sessions. However, there are some cases in which you may need to take a break from your practice and keep grounded instead.

Almost all good things have some element of danger, and meditation is not immune to this principle.

Knowing how much to meditate and how often is not that hard. Just keep an eye on yourself. Meditation is all about doing just that, so you’re a step ahead of the game.

Tom Von Deck, Meditation AuthorTom Von Deck is a meditation trainer, speaker and author of Oceanic Mind – The Deeper Meditation Training Course. Tom specializes in making meditation a much easier and more customized process for both busy and non-busy people from all backgrounds and paths. He is the Mackdaddy of The Deeper Meditation Blog and DeeperMeditation.net.

How much do you meditate? Have you meditated too much? Any insights into what was discussed here? Post a comment below.

11 thoughts on “How Long Should You Meditate For? Can You Meditate Too Much?”

  1. Too much! That’s rubbish! Since I began meditating everything, and I mean, everything in my life has become clearer. Challenges I had before that required strata of concentration have become almost prosaic or instinctive. Also, an ineffable state of equanimity within myself has been unleashed. The downfall of this is that your ego must constantly be in check. This due to an infinitesimal feeling of super abilities that is embraced by the ego we all have
    within. That being said, with big and new powers come bigger responsibilities. As simple as that. Why the majority of the population of this planet can’t even spell the word, beats me. This art should be a mandatory course in every school worldwide. The health care business will go bankrupt in about a month if everyone meditated at least 20 minutes daily. That is ipso facto.

  2. Also, forget about sleep. You won’t need it like before. The challenge here is what to do with the preponderance of extra time. I explore my intellect in anything I didn’t know before because now time is seriously on my side. Also, food consumption will decrease and guess what? There will be no deterioration! And, when you eat, food will taste even better. You will save money on food and probably be able to work 3 jobs like nothing. The art of Zen is probably the biggest secret ever kept in this western pathetic part of our planet. I seriously believe that the western part of the world purposely preaches against this practice so their superfluous systems could survive economically. It’s preposterous. An art the has been ratified for millenniums is barely explore or worse, practice. The simplest of things and yet so difficult to master due to the clutter that is thrown purposely in daily lives. I am sometimes befuddled by people that tell me that they don’t even have 20 minutes to incorporate this into their lives. They looked so hopeless, miserable and congested and are so blind to the answer to their problems that has been staring at them for thousands of years unnoticed. It’s really sad. I guess human beings in general are nothing more than paranoid entities that think that they should be doing something all the times otherwise, their lives are worthless. Definitely, indoctrinated by blind leaders than do nothing more but exploit their ignorance. I guess they deserve it…

    1. Hi Willow, I saw your experience in regards to meditation, and all I have to say is that I’m amazed by it! I also felt like you’re coming in a bit too ragey on the subject thought, and sincerely hope you feel peace within and outwards your mind too!
      Anyways, would you care to tell me which type of training/book you read for instructions on how to start meditation?
      Thanks!

    2. Hi willow—Thanks for your reply
      I think Henry David Thoreau said it best: ” why should we be in such a hurry to succeed,
      and in such desperate enterprises-every path but your own is the path of fate, follow your own path, and mend your fate”

      Thanks,

      TG

  3. Yes, there is too much meditation. Years ago, I did it too and felt loosing the floor under my feet. I felt, I could loose everything from my Job, my relationships and myself too. After realising that, I quit meditation for years. So better keep it easy. We didn’t embodied to this world to loose our reality.

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  6. I like the analogy to weightlifters tearing their muscles. I think here it’d be appropriate to mention that in meditation it is also similar to how weightlifters have to be consistent with their exercises and not overload their exercises. Any weightlifter will tell you that you won’t get anywhere doing workouts sporadically 😉 It’s the same with meditation

  7. Thank You for a Great Article,
    I consider meditation as awareness,
    Now concentrated sitting awareness between 2 and 3 hours is on the high end.
    You can also count your steps or say a mantra as you walk.
    It is all about awareness

    Great Article…………..

  8. When, in 2004, I started meditating for longer durations, like 45 minutes at a time, I ended up (pretty much involuntarily) having a series of 9-10 mystical experiences over a year and a half. Those experiences completely transformed my life (for the better), but I then had to do a lot of “catch-up” inner work. Now, I prefer to meditate 20 minutes a day, or maybe meditate twice a day for 20 minutes each time. I am actually not interested in attending a meditation group where they meditate for an hour, because I’m afraid I’ll become “ungrounded” (in the way I was during the time I was meditating 45 minutes per day–when I would suddenly fly off into mystical experiences quite easily). I think each person needs to decide for him/herself, rather than taking instructions from others who may not be as sensitive as he/she is.

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