How Long Should You Meditate?

Woman sitting cross-legged meditating.

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Meditation can be a valuable practice for people of all backgrounds, but knowing how much time you should meditate every day can be challenging. It is a good idea to start with a small amount of time and work your way up from there. Starting slowly will help you avoid becoming frustrated or discouraged if you aren't getting the results that you want at first.

Start with short sessions that you can add to as you grow better at meditating. It can be tempting to try and meditate for hours at a time when you first start, but it is much better to practice consistently with shorter sessions than trying to push yourself too hard in the beginning. You should always feel refreshed and relaxed after your meditation session, not drained or exhausted.

Remember that it will take a while to master the art of meditation, so don't feel bad if it takes a long time to experience the full benefits. In fact, this is extremely common, and you should never feel discouraged if it takes time to see results.

How Long Should You Meditate to See Results?

According to a 2018 study published in Behavioural Brain Research, meditating for 13 minutes a day for eight weeks led to decreased negative mood state, enhanced attention, working memory, recognition memory, and decreased state anxiety. The study also found that participants who meditated for eight weeks had more significant results than those who meditated for four weeks.

Although it is not an exact science, the consensus seems that to see benefits from meditation, you should aim for at least 10 minutes a day at a minimum. However, each person will respond differently, so it's important to test out longer meditation periods if 10 minutes does not seem to be making a difference for you.

How Long Should a Beginner Meditate For?

A beginner might want to start out meditating for at least five minutes a day. Starting with only five minutes will allow you to get used to it. It will also help you commit to your meditation practice without creating too much pressure, which helps reduce stress levels, making meditation easier for beginners.

Starting with five minutes a day will also help you develop a better sense of when to meditate. If five minutes feels too long, try starting with less time and adding one more minute every week until you eventually get to the desired amount of time.

Is 10 Minutes of Meditation Enough?

If you're wondering whether as little as 10 minutes of meditation is enough, this depends on your goal and meditation style. If you're a beginner and looking to reduce stress, then 10 minutes should be enough.

However, if you're looking to focus more on calmness and increased concentration, then up to 30 minutes might be better as you'll have time for some light stretches as well as breathing techniques. Whether you choose to meditate for 10 minutes or 30, ensure that you're doing it every day, as this will help train your mind to become more aware throughout the day.

How Many Times a Day Should You Meditate?

Ideally, it would be best if you meditated at least once a day. Consistency is the most important thing to focus on for beginners. Studies have shown that people who meditate daily are more likely to stick with their routine and benefit more from meditation than those who don't.

When Should You Meditate?

The best time of day to meditate depends on several factors, including your schedule. Make sure you choose a time when you feel best and are most likely to adhere to your routine.

Is it better to meditate first thing in the morning after waking up? Yes and no. It depends on what type of meditation you're trying to practice.

Many people find that morning meditation is best for two reasons: it's a nice way to start the day by being mindful and practicing self-care; two, It gives you some time to yourself before diving into your daily routine.

In contrast, you might prefer meditating in the afternoon or at night, because it's a quiet time to practice. This also helps counterbalance all the information you've been taking in throughout the day.

Overall, there are benefits to doing your meditation practice at different times of the day. Try out different times and see what works best for you.

How Long Should You Meditate for Anxiety?

If you live with anxiety, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a type of meditation that might help you. Developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, this research-backed program is designed to be completed for eight weeks and involves daily 45 minute sessions to help you reduce stress and anxiety.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research reported on a systematic review of MBSR. Researchers found that "results suggested large effects on stress, moderate effects on anxiety, depression, distress, quality of life, and small effects on burnout."

Although these study results are promising, MBSR involves committing to 45 minutes per day of mindfulness practice, which may not be practical for some people. Another approach might be to consider committing 45 minutes to your practice in smaller 10-minute chunks throughout the day.

How Often Should You Meditate?

In terms of how often you should meditate, it's up to you. Some people benefit from sitting once every day, while others prefer a short session in the morning and another in the evening.

Sitting more than once a day can help manage overthinking and keep your mind calm and stress-free throughout the day. It's important to try different methods and see what works for you before adding it to your daily schedule.

Opinions vary between teachers and traditions, but one thing is clear: Don't force anything. Meditation is all about checking in with yourself and your needs, not pushing beyond your limits.

How Long Does it Take for Meditation to Change the Brain?

In terms of how long it takes to change your brain, the research is still emerging. However, a study published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews found that mindfulness training can actually cause physical changes in the brain when used over a period of time.

That being said, not all meditation teachers would agree that the time it takes for meditation to change your brain is relevant. Instead, they would argue that even just a few minutes each day can have immediate benefits and help you become more mindful throughout your day.

A Word From Verywell

If you are just starting out with meditation, there's no need to feel pressure to do it for hours every day. Even if you only have 10 minutes to set aside during your lunch break or before bed, this is enough time for your body and mind to experience the benefits of meditation.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Basso JC, McHale A, Ende V, Oberlin DJ, Suzuki WA. Brief, daily meditation enhances attention, memory, mood, and emotional regulation in non-experienced meditatorsBehav Brain Res. 2019;356:208-220. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2018.08.023

  2. Khoury B, Sharma M, Rush SE, Fournier C. Mindfulness-based stress reduction for healthy individuals: A meta-analysisJ Psychosom Res. 2015;78(6):519-528. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2015.03.009

  3. Fox KC, Nijeboer S, Dixon ML, et al. Is meditation associated with altered brain structure? A systematic review and meta-analysis of morphometric neuroimaging in meditation practitionersNeurosci Biobehav Rev. 2014;43:48-73. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.03.016

By Arlin Cuncic
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety."