The second most frequent question I get asked – after how many times a week should I do yoga (Click here to read my reflection on this question) – is how long should I meditate each day in order to reap the benefits? Well, it appears that brief daily meditations can have a positive effect and it can be as simple as picking your favorite meditation to listen to each day for just 8 weeks!
When I was first introduced to the idea of meditation on my yoga mat, I was still struggling with giving myself permission to include taking care of myself on my “To Do” list and was in the process of embracing the idea of that in order to take care of another, I must take care of myself first. So, the idea of creating time to sit still and empty my mind of my thoughts did not seem realistic. And, at the time, we didn’t have “smart” phones we carried around with us all day!
As I continued my yoga practice on my mat, I learned that meditation can take many forms, not just one. In fact, the very last pose of all yoga practices – savasana – is a very powerful meditation opportunity. When I initially found myself in savasana, I used the time to organize my “To Do” list for the following day, leaving my mat feeling uplifted by the clarity this time created for me to get even more organized. It took me awhile to release my attachment to the need to be productive even in the quiet, still moments of life and fully appreciate those moments to simply BE.
As I slowly began to embrace the concept of less is more and challenge society’s demand for multi-tasking, I opened up to the idea that creating more opportunities for “being” brought balance to all of the “doing”, which, I personally discovered reduced my anxiety and allowed space for a response instead of a reaction. I found myself in yoga classes 5, 6, 7 times a week as my body was motivating my mind to get through the “doing” to settle into the “being” that savasana supported. The challenge then became how to learn how to meditate off of my mat, without a teacher guiding me in a group class.
And that is one of the exciting offerings that advances in technology bring to us today – you can access meditations online without ever leaving your own place of comfort! So, the question then becomes, is this sort of meditation effective, where you are listening to someone guiding you through the practice or is it required that you sit in silence trying to quiet your mind on your own to gain the benefits? Well, recent research conducted with non-experienced meditators suggests that such a daily practice can enhance attention and memory and improve mood and emotional regulation. The research had participants listen to a 13-minute recorded, guided meditation for 8 weeks and found that such a short, practical meditation practice affected cognitive functioning in these ways with non-experienced meditators!
So now might be the perfect time to find that guided meditation that you find comforting and soothing to download and start listening. This research also found that only 4 weeks was not enough time to experience the beneficial impact, so don’t give up!
To read more about this research study, click on the button below: