As human beings, we possess the capability of self-awareness, and this self-awareness affords us the luxury of being able to meditate.
We have the capacity to cultivate introspective qualities at any given moment, contemplate our place in the world, both individually and collectively, and consciously immerse ourselves in the present moment.
Well, at least to the best of our knowledge. We cannot presume to speak for the sentience of other living beings. Perhaps trees and reptiles can meditate better than we can.
Returning to the central question: it is evident that meditation offers a wide array of benefits that extend into the emotional, physical, and spiritual dimensions of our lives.
So with this in mind, how often should you meditate to garner these benefits?
How does one, if creating some sort of result-focused value is the correct goal, determine how often you should meditate?
This is really an open-ended question that is worth you exploring individually, as there is no one-size-fits-all formula. Use our article as a guide as we delve into the various facets of this inquiry.
In this article we’ll take a look at the below:
- What Is Meditation?
- What Is Sadhana?
- How Often Does A Monk Meditate For?
- How Often Should You Meditate?
- Benefits Of Regular Meditation
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is a conscious application of your attention on a particular object, thought, or activity. Generally, it’s in aid of creating some sort of mental clarity, and involves techniques resembling stillness.A widely recognised style of meditation is of course sitting down peacefully, focusing on your breath or some sort of visualization.
According to yogic philosophy, meditation would be a part of a practitioner’s sadhana. Meditation would be a central practice of this sadhana, and how often one would meditate would need to be in line with one’s sadhana.
Generally, a sadhana would be a daily practice, but the specific nature of sadhana varies depending on the tradition, your particular goals, and your particular inclinations.
What Is Sadhana?
“Sadhana” is a Sanskrit term employed in Hinduism, Buddhism, and various other Indian spiritual customs.
It signifies a structured and devoted spiritual practice adopted by individuals who aspire to attain spiritual development, self-awareness, or enlightenment.
Sadhana serves as a pathway to establish a profound connection with one’s inner self and the divine realm.
Some common elements may include:
Sadhana is about transcending the ego, cultivating discipline, and attaining spiritual awakening through consistent, daily effort.
If you’re trying to figure out how often you should meditate, and you want to apply the Eastern concept of sadhana, remember that it is still up to you how deeply you want to apply this framework.
For example, you could just take meditation and asana practice as non-negotiable aspects of a daily routine.
How Often Does A Monk Meditate For?
There are always two ways of looking at things: an idealistic way, and a contextual way. An ideal answer to the question would be, well, as much as possible.
In this section, I will illustrate this concept using the example of a Thai Buddhist monk.
Meet Chatri, a 32-year-old Thai man who has spent the majority of his life in Northern Thailand. His parents are Buddhists and were proud when Chatri was accepted into monkhood as a teenager.
Now, Chatri resides in one of the many traditional forest monasteries, where he diligently studies dharma.
Chatri follows the meditation regimen prescribed by his monastic community. He engages in walking meditation in the mornings and evenings and dedicates at least three hours to sitting meditation during the day.
Before retiring for the night, he joins fellow monks in a meditative chant as a tribute to their spiritual journey.
In Thai Buddhist culture, monks are highly revered for their commitment to accumulating good merit through meditation.
This “good merit” refers to their dedication to studying the dharma and engaging in extensive meditation practices, which enable them to cultivate the qualities of Buddha within themselves.
As a result, they become a karmic and saintly resource for the surrounding community.
The monastic framework, known as “sangha,” exists to allow monks to be free from the obligations of ordinary life, such as earning an income and starting families.
This freedom is crucial because the pursuit of accumulating good merit is considered an exceptionally noble endeavor.
Monks also report extreme levels of tranquility and mindfulness.
And so, according to the framework of Theravada Buddhism, you should meditate as much as possible, as the rewards of karmic growth and mental stillness are produced to a greater extent.
How Often Should You Meditate?
Short of renouncing your worldly possessions and becoming a monk, how often should you meditate?
It’s likely as one of our readers you have to participate in society, have familial relationships, and have responsibilities.
There is no universal rule, and it is subjective. Here are some factors that should come into play:
#1: The Objective Of Meditation
Your meditation frequency should align with your specific meditation goals. If your aim is to manage stress and promote relaxation, even a few minutes of daily meditation might suffice.
However, if your goal is to delve deeper into your practice or achieve profound spiritual growth, you might opt for longer and more frequent meditation sessions.
#2: Time In Your Schedule
Take into account your daily schedule and commitments. Strive for a balance between your meditation practice and other responsibilities.
Regular, short sessions can be just as effective as longer ones. Depending on your schedule, you can choose to meditate daily or several times a week.
#3: Incorporate Consistency
Consistency is a crucial factor in reaping the benefits of meditation. It’s often more productive to meditate briefly every day than to engage in lengthy sessions sporadically.
Establishing a routine that suits your lifestyle and can be sustained is essential.
#4: Easy Does It
If you’re new to meditation, begin with shorter sessions and progressively extend their duration as you gain experience and comfort. This gradual approach can help you build a sustainable meditation practice.
How Often Should You Meditate According to Goenka
According to Goenka-ji, who founded the popular 10-day Vipassana meditation retreats, it is recommended that someone with the responsibilities of a householder should meditate once in the morning and once in the evening.
This is because we have to exercise the mind.
When we want to nurture and look after the body, we do exercise. Lots of us take part in asana classes, running, and so on. We want to keep our body healthy and strong, and enjoy it.
The same notion applies with meditation, we want to keep the mind equally healthy and strong.
Daily, consistent practice would be the perfect recipe for this, in the same way daily exercise would also produce healthy bodies.
Benefits Of Regular Meditation
So whether you’re very busy, or have the same amount of time on your hands as a monk, we’re saying that you should meditate as much as possible, but as your lifestyle allows. Consistency is absolutely the key here.
Regular meditation, whether it’s once a month or within a daily sadhana, has a whole host of benefits. Here we list the main benefits of regular meditation:
#1: Enhanced Peace Of Mind
Regular meditation is a surefire way to cultivate peace of mind. Regularly sticking to meditation encourages well-being by helping you gain better control over your emotions, and regulation of thought.
#2: Increased Concentration
Regular meditation enhances your aptitude in staying focused and your ability to concentrate. It can train your mind to become less easily distracted and more attentive to the task at hand.
#3: Reduce Stress And Anxiety
Regular meditation is celebrated for its capacity to alleviate stress. It prompts the body’s relaxation response, which in turn reduces the secretion of stress hormones, such as cortisol.
This gradual process can culminate in a noticeable reduction in one’s overall stress levels.
#4: Improves Self-Awareness
Meditation acts as a nurturing tool on the path of introspection and self-reflection, guiding you toward forging a profound connection with your inner self.
It can help you understand your thoughts, behaviors, and emotions on a deeply physiological and mental level. The more you meditate, the more you explore yourself.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine how often you should meditate.
Meditation as well is something that is about just doing it, rather than necessarily understanding it.
Monk or householder, meditation is an inner exploration that if practiced regularly, has huge benefits.
I liken meditation to kneading bread. To bake a decent loaf of bread, you need to aerate the bread and create pockets for the gas for the yeast to expand into the dough.
You don’t talk this aeration into the bread, you have to knead it continuously. You have to have faith that the effort you’re putting in will yield results further down the line.
The act of pushing and folding bread seems to have no innate quality that grants the miraculous healthy rising of amazing bread. But it is crucial!
And sitting still in mindfulness might feel the same, mundane and repetitive. But with consistent effort and practice, you will reap what you sow.
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