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How Long Should I Meditate?

How Long Should I Meditate?

If you’re feeling unsure about how to structure your meditation practice and how long to meditate, you’re in good company.

I’ve been there.

I struggled for years with how to structure my meditation practice.  Between short, guided meditations that my yoga instructor would lead at the end of classes and my twice-yearly visits to ashrams around the US, I had certainly learned a little bit about many meditation styles.  Some were an hour in length, others were 5-minute shorties that helped me tune into my body.

I felt like I had learned a lot but didn’t have any real structure to my meditation.

I would do my best to see what felt “right” to me each day. Sometimes, it was a 10-minute guided meditation upon waking, other times it was an hour of body scanning before sleep, and other times I would skip it altogether because I was too anxious to sit down and close my eyes.

And because I was so sporadic with my meditations, I wondered often whether or not I was having any benefits. I remember asking myself, how long does meditation take to work? I hardly feel any long-lasting effects!”

It wasn’t until I met my teacher and was expertly guided into a solid Vedic Meditation practice that I began to really understand how long to meditate and the optimal time to meditate.

Vedic Meditation is a twice-daily 20-minute meditation practice that uses a mantra that helps coax the mind and body into more and more relaxed states.  Not only is it a fantastically effective meditation technique, but what I love about practicing and now teaching Vedic Meditation is that there is a standard structure of meditation that helps every novice meditator become an expert meditator within a matter of a few weeks.

Vedic Meditation has its origin story in Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the great Indian Guru who brought this mantra-based meditation style to the world in the 1950s. Maharishi not only brought this effective practice to millions of people, but he also taught the practice in a way that does not leave the meditator guessing at any point in their meditation journey.

Maharishi also trained many teachers to teach the technique, including my teacher, Thom Knoles, who was with Maharishi for over 25 years.  Thom has trained me to teach in the same way and same structure as Maharishi trained him, which is a tried and true system to allow every student who trains in Vedic Meditation to know exactly how to meditate optimally with maximum results.

Vedic Meditation encourages all students practicing to prioritize meditating 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon or evening. In the beginning days of teaching, Maharishi would often be asked about meditation time duration and how long to meditate. He originally gave different groups different times. Some were told to meditate for an hour once a day, others were instructed to meditate for 30-minutes, twice a day, etc.

After reviewing experiences and feedback, Maharishi decided that a 20-minute, twice-a-day schedule was optimal for the following reasons:

  1. These bite-sized meditation times were easy for householders (aka people who have daily responsibilities, family and friends to look after, and car payments) to integrate into their busy lives.
  2. Splitting up the meditation times allowed for integration of the benefits in their life outside of meditation
  3. The body seemingly wanted to come out of deep rest after about 20 minutes of meditation.

In short, 20-minutes seemed to give meditators the most rest and benefit for the time they invested. So, this was the daily meditation time duration that Maharishi decided on that continues on to the present day.

Vedic Meditation teacher Susan Chen sitting and meditating


There are many teachers out there who tout the benefits of any length of meditation. I see comments so often that even a daily routine of 5 minutes or a 10-breath meditation is beneficial.

While a 5-minute meditation session or 10 breaths of relaxation won’t cause harm, I recommend that we challenge ourselves and hold ourselves to an even higher level of commitment and practice.

Anecdotally, we find that it will take a few minutes for our mind and body to settle down inside Vedic Meditation, which is one of the most powerful and potent relaxation techniques available. If we were to only meditate for 5 minutes a day, we wouldn’t be able to harness the full effects of relaxation and stress reduction.

One of the things I absolutely love about Vedic Meditation is the ability it has to supercharge feelings of rest and relaxation in each setting.  Think of the practice as a powerwash for your brain and nervous system. All of the imbalances of the day (and accumulated stresses of your life) are washed away by meditation, which helps us lead transformed and empowered lives.

5-minute meditation sessions may feel like a nice pause in your day, but we know that committing to a more serious and disciplined program like Vedic Meditation will give you the resting power and potentiality to overhaul your experience of life.

four cairns on a calm relaxing beach


In addition to dialing in how long to meditate and the optimal time to meditate, we should also consider how often we are meditating and with what regularity we are committing to the practice.

Going back to how I used to meditate before finding Vedic Meditation practice, I was inconsistent mostly because I was relying on how I felt to decide on my program.  Sometimes I would try long sessions, and sometimes short sessions. What I couldn’t see back then, that I can see clearly now, is that because I held so much stress in my body, no amount of meditation seemed comfortable for me.  It was my stress that was dictating my meditation practice, not me.

Stress will also choose short meditations or perhaps convince us to bail inside meditations, as we know that meditations can sometimes feel dynamic in their ability to release stress.

When one meditates in a structure like Vedic Meditation, a body of teaching that spans thousands of years with millions of practitioners, we take the guesswork out of meditation and don’t allow our stress to call the shots.  We follow the prescribed program, optimized by the tens of thousands of meditators that Maharishi taught in his early days, and begin to experience all the benefits of this disciplined, structured approach in our everyday lives.

Instead of concerning ourselves with questions like “How long should you meditate for benefits?” We are engaged with the process of meditation and feel confident in the program we’ve been taught.

How long does meditation take to work?

If the idea of a more structured approach to meditation sounds good to you, you may be asking yourself “how long does meditation take to work.”

All forms of meditation work for their intended purpose.  With each meditation practice, we are moving along the continuum of the ultimate purpose of the meditation program you are embarking on.

So, I always recommend that if you are getting serious about a program, do your research and find out what the benefits of the meditation program are, and how long it will take to feel the benefits.

In Vedic Meditation, students who take the beginners 4-Day Course regularly report benefits within the first 4 days of learning! Better sleep, less anxiety, and feeling calmer are all common experiences of a Vedic Meditator with only a few days of meditation.

Day by day, with the regular and systematic release of stress through Vedic Meditation, one will enjoy a balancing effect of the mind and body in a natural and enjoyable way.

Susan Chen and Thom Knoles standing near water

Leverage The Experience of an Expert Teacher

To take the guesswork out of how long to meditate and technique-related quandaries, look for an expert teacher to take you through the process. Ask them how long they’ve been practicing and teaching, and the history behind the style of meditation they are teaching.

Vedic Meditation teachers trained by Thom Knoles have thousands of hours of training and experience, and they can guide any meditator through the practice of meditation in an effective, enjoyable, and effortless way.  And, the technique of Vedic Meditation dates back thousands of years. It’s been battle-tested by millions to offer the structure and program that is effective for anyone willing to invest 20-minutes, twice-a-day to it.

Investing in working with an expert in the field will free you up to live life enjoying the benefits of meditation, instead of doing your own research on how long to meditate for.

To take the next step, join me for an Introductory Talk to learn more about Vedic Meditation and see if we might be a good fit to work together.

About Susan


I learned Vedic Meditation to feel more like myself again.

Before long, I began to feel present and relaxed, and all the years of pushing and stressing lifted.


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