If you’d like to give meditation a try but aren’t sure how to go about it, this practical guide offers some tips.
- What is meditation
- How long do I need to meditate?
- Do I need to practise everyday?
- How long does it take to work?
- Is a particular posture important?
- Do I need to be in a quiet place?
- Does meditation work for everyone?
- Can I try it by myself or do I need to take a course?
- Is meditation ever unsafe?
- More info
Do you like the idea of meditation, but aren’t sure how often to practise or if you’ll need to sit in a lotus position for long periods? Meditation practice is probably far less complicated than you think and you don’t even have to sit on the floor.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a practice that involves training your mind to pay attention. For more information check out our Fact File: Meditation: what’s it all about?
How long do I need to meditate?
If want to manage stress or improve your ability to focus on tasks, experts say you will notice benefits after regular practice of as little as five minutes twice a day. When you have extra time you can aim for longer meditations.
But research suggests you’ll need to try longer periods – around 40 minutes a day (or two blocks of 20 minutes) – if you are trying to manage conditions like severe chronic pain, depression, or significant symptoms of cancer (or its treatment). Note: If your level of distress is very high, it can be hard to learn meditation for the first time. Coming out of a trough can be a good time to learn skills to prevent you going back into another one.
Monash University’s Dr Craig Hassed, a GP and past founding president of the Australian Teachers of Meditation Association, says two short meditations (of five minutes each, or longer if time allows) at the beginning of the day and early evening, can serve as “fullstops” or moments of stillness to punctuate your day. But he suggests people also try a number of “commas” throughout the day as well. This might include a 30 second meditation before going into a meeting, or a one minute session before lunch.
The aim of meditation is not just to have a time out in a hectic day but also to help change your awareness at the times when you are not meditating.