The stresses of work and family life can sometimes prove to be too much, and improving your level of self-care is essential – more so now than it has ever been. One of the ways in which you can lower your stress levels is by meditating, and more and more people are taking an interest in a daily meditation practice – but how much is too much?
As with anything, it is entirely possible to meditate too much, although this may differ for different people, with many people meditating twice a day for an hour at a time and finding this to be acceptable. In contrast, there are those who would find these sessions far too long.
In this article, we are going to look at whether meditating too much is bad for you and what the ideal amount of time is.
Is There A Limit To Meditation?
There is no limit to meditation, and what will work well for you may not work as well for others. In the early days, beginners may find that meditating for more than a few minutes at a time is unbearable, and it takes time to develop your meditation skills, just like other types of activities.
Those who have honed the practice over many years may find that each session lasts an hour or more but might only feel like a few minutes.
There are many meditating apps such as Headspace and videos on Youtube these days,. Still, most expert meditators will tell you that to begin you, someone with very little experience would want to try just a couple of minutes twice a day in order to build a stable practice. Your meditation times can then increase as you get used to the practice and gain more experience.
In contrast, there are some things such as transcendental meditation, which is a relaxed practice that incorporates a mantra that suggests everyone should do just 20 minutes of meditation per day regardless of their level of experience.
So, in reality, while there is such a thing as too much meditation, how much this is will depend on the person who is meditating.
Is It OK To Meditate Multiple Times A Day?
One of the other most common musings when it comes to involving meditating in your life is how often you should meditate. In fact, this is potentially a more important consideration over the length of each session. If you are looking to make a habit of the practice, then it is important to make it a priority in your life. For this reason, it is important to set a goal to meditate every day – even if it is for just a small amount of time.
Again, the amount of times that you meditate per day will depend on your daily life and the other activities that take priority. One of the best ways to make sure that you remember to meditate each day is to download an app – many of these will have streaks that can help you stay on track and reach your meditation goals. Human beings are naturally geared to respond to this type of reward system, so it can be an important part of your journey.
When you are looking to start meditating many times per day, the quality of the meditations is of far greater importance than how many times you do it.
Meditation is a way to relieve stress and go inwards. Meditation may serve as a way to discover more about yourself or simply be used as a way to relax. But whatever reason you are meditating for, it is important that you benefit from each meditation.
Most meditation teachers would say that two lots of 20 minutes are suitable, and it makes sense to split these up with many people forming a morning meditation habit and an extra few minutes at the end of the day. This is a good idea since, in the morning, your mind is clear and free from distractions. In contrast, at the end of the day, you will have time to reflect on the things that have happened while your mind winds down.
However, this is not something that will work for everyone, and it is important to find a way to fit meditation into your life. Some people find that several five-minute sessions make more sense – the most important thing is to be consistent and try not to skip a day.
If you notice that you are doing a meditation several times a day, but it is taking over your family life or interfering with your career and other responsibilities, you might wish to consider meditation addiction.
Can Meditation Be Harmful?
As we have just mentioned, it is entirely possible to become addicted to meditation. A meditation addiction forms when you become reliant on this practice because of an intense feeling of bliss. In contrast, there are many studies that show meditation is an effective tool in the treatment of addiction – how can it be both?
Much of how you view meditation will depend a lot on you. Some people can become easily addicted to anything without even thinking about it whereas another person might struggle to even feign an interest in something like meditating. If you are the latter, it can be very difficult to feel everything that a person who has a greater connection to meditation can feel.
Aside from being an addictive practice for some people, meditation may have adverse effects. This is backed by data found in a study conducted by Brown University, in which several subjects were assessed regarding their meditation experience, and the results were anything but mundane.
In the main, you will likely get everything you expect from meditating such as lower stress levels, increased relaxation and many others. However, everything in life has a downside and meditation is no exception.
So with this in mind, let’s take a look at what these studies revealed and what some meditation practitioners experienced that was negative.
- There was some suggestion that regular meditations could cause negative thoughts – this is the complete opposite to what people try to gain when they meditate.
- Alongside negative thoughts, there was some suggestion that too much meditation or even meditating at all could cause the mind to relive traumatic or negative experiences which can be very distressing. This is undoubtedly one of the worst symptoms that was noted during the research.
- There was some suggestion that those who meditate might lose their sense of self and this caused them to feel that they had lost who they were as a person. Furthermore, some participants reported that after intense meditation or attending a meditation retreat, they were unable to integrate back into society.
- Ther could be some physical symptoms that come from meditating and these might include involuntary movements, fatigue, headache and gastrointestinal issues among other things.
- Some of those that had taken part in this research were seen to experience sensory interruption. This was seen in a variety of ways including being more sensitive to noise and seeing lights that were not there. There were several other sensory symptoms that were prevalent in this research which participants found dstracting at best and frustrating at worst.
- It was noted that these people lost a lot of motivation and this is one of the majoy side effects if you meditate too much. A lot of those who meditate will aim to form a non-attachment which can frequently be seen to alter motivation levels meaning that individuals lost interest in things that they once enjoyed, with their family, for example of lacked productivity at work.
While this may make meditation sound like something you would want to completely avoid, it is important to remember that these symptoms are rare and are only really likely if you spend too much time practising meditation. For the most part, if you practice one time each day, meditation will be a pleasant and enjoyable experience that yields far more benefits than it does negative symptoms.
What Are You Supposed To Do When You Meditate?
One of the most difficult things for those who are new to meditation is that they struggle to understand what you are meant to do when you meditate. One of the most common misconceptions about meditation is that you must sit in a full lotus pose, clear you mind and completely let go. Letting go and focusing the mind are both important but all meditation teachers will tell you that no human is able to totally eliminate thoughts from their mind.
The idea is quite simple; you are taking the time to remove yourself from the stress of your responsibilities, whether that he work, family or anything else. You are giving yourself permission to reset and be with yourself. Meditation is usually something that is done alone and in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
- Try to give yourself time to slow down rather than jumping directly into a meditation. This first step might involve some deep breathing and ensuring that there is nothing that requires your immediate attention as this can serve as a distraction.
- When you are ready, get into a comfortable position – this doesn’t have to be lotus pose, you may simply sit in your favourite chair or lie on the ground.
- Close your eyes and allow your thoughts to just be. Don’t try to interact with them but simply observe them – there may be times where you go into a deep meditative state and barely notice your thought. In contrast, there is a meditation technique that encourages you to watch your thoughts and learn from them. Just know that this is what is meant to happen, clearing your head entirely cannot happen.
- To stay focused, you can return your awareness to the breathing as this will keep you in the present moment. Alternatively you may chant a mantra, which is a word or phrase that gives your meditation a purpose and allows for improved focus.
- Once the meditation is over, it can be tempting to quickly rush back to other things but you should take a few moments to return. This might include having a glass of water, stretching or going for a walk. It is important not to undo your hard work at this point.
A lot of people meditate but there is always the question of can you meditate too much; in short, yes you can. You would notice this if meditation became a chore for you rather than something enjoyable. But the time you meditate is a very personal thing and will vary from person to person. It is important to find a meditation schedule that works for you.