How Much Is Too Much Meditation? Is it even possible to meditate too much?
….. Some people seem to think so. These few like to blame meditation for some of the negativity in their lives.
However, there is such a vast amount of research available that proves how a regular meditation practice, integrated into normal daily living, is beneficial in so many ways.
So what’s going on? How can a practice that benefits so many people, in so many ways, have negative consequences for a few others? Let’s check it out!
How Much Is Too Much Meditation?
The practice of meditation is considered, beyond a doubt to be beneficial. However, some people may not like what they discover about the essential nature of ‘THEMSELVES.’ And some use meditation as an escape from the reality of daily living and end up feeling disassociated from their lives. These issues and others, are not the result of the practice of meditation but rather the results of the conditions of the minds of the practitioners.
Can You Meditate Too Much In A Day?
I have been meditating for more than 25 years now….. Wow, that long? How time flies….. However, I have not always been consistent. Life sometimes just gets in the way. But that’s all good!
During that time, most of my meditations have been solo and at home. However, I have also done a few Vipassana courses, which I really enjoyed. Some for 3 days and some retreats for ten-days.
So, for ten days, we sat for at least ten hours a day, spread throughout the day. We didn’t talk to anyone or even look at anyone else. We just, as much as possible, experienced ‘ourselves.’
Before doing the course, I had the benefit of listening to previous students tell me how difficult it was. However, my experience at the end of it was that I wanted more….. Ten days was just not enough…..
I mention this to highlight the differences between us as individuals. So while we are doing the same practice, we are beginning from different experience points on our journey and will therefore experience different results.
Some people do forty and fifty-day meditation retreats without any adverse effects. And monks and nuns may do a lifetime living in monasteries, or sitting in a cave, without any negative mental, emotional, or physical side effects.
Meditation is not the problem. However, problems may arise in certain individuals who have mental and emotional issues that, when exposed through the process of meditating, they are currently unwilling or unable to face.
It’s like some people have an issue with overeating. Is food the problem or is it up to the individual what they put in their mouths? Others have an issue with lack of exercise. Do we blame the lack of exercise options available or is the individual responsible for not taking advantage of the readily available options?
We all know about the negative aspects of consuming too much social media…. but, like all things, it’s only a problem for those who are indulging in more than they are mentally and emotionally equipped to handle.
And meditation can be viewed in the same way. It is not the quantity of meditation we are doing, but the quality of meditation we do that affects us. And we need to be responsible for ourselves and learn to recognize when we are losing the balance between what is good for us and what can potentially harm us.
Can You Get Addicted To Meditating?
Some people become addicted to alcohol, others to drugs, medicines, work, sex, etc….. The list is long, and yes, we humans have lots of stuff that we blame for ‘OUR PROBLEMS!’
It’s not the things that are the problem, it’s how we are using the things. We think our lives will be made better if we just have one more dose, one more drink, or sit for just one more hour….
I know from experience that when you reach places of ‘feeling amazing’ during meditation, you don’t want it to end. After all, isn’t that the whole goal of meditating?
I used to think that. However, now I understand it differently.
Meditation is a process I use to ‘clean my glasses’ and it helps me understand the world as it is without judgment, prejudice, or malice.
So, I now meditate to empty myself of the old negative beliefs that I hold. Because it is my preconceptions, my unconscious beliefs, that are tainting my view of the world and preventing me from seeing reality as it is.
I guess I need to go and do some more ’cleansing.’ Because as I sit in this café writing, there is a guy behind me that has been talking loudly on his cell phone for the last hour……. And I just wish he would shut up! Haha. Hari Om Hari Om
Yes, I am addicted to sitting in peace on my yoga mat, eyes closed, and just letting go…. and letting go.
But, as with all things, there are layers and layers of understanding to enjoy….. it’s the journey that becomes important!
In my opinion, meditating, as an addiction, is probably one of the better ones to have. At least you are not destroying your brains and bodies with harmful chemicals.
Can You Over Meditate?
I would say yes to this question!
As well as those who are not yet ready to ‘work’ in a positive way with the insights they gain in meditation, there are those who tend to shun or forgo ‘normal life’ so they can meditate more. They may erroneously have come to the conclusion that ‘they’ are now somehow ‘superior’ to all the mere mortals who are yet to embark on ‘the spiritual journey.’
This is a trap to be wary of, and again it’s related more to our personality type rather than the process of mediation itself.
Too much self-reflection can make it difficult to integrate into ‘normal life.’ I say this is a trap because ‘life’ is what we, as eternal spirits, chose to come to earth at this time to experience.
Just for the fun and excitement of experiencing contrast and diversity, of course!
So, while moving to the Himalayas in search of enlightenment is a noble pursuit for a few beings, so is being a ‘well-adjusted’ beacon of light within the communities where we live.
Therefore, use your meditation time to release your stress, heal your emotional wounds, improve your cognitive abilities, and find inner peace. Because these things, as well as others, is what meditation is for……
….. contrary to popular belief, it’s not about becoming enlightened and escaping from this life of suffering….. it’s about learning to find joy in all the moments, as they arise.
How Much Should I Meditate?
As mentioned, we are all different and are at different stages along our journey. So there is not going to be an optimal length of time to meditate that suits all of us.
However, there is a couple of common sense ‘rules’ that we can follow to ensure our meditations remain beneficial to our overall journey.
– If you recognize that you are becoming disinterested in ‘normal life,’ it may be a sign that you are overdoing it.
And this includes all the relationships you’ve forged, the physical challenges you pursue, the creative outlets you enjoy, as well as the work you need to do so you can pay the bills.
So yes, use meditation as an aid to discover who you are to learn how you can have an ‘improved experience’ in this reality, here and now. Because anything else would be an unfulfilled life!
– If you are not achieving the results you initially began practicing meditation for, then you are doing too much or too little meditation.
And it may be that changing the duration of your practice will benefit you.
This is something you will need to experiment with on your own until you discover the optimum time spent in meditation balanced with the benefits it returns to you in your daily life.
– Meditation is not only done when sitting on our mats.
It’s a process of developing self-awareness that, as we progress along the path, we will want to incorporate into all aspects of our lives.
With practice, we will become more aware of how we are feeling and what we are thinking while waking up, while preparing our meals and eating them, while driving the car, and while interacting with others.
And this is the true benefit of a sustained practice…. greater awareness of how we are thinking, feeling, and interacting when engaged in all the other aspects that touch our lives…..
With all of these things in mind, a lot of research seems to indicate that ten to twenty minutes of meditation, twice a day, is the sweet spot that returns the right balance of time meditating to benefits for most practitioners.
To Sum Up
My mum picked me up from my first ten-day meditation retreat. She expressed the sentiment that I was acting ‘weird’ or somehow not normal.
Of course…. I had just spent ten days in silence with no human contact. And when she was ‘doing her best’ to catch me up with all the family and world news, I wasn’t really interested! I was just wishing the silence would continue a little longer….
To her that was weird. For me, it was somehow strange that most people are living their lives in a continual cycle of reaction, action, and reaction, again and again.
My point is…. meditation does change us. And sometimes we are not really aware of the changes we are going through until someone points them out to us.
However, once aware of it, we are afforded the opportunity of a new perspective from which to view life and our relationship to it.
You may find that things that used to interest you no longer do, and other interests will take their place….. and that’s ok because change is a normal aspect of growth, and should not be feared…..
However, remember, it’s important not to meditate so much that you lose touch with this reality…. the very reality that you as an eternal spirit came here to experience…..