January 4th, 2018

In his interview with Rachel Martin, Dan Harris remarks:

People want to do meditation especially at this time of year—the whole “new year, new you” thing. But they feel like it’s just another thing on their to-do list that is further stressing them out, which of course defeats the whole purpose.

My answer to this fear is I’ve got good news and even better news. The good news is that I think five to 10 minutes a day is a great meditation habit, and I’ve spent a lot of time talking to the neuroscientists who study what meditation does to the brain. They haven’t cracked the dosage question fully, but generally speaking, [the scientists] say, “Yes—five to 10 minutes should be enough to derive the advertised benefits of meditation.” So that’s the good news. The better news is that I truly believe one minute counts, and that it doesn’t need to be one minute every day. You can shoot for daily-ish.

I’ve been a 40-minues a day meditator since high school. I have, at times, gone for much longer. On retreats I may go five or six hours a day and several years ago I upped my allotment to 90 minutes a day for a few months because of some personal issues I was working through.

Having said that, I like what Harris says about how length of time is much less important than frequency. A person who meditates one minute a day for 40 days is much better off than a person who meditates for 40 minutes for a single day and then stops. I think of Leo Babauta’s advice here is spot on. He writes:

A common habit that too few people actually do is flossing daily. So my advice is just floss one tooth the first night.

Of course, that seems so ridiculous most people laugh. But I’m totally serious: if you start out exceedingly small, you won’t say no. You’ll feel crazy if you don’t do it. And so you’ll actually do it!

That’s the point. Actually doing the habit is much more important than how much you do.

So, one minutes a day? Just do it.

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