Meditation as a form of self-care has been around for ages, but how often should we meditate to achieve the optimal results? Does it depend from person to person, situation to situation, or is there a general consensus on the matter? Do we really need to meditate every day?
As with everything else in life, consistency is key—especially if we’re trying to implement something new into our routine. It’s said that something becomes a habit after 20 days of staying consistent with it, and while 20 days might not be the magic number, we certainly can’t dispute the fact that a lot of things do become pretty automatic with time, and then we do them without even thinking about them.
Which brings us to the question at hand: Do we need to meditate every day? The answer is quite simple: yes AND no. Before you jump on us for what seems like a non-answer, let’s dig into the matter.
Meditation should be something wonderful, a time you allow yourself to be with yourself, focus on the present moment, and mute everything else going on in your life at the time. It doesn’t mean you need to sit in the quietest room and be in complete silence. It does mean you need to be alone, without any distractions and with your attention turned inwards.
In the beginning, it might seem intimidating or even scary. That’s when the answer to the burning question is definitely NO. Forcing yourself to sit with your eyes closed and focus on yourself could create the complete opposite effect as you’re not reaping any benefits from the meditation itself. Yes, meditating is hard, but it’s only as hard as we make it to be. All we’re really doing is having a little date with ourselves.
But it’s not that simple, is it?
Turning our attention inwards and tuning everything else out makes us face some situations we decided to sweep under the carpet; deal with emotions we thought were long forgotten; remember tasks we thought were already completed; and stay still, which the majority of people today can’t truly do because they’re constantly running around, always multitasking a million things.
Once we realize and experience how meditation helps us clear our heads, become more tolerant, delay our stress reaction response, and become more present in our day, we start implementing it more often. Slowly, but surely, we start to crave it. Especially during moments that require focusing on our own emotions and nerves as we deal with a difficult situation, anxiety, insomnia, or even simple daily stressors—such as traffic on our way to work; longer-than-anticipated lines in the grocery store; seeing a larger sum on our credit card than expected; or getting a flat tire because of neighborhood construction.
That’s when meditation becomes more of a “need” than a “must” or a “should.” Closing our eyes for a second, focusing on our breath, and letting the noise slowly fade into the background calms us down. It might even allow us to grasp the whole situation and see it from every corner, making it easier to analyze it and determine the next possible step—or even a solution to the problem.
So, this is when the question, “Do I need to meditate every day?” changes and becomes something more like, “Do I want to meditate every day? Do I crave meditation every day?” If the answer to these questions is YES—then yes, you do need to meditate every day.
Everyone comes to this realization on their own terms, in their own time, under circumstances that are perfect for them. There are no written guidelines for meditation and no general steps we need to follow to achieve whatever it is we’re thinking meditation will help us to achieve. Even if we meditate every day, there’ll be times when we’ll snap for no reason, get angry or sad quicker than we’d like to, get anxious when airplane turbulence hits, or worry about the piles of emails waiting to be resolved in our inbox.
After all, we’re all human. Meditation helps us go through life a little bit easier, but it does not guarantee that life itself will get easier. As with everything else, take it one day at a time.