Meditation is meant to be a lifelong process of concentration, with the intention of becoming a more virtuous and wise individual. While there are benefits to dedicating a specific portion of your day for silent sitting meditation, the purpose of meditation is meant to be a lifestyle. Meditation is a state of mindfulness, as opposed to something that takes you from the world around you. In short, meditation is a practice that is actually meant to be done every moment of every day. There is no such thing as too much meditation.
Please take this opportunity to learn more about meditation by reading our guide to mindfulness meditation, as this will give you a greater understanding of the techniques and benefits of meditation.
Can You Meditate Too Much?
For those who are learning how to meditate, rather than experienced practitioners, it is certainly important to take time out of the day to meditate in a quiet, serene setting. The purpose, however, is to practice meditation at all times and in all situations. Instead of judging others or entertaining useless fantasies, meditation is the practice that leads to a state of mindfulness. One of the benefits of mindfulness, and perhaps the most important mundane benefit of meditation, is to prevent actions that are harmful and unbeneficial.
Mindfulness will help prevent an individual from mindlessly lying, such as an exaggeration or white lie. In this regard, the practitioner is always aware of their thoughts and responses. One of the benefits of mindfulness may be an increased capacity for memory and a desire to be precise. If someone asks a mindful person a factual question, such as “How many…?”, they should be able to give an exact answer, rather than an exaggeration or uncertain statement.
There are other benefits as well, and these are related to sila, or virtue. This may be simplified into five precepts. A mediator should abstain from killing, abstain from stealing, abstain from lying, abstain from sexual misconduct, and abstain from using intoxicants. While acting in this manner, one will find it easier to concentrate the mind. This simplification is related to Right Action and Right Speech. While maintaining mindfulness, a practitioner of meditation should be able to follow these simple steps.
Benefits of Meditation
In this manner, it is simple to realize that the answer to the question, “Can you meditate too much?” is that it is simply not possible to meditate too much. In fact, there is no negative quality of meditation and maintaining a state of mind which is aware and compassionate. Meditation will offer many benefits to the practitioner that are apart from virtue, concentration, and wisdom.
Possibly the most apparent benefit is a drastic reduction of stress, anxiety, and depression. While these aspects of life are absolutely influenced by chemical imbalances and health, they are also influenced by how we interact with our thoughts. When an individual spends hours each day worrying about something that they can not address, they are causing themselves to become more stressed about something that they are powerless over. This is an unhealthy and detrimental waste of time, which will absolutely lead to emotional and physical concerns in the future.
Increasing intellectual and emotional capabilities are aspects of the benefits of meditation. The brain uses a large percentage of calorie consumption, and meaningless thoughts are taxing to the function of the mind. When thoughts are focused on aversions or desires, rather than objective realities, memories are difficult to create, retain, and retrieve. In this manner, addictions, which are influenced by chemical dependencies, will be influenced in a positive manner as well.
Ways to Meditate at All Times
Many practitioners of meditation will spend a couple hours a day in silent meditation. Some will meditate once or twice a week for a half an hour at a time. Other, more experienced meditators, will meditate during their waking hours. Few, choose to meditate rather than sleep. Meditation rather than sleep may cause some people to balk, which is perfectly acceptable for them to have those preconceptions. For those who are guided by empirical evidence, I suggest advocating for additional studies and perhaps making some observations of your own.
There are many ways to meditate, though the most simple and most useful is Anapanna, or Mindfulness of Breathing. This does not involve any complicated breathing exercises, rather just a focus on the natural breath. Some people breathe faster or slower than others, and this does not need to change. Likewise, some people have deep breaths while others have shallow breaths. This too is mostly irrelevant to this particular meditation. Allow your mind to focus on the feeling of air traveling inward and outward through your nostrils, nothing more. If you find that you are entertaining fantasies or going through anxiety spirals, then notice your breath and focus your mind on the physical reality of the situation.
Then question, “Can you meditate too much?” is a reflection of a misunderstanding of meditation. Meditation is not something like exercise, which consumes resources. Nor is it something like prayer, which involves the fantasizing mind. Rather, it is simply being aware of the information that your bodily senses, including your thoughts, already perceive. Instead of blindly reacting, one should take in the appropriate information and behave in a manner that is kind, true, and beneficial.
There are other forms of meditation that are beneficial. For example, one can focus on the physical feelings that the body perceives. For example, at any given time, a person can feel the pressure from the object that they are standing, sitting, or lying on. Likewise, the temperature of the air will be perceptible. Overtime, an individual will be able to notice smaller and smaller physical interactions. For example, a small itching sensation in the ear canal can cause someone to scratch the ear. Instead of responding to this aversion, a practitioner of meditation may choose to observe the arising and passing of this itching sensation.
Other sensory organs cause us to perceive the world around us. When eating food, you may find benefit in eating more slowly and tasting the flavors as they cross the palate. Noises or sounds, such as the babbling of a creek, may be the target of mindfulness. A smell, such an incense, may be something that a practitioner could focus on. The point of sensory meditation is the you are, at all times, experiencing sensory input – whether or not you are aware of it. The mind perceives and recognizes this information, even while we are focused on other things in our mind. When depression influences us, which is influenced by chemical imbalances, as well as our thoughts and our decision to fantasize about a particular subject, we can instead choose to focus on the objective sensations that we are experiencing, rather than the subjective emotions and thoughts that we attach to the objective sensation.