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How much is the minimal time for practicing Vipassana in daily life for achieving better mindfulness? Is 30 minutes enough?

I ask this question because I currently have some trouble being mindful, and (I think) it has become the source of many problems. If 30 minutes is not enough, perhaps you can give some suggestion based on your experience or the suttas.

10 Answers 10

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Generally 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the evening / night is recommended by Goenka in his teaching. I think this would be a reasonable amount of time to get results though you will occasionally have to complement this with a retreat.

Your target is maintaining mindfulness throughout the day, and hence practice 24/7, not only when you are siting on a cushion.

This little plant of Dhamma requires service now. Protect it from the criticism of others by making a distinction between the theory, to which some might object, and the practice, which is acceptable to all. Don’t allow such criticism to stop your practice. Meditate one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening. This regular, daily practice is essential. At first it may seem a heavy burden to devote two hours a day to meditation, but you will soon find that much time will be saved that was wasted in the past. Firstly, you will need less time for sleep. Secondly, you will be able to complete your work more quickly, because your capacity for work will increase. When a problem arises you will remain balanced, and will be able immediately to find the correct solution. As you become established in the technique, you will find that having meditated in the morning, you are full of energy throughout the day, without any agitation.

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When you go to bed at night, for five minutes be aware of sensations anywhere in the body before you fall asleep. Next morning, as soon as you wake up, again observe sensations within for five minutes. These few minutes of meditation immediately before falling asleep and after waking up will prove very helpful.

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Daily meditation of two hours and yearly retreats of ten days are only the minimum necessary to maintain the practice. If you have more free time, you should use it for meditation. You may do short courses of a week, or a few days, even one day. In such short courses, devote the first one third of your time to the practice of Anapana, and the rest to Vipassana.

Source: The Discourse Summaries by S.N.Goenka

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Geez, ya'll are crazy. 30 minutes? I'd say WORK up to that maybe after a few months of practice but in the beginning it is best to LIKE MEDITATION and do PRACTICE PROPERLY rather than just loiter around and try to sit tight for 30 minutes thinking about Jane and Bob.

I have had 3-5 minute sessions where you would NOT believe how much baggage I dropped and how refreshed and happy I felt. And then I've had 30 minute sessions where I came out worse than I went in, because I was obsessing over thoughts instead of taking time to write them out and therapatize myself.

Meditation is NOT the time to therapatize oneself, so make sure not to get stuck in that habit! If you have 30 minutes, use 20 minutes to understand how to meditate and journal and get rid of your baggage and then 10 minutes to meditate perfectly, dropping all things away and just being mindful of your object (breath, thoughts, or whatever else) the entire time as cohesively as possible. Repeat until you can do that 10 minutes. You will feel an enjoyable buzz and a helpless smile and lightness if you practice correctly.

At my current stage, every session (morning, pre-lunch, evening) I have doing 3 20-minute meditations, each with a different meditation object that I have chosen. I have a 1-5 minute break in between each object.

For beginners I would reccommend 5 to 10 minute sessions. When you ACTUALLY meditate that long... increase it by 5 minutes. When you LONG TO MEDITATE longer, increase. Do not force yourself to sit too long. You will idle. Instead, put your energies into meditating properly and perfectly for a few minutes. This will increase your mindfulness, because you don't have as much time to fool around."

Nonetheless, don't let what I am saying stop you if you yearn for long periods of time! You will not attain samadhi unless you practice for HOURS at a time. So if you feel like you can actually pay attention that entire time... godspeed! But above all else, do not scare yourself away from your gradual climb in meditation abilities by making meditation frustrating. Enjoy it and do not underestimate the Power of Less is More.

Let me leave you with this excerpt from a Buddhist book I am reading "Mind Experiment":

"It is better to meditate often for a shorter time than for a long time but infrequently. To make real progress, meditation should become a vital part of one’s daily life. Meditation masters recommended to their students: “Do it with an aspiration so strong that it will be the cause of fulfilling your provisional and final aims. Meditate in this way during four sessions: predawn, morning, afternoon, and at nightfall. Furthermore, if at first you meditate for a long time, you will be readily susceptible to laxity and excitement. If this becomes your habit, it will then be difficult to correct your awareness. Meditate in many short sessions. If you end your session while still wanting to meditate, you will be eager to reenter each future session."

  • I like how well you keep it real here. – Anthony Jan 5 '15 at 4:03
  • +1, Thanks a lot. Sometimes i only can actually meditating in the first 15 mins for 1 hour. Sometimes, its in the last 15 mins. My mind really like playing with me :P – Blaze Tama Jan 6 '15 at 3:15
  • Yeah it's OK. if you like to just sit, relax, and think (especially important in our age of 2nd-brain tablets) one should definitely make time for that recollection. This is called Right View. Which is the 1st step of the Eightfoldpath. Right Meditation is the 8th step! Handling those previous steps to a effective degree is important before even trying to focus for five full minutes. Haha and this was the first thing the Buddha ever said (The Four Noble Truths)! The Buddha's teaching is soo perfect. Shakyamuni is so, so perfect. – Ahmed Jan 6 '15 at 3:19
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30 minutes is good. Over time the benefits will build up. In the words of the Dhammapada:

Think not lightly of good, saying, "It will not come to me." Drop by drop is the water pot filled. Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good. Dhp 122

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Sincerity matters more than time. One minute of sincere meditation is better than one hour of wishing it to get over. As someone else observed, build up to longer sits. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests a minute of mindfulness every time the phone rings or a new email comes in. It grows the habit of retreating from present circumstances into inner peace.

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30 minutes is plenty to keep you top up plenty and to keep you from skipping meditations. 20 minutes a day is really minimum but if you miss you will not revert back to your old self for a couple of months really. I try for an hour a day, sometimes I only get 30mins sometimes I get 1 and a half hours due to my life not having a conventional schedule.

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You do mental noting of mind object whenever you remember too. You meditate with eyes open in your daily routine as often as possible.

When you realize your mind has wandered off, you mentally note "wandering, wandering" or "thinking, thinking". Also, good to mentally note physical events like touching, seeing, hearing, chewing, walking, and etc. It keeps you in the present moment.

Mindful breathing helps you with sitting meditation and helps your mind from wandering off as well.

Sitting meditation supports mindfulness in daily life. Sitting meditation without daily mindfulness practice will take forever no matter how long you sit daily.

In restaurant kitchen, a dishwasher working one hour at 9 pm can help reduce few dirty dishes but not enough to have all the dishes washed right?

You need a dish washer working for the whole time during the operating hours. Mindfulness practice in daily life is like that. One time dish washer for one hour is like sitting meditation.

It is very hard at first, but with persistence you can build mind muscle such that in few years you can have a calm mind that is active spontaneously only when you need to respond.

Two people among the long time mediators were being studied by a Harvard neuroscientist. These two people's brain just disappeared under MRI, because their mind was completely quiet.

  • Is there a reference or article that you can cite regarding the Harvard study? – Bonnie Topits Jun 8 '16 at 1:54
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I am personally experiencing that no one should predetermine the time required. its like when you are jogging. Your body speaks for you and tell you how long you can continue and at what pace. The more you do, the more you can. Simply sit down and start. With time, you will begin to find a better pace. May triple gems bless you !!!

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I am late to the party. But I would agree with all of the posters. 30 minutes is quite well better than 30 seconds. However, 30 seconds in earnest is better than 30 minutes just to say that you have meditated and having never truly concentrated the mind.

Goenka recommends 2 hours per day, and really 3 hours. It's understandable that this is not reasonable provided a Westernized life schedule. But always commmitt to between 20 - 120 minutes per day.

Be well

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I think that one of the best approaches for the beginner meditators can be learning to live in the present moment first. So instead of doing "meditation" that requires some limited time, the beginners can try to give their attention to whatever they are doing in their daily life. Walking, sitting, doing things at home, looking, listening, observing the thoughts, observing the emotions and feelings etc. Also the beginner can try to drop their physical and mental addictions by more adapting theirselves to mindfulness. In the beginning, the person will mostly practise incorrectly so there must be a time for "learning" to live mindfully in daily life. It can take a short time(few months) or long time(many years) to learn to practise mindfullness correctly. Then when the person really gets many insights, and purification in their minds, s/he can decide to do meditation. I think after 1 year, 2 years or few more years of mindfulness practise, s/he can start formal meditation. And then s/he can meditate for long periods of time (for example: 8 hours or more) because his/her being would be greatly prepared for meditation. Then the minimal meditation can be 3 hours for you and when and If you have free time you can meditate for 8 to more hours and it can become totally a normal and doable thing for you. I don't say "easy", but it can be certainly "doable". Ofcourse when you are sick, or your life requires you to do other things than meditation you may not meditate for many hours or few hours. But the mindfulness practise will be continous because it would really become a habit for you so you will be able to continue to meditate even when you don't do sitting or walking meditations.

I don't say that this is the only way to be succesful in mindfulness/meditation but for many people it can work.

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One hour in morning and half hour in afternoon and one and half hour in night would be enough at begining.

  • Please, don't make a mishmash of it. – Guy Eugène Dubois Jan 26 '15 at 11:26
  • This is too much.It is better for the OP to start bit by bit and gradually work their way up. – Orion Jan 30 '15 at 0:55

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