A lot of new meditators commence their practice hoping that the holistic benefits of meditation will manifest themselves in a matter of days. They expect meditation to act like a quick fix – similar to how you’d swallow a pain relief tablet. However, this isn’t accurate. While it is possible to experience benefits even more quickly, most genuine meditation teachers say that it takes some time of practicing regular meditation before you can feel or view the results. While everyone is different, try meditation daily for a month before you decide. If you are a newbie, persist with your 5 or 10 minute daily meditation regimen rather than throwing in the towel after only one day or one week. There are very many benefits you can accrue from meditation, all of which you’ll achieve over time.
Short and long term benefits
In meditation, there are some positive effects that are exhibited after a short period, even a few weeks. The most distinct effect you will gradually notice is a calmer, more stable mind. Because you continuously train your mind to focus on a particular object during meditation (generally your breath) you gradually learn how to focus effortlessly. Your jumpy mind and distracting thoughts become less frequent, paving way to a clear, uncluttered mind. You eventually stop wondering “how long does meditation take to work” by realizing this is the wrong question to ask. Meditation is about accepting who we are, not striving for an artificial goal of a contrived state of mind. The benefits of meditation often arrive through the back door, we notice after some time that we have changed, our mood is a bit lighter or we don’t react with negativity so quickly. This is a more authentic way of understanding the benefits, to see them truly incorporated into our psyches over time, rather than seek immediate rewards.
Clarity and calmness are two short-term psychological effects of meditation. You’re also able to focus better and your problem solving skills improve significantly after a short period. However, there are numerous mental effects of meditation that occur over the long run. The long term meditation benefits include:
- Improved communication
- Enhanced memory and cognition
- Heightened motivation
Neuroscientists have been researching on how meditation affects the brain. According to the results thus far, consistent meditation rewires the brain by increasing the density of those regions responsible for concentration, self-awareness, compassion and memory. On the other hand, areas associated with anxiety and stress diminished in size.
When will meditation work?
The issue of how long meditation takes to work starts becoming insignificant after individuals comprehend that meditation is a life-long commitment. Admittedly, starting meditation from scratch is a tad frustrating – your mind flutters about, your wandering thoughts interrupt you frequently and any slight distraction throws you off. But with time, you stop struggling with these issues and even start looking forward to your daily meditations. According to Lama Jampa Thaye, an advanced meditation instructor on Mindworks, meditation offers us a refreshing sense of the present moment. Distractions fade away and we’re immersed in a moment of self-awareness, which is really where the joy in life comes from.
There are some obvious physical meditation benefits that show up in the short term. They include:
- Improved sense of wellbeing
- Enhanced relaxation
- Reduced levels of tension and stress
- Improved quality of sleep
- Increased energy and stamina
However, other physical benefits are enjoyed after years of practice. For instance, your overall health may improve tremendously, your circulation gets better and your body heals quicker. This is why experts are continually encouraging people to start meditating. You could start with short 5-minute sessions then work your way up. What’s important is not the length of time you meditate, but your commitment to it as a daily routine. It’ll make all the difference.
Meditation also has some short and long term emotional benefits. Some of the short-term benefits include:
- Improved wellbeing
It’s important to understand that even these short-term effects will take some time. After months of meditating, you’ll become aware of the long term benefits. For instance, your confidence and self-esteem will gradually increase. You’ll become more patient and feel empowered. You’ll also achieve a sense of self-awareness and contentment. And since you’ll be working on your entire essence (mind and body), you’ll experience a profound sense of wholeness that you never felt before. But all this takes patience, which indeed in itself is a sign that your meditation is making a fundamental change in your being and how you manifest in the world.
Now that we’ve debunked the importance of the issue of how long meditation takes to work, it’s time you tried it yourself. There are numerous meditation techniques you could try, but focusing on mindfulness of the breath is the best place to begin. If you need some help, try the Mindworks Meditation App. It is a guided meditation app that contains a wide array of helpful resources. You can download it free on your mobile phone and learn to meditate anywhere.