11 Meditation Tips That Help Me Meditate 2+ Hours a Day
Image by Okan Caliskan from Pixabay
Swami Kriyananda was a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, a great yoga master who taught in the west during the first half of the 20th century. He’s the founder of Ananda which is a spiritual community based on Yogananda’s ideal of World Brotherhood Colonies. Ananda is present all around the globe in America, Europe, and parts of Asia, predominantly India.
He’s the author of 150 books that sold over 3 million copies and translated into 28 languages. He wrote 400 pieces of music and took more than 15,000 photographs.
His life to me is a great inspiration of a life lived for God and to spread the teachings of Self-Realization (and Sanatan Dharma) throughout the world. Not only did he go far on the spiritual path but also served his Guru on this material plane in every way possible.
It is from Ananda that I’ve learned everything about yoga and meditation. And it is Swami Kriyananda’s meditation guidelines that have helped me not miss a single day of meditation for the past 2 years (which I’ll continue to do until I die).
Here are some of those tips that will help you.
Intensity > Time Spent
Just like most things in life, intensity in meditation is more important than how long we’re meditating. Now, there are certain facets to this statement.
First, when we say intensity, it doesn’t mean toiling away to focus the mind on the breath or any other object. It means first and foremost to relax and let go of everything else that the mind is occupied with.
Once that’s done, we can start to focus the mind single-pointedly on one thing. What Swami Kriyananda means by intensity is the ability to remain concentrated for ever-increasing amounts of time.
When most people start meditating, they run after a singular metric — the time spent in meditation. Paradoxically, you don’t increase the time of your meditations just by increasing the time. You do that by going deeper within your current time limit.
When our minds aren’t ready, we feel meditating for one hour (for instance) is impossible. It is possible indeed. But for that, the mind needs to be trained to dive deeper and experience the joyous states.
So instead of comparing yourself with others, ensure that you’re putting a conscious effort to go deep. Don’t meditate for a certain length of time just for the sake of it.
Never Meditate to a Point of Mental Fatigue
In relation to the last point, it’s important to not force yourself to meditate more than you can. If you’re mentally fatigued then there’s no point in going ahead. It’s better to take a break or call it a day.
Swami also mentions that we should always end our meditations in a joyful state. This will help you to always look forward to your next session. However, if you push yourself to the point of discomfort, you’ll start to run away from meditation. This is not wrong — we don’t like uncomfortable things.
So don’t make meditation unnecessarily uncomfortable.
If You Want to Increase the Length of Your Practice, This Is How You Do It
When you don’t feel joyful anymore, you shouldn’t meditate. But that said, once every week, try to meditate for 2–3 times your normal session — which is 1 to 3 hours for most people.
Once a week isn’t going to kill you. But it will gradually prepare your mind for going deep.
One approach to increasing the length of your sessions is to keep incrementing every week — say for 5 mins. That has never worked for me. But the approach that Swami recommends — meditating longer once a week — has worked wonders.
Initially, I used to meditate only for 30–40 mins per session. I wanted to increase it but didn’t know how. By following the above advice, I started attending 2-hour guided meditations once every week.
The habit of going deeper once a week helped train my mind. It was hard at first, but every session was easier than the previous one. Once I did that, I could soon meditate for 1–1.5 hours in a sitting without any timer to hold me accountable.
This is why I can meditate for 2–2.5 hours a day. There are no magic tricks. It’s only about training the body and mind to sit still for that long.
I started with 5 minutes a day. At that time, 2 hours seemed like a dream. But this advice got me through without trouble.
In Longer Meditations, Imitate the Ocean Tides
Once a year, on Christmas eve, our spiritual community meditates for 8 hours. While that may seem way out of comprehension, no one expects you to be fully focused all the time.
Just like an ocean alternates between high waves and periods of calm, we too have periods of intense concentration followed by periods of relaxed effort.
He says, “Until you can transcend body-consciousness in superconsciousness, it is unlikely you’ll be able to meditate deeply for very long. Think of your thoughts as dirt that has been stirred up in a glass. Stop stirring it, and it will gradually settle.”
This doesn’t apply only to 8-hour meditations. If you’re finding any meditation to be long for you, use this same process to let go and let the dirt settle itself.
The Beginner’s Greatest Barrier to Meditation
When we start meditating, it’s not our restless mind or stressful thoughts that stop us. It’s our bodies. Believe it or not, it’s extremely important to relax the body before you start meditating. Without relaxation, there’s no meditation.
If you’re involved in an argument with someone, for instance, you can’t suddenly switch to meditation. You need to relax, take a few deep breaths, and perhaps read spiritual literature for inspiration.
Just like warming up in the gym, relaxation is always left out as an amateur’s task. You may think, “I don’t need to relax. I’m already relaxed. Let’s just get into meditation”
The truth is, although we may feel relaxed, there’s a lot of unknown tension we store in our bodies. That is why it’s helpful to practice pranayama and yoga postures before we sit to meditate.
The More You Meditate, the More You’d Want to Meditate
And the less you meditate, the less you’ll want to meditate. Meditation is an autotelic activity — it’s an end in itself. The more we meditate, the more we experience peace, joy, and calmness. Thus, we look forward to our practice even more.
If we start to skip our sessions, we forget how that calmness feels like and go back to our restless selves. And if you’re not careful, you can lose touch with meditation altogether after which, you’ll have to build the momentum all over again.
Get Down to Business
When you start meditating for longer periods of time — 30 mins or an hour — you may find yourself thinking “Oh I have the whole hour, what’s the rush.”
Thus, you may spend the first 20 mins completely absent-minded, and realize wasting half of your meditation time.
Don’t let this happen. As soon as you sit, make an effort to go deep right from the start. Don’t think it will happen automatically if you sit for long. It comes back to intensity vs time spent.
Try Meditating at the Same Time Every Day
Routine conditions the mind. When that time comes, you’ll find yourself wanting to meditate again.
If you eat your breakfast at a certain time every day, the body will crave food at that time. The same is the case with meditation.
Being regular in your practice helps the mind know — “Now’s the time for meditation. We set everything aside for an hour.”
Sit in the Silence Long After Practicing Your Techniques
Let’s say you want to hike a mountain. You pack your bags, pull up your socks, and start climbing. Finally, after much toil, you reach the top. Then what do you do?
Do you start to come down already? No. You sit there and enjoy the view. You soak in the beauty of nature that you’ve worked hard to behold.
This is how you should think about meditation as well. Meditation is not only limited to concentration techniques or chanting mantras.
Once you’re done with whatever technique you’re using, enjoy the peace and calmness that comes with your practice. Don’t get up and get back to your work.
Real spiritual progress is made when you dive deep into that stillness. This is where your intuition blossoms. At first, it will be hard — the mind will try to distract you. But if you relax into the silence, you will find it immensely enjoyable.
Try to remain in that state for as long as you can. And even then, it doesn’t end here. This brings me to the next point.
Carry the After-Effects
Even after you come out of that silence, carry that inner peace into your daily activities. A good way to do this is to ease into your tasks and not just “hop on” to the next thing you see in front of you.
For instance, you could take a walk after your mediation and try to nurture that inner peace in your heart, even while walking. Gradually, with enough practice, you’ll be able to carry that feeling in your days as well.
The after-effects of meditation will spill over your life. Your job is to not obstruct its flow with restlessness.
If You Want Love, Offer Love First
Whatever virtue you look to gain, offer it first yourself. If you want peace, meditate peacefully. If you want love, offer love first.
This is not to say that a higher state of consciousness will come only from affirming the right attitudes. But it’s helpful to prepare ourselves by meeting them halfway instead of waiting for something magical to happen without any effort.