How much time will your meditation practice take? The results you get from meditation depend on how intelligently and creatively you engage with the practice, as well as how long you spend doing it.
If you were to spend as little as ten minutes a day meditating, then I’m sure you would notice some benefits. But I’d recommend doing at least 20 minutes a day — I think you’d notice more than twice the benefits than from a 10 minute sit.
You might think that your day is already pretty packed, but there are two things to bear in mind. One is that if our minds were clearer and more focused through doing meditation, then we’d be more efficient in what we do. That would more than repay the time we’d invested in meditating. The second thing is that I’ve noticed that if we fit the important things in (those things that make a real difference to our lives), then somehow we manage to still get a lot done.
I think this is the inverse of Parkinson’s Law — “work expands to fit the time available.” If we try to fit our meditation in around other less important things, then it won’t work. There’s an infinite amount of unimportant things to occupy our time. Well, those things seem important at the time we’re doing them, but that’s because anxiety makes unimportant things seem crucial. If you meditate, then you can have more of a realistic view of what is important and what is not. That’s a powerful change to come from 20 minutes a day.
By “important” by the way, I don’t mean “pressing” or “urgent.” Things that are urgent are things that have to be done right now in order to avoid unpleasant consequences. Things that are important are those that will make a significant improvement in terms of bringing more fulfillment. So personal development of any kind is rarely urgent, but it is important.
Of course, once you see the benefits of meditating, you may well want to spend more than twenty minutes doing it. A lot of my students end up meditating twice a day, or once a day for as long as an hour — and they still get more done than they did before they started meditating!