Regular meditation can have far reaching positive effects in many areas of your life; from lower stress, better sleep, lowered anxiety, improved mood, and much more. As I have found in my own practice, it isn't so much how long we meditate for but if we do it regularly, that is the key to gaining the many different benefits that meditation brings.
There are many different ways to meditate; using a mantra (a sound), focusing on the breath, focusing on an object like a candle flame, visualisation, to name a few. Sophrology is also a method of meditation using all of the above plus dynamic relaxation exercises to help the body get comfortable before sitting.
Starting with just five or ten minutes a day, or even one minute, you will begin to feel the benefits as they are cumulative. The more you do it, the more you will feel the benefits. It is like topping up your 'feel good factor' everyday with just a little more. It is the regularity of it that brings the benefit, and this is an aspect that many people struggle with, making a habit out of it. There are plenty of great articles on the internet on how to form a habit. This is a good article from Develop Good Habits.com How to Form a New Habit (In 8 easy steps) (developgoodhabits.com)
That is why I would always suggest with starting with just a few minutes a day and either build up, or do two or three sessions of five minutes a day, perhaps between tasks or projects. When you finish something simply close your eyes and allow your awareness to rest on your breath; watch the incoming and outgoing breath, notice the ribs expanding on the inbreath and deflating on the outbreath, perhaps notice the cooler air coming in through the nostrils and the warmer air going out. We simply begin to bring a clear, open and non-judgmental awareness to whatever we are observing on the inside.
In Sophrology we might call them 'Sophro Pauses,' little breaks we take throughout the day were we come back to being, through not doing. Taking our awareness inside the body and letting everything on the outside be as it is. Again it is about doing it repeatedly to get the benefits.
With longer sessions of meditation I will often suggest to do it at the same time each day, preferably in the same place, set a timer and stick to it, create the right ambience if you have time eg light a candle, burn some incense or oil - having the same smell and/or ritual can help indicate to your mind and body that it is time to get ready to meditate. It can be useful to do a few stretches, yoga, or a little exercise before you start to help the muscles of the body relax and do it at a time that is good for you, let other people in the house know you are taking some quiet time and switch off your phone so you won't be disturbed. Often just before bed we can end up feeling sleepy or straight after we have eaten a heavy meal, so be mindful of when the best time would be when you can feel relaxed but alert.
I would love to know how you get on - let me know in the comments, or if you have any questions.
Here's to the many benefits of your meditation practice rippling out into your life.
With warm wishes,