Trying to decide when to meditate? Developing a morning meditation routine can be key to developing a consistent meditation practice, and may provide the most benefits. In this post I explain why meditating in the morning is a good idea and then break down how to get started.
Why Meditate in the Morning?
It wakes you up
There are a variety of types and forms of meditation. Some can help you fall asleep, others can invigorate you. A body scan meditation that has you lie flat might just lead to an early morning nap. Choose a focused attention or loving kindness meditation that engages you and calls for you to sit upright and at attention. With the right intention, you’ll leave the session charged up and ready for the day.
Your mind is clear
Once you get started in the activities of the day it is hard to stop. By meditating first thing in the morning, you reduce the amount of stressors from the day that can disrupt your meditation.
The key to meditating early in the morning is that less people are awake. This means less people demanding your time via text, email or otherwise and expecting immediate responses.
A habit is a behavior done with little or no conscious thought. With enough repetition and the right setup you can make meditation a start to a strong morning routine. (See below on how to get started) The more variables that get placed into your day (a deadline gets pushed up, a new crisis happens) the lower the chance you will succeed in developing a meditation habit.
More of the day to enjoy the benefits of meditation
Simply put, if you meditate early in the day, you can gain the benefits of charging yourself up from the start. (And possibly have those effects last throughout the day!)
How To Get Started
Be specific. Get your pillows or chair and put them in a room that you know will be quiet and removed from distractions. Do this the night before, so all you need to do in the morning is roll out of bed and head to your sitting place. If you can avoid it, try to not meditate in bed. Sit on the floor at the side of the bed instead.
If meditating outside, find a location that will not have too much street traffic that could be jarring (garbage trucks, for example).
Get your guided audio of choice ready
If you use a mobile app like Pocket Clarity, you can easily choose the session that meets your needs or set a timer. Reduce the barriers to getting your practice going by putting your meditation app on your phone’s primary homescreen.
Set your alarm
The easy excuse to skip a morning meditation is that you slept too much and have to get started with the day. Nullify this excuse by setting an alarm. Skip the snooze button and take control of your day from the start. If you are giving yourself enough sleep, you’ll soon not need an alarm at all.
Give yourself time
A corollary of the previous. Allot enough time for you to complete a meditation. You should not have to glance at the clock to make sure the meditation will be done in time.
Keep the pace, even on weekends
Remember that weekends are an arbitrary construct. We could have 4 day work weeks or 7 day work weeks, it would not change the fact that your body wants a reliable sleep/wake schedule. There’s nothing wrong with sleeping in from time to time, but you are hurting your success if you plan to sleep until 10am on weekends while sleeping until 6am during the workweek.
Get a good night’s rest by starting with an evening routine
Set an evening routine that allows you to wind down before going to bed. That means being away from your cell phone or computer for 30 minutes before bed, so your brain can unwind. It is a great time to read a book, talk with your roommates or family, or meditate (see what I did there?).
By following these steps, you should be able to fill in the statement below. To do this well, it might make sense to complete the statement in reverse order (decide when you need to start your day, which informs when you wake up, which informs when you need to go to sleep to get a good night’s rest.):
To be clear, any meditation habit is better than no meditation habit. But by taking these steps you will be in good shape to start a regular meditation practice that gives you the most benefits. When you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up over it, just get back to the routine.
Tell me what you think! When do you meditate during the day and is it working for you? Contact us and we might include your comments in a future post.
Thanks to Joel of Buffer for the last two tips on how to get started.