Although mindfulness meditation can be beneficial at any time of day, you can get more out of your session when you choose the right moments for your practice.
First Thing in the Morning
It is my personal opinion that practicing meditation first thing in the morning is a superior time. When you first wake up, your mind is refreshed, quieter, calmer, and more receptive to meditation.
You’re working with a clean slate, not yet preoccupied with all the worldly matters. And, it’s easy to connect with the silence and stillness that is inherent with early morning, which has a profound calming effect in itself.
Additionally, meditating in the morning is the perfect way to set up the tone for the rest of your day. When you begin your morning in a calm, centered, relaxed, serene, and peaceful manner, evoked by mindfulness meditation, it will have a ripple effect throughout your whole day. We carry the calm, peace, and serenity acquired in our session with us and into our daily activities and interactions.
I prefer to meditate within minutes of waking up, while I’m still in my bed before my mind has a chance to become busy and distracted with the events of the day. If you need to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water before meditating, that is acceptable, but come back quickly, before your mind has a chance to become too active. Don’t check your email, look for text messages, have a conversation, etc.
If your mornings involve children or pets, then teach your dog and set rules with the children that you are not to be disturbed until you finish your quiet time.
However, if meditating in the morning doesn’t work for you, then simply meditate at the time that is most convenient for you and when you are most likely to follow through. Just be sure to be consistent.
Consistency Builds Habit
The rewards of meditation are the greatest when it is practiced consistently and faithfully. With daily commitment, you’ll find that it can help prevent many negative symptoms before they even get started. It will increase your tolerance for stress, help you handle it better, and respond to it differently. Your feathers won’t get quite as ruffled as easily.
Meditating around the same time each day helps you build a routine that will become a habit. Once you form a habit, then you’ll be more likely to remain committed to your routine. It will happen naturally with less effort and resistance. You’ll begin to look forward to your meditation time and you won’t feel right if you skip it.
Furthermore, if you meditate in the morning, then it ensures you will follow through. Putting it off till later in the day increases the risk it will get moved off the “to do” list entirely.
Other Good Times to Meditate
That is not to say that morning is the only time you should be meditating because it isn’t. Ideally, one should incorporate meditation and being mindful into all aspects of their life, but morning should be a priority.
Preferably, the morning session should be your main meditation that you do faithfully each and every day around the same time, for a significant amount of time (at least 10 but preferably 15 or 20 minutes) and then have short mini-meditation sessions at other times throughout the day as needed.
Mini-meditations are brief. As little as three minutes of mindfulness meditation has been shown to be beneficial. You can simply close your eyes and breathe deeply or zero in on another focal point for a few moments.
Lunch time or break periods are fine opportunities for a mini-meditation. They can relieve tension, reduce stress, improve focus, and boost creativity and productivity throughout the day. Step outside if possible or go to the park and meditate on the feel of the sun or the wind against your skin or the sounds of nature.
Meditating briefly after a stressful event, activity, or interaction or anytime you feel anxious or overwhelmed is another great time for a mini-session. It can help you quiet the mind, relax, regain balance and perspective and shake it off.
A short meditation at the end of your work day can be a great way to transition from the work to home mind set. Take a few minutes to de-stress, disconnect, unwind, and let go of your work obligations until the next day. This can be done in your car in the parking lot or your driveway, on the train, bus, or subway. Or, as soon as you walk in the door, let other family members know this is your quiet time and you are not to be disturbed for a few moments.
If you work from home, then get away from your office space. Go into the bedroom, sit on the couch or dining room chair, or go outside in the yard, or even the royal throne in the bathroom, if that is the only place you can find some privacy and peace.
I think one of the least favorable times for meditating is at bedtime. Typically, the mind is too tired for most people. In my own experience, I just fall asleep within minutes. So, on the other hand, meditation can be used to help you get to sleep. However, I do suggest doing a few rounds of deep breathing each night when you go to bed, this helps you relax, unwind, de-stress, and fall asleep.
Just Do It
The regular use of mindfulness based meditation has been shown to be beneficial to our health in numerous ways. When utilized routinely, it can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, anxiety, tension and depression, boost immunity, alleviate chronic pain, reduce cravings and prevent relapse in the drug and alcohol addicted, encourage more creativity, empathy, and compassion, improve focus and memory, change DNA, and much more.
You can find 15 simple mindfulness based techniques in my convenient little ebook and be reaping the rewards within minutes if you need some new ideas.
While morning is the best time to meditate if possible, just be sure it is somewhere on your priority list and practiced consistently. It should be an integral part of your holistic health care plan, regardless of when you choose to engage or what health condition you face.