A Perfect Start to Your Day
What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed in the morning?
Scroll through your phone a bit?
Grab a cup of coffee?
Jump right into the shower?
If you’ve ever envisioned yourself as one of those people who can wake up and start their day in a slow and peaceful way, not rushed by the clock or stressed by the coming day, morning meditation may be just what you’re looking for.
Benefits of Morning Meditation
If starting a meditation practice seems daunting to you, don’t worry — anyone can do it!
In general, meditation is simply a time you set aside to breathe deeply, focus your thoughts, and witness your feelings. And while there are certainly guides to meditation, there’s really no “wrong” way to meditate as long as you give it your best shot.
Of course, as you continue to delve into simple meditation as a practice, there’s much more to discover. For now, we’ll focus on the basics.
Let’s talk first about why exactly meditation is beneficial. Here are 6 key reasons:
- Reduces stress: Meditation has been shown to lower cortisol (a key stress hormone)
- Improves memory loss: In one study of a group of people with memory loss, blood flow was increased in the parietal lobes and frontal lobe for the participants who were assigned a meditation practice
- Increases attention span
- May decrease blood pressure
- Improves sleep
- Assists in pain management
When Is the Best Time to Meditate
Independent or guided meditation can be done anytime, anywhere.
Still, the morning is likely the very best time to meditate.
In the morning, your mind is likely at its calmest. Nothing stressful has happened yet as you’ve just woken up, and your mind has probably not encountered any complex problems yet either.
Moreover, because you’ve just woke up, it’s unlikely that you’ll fall asleep during a meditation in the morning. If you do, however, consider playing some morning meditation music to make the experience a bit livelier. Positive energy music can actually help you concentrate better during meditation.
How Meditation Works
So how does a simple meditation exercise work?
Basically, if you’re a beginner, your guided morning meditation session should simply be a short, succinct moment to center, focus, and calm your mind and body.
There are no hard and fast rules. It all depends on the space, tools, and time that you have at your disposal.
Let’s talk time first.
Most of us don’t have a lot of time in the morning. In fact, it can be hard to carve out even ten or twenty minutes to do some exercise or drink a cup of coffee.
But consider the fact that doing a morning meditation can turn your entire day around. The impact is huge — especially when compounded over time. Therefore, carving out even five minutes is well worth it.
Tools and Meditation Space
Aim to meditate in a quiet, calm place, such as your bedroom. If you plan to sit on the floor, sit on the carpet or a rug, or use a yoga mat. You can also use a yoga cushion or firm pillow if you choose.
As far as other tools, you might want to use a timer to time your sessions, and some people will use a meditation bell to sound the beginning and end of their meditations.
Sit on the floor with your bottom on the edge of a firm pillow or a meditation cushion. Your knees should be lower than your hips. Rest your hands gently in your lap or on your knees with palms up. Close your eyes or gaze downward about five to 10 feet in front of you. Keep your back straight and upright.
If you have trouble starting out with meditation and knowing what to do during your sessions, consider guided meditation. Five and 10 minute guided meditation tracks can be found easily online.
If you decide to go it alone, however, keep two points in mind:
First, think about your breathing. When in doubt, focus on the breath going in and out of your mouth, airway, and lungs.
Next, when you think, feel, or experience an emotion, try not to let those thoughts, feelings, or emotions run away with you. Simply nod and smile to the experience and go back to focusing on the breath and the breathing technique.
How Long Should I Meditate?
The best way to create a morning meditation plan that you'll stick to is to go slow. If you're just starting out, a 5 minute meditation is great! This alone will make a world of difference in your life.
As you become more used to waking up and doing your 5 min meditation in the morning, you can work your way up to a 10 minute meditation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Morning Meditation
Should you meditate when you first wake up?
Yes! Independent or guided morning meditation can have a profound effect on your life.
In the morning, when you are at your freshest and your mind is the clearest, calm meditation will have its greatest impact. The morning is your chance to start the day off right, achieving mindfulness.
By centering your mind and reducing tension straight away, you are setting yourself up for success throughout the day.
How do you meditate lying down?
Some people may choose to start their calming meditation practice while they’re still lying in bed. This can be okay when you’re just starting out. Just don't fall back asleep if you need to get up for school or work!
Lying down for a simple meditation can also be helpful if you have trouble getting to sleep at night.
Remember to retain a purposeful position when lying down. Try this:
- Lay flat on your back
- Keep your legs about hip’s distance apart or more
- Lay your arms at your sides
- Relax your body completely
What does meditation do to the brain?
Even meditation for beginners can have a huge impact on the brain.
First, meditation slows down activity in the default mode network or DMN. This is the area of the brain that is self-referential. If you've ever found yourself with a "wandering mind," the DMN is also the culprit.
Next, research has shown that consistent meditation for stress and anxiety will reduce both considerably. This may be in part due to the reduction in cortisol that meditation prompts.
Finally, meditation has been known to increase volume in important areas of the brain such as the hippocampus (responsible for memory and learning).
Furthermore, it has been shown that the changes in the brain that are due to meditation stay — even when the individual is not actively meditating.
Written by Clint Johnson
Clint teaches Yoga, Pilates, breath, and mediation to students and teachers all over the world. Prior to joining the wellness world, CJ as his friends call him, started his career as a MBS derivative trader and portfolio manager on Wall St. Clint is the founder of Anahana, and holds an MBA from INSEAD.