Practicing meditation is a valuable tool if you want to improve your physical and mental health and enhance your productivity. Developing a consistent morning meditation routine can be the key to unlocking these benefits for life. However, for many, adding another item to an already hectic morning schedule can seem unappealing. But reaping the benefits of meditation can be less time-consuming than you might expect.
In a nutshell, here’s everything you need to know about morning meditation:
- Mornings can be the best time of day to schedule time to meditate. It will teach you to prioritize your practice and set you up to better handle daily stressors.
- This will allow you to reap the numerous benefits of meditation. Those include reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other illnesses as well as better managing your mental health.
- Set reasonable goals to meditate for only 10 to 20 minutes each morning. This will help you build a consistent meditation habit.
- When starting your meditation practice, you’ll need to explore different styles of meditation (e.g. mindfulness, movement, transcendental, etc.). Choose which suits you best.
- As your meditative skills grow, you can adopt new techniques. This will help you further challenge and improve your level of mindfulness, focus, and mental strength.
That’s a considerably abbreviated explanation of how morning meditation can improve your life. And it only reflects some of the steps you need to take to develop a successful meditation habit. Knowing how to approach your practice will require deeper insight into how meditation works. So keep reading to learn how to refine and tailor your meditation goals and plans to your individual needs.
What is Meditation?
Many people find the idea of developing their own morning meditation routine intimidating. That’s due to the common misconception that meditation is this foreign, unreachable state of enlightenment. And this state simply seems too distant for the average person to access or benefit from.
That’s simply not the case. Mediation isn’t reserved for those with guru-like mental fortitude. It’s simply the practice of training your attention, awareness, and perception using specific techniques to achieve mental, psychological, and emotional clarity and stability.
By that definition, meditation is inherently suited for both beginners and experts alike. And that’s because meditating is all about learning and improving how your mind functions. It does not matter how much experience or knowledge you have of the concept when you start.
There’s no pass/fail approach to meditation. You don’t get disqualified if you can’t keep your mind perfectly blank for x number of hours at a time. Everyone who practices meditation starts at their own pace.
You should gauge how to change and improve your practice based on YOUR own needs. Find and use the techniques that suit your individual preferences and hurdles.
Like any skill or ability, meditation requires practice and consistency. You need to put in the time to learn and grow with key meditation techniques. Only then will you be able to yield meditation’s numerous rewards for your physical and mental wellbeing.
What are the benefits of meditation?
Meditation has been a heavily researched topic in the fields of medicine, psychology, and behavioral science. This wealth of scientific knowledge has revealed seemingly endless benefits that meditation has to offer. For instance, meditation helps you improve your mental health, physical health, and productivity.
Mental Health Benefits
Findings on the benefits of meditation to mental health can be separated into two categories:
- research about improved emotional, psychological outcomes, and
- research that has linked meditation to measured changes in the body. Those changes explain why meditation can be such a powerful tool in mental health treatment.
Improved Mental Health Management
In the first category, a lot of studies focused on how meditation helps people improve how they manage and maintain their mental health. Overall, consistent meditators appear to have higher levels of self-esteem, emotional well-being, and stress regulation.
Specifically, meditation appears to help people diagnosed with chronic mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and eating disorders better manage their symptoms, emotions, and behaviors. This is because practicing meditation heightens your level of self-awareness, in terms of your emotions, moods and thought patterns.
As a result, people who regularly meditate have better insight into consistent emotional and mental patterns their minds go through. This, in turn, improves their impulse control as well as their ability to self-regulate their mood and anxiety. And meditators are able to do this without resorting to maladaptive behaviors like emotional eating or alcohol/substance abuse.
According to studies, meditation can be extremely effective in this area. For instance, for conditions like depression, some patients have responded better to consistent meditative exercises than they did to medication.
This has had numerous implications for mental health treatments, especially as meditation has been used to reduce the emotional impact of “fearful memories” and help patients work through traumatic memories.
Additionally, studies show that meditation reduces the impact of negative emotions like loneliness. Hence, meditation can potentially be a very effective tool for improving the quality of life among seniors. Especially given that the feeling of isolation can be very threatening to their wellbeing.
Physical Changes in the Body Related to Mental Health
Biomedical research into meditation taught us that consistent meditators also exhibit changes in brain composition, particularly in the hippocampus and frontal lobes. These brain regions are responsible for memory formation and decision-making, respectively.
In one study, researchers found that the change in brain matter composition, specifically increases in grey matter, that it causes enhances areas of the brain that deal with memory, learning, emotional regulation, identity, perspective. These changes are likely why people who meditate can better regulate their behavior in stressful situations and environments.
Although meditators still experience the initial stress response to triggering stimuli, meditation helped them develop the skills to effectively handle and manage their body’s ingrained response. Brain scans from the study show how this helped meditators recover from stress quicker.
Additionally, according to other studies, those who meditate have ratios of grey to white brain matter that are very different from people known to experience high levels of anxiety and stress.
Physical Health Benefits
According to Harvard Medical School, meditation has been linked to a reduced risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke. Plenty of other research in the medical field backs up this finding. Numerous studies determined links between meditation and lowered blood pressure and resting heart rates.
Practicing regular meditation even affects your health at a genetic level. Meditation leads to more efficient energy production and consumption in your cells. This makes your immune and stress responses stronger and more effective. And, meditators also appear to adapt to get more restful sleep in a shorter amount of time. Surely, this is something everyone can benefit from.
Studies also show that meditators exhibit a lowered susceptibility to widespread inflammation in the body, which is responsible for a wide range of conditions, including asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, other chronic pain disorders, IBD, PMS, menopausal syndrome, and psoriasis.
Individual studies identified promising evidence that consistent meditation helps improve each of these conditions. Additionally, meditation appears to reduce the risk of less understood diseases like Alzheimer’s as well as enhance longevity and reduce risks of premature death.
One reason why meditation may be able to help people with chronic pain conditions is that, according to research, meditators’ neurological pathways process pain differently. When given the same painful stimulus, someone who consistently meditates will perceive less pain than someone who doesn’t.
Because of meditation’s effects on the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for memory, and the front lobe, where the majority of thought processes and decision-making occurs, a regular morning meditation routine can significantly enhance your overall productivity.
When studying and comparing meditators with control groups (people who don’t practice meditation), researchers have consistently found that the former group had improved levels of focus, memory retention, recall, and information processing.
Additionally, other studies have specifically taken cohorts of study participants and tested them before and after a period of regular meditation. These types of studies revealed that meditation has a causal relationship with enhanced cognitive skills, faster decision-making, and improved problem-solving. These effects even help people better manage the symptoms of ADHD.
Your meditation practice doesn’t have to be confined to any set location or time of day. But many meditators, both the new and the experienced, choose to practice regular morning meditation. For some, morning meditation may just suit their day-to-day and provide them the most consistent slot in their schedule to reserve for their practice. But there are several more reasons you might want to try morning meditation.
Is it Good to Meditate in the Morning?
Setting aside time to meditate in the morning can be the best way to establish a routine to prioritize your practice. Not only does this remind you to engage in mindful behavior and thinking throughout your day. But it also keeps you from canceling your plans to meditate as your attention gets pulled in a million directions by everyday distractions and responsibilities.
Another reason to try morning meditation is that it can reduce your stress levels throughout the day.
Your body follows a natural cycle which lasts roughly 24-hour. Known as a circadian rhythm, this cycle tells you when to wake up and fall asleep.
In simplified terms, part of the sleep-wake system in your body is controlled by melatonin, which is released in your body as it gets darker.
Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, increases in your body as morning approaches. And this hormone is meant to help stimulate your brain and prepare you to get up and face the day.
With all the devices we use these days, your sleep-wake system can be a bit out of balance, causing your body to overproduce cortisol and through off your response to it.
An off-kilter sleep-cycle can make waking up in the morning quite a chore!
And although you might dread the idea of adding another item to your morning to-do list, meditating after waking up can actually help your mind feel more alert and help your body stop releasing too much cortisol. This can potentially help you make a better decision for breakfast and lunch than if you decided to meditate later in the day.
You can always add additional meditation sessions as a break during work or once you’re clocking out for the day as needed. But meditating in the morning will help you have a consistent streak of making time for practice without being interrupted by a particularly hectic day.
How Do You Meditate in the Morning?
How you choose to meditate each morning depends entirely on your goals, your style of meditation, and the amount of time you want to set aside to practice. Consistency is the key to sticking to a new morning meditation routine. So you should make sure to choose a time, location, and style of meditation that best suits your life.
When choosing where and when you’ll meditate in the morning, pick a place that will minimize distracting noises, movements, and bright lights. When starting your practice, you need to incrementally test and stretch your mental muscles. So don’t make your practice more difficult than it needs to be at the beginning. Doing so will only delay your progress and build your frustration.
Many morning meditators like to designate a comfortable place in their home to practice where other people are unlikely to disturb them during their meditation window. For you, that place and time might be in your bedroom right after you wake up, in your car before you leave for work, or even in your office with the door closed before you officially start the workday.
Focus your thoughts using the frameworks of whatever type of meditation you are practicing. The idea that meditation is simply “emptying” your mind of all thoughts is somewhat of a myth. In fact, you’re following specific stepwise thought exercises that allow you to control and expand your level of mindfulness and awareness.
There are several different methods of meditation that you can choose between. As you’ve likely heard, some types of meditation use breathing techniques or reciting certain phrases. To choose the right meditation style for your practice, you need to understand the variety of approaches and try them out as you develop your morning routine.
How Long Should You Meditate in the Morning?
Setting up reasonable goals about how long and how often you’ll meditate in the morning is another essential step. While telling yourself that you’ll start meditating for an hour every single morning might sound ideal, the reality of adopting such a stringent routine can derail your progress.
After the first few times that you practice, you’ll start to get a feel for your internal limits, thought patterns, and mental capacity for sustained meditation. This will help you to set reasonable goals for how long and how often you meditate, which will allow you to maintain and improve your morning meditation routine over time.
The most crucial element of the start of your practice is consistency. Devoting a few minutes each morning can be an incredibly effective way to improve the tone of your whole day and ensure you’re prioritizing meditation in your life.
A common recommendation for beginners is to start with meditating for just 10 to 20 minutes each morning. Not only will starting small help you build a consistent habit. But you also don’t even need to spend very long meditating each morning to experience the benefits. One study found that after only eight weeks of daily 20-minute meditation sessions, study participants had significantly lower levels of stress hormones.
A different study found that 20-minutes sessions also improve the ability to work under stress, with participants performing up to 10x better on tests when compared to the group that did not practice. Yet another study determined that meditation improved working memory, visuospatial processing, and executive functioning. And all of this happened after only four sessions of meditation training for people who had never done it before.
What Kinds of Morning Mediation Should You Try?
There are virtually infinite types of meditation in the world, but here we’re going to discuss four categories that are frequently practiced today:
- Mindfulness meditation,
- Focused meditation,
- Transcendental meditation, and
- Movement meditation.
Each of these types of meditation offers equal opportunity to deepen your knowledge of your own thought processes and habits and grow your skill with meditation. Knowing what kind of meditation practice you want to have requires exploring different types. It’s much like people starting a fitness routine. They might take several different classes at their local gym to find what they like best.
This type of meditation involves techniques that have you focus on your own thoughts. The idea is to observe your thoughts and take note of them without trying to control and direct your attention. Many people practice body scan meditation, in which a meditator directs their attention to how each part of the body feels and observes the thoughts as they go.
Mindfulness meditation is meant to help you determine any ongoing patterns in your thoughts and emotions, and there are several variations you can try, including:
- Loving-kindness meditation,
- Observing thought meditation, and
- Body scan mediation.
Focus meditation is similar to mindfulness in the sense that you are meant to observe yourself. However, the main focus will be on your physical senses instead of your thoughts.
The most common type of focused meditation technique involves breathing exercises that require you to concentrate on the feeling and rhythm of your breathing. There are many other techniques, including ones that focus on what you are hearing, smelling, or seeing, opening your level of awareness as you observe what’s around you.
Transcendental meditation has been both the most popular and most well-researched type of meditation. And it appears to have a wealth of benefits. From reducing metabolic syndrome, helping patients manage the psychological and emotional effects of trauma, to extending longevity through lowered blood pressure, reduced arterial clogging, and lowered cholesterol.
The way transcendental meditation works is that each practitioner chooses a specific mantra, a phrase or a personally meaningful series of words. This mantra can be thought silently or said out loud. And meditators use it almost like a mental anchor to allow them to focus on what the mantra means and the mindset they want to be in while meditating.
Movement meditation is similar to focused meditation in that you use your body to expand and test your awareness. But instead, you use very specific and deliberate motions to direct your attention towards.
Common types of movement meditation involve yoga, taichi, or qi gong. But you can also do something as simple as going for a walk or doing a specific task that allows slow, intentional movements. Movement meditation is about the thought and care you are putting into controlling your actions and doesn’t require a specific skill to practice.
What Popular Meditation Techniques Should You Use?
Some of the most common struggles beginners have with meditation are an inability to relax and accept their thoughts while meditating.
People assume that you have to have perfect control over your mind during meditation. But that’s what meditation techniques are for! To explore, challenge, and train your thought patterns to be more mindful and aware.
If your main struggle with meditation is being your own worst distraction by being overly fidgety, consider trying body-focused techniques to channel and control that excess energy so it becomes part of your practice instead of distracting from it.
You can explore movement meditation through yoga or tai chi, which will keep your body busy while your mind is being trained more effectively. You can also try techniques like:
- Mindful awareness,
- Mindful listening,
- And mindful immersion.
If your mind is constantly wandering or racing while you practice meditation, try observing thought meditation or mantra meditation. Both can help you accept, recognize, and analyze your thought patterns to develop greater control over time.
However, if you’re easily distracted by the outside world, try more immersive techniques that require active concentration like visualization exercises and mindful observation.
If sticking with an unstructured meditation schedule or routine is proving to be challenging for you, consider exploring the many meditation resources that are out there.
Others have been where you are on your meditation journey and listening to, reading about, and/or relying on their experiences can bolster your practice and help you feel less adrift.
How Else Can You Improve Your Morning Meditation Routine?
Once you’ve established a consistent morning meditation routine, you may be looking for new ways to enhance your practice and continue to learn more about meditation techniques and theory.
Fortunately, there are a plethora of meditation resources available online that can help guide your practice and expand your knowledge on the subject.
One of the best ways that you can progress on your meditation journey is to connect and practice with other people. Group meditation and meditation retreats are an incredible way to invest in your meditation skills and build relationships with like-minded people.
These options provide you with opportunities to exchange ideas and suggestions. You will learn how others are incorporating mindfulness into their daily lives.
If you want to continue practicing independently but want additional structure, you can use meditation apps to follow guided meditation wherever you want.
Popular options include:
- Headspace – $69.99/year (with discounts for students and families)
- Calm – $59.99/year
- Insight Time – Free (optional premium version for $59.99/year)
- Simply Being from Meditation Oasis ($1.99 on iOS and Android)
Using these apps can help provide the structure you need. It will remove the mental load of having to plan your own meditation sessions. In my personal experience, this can be extremely helpful for beginners.
You can also stay engaged in meditation by using meditation journaling, music, podcasts, and books. They will help you to stay interested, challenged, and disciplined about your practice.
As with any new habit, the rush of motivation at the start can fade quickly. So it’s essential that you stay disciplined and committed to reasonable, reachable goals.
If you find yourself faltering and questioning why you started, incorporate a reminder of why you started into your practice. This can come in the form of a mantra, journaling, or even wall art hung where you meditate. Whatever allows you to keep going will work!
Now you know the best ways to develop a consistent meditation habit. And you can start to reap the advantages of increased mindfulness and awareness in your life. Not only will your improved stress response promote better physical and mental health. But your improved memory recall, decision-making abilities, and focus will make you more productive at work and at home.
Practicing mindfulness will make you better able to make logically sound decisions even in the most stressful of situations. That’s a valuable skill if you’re looking to manage your emotions and moods better. And it will also help you become a better negotiator and presenter at work.
Always remind yourself of why you started in the first place. And of course, when in doubt, take a few minutes to read this article again. This will help you stay motivated and disciplined in the long run.
When building a new habit, it’s easy to say, “I’ll start again tomorrow.”
However, that kind of thinking won’t help you put in the necessary time to improve your meditation.
You should approach meditation as a skill that requires practice and a habit you need to build. Hence, you can rely on self-improvement techniques to ensure morning meditation becomes a natural part of your life.
Part of your meditation journey will involve choosing the right style of meditation. So make sure to rotate the meditation styles and techniques you practice until you find the right fit.
And if you find yourself struggling, don’t panic! Instead, try to update your routine. Research meditation resources. Or even develop a support network to deepen and enrich your meditation experiences.