There’s nothing quite like starting your day with a short meditation routine. There are many benefits of an early-morning meditation session, for instance:
1. It gives you a whole new perspective
Usually, you would get up, and instantly get immersed in all those stressful actions like going through the morning traffic jam. Just think about it, how many times did you realize that you’ve spent a great portion of your day doing things routinely? For instance, most of us get up in the morning, do the routine stuff like brushing your teeth and grabbing something to eat. Then we make our way to our workplaces, and that’s when the real action starts. Only somewhere about lunchtime do we get to sit down and think about the present moment and stop vexing about the past and future events.
This is why you should meditate for even a few minutes before you go to work and start with all the usual hassle. Finding just a little bit of time to devote to simple morning meditation will give you that focus and tranquility with which starting a workday becomes much easier.
2. Good for keeping the routine
This piece of advice comes from another field- psychology. Scientists found that, while reminders (such as audio cues, and mobile notifications) are effective, their efficiency quickly decreases. This is especially true if you, for instance, meditate without a clear schedule or plan. Even if you use a fitness app to remind you, you’ll eventually stop paying attention to such reminders.
On the other hand, if you associate a particular time of the day (i.e. morning) with your meditation routine, you’re much more likely to keep following your plan. Once you develop a strong habit, you can perhaps try to slightly change your meditation plan. It’s important to note that, in the end, what matters is that you meditate in the first place, while the exact time is up to each individual. One may meditate when one feels that way, no matter the time of day, location, and mood.
3. Your stomach will likely be empty
Most of us eat nothing during the night, and even our breakfasts are kind of slim and seldom abundant. Some people think that you should always meditate on an empty stomach, and we’ll talk more about this later. For now, suffice it to say that people who think that you cannot meditate with a full stomach do have a few nice arguments up their sleeves. For instance, eating 5 cheeseburgers would likely incapacitate you, at least for an hour or two. Eating a lot of food somehow hazes our brain and thoughts, and it takes a while to get that whole food digested. This is why practically all civilizations have at least some form of fasting. Spiritual experiences like epiphanies are often brought in connection with fasting and asceticism.
In essence, starting your day with a mindfulness meditation will give you a whole new perspective, keep you focused and calm, and also help you get all the benefits of the spiritual pathway we call meditation.
Tips To Start A Morning Meditation Practice
Most of us have relatively circumscribed morning routines, which may be fairly hard to change. For instance, you might check your social networks while still in bed. This is almost an automatic response, and most of us aren’t even aware of this little habit. However, in our opinion at least, it would be best to avoid checking social networks as soon as you open your eyes in the morning. Later in the day, there will be time for this.
So the best tip regarding morning meditation for beginners is to replace your social media morning routine for a short meditation session. How will you do this? Psychologists have long ago noted that people (and animals) acquire habits with the help of associations. Dogs, for instance, after a lot of trials, learn to associate the leash and the thing they love the most- going for a walk. Just seeing their owner take the leash is enough for them to go crazy and start running around in a pleasant frenzy.
People are quite similar, at least sometimes. This is why you can simply associate your social media morning routine with the new habit you want to acquire- short meditation to start the day. You can keep a small piece of paper near your phone which says: “Do your morning meditation!”. As you’re getting up and reaching for your phone to check the Instagram, you’ll see this paper that will remind you about the new habit you want to acquire.
Try to associate morning meditation with other healthy routines, like physical exercise or yoga. If you succeed in doing this, you’ll find an efficient way to get yourself in a different headspace that will help you battle all those everyday frustrations.
Active meditation is a particularly interesting blend of meditation and physical exercise. Some active meditation techniques involve breathing exercises and vigorous activity which might be described as “chaotic” and “crazy” by some. For instance, Osho Dynamic Meditation consists of several stages that are characterized by playful movements, jumping, dance, etc. Frankly, most people would find this technique silly.
However, Osho Dynamic Meditation is not the only type of active meditation. You can also make up your style- if you happen to like calisthenics or jogging, it won’t be hard to incorporate the meditation mindset into these exercises.
Another useful tip may be to make your ambient which will then get you in the right mindset. Some people like to light candles or incense sticks- it is really only an ambient thing, but if it might help you to start the morning meditation.
Do You Need To Meditate On An Empty Stomach?
This is a rather frequent question, and there are no straightforward answers. In most cases, eating a meal before doing meditation won’t be that big deal while some people find it impossible to function normally after having a meal. The rule of thumb is if you don’t overeat you’re good to go.
In other words, your meditation session won’t be ruined if you’ve had a sandwich or two before your session.
Some people may argue that our cognitive system works better when we fast, and when you get up in the morning you’ve essentially gone through a very short-term food deprivation (or fast). The effect of fasting on cognitive functions is questionable at best. Several studies failed to find a significant effect of fast, which means that fasting probably won’t improve your attention or other cognitive abilities. However, fast still has a strong link with spirituality and mind tranquility, and this link probably exists since the dawn of mankind- practically all religions have some kind of fast, and this was adopted from older cults.
To conclude, while abstaining from food won’t improve your meditation in terms of observable variables (cognitive functions), avoiding big meals prior to initiating a meditation session might be a good idea.
What Is The Best Position For A Morning Meditation?
There are many positions and preferences vary. Some people like full Lotus, others prefer Burmese style, and some people like to keep it very simple and just lie or sit down.
The choice is really up to you, as the position is not that important. If you’re feeling comfortable and relaxed, it’s a good enough position. It needs to be firm (so upright is good), but relaxed as well (do not strain your muscles just so it is the most strengthen pose ever).
Basic morning meditation techniques
For starters, you’d first want to avoid all those detrimental early-morning habits that take your mind away and put you in the autopilot mode. Find a nice position, and start breathing deeply and slowly.
After this, focus on your breath. Breathe deeply through your nose, and focus on every single aspect of the in-breath and out-breath. Basically, what you want to do here is diaphragmatic breathing, which is sometimes referred to as “stomach breathing”. To do this, you have to focus on the heaviness of your stomach and feel how its rhythmic movements push the air out from your lungs and let it back in.
Doing this for at least a few minutes is, on its own, enough to put you in a different headspace and help you attain a state of calm and serenity.
If you have a bit more time, you can start repeating your mantra. This is the basis of transcendental meditation, one of the most popular modalities of meditation in the world. Any string of words can become a mantra, but most people choose something that resonates with their inner feelings and convictions. Though, mantra and any sounds really are not necessary, you can start mastering a concentration on breathing meditation. Breathing is a very powerful anchor that comes naturally to you, so if you can use it effectively, you won’t need any extras really. Find out more about how to start your meditation practice here.