When is the best time to meditate? The simple answer is anytime. The truth of the matter is meditation can be done anywhere, at any time, and it won’t take you longer than 5 minutes.
I think we approach our meditation practice in the wrong way. Most of us set unrealistic standards from the beginning. Either we have a misconception about meditation from the start, or we try to be “perfect” at it or we just don’t know what we are doing. Human beings over analyse everything, it’s part of our “makeup” and one of the reasons we become blocked when trying to start a meditation practice.
These are the typical responses I get when I ask my clients, friends and family why they haven’t started their meditation practice?
“I don’t have time to meditate, I can’t clear my mind, and I get really irritated while I do it.”
I usually respond with, “That’s great, then you are doing everything right”.
So, what is meditation? Meditation is a mental practise where an individual like you, uses a technique to focus the mind on a particular object, thought or activity. It is a way to train your brain to be attentive, aware and observant. There are many different types of meditation that can be practised in many different ways. For most, this is a deeply personal choice.
Meditation teaches you to become observant and to gain a different perspective of your thoughts, feelings and sensations. It is not about turning off your mind, this is impossible to do, rather it’s about learning to observe your thoughts and feelings and changing your relationship with them. Meditation is a skill. It takes time, patience and a lot of practice. The more you meditate, the easier it will get.
“Through meditation, you actually rewire your brain to enhance positive traits.”
No matter the meditation practise, the positive effects of meditation are endless. Thousands of studies show meditation can have significant benefits on emotional, mental, physical and spiritual health. It has been proven to reduce stress, improve focus, increase creativity and treat depression. Meditation definitely changed our lives, and you can read more about that here.
Finding the right time to meditate depends on a few things. Your lifestyle, your meditation goals, and your motivation to form a consistent habit out of your practice.
To get the most benefit from your meditation practice, ideally, you want to practice when you feel rested and alert. This means you don’t want to meditate after strenuous physical exercise, a heavy meal or when you are sleepy.
Other things you want to consider are whether you are a morning person or not? Think about how busy your schedule is when do you usually have access to some quiet time?
Basically, the best time to meditate is the one that fits your routine and schedule.
Having said that let’s talk about some of the things you will need to consider before starting your meditation practice. With these guidelines, it may make it a little easier for you to decide what time suits you best.
Meditation is an active form of brain training. Just like we train our muscles with exercise, we train our mind with meditation. If you want to get the most benefit out of your workout routine, you will need to exercise regularly, the same is true for meditation.
However, if you want to experience the long-lasting benefits of meditation then repetition is key. Ideally, you want to meditate every day and make a habit out of it. Either this means meditating at the same time every day when you have fewer distractions, or after a habit, you have already formed like brushing your teeth.
Be mindful of the temptation to skip your practice when you “don’t have the time”, be flexible, some days will work out better than others.
It is best to meditate in the same place, so your brain associates that place with your practice. This meditation “place” can either be a specific room in your house or garden or a dedicated corner. You can add candles, pictures or cushions if you like, making the spot more comfortable and special for you.
Personally, I meditate on my bed. My bedroom is my sanctuary so when I close the door my family know to leave me alone for a while. I also enjoy meditating outside in my garden. Ultimately, you decide what area works best for you.
Be mindful of your expectations. Meditation can feel uncomfortable and feelings of agitation and boredom are normal. We are not meditating to achieve a blissful state. Some days you will struggle to meditate and others will come more naturally. The idea is to accept whatever happens in the present moment. If you feel angry, sad or indifferent that’s okay, that is life.
There is no “good’ or “bad” session either. Often the mind will wander, and you will get stuck in your thoughts and feelings. When this happens, gently note where your mind has gone and bring your attention back to the breath. You might have to do this over and over again.
The best meditation posture is a seated one. You can sit either on a cushion on the floor or on a chair (more information on meditation chairs here). If you are on a chair you need to move away from the back of the chair with your feet flat on the ground. You always want your spine to be fully erect, but not stiff, embodying a sense of dignity and wakefulness. Your arms relaxed on your thighs or in your lap. A few meditations require you to lie down, and that is okay too.
You can meditate with your eyes open or closed. If open, lower your gaze slightly. I would personally recommend closing them, this helps you to concentrate and move deeper into the meditation, but it is completely up to you.
Tight or uncomfortable clothes can act as a distraction during meditation so make sure you wear loose and comfortable clothes.
I have kept this question separate for a reason. One of the biggest obstacles people face when it comes to meditation is the length of time they try and meditate for. If you are meditating for the first time or are fairly new to the practice you can start meditating for 1-minute at a time.
The most important thing to do is to meditate for 1-minute EVERY DAY. If you can only manage 1 or 2 minutes at a time, but you do this consistently every day, you will begin to develop the motivation, discipline and willpower to increase your practice to 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes and then to 20-30 minutes. There is no maximum time for meditation either, do what you can.
When I started my meditation practice I meditated for 5 minutes at a time. After one month of meditating daily, I slowly increased this to 7 minutes. Then one month later to 10 minutes. I now try and meditate for 30 minutes a day.
The morning is often considered the best time to meditate since your mind is fresh, it’s quiet and you get to set the tone for the rest of your day. Nic prefers to meditate in the morning and here is why.
Meditating in the evening, specifically after work is a wonderful way to find a balance between the stress of work and home life.
If you are like me the time after work means rushing around collecting the kids, making dinner or trying to get to the gym. Even though it feels like this time of the day is chaotic, I remind myself that meditation doesn’t have to take too much of my time. All you need is 5 minutes.
I prefer this time for a few reasons.
Meditating before bed is relaxing and it can improve the quality of your sleep. For many of you, this is the time you can unwind, the day is done, the children are asleep, dinner has been made and you finally have some peace and quiet.
The only concern I have about meditating before bed is the tendency to fall asleep while you are meditating. Meditation is an engaging and conscious practice, we want to be alert and awake while we do it.
Another way we can practise meditating is through informal meditation. Informal practice can be described as the little mindful moments you bring to your daily routine and chores. It is a wonderful way to integrate your meditation practice into your daily life.
The best time to meditate is the time that works best for you.
Review your schedule and meditation goals to get a better idea:
Whatever the time or goal, the most important aspect of meditation is consistency.