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When you think of meditating, you may picture someone sitting cross-legged on the floor in silence for hours. If you barely have time to make a pot of coffee before you start your day, the idea of morning meditation may seem like something completely out of your reach or expertise.
But morning meditation doesn’t have to take hours. Making time to do it even for a few minutes each day may significantly benefit your mental health.
Here’s what you need to know about morning meditation or guided morning meditation, which uses voice prompts or meditation music to help you successfully meditate.
What is morning meditation?
Meditation is much broader than that image of a monk sitting cross-legged. In fact, there are many different types of meditation, such as:
- Qigong and Tai Chi: These are known as movement meditations, mind-body practices that combine gentle movements with breathing techniques and focus, helping the body and mind relax (Saeed, 2019).
- Transcendental meditation (TM): Also referred to as mantra meditation. With this practice, a person repeats a mantra to themselves (either in their head or out loud) to quiet their mind, center themselves, and achieve a state of relaxation (Trama, 2016).
- Mindfulness meditation: This type of meditation doesn’t require you to be still or even sitting at all if you don’t want to be. Instead, mindfulness meditation involves extreme self-awareness. By paying attention to your breathing, surroundings, environment, and emotions at a specific time, you try to be fully present in the moment. This practice may help create a sense of peace, acceptance, and gratitude (Tang, 2015).
Meditation for anxiety: does it work?
What is the importance of morning meditation?
The ideal time to meditate may vary from person to person, and that’s completely normal. Just like there are many ways to meditate, there is no right or wrong time of day to meditate. For example, some may find an afternoon meditation session helps calm their brain from a hectic workday, while others like to wait until bedtime to meditate so that they quiet their body and mind before bed.
However, most forms of meditation (such as TM) are more effective when practiced twice a day for 20 minutes (Trama, 2016). One study found that students who practiced an 8-week mantra meditation program had reduced stress and blood pressure levels. Approximately 77% of subjects meditated twice a day for 20 minutes, once before breakfast and before dinner (Chambers, 2016).
Benefits of morning meditation
The benefits of meditation or morning meditation may depend on the individual and their current state of well-being, including how often they practice and the consistency in which they meditate.
For example, prior research has found that mindfulness meditation has had a direct impact on mental health, including depression, and in some cases, anxiety. The positive effects of meditation can last for up to six months (Saeed, 2019).
Meditation in all its forms has also been shown to lower stress levels and promote a general sense of wellness and positivity. In a study of 40 undergraduate students who had no prior experience with meditation, researchers found that practicing meditation may lower stress hormone secretion both in the morning before any stressful events have occurred as well as after a stress-inducing event (Bottaccioli, 2020).
Like any new exercise, be it physical or mental, practice is key. Consistent meditation will most effectively yield results, so it makes sense to carve out a set time each morning to meditate (Black, 2016). If you find you are distracted or not as focused as you’d like to be, don’t mentally beat yourself up. Instead, accept your distraction, think about what went well, and try again during your next meditation session.
Types of meditation: what’s most effective?
Most importantly, remember there is no one-size-fits-all model when it comes to morning meditation. Just like any exercise, what works or what one person enjoys may not do the same for another. Meditation does not require a set of beliefs, religion, gear, or even intense concentration, should you choose to practice movement-based meditation (Trama, 2016).
How to do morning meditation
When it comes to practicing Qigong or Tai Chi, it’s best to get a personalized program from an expert (Penn 2019). You can find certified instructors in your area through online resources like the American Tai Chi and Qigong Association. They will develop a program that matches your physical abilities while helping you meet your meditation goals. If you have a regular yoga class you take, you can also speak to your instructor about finding quality programs that are right for you.
For TM, find a place to sit comfortably with your eyes closed. If you’re doing morning meditation, this may even be the edge of your bed as you wake up. Allow the mind to center in on one single thought, word, or phrase that you’ve already picked ahead of time. If you’re just starting out, try a phrase like “I am…” or anything else that attracts self-love. These are also known as positive affirmations. Repeat that thought out loud or to yourself for 15 to 20 minutes. This will help your mind reach a state of calm consciousness (Trama 2016).
To practice mindfulness morning meditation, start by sitting comfortably with your eyes open or closed. You can also practice it during a walk, while listening to relaxing music, or going through your morning routine. Allow any external thoughts or feelings that don’t pertain to the specific moment to slip away. Instead, pay attention to what you’re seeing, feeling, and experiencing at that moment (Black 2016).
As the experience unfolds, try to observe what is happening in the present moment without judgment or preconceived notions. This will help cultivate mindful awareness and purpose while also promoting overall wellness and a sense of self-care (Black 2016).
Mindfulness exercises: benefits and where to start
Morning meditation doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Taking time to practice for even a few minutes may help you cope with life’s frequent stressors. This morning routine can help you deal with uncontrollable situations or events and set you up for a successful day.
- Black, D., & Slavich, G. (2016). Mindfulness meditation and the immune system: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Annals Of The New York Academy Of Sciences, 1373(1), 13-24. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12998. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4940234/
- Bottaccioli AG, Bottaccioli F, Carosella A, Cofini V, Muzi P, Bologna M. (2020). Psychoneuroendocrinoimmunology-based meditation (PNEIMED) training reduces salivary cortisol under basal and stressful conditions in healthy university students: Results of a randomized controlled study. Explore (NY); 16(3):189-198. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2019.10.006. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31982328
- Chambers, J, Phillips, B, Burr, M, Xiao, D. (2016). Effects of meditation on stress levels of physical therapist students. Journal of Physical Therapy Education; 30(3): 33-39. Retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/jopte/Fulltext/2016/30030/Effects_of_Meditation_on_Stress_Levels_of_Physical.7.aspx
- Penn, IW., Sung, WH., Lin, CH. et al. (2019). Effects of individualized Tai-Chi on balance and lower-limb strength in older adults. BMC Geriatrics 19, 235 (2019). doi: 10.1186/s12877-019-1250-8. Retrieved from https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-019-1250-8
- Saeed SA, Cunningham K, Bloch RM. (2019). Depression and anxiety disorders: benefits of exercise, yoga, and meditation. American Family Physician; 99(10):620-627. Retrieved from https://www.aafp.org/afp/2019/0515/p620.html
- Tang, YY., Hölzel, B. & Posner, M. The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 16, 213–225 (2015). doi: 10.1038/nrn3916. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/nrn3916
- Trama, S; Cheema, N. (2016). Transcendental meditation: Nature and perspectives. Indian Journal of Health and Wellbeing; Hisar Vol. 7, Iss. 9, (Sep 2016): 928-933. Retrieved from https://www.proquest.com/openview/10c805dcdcf9dd2954064c9529897cb8/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=2032134
Felix Gussone is a physician, health journalist and a Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.