Four mindful ways to wake up your body and energize your mind

What are the benefits of morning meditation? As soon as the alarm goes off, we’re probably already thinking about work or study, the people we need to see and those we’d rather not, unfinished business, laundry lists and that all-important cup of coffee or tea. But committing to a morning meditation routine—whether 5 minutes or 45—is an ideal way to make sure you’re weaving some dedicated “kind-to-my-mind” time into each and every day.

If you already have a practice, great! But if you’re still looking for a way to make morning meditation a habit, here are four mindful ways to start your day off right.

1) The very-first-thing-in-the-morning mindfulness meditation
If you’re wondering how to meditate at home in the morning given your jam-packed schedule, your best option may be to start even before you’ve completely left the bed. Sit on the side of the bed with your feet on the floor, or in your preferred posture on a cushion.

Begin your short morning meditation with three deep breathing cycles. Breathe in as deeply as is comfortable, as if your whole being were involved. Hold the air in your lower belly for a moment—imagine that you’re storing it under your navel—then expel it vigorously. Think that all of the sleepy, stale air is leaving your body. Again, inhale the fresh morning air as you greet the fresh new day. Hold it a moment, then exhale forcefully. One more cycle and you’re already feeling renewed and ready to settle into a few minutes of calm, breath-focused mindfulness. Set your timer if you like. This 5-minute morning meditation is a great way to kick off the day.

2) The mindful shower meditation
Are you the kind of person who jumps in the shower before you’re even sure you’re awake? By the time the water is just the right temperature, you’re probably already making plans for the day, thinking about what you’re going to wear, about waking your partner or the kids, about walking the dog or feeding the fish, preparing important conversations and so on. This busy mind is so familiar that you barely notice what it’s doing.

Instead, you can use your shower time as a 5 or 10-minute morning meditation. Here, the mindfulness practice involves cultivating awareness of physical sensations rather than focusing on the breath. Deliberately remaining present to being in the shower can make for an agreeable and powerful morning meditation. Spend a minute or more noting what you’re feeling: water on skin, feet on tile, warming air. Continue by being mindful with suds, rinsing, toweling off. Use words to label the successive sensations if it helps you remain present. No need to try too hard; you’ll notice that if you gently and systematically redirect your mind from its usual preoccupations to awareness of the moment, you’ll feel more refreshed and better able to maintain the sense of presence throughout your day.

3) The gratefulness morning meditation
Spending a few waking moments taking stock of your blessings before the busy day begins is a wonderful way to give yourself the gift of gratefulness. While any time is a good time for gratitude, it makes for an especially positive morning meditation. When you set the stage for a grateful day, it makes it easier to navigate life’s inevitable curve balls.

Gratitude meditation can take different forms. The simplest is taking a minute or so to deliberately make a mental list of the things you appreciate. Begin with the fact that you are breathing—good news! You can focus on the blessings of the present moment, of the coming day, or you might think of those who have brought goodness and comfort into your life.

For many meditators, beginning with gratefulness and continuing with mindfulness of the breath or of physical sensations is the best morning meditation. By simply maintaining awareness of what is in the moment gives us time to explore the spacious goodness that’s always present beyond the habitual patterns of discursive thought. And there, truly, is something to be grateful for.

4) The “good morning” goodwill meditation
It’s so easy to get caught up in our own little worlds. When we begin the day thinking about our duties, our needs, our projects, our loved ones and ourselves, it’s easy to disregard the hopes and fears of the billions of human beings and countless other creatures that share our planet. What if we chose to start the day by intentionally including others in our morning meditation instead?

Goodwill is an excellent way to end your morning sitting practice and begin your active day. A popular goodwill meditation with Buddhist roots is called metta, which translates as benevolence or lovingkindness. In goodwill meditation you send your wishes for others’ well-being out into the universe. Our sister article, Getting Started with Metta Meditation, gives an overview of the practice.

No matter which practice you adopt, you’ll find that consistency is the key. If you keep with it, meditation will soon become an essential and treasured part of every morning.