Meditation helps us discover and cultivate our inner strength, resilience, and focus. But even if we recognize the value of meditation, it isn’t always easy to find time for it. And even if we are intent on making time, we may be wondering what part of the day is best for sitting.
In fact, the best time to meditate will depend on your lifestyle and what you look to gain from your practice. A regular meditation practice has been shown to lead to an array of health benefits. Meditation helps improve concentration, reduces stress levels, and enhances the quality of sleep, to name but a few. Possible benefits will be in direct proportion to your commitment to sitting. That’s why it’s important to find a time that works for your way of life.
When to meditate – is there a best time?
So what’s the best time to meditate – morning or evening? Meditation experts concur that the ideal meditation moment varies from one person to another. Nevertheless, certain times of day tend to be top choices. Here are five of them:
- In the morning
Morning is often considered to be the best time to meditate, since the mind is quiet and fresh. Most of us are also less likely to doze off in the early hours. People who practice every day appreciate morning meditation since it sets a calm and productive tone before the day’s activities and distractions begin. Many people choose to sit before breakfast. You could try a morning gratitude meditation.
Meditation expert Trungram Gyalwa in his blog Top 10 Tips on How to Meditate explains the benefits of meditating in the morning:
When we wake up we feel refreshed. We aren’t thinking about too much yet or worrying about all the things we need to do today. If we do a short practice first thing in morning, we’re likely to succeed in meditating on a regular basis. And the positive benefits from that morning meditation will stay with us throughout the day.
Beginners might find it difficult to find time to meditate in the morning, especially when stress and responsibilities make it hard to settle. Without necessarily committing to a full session, they may find it beneficial to settle into just a few conscious breaths, continuing with awareness for as long is comfortable.
- After work
Some people prefer meditating right after they get home from work, and for good reason. If your job is physically demanding or mentally challenging, meditation is an excellent way to relieve the tension that builds up in the body and mind during the work day. Meditating after work also creates a helpful, clear boundary between your active work life and your personal life. Thanks to having a regular quality “you” time, you can leave work behind and then be more available for the other important things in your life, including your loved ones and leisure pursuits.
- During the lunch hour
Most meditators have their main sessions in the morning or evening, but lunch-time meditation can also offer a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of work. Whether you’ve just finished a grueling staff meeting or you’re preparing to meet with a potential client, meditating during midday acts as an effective de-stressor. It also helps loosen your “computer desk” muscles. Even a couple of minutes here or there during the work day can be beneficial.
A growing number of workplaces have a dedicated yoga or meditation room – many employers have noticed that giving their personnel the space and opportunity to unplug boosts employee well-being, creativity, and productivity. The lunch break can be a good time to follow guided meditations such as Mindworks’ 2.5, 5 or 10-minute guided meditations, as they make it easy to slip into practice within a given period of time.
- Whenever you feel overwhelmed or stressed out
Inevitably, there are moments when we feel overwhelmed, whether at work or at home. When that happens, instead of using the usual remedies (social media, a trip to the corner bar, mindless TV, the entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s, drugs, etc.) to tune out what you’re experiencing, why not try tuning in? Try using Mindworks’ meditation timer, stop and breathe into awareness for a minute or two, and refresh your mind at any time.
Mindfulness teaches us that we can observe what’s going on in our minds and bodies without having to react. With time, our practice becomes second nature and we come to recognize when we need to just stop, observe, and take a mindful moment. This pause can help us cope with stressful situations in a more productive and beneficial way.
- Before bed
There’s no real consensus about whether choosing evenings as your regular meditation hour is suitable or not. For some people, this is the time they can really unwind: the day’s work is done, the kids are asleep, the dog’s been walked, and things are generally quieter. If you enjoy evening meditation and are able to remain alert, aware, and focused, this may be the right time for you.
But if you’re sitting because meditation seems to be a good sedative, think again. The core of mindfulness is “mindful,” and you can’t be mindful and aware if you’re dropping off to sleep. That said, a short session before bed can be beneficial for those whose main practice time is during the day. Even in small doses, meditation reminds the body and soul that sometimes the best thing to do is simply to let be.