Note to visitors: my new book The Meditation Sutras is now available! If you like this post, check out my book, a guide on how to create - and more importantly, stick with - a regular practice. I am also available for online Introductory Meditation Sessions.
While growing up, the first thing my mom would do in the morning was put the television on to watch the news. I cannot even tell you how hard that was as a teenager on family trips sharing a hotel room with my parents and wanting to just sleep in for as long as I possibly could. She later admitted that she would put the T.V. on just to wake us up, I knew it! Now that I am older, television first thing in the morning bothers me for an entirely different reason.
How many of us choose to greet the morning with distractions? Sometimes out of a habit we have developed over time that we don’t even realize we have created.
But what if I told you that out of all the times of the day, the morning is considered to be the most auspicious?
Morning signifies the beginning of a brand new day filled with possibilities for us to do good and marks the ideal time for spiritual practice that sets our mindset for the rest of the day.
So, how do we start each day with a positive spirit and calm mind?
1. Set realistic expectations.
As a meditation guide, I see a lot of the initial enthusiasm to learn meditation quickly fizzle out. This happens for a couple of reasons: one, a lack of proper understanding of the patient process it requires, and two, having not taken the time to create a personal meditation practice suited to one’s own lifestyle and personality. This causes frustration and disappointment, and eventually abandoning a practice altogether. Yes, your mind is going to wander. Yes, there are times when you will question whether meditation really works. Yes, in the beginning you will feel like this is some kind of self- imposed punishment because you just cannot sit still and focus. It’s all normal. After some time of having a regular practice though, I absolutely promise you that it will change. First, you have to begin somewhere. So, be real with yourself. I always recommend that you begin with sitting for 1 minute every day. Just 1 minute, especially if you are a beginner.
Morning Meditation Tip: Instead of asking yourself, how much time do I have in the morning to dedicate to a meditation practice? Ask yourself, when in the morning can I fit in my 1 minute meditation practice?
2. Give yourself the chance to succeed.
Yogic and Vedic texts have laid out guidelines for spiritual morning practices. The best thing about these principles is that anyone can follow them because they take into consideration the spectrum of lifestyles from the ascetic guru who has given up material life to a common householder going to work and raising a family. These principles were discovered by yogis thousands of years ago through their own meditations. From their insights we have gained knowledge of how to create the optimal conditions to help us focus and go deeper into our own meditations.
● Meditate as soon as you wake up.
This is when our minds are the most calm because we have not had any outside stimulation yet, so it is least likely to wander and be distracted.
● Do not eat anything before you meditate.
Food makes us lethargic and brings our energy down right after we eat, plus it needs time to digest in order to gives us energy. It is also difficult to sit upright and take deep breaths on a full stomach. If you must eat something, then make it light, like fresh fruit.
● Have some sort of physical practice before you sit down to meditate.
Did you know that the entire reason we practice yoga (the asana part-the physical practice) is to prepare our body and mind to sit in meditation? Unfortunately, that concept has become lost over time and many people have come to practice asana solely for its physical benefits. But, if you even practice 5-10 minutes of postures beforehand, you will notice that the body and mind are much calmer during meditation. Try it for yourself. One day sit for meditation after doing asana and the next day sit for meditation without practicing asana, and see how you feel. And, if the physical aspect of yoga is not part of your routine, that is perfectly fine too! Stretch, go for a walk (if you have the time and means), anything to get your body moving a little and raising that energy before you sit- because meditation requires energy!
3. Create the right environment.
Please, please, please do not meditate near your kitchen or by the bathroom. And if you have limited choice, then choose the least reprehensible spot in your home. It is said that over time, the place you meditate begins to carry its own vibrancy and sacredness. The energy that gets created there has the potential to draw you in to sit and meditate. Do you really want that spot to be where you can smell your dinner cooking or the after odors of using the bathroom? Bah! This is why altars and sacred spaces are so important. They help inspire our practice and connect us with our higher-selves. So, try to make the place you sit as peaceful as possible.
With some guidance and preparation you can create a morning meditation routine that not only works well for you, but also one you can maintain! That’s really the important part, the consistency. You can definitely experience all of this transformation and calmness meditators are always talking about, given the time and effort.
Other posts on how to start a meditation practice: