Inevitably when you start meditating, you’ll think about how and when you can incorporate it into your daily routine. When is the best time to meditate? Does it matter when you meditate? When should I meditate that will provide the most benefits?
Does it even matter?
These are all questions we’ll be covering in this article. We’ll dive into the most optimal times of the day to meditate, why they’re effective times, and what that means for you and incorporating a regular practice into your daily routine.
Morning glory: Meditate before starting the day
If you’re struggling to find time to meditate during the day, one of the easiest ways to make time to meditate is first thing in the morning. Set your alarm clock 10 minutes earlier than your usual wake up time and start the day on the right foot with a productive morning routine.
When you’re starting with meditation first thing in the morning, you may notice some grogginess and brain fog, especially if you’re used to having caffeine first thing in the morning. You can use these feelings as part of your practice. Practice mindfulness to bring attention to how you feel every morning. Notice the first thoughts and feelings that come up. Notice where your mind wanders or goes to first thing in the morning.
A “morning glory” meditation, usually between 6am to 10am, helps set the tone for the rest of your day. It can help you create some clarity in your mind before you begin to plan the day ahead. It gives you time to organize your thoughts and feelings before you go off to work or start your day.
A meditation practice first thing in the morning can also help ease any tension or anxiety you might be feeling as you prepare to tackle your day or deal with what life will bring. If you’ve heard of the expression “waking up on the wrong side of the bed”, a regular morning practice can ensure you’re always waking up on the right side of the bed and put you in the right frame of mind and emotional state before you do anything else.
Lunch break: Meditate after having lunch
Sometimes our work days are so busy that the only time we take a break is during formal break times, like a lunch break at work where the rest of the office takes an hour to congregate and eat.
You may find that you don’t need the full hour or even half an hour during a lunch break to eat your meal. This could be a perfect time to enjoy a short meditation practice. Take 10 minutes to eat your lunch and another 10 or 20 to practice meditation. Maybe the office clearing out to the lunch room or going out to lunch gives you a private space within the office to sit in silence and meditate.
Even if you’re struggling to find a secluded place in the office, worst case you can meditate in your parked car during lunch, or even a bathroom stall. You can also practice meditation with your eyes open at your desk.
Meditation in the middle of the day is the perfect opportunity to reflect on your morning and set a positive intention for the rest of the day. If you’ve had a rough start in the morning, lunch could be the best time to meditate and practice loving-kindness to help you build empathy and positive emotions before continuing your day. It might even be time to simply continue in your momentum if you’ve had a good start to your day.
Pit Stop meditation: Practice during work or study
It’s impossible to maintain constant focus on one thing for an extended period of time. We all need breaks. For some of us, it’s standing up and stretching. For others, it’s a snack or their bathroom break. How ever you take a break to refresh your mind, you know the value of taking time for yourself during the day has to your work. The best time to meditate might simply be when you need to most.
This is why taking a “pit stop” meditation is very common among people that practice meditation. This can be taken anytime during the day, such as 10 minutes in the afternoon before finishing your work for the day. Most people take this “pit stop” meditation during the hours of 11am to 4pm.
Find a regular time when you can afford to take 10 minutes to step away from your work and stick to it. Make it part of your daily work schedule, maybe even block it out in your calendar so meetings and other things don’t interfere with your routine.
Pit stop meditations help us refresh our mind and give us a second wind during the day. It’s also a way to break out of any momentum you might be caught in. It’s a way to take a step back from your work, bring your attention to your moods and how you feel, and adjust after your practice.
This time might require you to be able to find some privacy at your place of work, and for a lot of people this isn’t possible. A quick tip is going to your parked car and meditating for 10 minutes before going back to work.
Evening hours: Unwind from the day
After a long day of putting in your best effort at work, solving problems, and sitting in traffic, all most people want to do is collapse on their couches and flip on some Netflix.
There’s nothing wrong with indulging a little, especially after working all day or having a rough day. But meditating in the evening hours or before going to sleep helps you reflect on everything that happened in the day and release some of the tension and stress built up from earlier in the day.
For the evening hours meditation, a good time is between 5pm to 10pm. If you feel more comfortable meditating in the privacy of your own home, or meditation first thing in the morning is difficult for you, this is likely the time that will work best for you. However, many people find this time the most difficult to stick with because it’s so tempting to just relax at home or take care of obligations and chores before going to bed.
If this is the best time for you, keep yourself accountable. Set a timer or reminder on your phone to ensure you sit every day during the evening to reflect on your day and bring your attention to your thoughts and how you’re feeling.
Before or after working out
The best time to meditate may simply be the time you’re most able to stick with and stay accountable to. If you have a regular workout routine, it means you habituated it. Part of practicing meditation is turning it to a routine so that you practice it regularly. Combining it with another good habit is a way to stick to it.
Meditation is the perfect compliment to physical exercise. Either right before working out or right after working out, take 10 to 20 minutes to practice mindfulness. Sit and watch what arises while you meditate. If it’s right before working out, you may find yourself contemplating your upcoming workout. If it’s right after, you can use a meditation practice to slow down and bring your heart rate down.
The gym is also a good place to meditate. You can use the sauna or locker room for some privacy, or even the gym itself. Most people are too preoccupied with their workouts (and themselves!) to notice or care what you’re doing, if it’s something you’re concerned about.
The best time is the time that works best for you
Ultimately, while these are great suggestions, the best time to meditate is the time that works best for you. This may seem like a trite answer but it’s true. What works for one person may not work for you. And what you find works for you may not work for most people.
If you’re just learning how to meditate, experiment with these above 5 different common meditation times. See what works for you.
More importantly, the best time to meditate is the time you’re able to stick with. Even if you find meditating in the morning feels better, if you’re finding it easier to stick to a lunch time meditation session, do that instead. It’s much more important that you’re able to form the habit and practice regularly than how it may feel in the moment when you’re doing it.
Meditation isn’t really about how you feel or trying to create a feeling while you practice. It’s about noticing how you feel. We’re not placing any judgement on the feelings we may have while meditating. Meditation also isn’t about when you meditate. Simply making the time to do it is the most important thing.
When’s your favorite time to practice meditation? Leave a comment below and let us know.