By Your Headspace Mindfulness & Meditation Experts
When we start our day with a morning meditation, we are giving ourselves the best opportunity to be fully aware, fully awake, and fully alive before "doing" anything. By creating a regular morning practice, we are cultivating peace of mind and happier relationships where we are kinder and less judgmental of ourselves and others. Due to the current fast pace of many people’s lives, our days may include quite a bit of stress and pressure. People assume this kind of stress is simply an unavoidable part of life, but meditation can help enable us to manage our home lives and our work lives more skillfully.
True peace of mind is always there, but we first have to let go of everything that obscures such calm and clarity — our confusion, our ruminating, our expectations, our inner chatter. When you achieve calmness and peace of mind with morning meditation, your perspective changes and you may start to feel more positively about yourself and your day ahead.
Meditation can be beneficial at any hour of the day, but there are undeniable benefits of a short morning meditation becoming as ingrained in your routine as a cup of joe. Mornings can be the best time of day to incorporate meditation because of their quiet nature, whereas afternoons are more likely to be hectic with ever-changing to-do lists.
Incorporating meditation into your morning is not about trying to build a 3-hour morning routine — it’s about quality, ritual, and the motivation to get started. Studies show that we are more likely to make health-minded decisions in the morning before we’ve left the house for the day. If you can get up and work out, or make a nice breakfast, adding a 5-minute morning meditation into the mix is a way to shift your focus from physical to mental. You can almost think of meditation as a morning stretch for your brain.
In a 2018 study showcasing the morning routines of over 300 successful people, it was shown that one of the most important pieces of their days is an adaptable morning routine. We aren’t always in control of our surroundings or amenities, especially when we travel and have unpredictable schedules. Morning mindfulness meditation is something that can be done anywhere: in bed, sitting in a taxi, on a plane, or while waiting for your breakfast smoothie to blend. It can become the foundation of your day, something you can always rely on to bring you to a sense of calmness, in body and mind.
Studies show that most people online worldwide spend 1-3 hours per day scrolling through social media, much of which begins before even getting out of bed. This can cloud our minds for the day ahead and has also been shown to decrease mental health and increase anxiety.
There are dozens of events that pop up throughout the morning that are out of our control. It could be temperamental toddlers, pre-work “emergency” emails, spilled coffee on your shirt — you name it. What’s more, if you didn’t get proper sleep, these nuances become harder to work through with a sense of ease, and can even affect our decision-making and cognitive function as the day continues.
In a generalized study on mindfulness that did not use the Headspace app, it was shown that meditation actually appeared to shrink the amygdala (which is our threat detection control tower of the brain) while thickening the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for higher level thinking skills and behavior modification. Exercising the brain in a way that strengthens your thought processes can provide the support and groundwork you need to control how you react to situations throughout the day.
Now that we’ve addressed some of the reasons why meditating in the morning is so beneficial, why not begin incorporating it into your daily wake-up routine? First, figure out where you want to meditate. You may very well start the practice while you’re still in bed (we suggest sitting upright rather than laying down, to avoid drifting off). Or you can find a comfortable chair, a spot on the sofa, a cushion in a spot on the floor, or even getting into your car 10 minutes before you need to leave, allotting time to simply sit. You are the only person who knows the best place to add meditation into your morning routine in a way that feels seamless, so choose a place that feels right to you.
What type of morning meditation should you try? There is no one-size-fits-all to meditation. The Headspace app offers hundreds of options that include everything from deep-breathing techniques and guided walking meditations, to semi-guided and completely unguided meditations. If time is of the essence, meditations can be as short as one minute or as long as a fuller 10-minute or 20-minute morning meditation.
Try some of them until you find the format and style of meditation that feels like the best start to your day. Perhaps in the morning, while you’re still waking up, you enjoy the connection of a voice guiding you through the meditation, or maybe you prefer a body scan. Guided morning meditation can promote creative thinking and sharpen your focus, which will help promote better decision-making skills throughout the day.
On the other hand, you might enjoy the silence of an unguided meditation where you set the duration of time (it could even be less than 5 minutes) and sit comfortably with your early thoughts. An unguided meditation might include visualization or a body scan, while deeply connecting to the breath.
When you’re ready, press play on Headspace’s 10-day beginner’s course on mindfulness basics — available with your membership or free trial. Jump into your new practice with the essentials. Then explore hundreds of exercises for sleep, stress, focus, and more.
Don’t think about it, just do it. Take one day at a time. You might not notice the benefits of your meditation practice immediately, unlike the sweat from a workout, but rest assured the subtle shifts in your thoughts, how you perceive and react to events, and newfound sustained energy levels will passively begin to enter your world.
Carving out this time in the very beginning of the day can help bring you back into your sense of self and encourage positivity by choosing you, above all, as a priority.
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