In his book ‘The Miracle Morning’ Hal Elrod says that successful people fit six things into their morning routine. They write, read, exercise, meditate, visualise and affirm. I laughed when I read that. How the hell was I supposed to fit all that in and still get to work by 8.30?
The truth is, you’ll fit in the things that are important to you. If something is important to you and you have no time for it, then it’s time to have a look at what you do have time for and see what’s less important that you can drop.
That’s as true of meditation as anything else. Some days it’ll feel like there’s no time between work, long commutes, socialising, cooking healthy meals, exercise, and the rest. But if it’s important to you, then it’s important to fit it in.
There are definitely good times and bad times to meditate, though. Here’s my take on them.
First thing in the morning
Make sure you’re awake first; you don’t want to fall back to sleep. Then meditate. You don’t even really have to get out of bed! Morning meditation starts your day off right with a nice, calm, clarity-bringing boost.
Best for: early risers, people who know they’ll get distracted later in the day and never do it.
Bad for: people who like their sleep.
During your lunch break
This gives you a nice break in the middle of the day to centre yourself, let go of lingering stress from the morning and start your afternoon activities with a clear head.
Best for: people with long lunch breaks (you have to eat too!), people who get frustrated at work and could really do with a calm down at the halfway point.
Bad for: people who only get a short lunch, people who like to socialise on their lunch break.
Straight after you get home from work
This gives you a nice transition between work and home. You can let go of any work stuff during the meditation and stop thinking about it, leaving the rest of your evening for you. This is especially helpful for people who work from home; the meditation can become the signal to yourself that it’s time to turn off.
Best for: people with stressful jobs who tend to bring their work home.
Bad for: people who work a lot of overtime and get home at odd times, people who get so exhausted at work that they need a nap – these people will probably fall asleep, people with lots of after-work activities.
Last thing at night
A meditation right before bed can clear your head and help you fall asleep more easily. I would not recommend doing late night meditations in bed because you’ll wake up at 7 the next morning.
Best for: people who have trouble falling asleep, people who can’t find time earlier in the day
Bad for: people who don’t go to bed until they’re really tired (you’ll fall asleep).
The truth about the best time to meditate
The best time for you to meditate is when you will meditate. Whether that’s morning, night, while dinner is in the oven, on the bus during your commute. It doesn’t matter, as long as you’re meditating.
Although consistency is very important when building a new habit, that doesn’t mean you have to meditate at exactly the same time every day. You can be consistently making an appointment with yourself to meditate and sticking to it, even if it has to be at a different time every day due to life getting in the way.
The most important thing to remember about building a meditation habit is don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Don’t say to yourself: I have to meditate at 6.30am in my beautifully decorated meditation room and bring only peace and serenity with me. Because then you’ll be waiting while the room gets decorated and if you sleep in you won’t meditate and if you wake up grumpy you’ll give it a miss til next time and it will be months and you haven’t started the habit.
If you sleep in and miss your normal meditation time, squeeze it into the afternoon instead.
If you can’t fit an hour into your afternoon schedule, try five minutes concentrating on your breath.
If your meditation room isn’t perfect yet, just sit on your bed (or try a portable sacred space).
If you’re too grumpy to meditate? Good news. That’s why you have meditation.
So think about your routine and schedule in some time to meditate, and get started today!
When is your best time to meditate? Any time I’ve forgotten? Let me know in the comments!