Meditation is a very popular practice in the modern world. It is regarded as a healthy and beneficial practice, and has grown in popularity in recent years, much in the way that yoga has. Meditation, particularly is a source of many benefits to one’s health, and can positively affect the way you approach your life, in regards to your physical health and your state of mind. Incorporating meditation into your daily routine can decrease stress, make you feel more well rested, and increase both your physical and mental health overall. If you’d like to work morning meditation into your life, this guide will show you how.
What is Meditation?
There are several different definitions for meditation, because it means a lot of different things depending on the culture or religion being researched. The most common definition today, however, is a method of training of the mind, often inducing a mode of consciousness different from that of every day life. Most meditation commonly practiced today revolves around learning to clear your mind for a specified amount of time, in an effort to create some quiet and focused energy. The different mode of consciousness in most cases is a state of quiet and peace, which is the ultimate goal of most modern meditation practices.
The exact origin of meditation is hard to pinpoint, as it has been around for thousands of years; the practice has been present in the religious world throughout nearly all of history. The earliest references are found in the writings of the ancient Hindu religion, in which meditation consisted of a spiritually guided repetition of a particular phrase, or mantra, or often a repetition of the names of deities. Meditation also appears as a popular religious practice in the traditions of Taoism, Buddhism, and Islam. The Islamic practice of Dhikr involves repeating several different names for God. For thousands of years, meditation has been used as an accessory to discovering or expanding one’s spirituality, and is often a cornerstone of Eastern religious practices.
Meditation first appeared in Western religious writings a bit later, around the 6th century B.C., when Christians practiced a form of meditation called ‘divine reading.’ Divine readings took place when a different level of consciousness was sought out while reading the Bible, in groups or individually. Some Christians today still describe the meditative aspects of Bible study, and how reading scripture often brings about a sense of calm and well-being.
What we think of as modern forms of meditation experienced a surge in popularity in India in the 1950’s, and appeared in the United States and Europe in the 1960’s. This method of meditation became less spiritually themed. It is sometimes referred to as “secular meditation.” Its goal is to relax, de-stress, and connect with yourself, on a personal level rather than a spiritual level, though some people do incorporate spirituality into their meditative practices. Today, meditation is discussed more often in the secular sense, and those who practice it are trying to eliminate some of their stress and reconnect with themselves while living in a very stressful world.
Benefits of Meditation
Practicing meditation on a daily basis is an attractive option for a lot of people, because it is accompanied by many substantial benefits to your overall health. According to varied studies, if meditation is practiced consistently, particularly at the start of your day, it can lead to:
- Lower feelings of stress, leading to lower actual stress levels (this can affect blood pressure in a positive way as well)
- Improved self-image, gained by focusing on your well-being for a portion of your day
- Improved cognitive functions, by sharpening your focus with daily practice
- Improved processing of emotions, by zeroing in on your feelings
- Decreased feelings of loneliness
- Improvement of your immune system, resulting in being sick less often, and getting over illnesses more quickly
- Lowered risk of depression and other psychological ailments
- An easier time falling asleep, and better sleep quality
- A leaner physique, as meditation has been shown to positively impact weight loss goals
Morning Meditation Steps
Despite the appeal of all these benefits, it can be challenging to incorporate a morning meditation routine into your life, A lot of people find they don’t have time, or that their lives are just so rushed and stressed that they can’t imagine being able to clear their minds. The important thing is to keep trying to meditate, no matter what roadblocks you may encounter. Getting up a little earlier each day to make time for meditation will be a great choice in the long run, even if it takes some time to perfect your practice. Nobody is going to do it very well on the first try, but persistence will pay off, and you’ll be transforming before you know it. To get started, follow these steps for morning meditation:
- Finding the right place- Meditation is only going to work for you if you’re attempting to relax and focus in the proper environment. To meditate in the morning, you’ll need to find a location that is easily accessible to you, so you can go there on a daily basis, The location should be somewhere you can be calm, and most importantly, it should be very quiet. Once you choose a place, choose an amount of time for which you’re going to aim to meditate each day. Even if you don’t do very well, it’s important to stick to this same amount of time.
- Selecting a wardrobe- Be sure to wear whatever makes you feel the most comfortable when you meditate. For morning meditation, this can most easily be accomplished by not even changing out of your pajamas.
- Positioning yourself- Seat yourself in a chair or on the floor, depending on which method makes you more relaxed and comfortable. If using a chair, you’ll want to straighten your back and keep your knees bent. On the floor, you’ll want to focus on upright posture, but cross your legs in front of you. In both positions, place your hands lightly on top of your knees (usually palms up while on the floor, palms down while in a chair).
- Relaxing- Make sure that your neck and shoulders are loose and relaxed. If you feel tension there, take a deep breath, and you should be able to feel your body relax into a better position. Gaze softly straight ahead, but don’t focus your eyes on anything too sharply. Take several deep inhales and exhales, and when you get comfortable with your breathing rhythm, close your eyes on an exhale.
- Checking in- Try to notice any physical discomfort you may be feeling, or tension in any part of your body. Just be aware of those discomforts, and don’t feel like you need to correct them unless you are in physical pain. Then try to acknowledge any tension emotionally, by examining how you feel in the moment. Being aware of your body and your mood are important components of meditation.
- Focus- Do your best to focus on the rhythm of your breathing. If it helps, you can count your breaths, aiming to breathe a certain number of deep breaths, such as five or ten in a row. Alternately, you can count your inhales and exhales by maintaining a 1-2-1-2 pattern, counting one for each inhale and two for each exhale. This is the time when stray thoughts will begin to pop into your head, and you are likely to lose concentration, but that is to be expected. When this happens, just try to move your mind back towards your breathing, and keep counting. Maintain this practice until your allotted time runs out, even if you feel like your mind is wandering the entire time. It’s very important to finish out the session that you’ve assigned yourself.
- Finishing Up= When the time has run out, and you feel ready to conclude your meditation, slowly try to come back to where you are physically, by examining where you have tension or physical discomfort again, and where you are emotionally too. When you feel it is the right time, open your eyes again, very slowly.
A lot of this is much easier said than done, especially if you are brand new to the concept of meditation. It is important not to be discouraged, as meditation is a time dedicated to your own well-being. Don’t set any goals for yourself apart from wanting to relax and focus for a specific amount of time each morning. Over time, the process will become more natural to you.
Practicing morning meditation faithfully can change your life. It will help you face your day with a deep sense of calm. Throughout the day, you will be able to think back on how it felt to focus and take some time for yourself at the beginning of your day, and you can try to recreate that feeling when anything becomes very stressful. If you keep up your morning meditation practice, without giving up or getting discouraged, you’ll be experiencing the benefits in no time, and you’ll be glad that you decided to do something purely for yourself and your health.