The best way to ensure we include meditation in our daily routines is to do it in the morning—first thing.
I realize many people already have crazy, hectic mornings where it seems impossible to fit in one more thing, but I promise, this is do-able.
And that’s because as little as five minutes is enough.
Longer is better, but five minutes counts. Of course, we don’t have to meditate first thing either. We can do it at whatever point in the day best works for our own schedule. But the easiest way to make meditation a daily habit is to do it before we do anything else.
Most people have some kind of morning routine—a general order in which we do things when we get up and start moving about, especially on work and school days. If we integrate our morning meditation into this daily routine, before long, it becomes habitual.
And while the ideal is to meditate twice a day, life has a tendency to sabotage our plans. Afternoon and evening schedules can often become disrupted by all kinds of unforeseen events and there’s a greater chance that our evening meditation slot will fall by the wayside. But, when it’s part of our morning routines, even if we don’t get a chance for a longer meditation later in the day, at least we’ve started out with a self-care practice.
I was trained as a meditation teacher by the Chopra Center, who recommends a simple, tried and tested formula: RPM (Rise, Pee, Meditate). And it has worked for me.
I am not a morning person. And when I first learned to meditate, I didn’t have this freelance lifestyle which offered me so much flexibility. In order to develop a daily meditation practice, I had to set my alarm half an hour earlier in the mornings.
The idea of it was massively uncomfortable. I didn’t want to get up earlier, but my desire to finally crack the meditation thing overcame my internal objections. Bleary-eyed, I forced myself to get out of bed, pee, brush my teeth (it helps—that icky feeling in your mouth in the morning can be a bit of a distraction in the beginning), get back into bed where—sitting up, not lying down—I would meditate for 30 minutes.
It only took a couple of weeks for it to become one of the things I did every morning, like showering and dressing, without ever feeling like a chore.
Eight years later, it’s still how I start my day.
One of the many documented benefits of meditation is that we feel rested and energized afterward. Meditation gives us such a deep level of rest (even if it doesn’t feel like that because our minds continue to be busy throughout) that it more than makes up for the extra few minutes of sleep we’ve sacrificed.
*Sometimes, when we’re first starting out—and depending on the level of healing our bodies demand—we can feel extra sleepy afterward. With continued practice, this passes. (It’s also less likely to be an effect of a short, five minute sit so don’t be afraid to start with that.)
If getting up five minutes earlier seems to be too much of a stretch, then the next best thing is to identify a slot of five minutes or more in your day that will work every day or most days. And then put a recurring reminder in your phone, your diary or whatever device you use for daily reminders.
The benefits of meditation accrue gradually. It’s a fitness regime for our minds, hearts and souls. And just like physical fitness activities, we will feel minimal benefits right off and maximum benefits when it becomes a continual and regular activity.
Now is always as good a time as any to start something new. Decide today and set your alarm for tomorrow morning.
If you have any questions, please post them in the comments below.
Author: Hilda Carroll
Image: Phalinn Ooi/Flickr
Editor: Catherine Monkman