Could the time of day you meditate make a difference in the results you get from your practice? Although the hours before sunrise are considered prime for meditation, most experts say that anytime you can meditate is a good time.
It makes sense, especially when you consider the list of benefits that come with carving out some time each day to restore calm and inner peace.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, there’s research suggesting that the practice of meditation may reduce:
- blood pressure
- symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
Is there a best time of day to meditate?
Monique Derfuss, a gong practitioner and KRI-certified Kundalini Yoga instructor, says yogis refer to the ideal time to practice yoga and meditation as the “ambrosial hours,” which are the 2 1/2 hours before sunrise when the sun is at a 60-degree angle to the Earth.
The reason for this designation? Derfuss says the energy is most supportive of spiritual work, and there’s a unique stillness.
Although this routine is part of many people’s lives, Derfuss recognizes that it isn’t for everyone. “With a busy lifestyle, anytime you can meditate is a good time,” she said.
“It’s a great way to start and end your day and an excellent break during the day, and in as little as 3 minutes, you can begin experiencing benefits,” Derfuss said.
Erin Doppelt, a meditation expert, says while living in India, many of the gurus she studied with also encouraged a meditation practice in the morning — around 3 to 6 a.m. “These are considered the ‘magic hours’ where time sits still, and you can connect to the energy of the universe uninterrupted,” Doppelt said.
While she does suggest trying out that time if it sounds interesting to you, she also points out that the modern-day interpretation is to meditate based on your natural circadian rhythm. “For some people, this means meditating first thing in the morning as their body is waking up, or around 2 to 3 p.m., which is the period to curve a natural energy slump,” she said.
Typically, Doppelt encourages her clients to meditate first thing in the morning to bring that calm energy and connectedness throughout the day.
Is it better to meditate before or after exercise?
Combining a consistent practice of meditation with regular exercise is an excellent way to boost your overall physical, emotional, and mental health. That said, making sure the two complement each other is key to maximizing the benefits.
Ideally, Derfuss says meditation is best after yoga and breathwork since these practices balance the nervous system and stimulate your subtle energy. However, if yoga or breathwork isn’t something you do, then she recommends practicing after exercise. “You will have released stress, and your mind will be less distracted,” Derfuss said.
Plus, Doppelt says when we exhaust our muscles, we can more easily sit still and move into a peaceful breathwork meditation practice.
“When I share a meditation on retreat or within corporations, I offer a few ‘work-friendly’ exercises to get the body warm and prepared for meditation, especially since I teach active meditation, which is geared for someone with ADD, anxiety, depression, and compulsive thought patterns,” Doppelt explained.
Meditating after exercise can support your mind in moving deeper into the practice.
Tips for meditating better
When learning a new skill, such as meditation, it’s important to have a solid foundation. Understanding how to meditate is just as important as knowing why the practice itself is so beneficial.
To get your journey off to a great start, here are a few tips to help you meditate better:
- Designate a peaceful space. Practicing meditation in a quiet space is ideal, especially if you’re a beginner. Once you designate a peaceful space, make sure to shut off your phone, computer, or any other electronic device that sends notifications.
- Check in with your posture. While there are no hard and fast rules for meditating, Derfuss says the correct posture is essential. “Whether you sit on the edge of the bed, or chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground or you invest in a meditation cushion, sit up straight so that the energy can move easily up the spine,” she said.
- Take it slow and steady. Meditation is something you get better at with time. While learning the practice, you may experience anxiety and restlessness. Over time, you will learn how to manage these feelings so your mind doesn’t get caught up in them. The most important thing is to be patient, start slow, and add time as you feel more comfortable with the practice.
- Meditate at the same time each day. To help make meditation a habit, carve out space in your schedule at the same time each day and commit to following through.
- Walk and meditate. As your practice progresses, consider combining a walk with meditation. Start with a 15-minute walk. Focus on your breath, the movement of your feet, and the sounds around you. When you notice your mind wandering, choose one of those sensations to focus on again. This will help you feel centered again.
- Try a meditation app. Whether you’re new to meditation or you’ve been practicing for years, following along with a meditation app can help you develop a habit or move your practice to a deeper level. Some apps cost money, but several are free. Do a trial run before committing to one app.
The bottom line
Making time in the day to meditate is something everyone can do to help restore calm and improve mental and emotional health. The time you choose to devote to practice will depend on your lifestyle and ability to commit to a specific block of time in your day.
While some say there’s an ideal time to meditate, the most important thing to remember is to develop a schedule that works for you.