If we sit down to meditate first thing in the morning, we experience calm and focus.
One of the greatest meditators of all time, Siddhartha Buddha, attained the peak of meditative experience at sunrise under a tree in Bodhgaya, Northern India, some 2,600 years ago.
Sitting completely still, he gently rested into the present moment and observed the ultimate nature of his mind. Recognizing that there is no difference between anything or anyone, he dissolved all obstacles and attained permanent inner peace.
Since that time, people all over the world have practiced morning meditation, establishing an experience of peace and calm in their life.
We can also experience these benefits of a meditation practice in both our internal and external world.
When the sun rises, everything awakens. A new experience dawns. Whatever has happened previously, we can take the new morning as a fresh start. There is a clear energy and a sharpness. We can tap into this energy and it can positively influence us.
If we sit down to meditate first thing in the morning, we experience calm and focus. This feeling stays with us the rest of our day, influencing our mind, mood and mental state. Like having a good friend within, meditation encourages us to be patient and peaceful.
I have found that morning meditation completely transforms my day. When my alarm clock rings, I rise out of bed, have a wash, drink a glass of water, and try not to become distracted by my phone, email or breakfast. Then I sit down in a quiet room overlooking the garden and river and engage in a morning meditation.
This is how my 30-minute meditation goes… If you like the sound of it, please try it for yourself or play around with the structure. You can adjust the length of the session depending on your schedule. This meditation combines a series of mindfulness practices: mindful listening, mindful body, mindful breathing and mindful mind. They can also be practiced individually if you wish to gain deeper experience of one element of the training.
Okay, so let’s practice!
Set a timer on your phone, making sure it is on airplane mode, which finishes with a single bell.
For the first few minutes of the session settle into the present moment—take a gentle, open look at your mind. Establish an intention of compassion for training in meditation.
Bring your attention to the sounds around you, the hum of the room. Then draw your attention into your body and listen to the sounds within and the sound of your breath.
Notice the experience of your body, any sensations you may have, bring your awareness to the point of contact between your body and the floor/chair/cushion that you’re sitting on.
Enjoy the experience of sitting still, within a human body.
Bring your attention gradually to the natural sensation of the breath, observing it passing through the body. Be mindful of the complete inhalation and exhalation. Follow each cycle of breath allowing the mind to rest and focus on this process.
When you feel ready and settled, simply abide in the present moment and observe your mind. Be mindful of your passing thoughts. Your thoughts are like clouds passing through the sky of your mind. Calmly draw your attention inwards and abide.
If your mind wanders or is distracted, then draw your attention back in. The breath can be a great anchor to the present moment. Come back to the breath and then abide again.
In this way we start to abide openly in the present moment, resting in a nonjudgmental manner. Keep a watch on your wandering mind and gently bring it back.
If desired, you can glance at your stopwatch to know how to pace the session. As we progress with our training, we start to become more familiar with how long we’ve been practicing for.
In the final few minutes of the meditation, you can dedicate your practice to the benefit of others or to something that allows you to integrate mindfulness into your day.
If we can do this training in the morning, we can carry an experience of peace and calm into our day. We may find our commute more mindful and less stressful. We arrive at work, calm, refreshed and positive, and are able to tap in and use the mindful energy we’ve created throughout our working day.
I often say in my classes that a good meditation is like having a curry. A strong, spicy, curry will stay in your system for at least 24 hours. The same with a good meditation. The effects of the practice will stay in your mind all day, influencing and guiding your actions. When we meditate in the morning, we no longer feel like we’re chasing our tail, but we have the strength of mind to be able to stay in the present moment and be mindful.
Gandhi famously said, “I have so much to accomplish today that I must meditate for two hours instead of one.”
If we have a full schedule for the day ahead, meditation can help us with our busyness.
There is nothing difficult about establishing a morning meditation practice. It’s simply making a habit. Set the alarm clock 10 to 15 minutes earlier and make meditation the first activity of your morning. Before checking email, turning on the radio, having something to eat, just sit up and meditate.
After doing this for a week or so it starts to become a habit. I know some people who sit up on their pillow and meditate on their bed right when they wake up.
When we go to work we prepare our body for the day. We wash, feed and water it, take a glance in the mirror and make sure that it’s presentable. Meditation helps us develop our mind and prepare it for the challenges of our day.
If we were to go out of the house without preparing our body, it may cause some disturbances both for ourself and others. The same is true if we go out into the day with an unprepared mind. Our mind can quite easily become frustrated, tense and annoyed, even before we arrive at work. With a morning meditation habit, we are protecting and strengthening our mind for the challenges ahead.
One of my favorite elements of morning meditation is that I feel as though I have more time in the day and can actually accomplish more because my mind is sharper.
To keep our meditation going at the end of the day, we can restate our intention from our morning practice.
So, tomorrow morning, just like Buddha, let’s sit, become present and wake up.
Or, try this two-minute meditation:
Author: Adam Dacey
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: Alice Popkorn/Flickr