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Has anyone ever suggested that you try meditation? It’s a popular recommendation among doctors and therapists today because of the impressive mental and physical health benefits. What is the best time to meditate?
Best of all, this intervention is 100% free, making it accessible for everyone regardless of their socioeconomic status. You don’t have to belong to a particular religious faith, and the practice won’t interfere with your belief system — you can find references to it in nearly every sacred text.
However, the process can seem mysterious to the uninitiated. How do you begin your practice? What’s the best time to meditate? Here’s what you need to know.
The Healing Power of Meditation
Do you remain skeptical of the power of meditation? It’s okay to have doubts. However, consider this list of scientific studies that support its effectiveness as a complementary therapy for multiple conditions:
- Addiction recovery: Mindfulness skills decrease binge eating behaviors. Other studies show it effective in alcohol use disorder by reducing cravings and compulsive behaviors in response to triggers.
- Preventing dementia: Regular meditation practice may stave off the cognitive decline that often accompanies aging.
- Improves focus and concentration: Those who meditated before a tricky task performed better than those who did not.
- Eases depression and anxiety: Anxiety and depression rates have skyrocketed since the pandemic. Patients prescribed meditation reported a noticeable decrease in symptoms. Another study showed this intervention effective for treating symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.
Making Meditation Work for Your Schedule
Meditation offers oodles of benefits — it’s pretty impressive for a practice you can do lying down in bed. But when is the best time to meditate?
That’s the glorious thing about this practice. The best time to meditate is anytime! You can take mini breaks throughout your day or devote a regular slot on your schedule to it. Many popular fitness gadgets like the Apple watch come with built-in mindfulness apps to help you start your practice.
Harnessing the Hypnopompic and Hypnagogic Periods
However, you might get a bit more out of your practice if you do it when your brain is most open to suggestion. Fortunately, this method is also convenient — after all, you begin and end your day in bed, the ideal spot for meditation.
Hypnogogia refers to the fleeting perceptual changes you undergo as you transition from wakefulness to sleep. The hypnopompic period is the opposite — it’s when you go from sleep to waking. During these times, your brain is like a sponge. Your brain wave patterns shift, which may lead to deeper insight and understanding.
Meditating during these times can be particularly powerful. Try visualizing everything going right for you in the day ahead as you first awaken. Generate a feeling of positivity and zest for life in your heart center.
As you lie down to sleep each night, try tuning into a yoga nidra recording or guided meditation. You can also reflect on your day, although some people find this spurs rumination. Having a voice guide you into slumber on a positive note can lead to happier dreams and more restful sleep.
Taking Mini Meditation Breaks Throughout Your Day
Do you sometimes feel triggered because of past traumatic experiences? Do you experience occasional panic attacks? Maybe you have a nasty habit of opening your mouth before your brain kicks in, and unintended words have caused you trouble in the past.
Help yourself regain control by taking mini meditation breaks throughout your day. You can find free apps that time your breathing for anywhere from one to five minutes while you focus on it and calm your body and mind. You can also find brief guided versions for free on YouTube that last only five to ten minutes — it’s a great way to recenter your mindset if a hectic morning at the office left you feeling off-kilter.
How to Meditate: 6 Tips
How do you meditate? In its simplest form, meditation is drawing your awareness inward while shutting out distractions. If you get heavy into your practice, you’ll find scores of schools of thought online that can help you evolve.
However, you don’t have to become a guru to meditate. Here are six quick tips that can get you started, anytime and anywhere.
1. Simple Mindfulness Meditation
This simple meditation comes from the great spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh. Find a quiet place where you can focus your awareness on your breath and nothing else. As a focal point, think or recite, “Breathing in, I am aware that I am breathing in. Breathing out, I am aware that I am breathing out.” Repeat until your breath quiets and you feel a sense of calm.
2. Body Scan
A body scan is a great way to check in with yourself and discover achy areas that affect your mood without your conscious awareness. It’s also fabulous for releasing tight spots.
You can sit or lie down — many people prefer lying on their backs. Then, start at your toes, sensing each one in turn. Work your way to your legs, mentally traveling through each body part and observing what you sense without judgment.
3. Fire Focus
Sometimes, it helps to have an external gazing point to focus your meditation. One popular method involves using a candle. Draw your awareness inward as you watch the flames dance. What do their shapes suggest to you? Can you find harmony in the flickering light? Reflect on how fire is both a destructive force and vital for life — what insights does this dual nature give you into reality?
4. Sensory Awareness
You may have learned this type of meditation as a grounding technique in therapy. Calm yourself by drawing your awareness to your breath. Then, name five things you can see, followed by four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell and one you can taste.
5. Daily Reflection
If you want to get better at self-improvement that doesn’t punish you with painful rumination, try this exercise. Spend four to five minutes mentally reviewing your day as if you were watching the story of your life and you were the main character. How would you advise this fictional past you to act differently? How might that drive your decision-making in the future?
6. Goal Manifestation
Many top professional athletes swear by meditation for manifesting greatness on the field. Business leaders likewise employ this practice. Why shouldn’t you get in on the fun?
Focus on a goal you want to achieve. The magic comes when you allow yourself to genuinely feel the thrill of victory when you accomplish your objective. Are you working on a lengthy project like writing a novel? Visualize each little step — perhaps imagining yourself sitting down to your computer with a smile to put in your 30 minutes of writing each day.
What’s the Best Time to Meditate?
Meditation offers oodles of proven health benefits. You now know how to get started.
The best time to meditate is whenever you feel the need. This practice is free and accessible to everyone, so start your journey to a happier and healthier life today.
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