Thursday, July 30, 2009

When to Meditate: Any Time’s the Right Time

If you’re incredibly busy, pencil in formal periods of meditation whenever you can find the time. But if you have the luxury of choosing or would like to meditate as often as you can, I fill you in on some of the best times to sit in the following sections.
Ultimately, every moment and every activity can provide an opportunity to be mindful.

First thing in the morning
Traditionally, the hour or two right after you wake up — preferably around sunrise — is considered the best time to meditate. Your mind and body are refreshed and energized by deep sleep, and you haven’t yet started to obsess about your usual worries and concerns. As a result, you may find it easier to focus and stay present. By meditating first thing, you also set the tone for the rest of the day and can extend whatever peace of mind you generate to your other activities.

Before bed
Some people take an hour or two to wake up from the dreamy fog of sleep, and others have just enough time to roll out of bed, grab a cup of coffee, and rush out to join the morning commute. If you’re groggy when you get up or have to switch to high gear the moment your feet hit the floor, try meditating in the evening before bed. It’s a great way to prepare for sleep, because it allows your mind to settle down and shift naturally and with ease from waking to slumber. In fact, meditators who sit at bedtime often report that their sleep is more restful and they need less of it. Of course, the downside is that you may feel as though you’re too tired or stressed out to meditate at the end of the day — and you may wind up taking a hot bath or watching TV instead. But when you get into the habit, you’ll find that evening meditations are an excellent option with some distinct advantages of their own.

Right after work
Though not as reliable as mornings or bedtimes because it’s often usurped by errands, early dinners, or family emergencies, the transition between work and home can be a fitting moment to take a few deep breaths and let your body and mind settle — instead of reaching for the paper or flipping on the tube.

Lunch hours and coffee breaks
If you have an office of your own and a time set aside for lunch or coffee —a big if, because more and more people eat on the fly these days — plan on bringing your food or scoring your java in advance and spending the rest of the time meditating. You might even set aside a special space in your office —including an altar, if you’re so inclined.

While waiting for your kids and at other predictable downtimes
If you’re like many parents, you may spend hours each week shuttling your kids from one activity or playdate to another — and sitting in the car or running errands while you wait for them to finish. Instead of picking up a magazine or listening to the news, try meditating. (You can take the same approach to waiting for your doctor or dentist.) It may not be the best environment and your posture may not be ideal, but look — it’s a stretch of precious idle time. Use it wisely.

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