Start a Morning Meditation
How to make the first few minutes of your day the most productive
Ask anyone close to you how they’re doing and you're bound to hear a variation on the word "busy." And how have you been lately? We're all a bit overworked and overwhelmed with a few too many commitments. With lives like this, is it any wonder that the American Psychological Association reports that nearly all US adults are suffering from moderate to high stress?
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, less than 10% of adults in the United States actually meditate. And that's despite the fact that research suggests a committed meditation practice can relieve stress, supercharge the brain and boost your mood. All things that would come in handy at the start of a busy day.
I know what you're thinking ... after waking up bleary-eyed and in desperate need of a shower and some coffee, who's got the time or patience to meditate? But here's the thing: Starting your day with a morning meditation will gently release grogginess and help set the groundwork for a more successful (and less stressful) day. Whether you wake up at five or 10 am, you've got the time to incorporate a daily meditation. And you'll soon find that it becomes a grounding anchor on days often full of unpredictable situations and variables.
After all, there's a reason why so many of the successful men we feature in our Morning Routine series usually cop to some sort of meditative practice. It works. And even for those non-morning-person types, you'll soon find that by taking just a few moments in the morning actually helps you wake up and get ready for the day. You don't need a meditation room or some fancy cushion. Just a little time—it takes about as much as you spend brushing your teeth.
Forming healthy habits is hard and for them to last, you want to be consistent. The more often you meditate, the easier it gets and the deeper and more enduring the benefits. So set a low bar starting out to ensure you can maintain your commitment. And one minute is the complete opposite of intimidating. What's more, it's scalable—after one minute of meditation, you'll likely think to yourself: I'm already here; might as well keep going a bit. And once you opt in for more, you're meditating out of actual interest, making it much more likely to have a lasting effect.
Although you can meditate lying down, you'll want to sit up in order to wake up in the morning. Plus, according to experts, it's easier to do it if your spine is straight. It's helpful to designate a space for your meditation, to help put you in the right mind frame. Sit on a chair in the corner of your bedroom or on the side of your bed with your feet on the ground.
There is no one-size-fits-all method to meditation. I started by just focusing on my breath and my body, trying to empty my mind of any random thoughts, but also not fighting it when they creep in. In fact, sometimes it's during this brief time that inspiration will strike. I place my hands on top of my thighs and bring my awareness to my breathing—counting to five as I inhale and five as I exhale (and repeat). But the Headspace app offers hundreds of options that include everything from deep-breathing techniques and guided walking meditations, to semi-guided and completely unguided meditations.
Track and Time It
You want to make your meditation as easy and as comfortable as possible. Let a clever app be your guide.
This app has an insanely huge library of content: over 25,000 guided meditations from around 3,000 teachers on topics like stress, relationships, creativity and more.
This streamlined app is an extremely popular option (and the one I currently use). There's a variety of meditations, with the best guided sessions for beginners.