Morning Meditation Practice: How to Find Daily Zen in a Busy Life

A morning meditation practice can set the tone for a day filled with peace, presence, and resilience. Meditating in the morning is important because it provides a chance to tune into your emotions and check in with your needs, allowing you to better serve those around you.

These benefits aside, carving out time in the morning isn’t always realistic. Walking the dog, getting the kids ready for school, checking emails and answering calls — mornings are often when the chaos begins.

But having a busy schedule is exactly why you should meditate. Whether you’re getting up five minutes earlier to sit in silence, or tuning into your breath on the morning commute, follow these ideas to create more mindful mornings that set you up for a day of calm.

Carve out Space and Time for Stillness

We all have duties and responsibilities to attend to — things we often have to put before our own self-care.

Think about ways you can free up more time in your morning routine:

Can you spend five minutes less checking your email or social media in the morning?

Is it possible to wake up five minutes earlier?

How can you shorten any aspect of your morning routine? How about your shower?

How can you prepare the night before? Can you make breakfast or set out your work clothes?

Can your partner lend a hand with any aspect of your family morning routine?

Can you make an arrangement with your boss to arrive 10 minutes late (and stay for an extra 10)?

Evaluate not only how you can make changes, but how other people in your life might be able to support your new routine.

Establish Your Intentions

Next, it’s important to establish intentions around why you’re beginning this practice and what you’d like to achieve.

Why are you starting this new practice?

What goals would you like to achieve by meditating?

How would you like to feel after meditating?

Write down the answers to these questions and keep them in a notebook to refer to later. These responses can remind you why meditation matters and motivate you to continue practicing when life gets stressful.

Next, set small goals for your new practice. Begin with something simple, like meditating for three minutes every morning before breakfast. It’s okay to start small — you can gradually lengthen your practice over time.

Set Your Mood, Create Your Space

“That which is placed on the altar is altered.” ~ Marianne Williamson

When practicing meditation at home, it’s crucial to create a space where you feel comfortable and safe. The place where you practice meditation is meant to be a force of positive, calming energy. That’s why it’s important to choose a space where you can be still, quiet, and free from external distractions.

Crafting your own altar is a great way to coax yourself into a zen state. An altar is simply a designated meditation space in your home, which you can adorn with crystals, candles, photos, and other mementos that ground and inspire you. Think of it as a place to celebrate your individuality; to honor yourself.

Adorning your altar also makes your meditation space enticing — drawing you in for a few moments of silence even on the days when you’re “too busy” to find your center.

Practice Self-Care and Compassion

A morning meditation practice is an opportunity to check in with your thoughts and emotions. In the same way that you’d ask a spouse, child, or loved one how they’re feeling in the morning, meditation asks that you bestow this compassion on yourself.

Mindfulness guru and author Jon Kabat-Zinn points out that this is the difference between waking up with your feet dragging, and waking up with purpose and intention. He details how to conduct this type of emotional scan:

“How do you feel this morning? Are you still upset about a fight last night, or worried about an upcoming meeting? What do you want to achieve today? Understanding how you feel before you embark on your day can help you go through your day more mindfully.”

Taking inventory of your emotions first thing can help you assess where you could use a little love. Without judging or shaming yourself, acknowledge this need in yourself the way you would in anyone else.

What if I Still Don’t Have Time?

If you still can’t find time to meditate in the morning, it might be time to rethink your definition of what it means to meditate.

A common misperception about meditation is that it has to be practiced a specific way. Sitting on the floor in silence is one way to meditate, but it isn’t the only way. In fact, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of ways to meditate.

Each of these can be just as effective as the next, depending on who’s practicing and what they’re looking for. Meditation looks and feels different for all of us — the key is finding a practice that works for you.

Create Mindful Morning Rituals

Any action performed mindfully and with intention can be considered meditation. Walking the dog, commuting to work, or making breakfast are all examples of common morning activities that can be transformed into meditative rituals.

Let’s break down these three common morning routines to see how they can approached more mindfully.

Taking out the Dog: Walking Meditation

Taking Benji for his morning stroll is a great opportunity to practice walking meditation. Walking meditation is a form of mindfulness that asks you to focus on the present moment.

One option is to tune into a guided walking meditation specifically designed for walking. Or, you can simply practice walking meditation by listening to the sensations of your body and the elements around you. This is an easy way to take a routine task and turn it into a special, calming moment for yourself.

Going to Work: Commuting Meditation

Be it car, bike, or train, commuting to work offers a wealth of opportunities for getting still and tuning in. Listening to a guided meditation while you drive or ride to work can help you find your calm before a busy day.

Feel the rush of the wheels beneath you. Take note of the trees and the houses speeding by. Turn, stop and signal with grace. Arrive to work feeling resilient and ready to overcome anything that comes your way — even rush hour traffic.

Preparing for the Day: Mindfulness Meditation

Whether you’re packing kids’ lunches or whipping up a smoothie for one, assembling breakfast is the perfect time to tune into mindfulness. Aside from putting on a guided meditation, you can also use this opportunity to create a more serene environment.

Can you light a candle? Put on relaxing music? Assemble each sandwich carefully and with intention? Think about each step mindfully, without rushing. How does the entire process change?

Coupled with a daily yoga practice, a morning meditation routine can create more harmony both within yourself and in your relationship with the world around you.

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