Morning Meditation to Start the Day off Right!
How many times have you been told that eating a healthy well-rounded breakfast is the best way to start your day, as your brain gets the proper amounts of glucose (or fuel) it needs to function. It helps to stimulate your brain and get your body moving in the right direction. On the contrary, eating unhealthy meals in the morning, like high processed foods, can actually effect brain function, like memory.
While eating a balanced meal is certainly a great way to start your day, what other things can you do to promote a healthy mind-body connection in the morning?
The answer may just rely in meditation. A morning meditation routine can jump-start your day in a positive direction, as meditation is known to improve things like cognition and potentially increase the likelihood of success.
Research suggests that certain forms of meditation have the ability to alter the brain, and can improve problem-solving and decision making abilities. With that said, if you're a hard-working professional or attend daily classes as an adolescent, morning meditation may be just what the "doctor" ordered.
In general, meditation is great to do at any time of the day, as it helps to train your mind, focusing and redirecting thoughts on the present. As more research becomes available that studies the short and long term effects of meditation, it's popularity grows. In fact since 2012, the amount of individuals doing meditation (including children) has significantly increased. You can see the full breakdown of numbers here, pretty cool stuff!
We'll get more into the benefits of morning meditation throughout this post. We’ll also talk about meditation routines you can try, so to get the most out of your time.
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How Morning Meditation Can Benefit You!
1. Morning Meditations Helps You Feel More Energized
It's not a huge surprise, but many of us feel groggy and sluggish in the morning. It can take some time for your body to re-calibrate from sleep and really wake-up and fully be ready for your day ahead. However, rather then turning your focus to a cup of coffee or an energy drink, give morning meditation a try.
Meditation creates a flow of energy and releases natural endorphins in the body. Most people think of meditation as a way to decrease stress, relax and or/calm the mind.
With that said, how can it "help" increase energy?
Rather then the quick-fix that caffeine or other ingredients in an energy drink can provide, meditation can ensure your body stays charged up for longer periods of time.
Much of it has to do with brain structure and the way in which we deal with every situation that arises during our day-to-day operations.
You see, the process of meditation, if done regularly, has the ability to help remove accumulated stress, increasing energy and health positively. Several studies have actual found that meditators brain structure includes a bigger/stronger prefrontal cortex.
What does this mean?
This in laments terms means that what some call the "higher level thinker" and "emotional regulator" part of the brain is more prominent, and suggests that meditation may be associated with areas of the brain important for sensory, cognitive and emotional processing.
When you think about your own daily life and activities how much does sensory, emotion and cognitive thinking play into it? A LOT, right?
Don't think about this as a short term fix to all of your energy problems, however. There are many other factors that go into this; diet, sleep, relationships, to name a few.
However, morning meditation can be another tool you add to your arsenal to improve many different facets of your life, included energy levels.
2. Meditation In The Morning Boosts Motivation
Meditation in the morning can help create a daily routine, just like with a daily exercise routine. It can also be a great time to perform meditation, because oftentimes our mornings are slightly less hectic (loud), then the afternoon or evening can be.
When combining the effects of meditation on energy levels and sticking to a controlled routine (even if it's only 5-minutes) we can shift our focus from just physical type of motivation, but now mental.
When you feel less stressed out, and have more focus within your mind, you may have more confidence to get through your day. This can lead to further motivation!
* Don't think you have time to meditate in the morning? Check out this quick 1-minute morning mediation routine at Headspace.com.
There have even been studies showing meditation as the ability to improve attention span. One such study concluded that people who listened to a meditation tape compared to a control group, had improved attention and accuracy when completing tasks.
3. Your Mind Will Feel More Balanced
Meditation in it's long list of principles and positive benefits is known to help with not just physical relaxation, and calm, but also helping to foster psychological balance and coping.
Even in heightened states of body-or-mind stress, mediation has a way of helping you re-center. Even in individuals who suffer from chronic, long term illnesses such as cancer(s) may be able to find relief of symptoms. In some studies, meditation has shown the ability to relieve anxiety, stress, fatigue, general mood and sleep disturbances. As you can imagine making improvement in the those areas, most likely improves overall quality of life.
The point is, regardless of the time of your life, meditation may add some mental and emotional clarity as well as balance, regardless of your situation.
4. Your Body Will Be In a State of Flow
Many people see meditation as a stationary and unexciting activity that works only on the mind. These assumptions are incorrect. Meditation is more than sitting still patiently.
In fact, this practice affects the body as well as the mind. One of the goals of meditation is to let go of unwarranted tension, anxiety, as well as both mental and physical stress, helping the body to flow and work better as one unit, connected.
5. You Will Feel Less Stressed
It goes without saying, but meditation is a great form of stress relief, both for the mind and body. Getting your morning off to a good start is crucial to sustaining a positive outlook on your day. Meditation's unique ability to train and focus your mind on the 'now', provides practitioners beneficial coping strategies both short and long term.
By triggering the bodies relaxation response, meditation does just the opposite of what stress can do on the body which in some cases can be prolonged fight-or-flight response. Poor coping to stressful situations and prolonged bouts of fight-or-flight, releases damaging hormones which can have negative effects on all parts of the body.
Meditation brings you to a place of calm and rationality. It's not just about the present moment, but also how we look at our own self, in a nonjudgmental way, which proves to aid in improving mood and anxiety levels.
Top Morning Meditations You Can Practice
Meditation can seem intimidating, especially for people who've never tried it before and are new to the meditation practice. Rest assure, like anything else you want to achieve in life, patience and practice can go a long way.
There are even helpful apps and other meditation supplies and/or tools that can be both informative, but also helpful in meditating practically anywhere at anytime. The benefits of meditation, whether in the morning or another time of the day, cannot be overstated.
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Here We List Some of the Different Types of Meditation to Practice:
1. Deep Breathing Meditation
Deep breathing is often associated with several forms of meditation and is an effective way to perform meditation in the morning. With this technique, you focus the mind on a single point, your breath.
This form of mediation dates back for thousands of years, and the goal is to help stimulate the relaxation response of the nervous system. This in turn can help counteract certain stress responses of the body like elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, and that surge of stress hormones.
There are several forms of deep breathing exercises as well, most notably are coherent breathing, resistance breathing and breath moving.
Deep breathing meditation is especially helpful for people with anxiety problems, as bouts of shallow breathing can actually decrease oxygenation leading to worsening symptoms, and further physical and mental strain on the body.
2. Visualization Meditation
Ever heard the term "seeing is believing"?
Visualization meditation is another point of emphasis used in certain types of meditation practices and plays off of this very statement. Visualization is this concept off picturing an event in your mind, prior to it happening, sort of like an outcome that you want to happen.
Some may think that this sounds odd, considering meditation is about acknowledging thoughts and emotions, but not dwelling on them. However, you can use this to actually improve your meditation practice. When your mind is already relaxed, adding visualization, may help better direct your thoughts.
This can be something as simple as picturing how you will walk across stage before a graduation, or picturing yourself involved in a certain sporting event, etc. It's the process of truly attempting to block out all the noise and put yourself in a future situation, being able to actually use your senses to rehearse what you want to happen.
Related Article: What is Guided Meditation?
This type of imagery works on a specific part of the brain, the amygdala. This structure of the brain actually has a difficult time distinguishing things visualized during your session, as oppose to the real-life event happening.
In fact, a study of weightlifters found similar brain patterns in training when they actually lifted weights vs. when they only imagined lifting the weight.
Mental focus may have the ability help get you to where you want to be, and prepare you for more life success.
3. Positive Affirmation Meditation
What is affirmation meditation?
The easiest way to explain this type of meditation is that it is the practice of repeating things aloud or saying them to yourself (in your thoughts) that leads to positive thinking.
What better way to start your day, right? Starting your day filled with positive meditative thoughts has to be a good thing for your overall mood, right?
Affirmation meditation, like many forms of meditation, is usually highly personal. It's oftentimes used as a way to promote self-confidence and behavior change. Ever been in a situation that you found yourself saying, "I can do this" or "I got this". These are types of self talk phrases to put your mind in a more positive light, away from the opposite, negative self-talk.
Now does it always work, it's probably unlikely, and there is certainly limited studies out there to explore this concept to it's entirety, it seems. However, there have been studies looking at self-affirmation and how it activates parts of the brain systems.
Similar to visualization, saying words or phrases, or creating positive mental images can stimulate certain parts of the brain that would also be stimulated as if you were experiencing those specific situations. In the case of repeating things like affirmation or even mantra's could lead your brain to take them as factual.
While performing affirmations may not always happen the way in which you envisioned, this form of thinking, has the potential to drastically improve your confidence and motivational levels in a situation or activity. So, you can see how they may help guide your through stressful situations and create a positive way to start your morning.
4. Mindfulness Meditation
Probably the most well known type of meditation is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation as well as Transcendental meditation are probably the two forms of meditation we have found the most research on.
Although a great approach to meditation in any part of the day, this particular form for morning meditation can be beneficial. Research suggests that mindfulness has wide ranging effects on psychological health, from decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression to helping increase well-being and even concentration levels.
Mindfulness focuses on all areas of the self. You bring a sense of awareness to the breath, body, and mind. You use your various senses to take in the present moment and stay grounded within yourself.
Not only have there been proven psychological benefits, but also physical benefits of mindfulness meditation, like improved immune function, and improved quality of sleep.
Regardless what from of morning meditation you choose, be consistent and patient. This practice in theory seems fairly straight-forward and simple, and it can be. However, like many things in life, meditation included, it takes practice, as essentially you're retraining your mind.
Hopefully from this article you have some great new takeaways on how to start your day on the positive stress-free side of things. Morning mediation and it's benefits can truly be a life altering way of bettering each and everyday.
Thanks so much for stopping by and be sure to share your thoughts and experiences morning mediation in the comments section of this blog!