No matter what side of bed you wake up on, morning meditation is a great way to start off the day with greater focus, energy and awareness.
by James Han
It’s no mystery that meditation can help you manage your day-to-day stress and feel more calm, focused and alert.
While it’s easy to incorporate a quick breathwork routine or visualization at home, work or on the go, starting your morning with some form of mindfulness exercise can help you set the tone for the rest of your day, no matter how busy or stressed out you might be.
Best of all, you don’t have to set your alarm back by too much to build meditation into your morning routine — even just five to ten minutes of regular practice has been clinically proven to be effective. In this piece, we’ll share seven of our favorite morning meditation techniques for every goal and mood.
1. Kundalini Breath of Fire
Kundalini yoga is an ancient practice that combines meditative breathing with poses, mantras, music and movement. One of its most cherished and widely practiced pranayamas (breathing exercises) is the Breath of Fire. While Breath of Fire is often incorporated into longer yoga sets, you can isolate the pranayama for morning practice, and just a minute or two is enough to get your energy flowing. Studies have shown that Breath of Fire is very effective at enhancing concentration and relieving stress, among other benefits.
How To Do It:
- Sit in a cross-legged position and place your hands in your lap or on your knees.
- Stretch your spine tall.
- Inhale (expanding your belly) and exhale (tightening your abdominal muscles) through the nose only, without pausing between inhales and exhales.
Start slowly until you can do it rapidly, with two to three cycles per second. Your breathing should be forceful and loud. You can learn more here.
Benefits: focus/concentration, energy
2. Zazen Meditation
Zen is often known as the “meditative” school of Buddhism. Its philosophy has been studied since the sixth century in China, and in the late 20th and 21st centuries it’s become more widely circulated in the West. Zazen, a sitting meditation that is the cornerstone of Zen practice, has been heavily researched for its ability to help you ease stress, become more focused and even boost productivity. It’s a fantastic way to ground yourself first thing in the a.m. and steer you through all the day’s hurdles and tasks.
How To Do It: There are several ways to practice zazen, with a variety of sitting positions you can choose from based on what’s comfortable (including a chair if you have knee or back issues). Note that you’ll need some kind of cushion, though a zafu is preferable.
- Once you’re seated, sit tall, tuck your chin in slightly and rest your non-dominant hand on top of your dominant hand in your lap.
- Breathe in a relaxed manner through your nose, with the tongue resting gently on the upper palate behind your front teeth.
- Rest your gaze on the ground two feet in front of you, and bring your focus to your breath rather than your surroundings.
- Set a timer for five to 10 minutes, and continue breathing and focusing on the breath.
Benefits: focus/concentration, calm
3. Mindfulness Meditation
Busy folks (or night owls) may find it difficult at first to squeeze in even 10 minutes of morning meditation, and that’s okay. Mindfulness meditation is a broad term that incorporates intentional awareness of the present moment. You can practice it while you’re going about your morning routine, like while brushing your teeth, washing your face or even on your commute to work. It’s an effective way to think more clearly and feel less bogged down by the weight of stress. It’s not even meant to be a “stepping stone” toward other forms of meditation — this is its own practice that can be a great entrypoint into greater all-around well-being.
How To Do It: As you go about your day, tune in to your senses and all the thoughts and emotions that spring up while you’re completing activities. For example — as you take a sip of coffee, feel the weight, texture and warmth of the cup or mug in your hands, notice the particularities of its aroma and pay attention to all the nuances of its taste. What memories, feelings or physical reactions are you experiencing?
Benefits: focus/concentration, calm, awareness
4. Mantra Meditation
Mantra meditation centers around a word, syllable or phrase that you repeat aloud or in your mind during meditation. This is an age-old practice with roots in a range of spiritual practices including Hinduism and Buddhism, though you can enjoy its benefits in a secular way as well.
How To Do It: There are endless ways to practice mantra meditation. Some people find a mantra that is in another language (or even a made-up string of sounds) to use as a sound that can help them tune in and open up their mind and heart, but you can also find or create mantras with specific intentions and affirmations, such as: “I am content in this moment” or “May I find ways to be more patient in my interactions.” Check out our guide to chakra affirmations for more mantra ideas.
Benefits: peace, positivity, gratitude, calm
5. Qigong Meditation
Qigong is part of an ancient Chinese system of exercise, meditation and medicine that can be thought of as a kind of gentle moving meditation. Though it may not seem like a vigorous “exercise” the way that some forms of yoga might, qigong has plenty of health benefits that include improved mobility, cardiovascular function and mental health.
How To Do it: There are many qigong exercises you can practice, whether you want something to get the blood flowing or to simply cultivate a more mindful outlook. For a seated meditation, you can try mental focusing (ru jing) and/or visualization (cun si), which both involve sitting upright in a comfortable position, closing your eyes and breathing in a natural, unforced manner. For the visualization practice, you can imagine things that bring you positivity or progression toward emotional healing. For an active meditation, follow this video tutorial of the Five Elements routine, which is only 12 minutes long.
Benefits: energy, focus/concentration, calm
6. Guided Meditation
Guided meditations are one of the most versatile and abundant forms of mindfulness practice, with free audio guides that you can find on YouTube or through apps you can download on your phone. To help you find the best guided meditation for your needs, check in with yourself — are you stressed? Lonely? Stuck? A soothing meditation that incorporates movement, visualization, breathwork and sound is just a quick search away — and all you have to do is relax and follow along.
How To Do It: Sit comfortably or lie down and set up your phone and earphones or a nearby speaker. Depending on how long your guided meditation is, you may want to set up a cushion or blanket to keep you comfortable, as well as have a glass of water nearby. Set up in a quiet space where you know you won’t be distracted, and turn on “Do Not Disturb” so your phone doesn’t buzz.
Benefits: calm, focus/concentration, awareness
7. Walking Meditation
Everyone knows that walking is an important part of everyday health, but it can actually be turned into its own meditation — and a great way to connect your body and mind to the earth. Whether it’s a 10-minute stroll around the block or an hour-long hike, you can reap the benefits of walking — including improved energy, mood and creativity — by adding it to your morning, even if just means parking your car farther away from the office or taking public transit a few times a week.
How To Do It: As you’re walking, allow your thoughts to wander and occasionally bring yourself back to your body by feeling the weight of each step or counting your breaths. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, but the goal is to inhabit your body and pay attention to your surroundings.
Benefits: energy, focus/concentration, awareness, calm, creativity
How To Elevate Your Morning Meditation Routine
Your morning meditation routine can help you experience greater focus, calm and energy on its own, but you can elevate your routine by taking a dropperful of GO, an Ayurvedic blend of potent botanical extracts such as cardamom, ginger and rosemary that is amplified with the balancing qualities of hemp-extracted CBD. Take GO after you meditate to help you transition out of your practice and start your day with a natural mood, awareness, focus and energy booster.
James Han is a writer, editor and content strategist based in Los Angeles. When he’s not deep in a Google Doc, you can find him reading, watching films and taking long walks.