My favorite meditation is my morning meditation. This is an old meditation approach from Taoism, which is incredibly flexible. The ideal goal is quite simple: at the moment before you open your eyes, you instead, allow yourself to go into a meditative state of mind.
Morning Meditation Introduction
Meditation, as a practice of awareness, often works by shifting one’s mental state to increase awareness. The morning meditation is unique as you start right off in the altered mind state between sleep and awake. The timing of the morning meditation is literally at the conscious and unconscious crossover moment of waking. As a result, getting the timing down isn’t easy. People are used to rushing into waking.
The trick of the morning meditation is an interesting one: Allow your mind to arise in being awake, but not entirely awake. Allow yourself to feel awareness form in your body/mind. Don’t open your eyes when you feel awake. Instead, keep the eyes closed and then simmer within the process of waking.
So the key to morning meditation is to create a momentary pause point between being awake / sleep. Since waking up is much like rolling down a hill into consciousness, at first it’s hard to pause midpoint in this process. Initially, as you try, you will find yourself rolling straight into being awake. In fact: at first, you will forget even to try most mornings.
Over time you merely try. Each attempt will help you begin to feel out the waking up process. Over time you will find yourself getting closer and closer to semi-waking into that in between point of twilight consciousness.
Now, this is where it gets cool. At that moment of awareness rising, you can decide where to take that moment to different directions. The direction you focus your meditation session on will change the entire morning meditation cycle for that day.
Focusing Morning Meditation
Once you learn how to pause in between sleep and waking, the next step is deciding where to flow the actual meditation process.
One of the reasons I love morning meditation is because it can be used for many different purposes. Morning meditation is the Swiss army knife of meditation practices.
I am going to give a general overview of several important meditation focus paths. This article won’t go into depth on how to achieve each focal point. Rather that is where Julie and I spend time teaching each student directly how to achieve each focus state.
Let’s look at some of the directions you can flow your morning meditation.
Expand Upon Your Dreams
Often a person will wake up within a dream. As we wake up, we may be left with questions from that dream. As you start your morning meditation you can take extra moments to revisit, understand and ponder upon that dream. Since you are partially asleep still your mind isn’t fully in its logical mode. This means you will be able to look at your dreams from a very different perspective. This moment between consciousness can give a person unique insights from their dreams.
Now keep in mind after you wake up not all the insights will match up to reality, but at times looking around the corners of our logical reality can lead to inspirations which are priceless.
Note this focus is not lucid dreaming (controlling /shaping a dream), but rather only the reflective processing of your dreams.
As we wake up, the world begins to connect with us. We might hear a bird singing, the wind blowing, the activities of others starting the day.
We can go in that moment of waking to start a journey. There is an invitation to explore, in spirit, the world around you.
Morning meditation can be a powerful gateway into shamanic journey work.
Lucid dreaming is a special state of mind, where you are within a dream, yet a conscious sliver of your thoughts interact with your dreams to change the dream. In this manner, it’s possible to interact with your dream. When waking up in the middle of a dream, it’s easy to use your meditation to go back into the dream. As you are partially awake, you can give suggestions to your dream which will then flow and gently take shape around those suggestions.
One nice benefit of this focus is it gives you a technique to work against bad dreams or difficult recurring dreams. You can use this method to dispel and get around dream challenges you might have been having in your sleeping life. You will discover that it’s possible to work through dreams you might have been stuck in over the years into finally resolving or moving beyond.
Morning Meditation can be yoga in bed or the practice I created called Sleeping Qi Gong. I often call this focal point Morning Savasana.
As you start morning mediation, you slowly extend your awareness from your toes and work your way through your body one step at a time. You notice anything that is off. When something doesn’t feel right, you then gently address the issue at hand. You might stretch, massage, roll, or visualize healing energy to any spot that needs care.
All too many people rush into the day with pain and physical problems. If you take the first 30 minutes of the morning to address physical issues, you then set up the rest of the day to move much more cleanly in your life.
My students and I within Awakening Dragon Taoism have developed two whole practices around this focal point of morning meditation that we call: Hibernating Bear Tai Chi and Sleeping Qi Gong.
Many people have health situations which are more delicate than the normal person. Working with your health during this morning awakening timing is a powerful path in balancing out the body and mind to move and live more gracefully through the day.
Address Repressed Emotions and Memories
Often we will wake up, and our first thoughts will be negative. Old memories will come up; suppressed emotions will bubble up from our subconscious mind.
If we wake up with bad thoughts, we will then carry them through out the day. If we address those negative thoughts during the morning meditation, we can then release and learn from them to heal.
I have used morning meditation to heal many people from problems very quickly. It’s pretty amazing how fast this technique resolves out issues in a person’s life. If you combine the conscious and unconscious mind as we perform morning meditation, it changes the entire emotional landscape you are living against.
I teach morning meditation to all my midlife students. Midlife crisis is a time when a person revisits everything they have done in life. Many repressed memories will come back at the midlife awakening stage of life. You can use morning meditation to heal from old wounds and unresolved memories brought back to surface from this experience.
Release Inherited Problems
Another common challenge we face is inherited issues from our parents, friends, family or society. These issues can express themselves most readily when we are tired or just shifting our mental state. As a result morning, mediation is often the best time to tackle deeper issues that you have inherited from your life.
The deeper problem is that it’s easy to hold another person’s story as our own. It can be challenging to untangle what is our own life from a drama that other people hold. Strangely in the morning twilight hours, it’s a bit easier to untangle this knot of drama, bad stories, and older abuse out of our life.
If you wake up with a question: it’s possible to use morning meditation to look for answers to that morning question. Read the inspiration focus section for more details on this.
Facing the Day Ahead
Some days are harder than others. Some days we might be facing a deep challenge later in the day ahead. At this moment our doubts and fears for the challenge ahead will present themselves as we wake up. If we don’t address these fears, then the fears linger and will dog your steps as you move on through the day. Taking the time in your morning meditation to address your fears makes the day flow more gracefully, and you will have better performance on these more challenging days.
Often a person needs some inspiration to get around problems or a new idea to work upon. Morning meditation for artists, authors or anyone who lives through creativity is an amazing tool to flesh out solutions or gain new ideas. The moment of the subconscious and conscious merging truly opens up new views to work against.
The trick for inspiration during the morning meditation is not to lose the focus of inspiration once you fully come out of morning meditation. Using morning meditation for inspiration is a four-step process.
- The first step is to soak in the morning meditation to gain the inspiration.
- The second step is to play out the idea while in morning meditation.
- After you wake up and get out of the morning meditation, you have to try out the idea using only conscious logic.
- Finally, you will have to write out the idea, so you don’t lose it later. It turns out the average person will loose 90% of a dream within the first minute of waking up. People who are good at remembering dreams will still loose 50% of a dream after 5 minutes of waking up. Since morning meditation is partially happening within the subconscious mind, a similar lose of ideas will occur unless you make the effort right away to capture them on paper.
Two Morning Meditation Practice Hints
It can take a few years to get the timing of your morning meditation down reliably. It’s worth the effort. Here are two tricks to help speed up the learning curve to weeks or months instead.
First: It’s never too late to start.
This first method was how I trained myself into a morning meditation practice.
You won’t always remember to start the day with a morning meditation cycle. So add a dash of acceptance to the process. The more you try to force your morning meditation timing, the less likely you will make it work. Instead, you relax into learning how to meditate in the morning.
So ironically there is a simple trick to learning how to do the morning meditation. When you first remember that you wanted to meditate in the morning is when you practice it. This may mean you remember in the afternoon! That is acceptable. At that point, go sit down somewhere. Relax, remember what happened as you woke up that day. Gently revisit your morning. Spend 5 to 15 minutes relaxing in this revisiting of your waking moment. While this may not be the morning meditation itself: it will prep you how to start the morning meditation.
Doing this once or twice a week will have a big impact on your life as you learn to pause. More importantly, an exciting thing will happen as you do this method. Every day, you will remember a little earlier in the day to start your morning meditation. After a few months of this, the meditation moment will occur naturally just before you wake up.
Keep in mind not every day you will start in the morning meditation: so allow yourself the gentle path to ease into it instead.
Two: A gentle Pre-Alarm.
This method is almost cheating since it’s so simple. It will work for some people but be aware it won’t work for everyone.
You can use a very mild chime or music pre-alarm 15 minutes before you wake up. Make sure it is set to turn itself off in less than 5 seconds. When you hear the mild alarm allow yourself to relax. At this point: practice not opening your eyes or reacting to that pre-alarm and simple meld into the morning meditation moment instead.
Common Morning Meditation Questions
How long should I allow for my Morning meditation?
There is no ideal timing. You can spend 5 minutes or up to an hour in it. The timing is more based on a combination of the practical realities you face that morning and how long you need to balance out your essence that day.
On average I spend about 15 minutes in focused morning meditation and about 15 to 30 minutes relaxing/transitioning between sleep and waking. But I never force this meditation session in the morning to be cookie cutter identical every day. Some days I will go into a deeper meditation session lasting 30 minutes. Other days I might only go into a light 5-minute session.
Where should I practice my morning meditation?
For the most part, I practice morning meditation in bed. It’s acceptable to also move to a separate location: against a wall, in the morning sun or a place more conducive to your mediation. Generally speaking, you are working to capture that moment before waking. This means instead of rousing oneself; you merely need to move slightly and gently shift awareness between sleep/waking without shaking away the sleeping portion of the mind.
It turns out this morning intersection point is pretty elastic. You can get upshift positions, and your mind can go back to this fantastic intersection of sleep and awareness pretty readily. For example, some mornings for physical healing purposes I will move myself to soak in a hot bath and meditate for a full hour to help heal my body from hay-fever/allergies I have in life.