When considering the best time to meditate, one must consider that over thinking meditation is counteractive to achieving a meditative state.
When we meditate we are cultivating a state of pure awareness; mindfulness in the present moment, free of attachment and stress.
And so to go into a meditation thinking “is this a good time to meditate”, “am I too tired”, “will I get hungry half way through”, “will I make it to the supermarket on time” and other distracting thoughts will only make it harder to achieve a meditative state.
Meditating shouldn't be something you force yourself to do, but rather something you do instinctively when the moment takes you. This might be when you feel overly stressed, tired, joyful, calm or at a completely inappropriate time.
The problem with this, however, is that in our busy modern-day lives, everything must be planned. Because of this, you need to decide what works best for you in terms of your lifestyle, but also in terms of state of mind.
Most meditators have their preferred personal times, but there is no one perfect time for everyone because meditation is a spiritual experience that reconnects you with your centre of being, and is unique to each practitioner.
Meditating in the Morning (Ideal)
Many meditators choose to meditate early in the morning when the day is new, the mind is fresh and distractions are fewer.
Many meditators also prefer to meditate before they eat, as digestion makes the mind and body internally active due to a number of hormonal processes that occur when we eat. If you want to meditate after you eat then it's best to allow a gap of at least an hour for digestion.
Meditating in the Late Afternoon (Problematic)
People often feel a dip of tiredness in the mid afternoon, so it's best to get past this before you meditate. If you know that 3-5pm is a dip for you then skip to the early evening.
That said, meditation can be enhanced by the serenity of the sun going down, especially outdoors in the late afternoon. So if you aren't suffering an afternoon dip, it's worth enjoying a late afternoon outdoor session on a sunny day.
Meditation in the Early Evening (Good)
Meditating at the end of the workday is the perfect way to create a natural boundary between work and the rest of life.
It's a great way to stop work thoughts running into the evening, which leave you feeling neither still at work nor really fully at home, and step into your personal life with no attachment to the stresses of the workplace.
Your family will definitely appreciate this person more than the person that talks and thinks about work all evening!
Meditating Before Bed (Not Good)
Avoid meditating close to bedtime because you don't want to fall asleep. Meditation is to fall awake into the world, to open your mind to higher consciousness and spirituality, and relieve it of grasping and attachment, which is quite the opposite of sleep, and a lot deeper than simple relaxation.
The problem with meditating when you are very tired is that if you fall asleep you may begin to form a habit that's hard to break, making it more difficult to cultivate a meditative state when you try to meditate at other times.
Keep solid distance between meditation and sleep to make a clear mental distinction between the two.
Meditating on Demand (Perfect)
Ideally you should meditate when you want to, perhaps when you feel overwhelmed, anxious or stressed. Meditation is a wonderful tool for collecting the scattered pieces of the mind and bringing your energy and awareness into balance, and as a preference you should be able to do this on demand, not as part of a routine or something that requires excessive planning or contemplation.
The reality, however, is that when we really feel inspired to meditate we are usually pressured by time, and distracted by thoughts of what we need to get done in the remainder of the day.
To solve this problem you can use a meditation aid like binaural beats to help you quickly cultivate a meditate state. This is perfect for meditating on your lunch break, or in between lunch and picking the kids up from school, for example.
The recordings contain special frequencies that entrain the brain to a lower brainwave state (Alpha and Theta) and put you “in the zone” for non-distracted clear seeing (meditation). Best of all, it's effortless. You simply find a quiet space, put on your headphones, relax and press play.