The short answer is that the best time is different for every person and depends on what you’re trying to get out of meditation. If you know the reasons why you want to meditate it will help you to determine which is the best time of day to meditate for you.
Increased Focus and Concentration
How you start the day sets the tone of the day, so beginning with meditation is a great way to be more mindful, focused, and relaxed throughout the day. If you’re using meditation as a way to boost your focus and concentration for the day ahead, the best time to do that is first thing in the morning. For me meditating before before breakfast, sets the tone for my day.
Work-Related Stress Relief
Once you’ve mastered meditation without distractions or high levels of stress, you can begin to use your mediation techniques even in the middle of your busy office to take just a few minutes to re-center yourself and be able to relieve the stress that’s already building up from the morning. Whether you find a quiet place to meditate during part of your lunch break or simply close your eyes and breathe at your desk for a few minutes, meditating throughout the day can help you avoid getting overwhelmed.
You may also choose to meditate at the end of the workday to relieve stress that came throughout the day. This can be a good way to transition from work to home so that you’re not bringing all the stress of the office into your home. Ideally, you’ll want to take a few minutes to meditate just before you leave work, or as soon as you get home, to release all your negative thoughts so you can then enjoy your evening.
Because most meditation techniques are designed to help you become more aware and therefore more awake, you have to be careful to not use the same technique you’re using to stay focused at work to help you fall asleep. However, if this is your goal with meditation is to help you fall asleep quickly, then you’ll want to do this either right before bed, or while in bed.
If you’re not using a sleep-inducing meditation technique, then you need to avoid meditating within an hour of going to bed, since you don’t want your body to associate normal meditation with falling asleep.
When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or needing to make a difficult decision, these are times when you should take a few extra minutes to meditate. Although it’s easy to say that you don’t have time to meditate when you’re stressed by how much you need to get done, you’d be surprised at how much time you’ll end up saving by centering yourself for 5 minutes rather than worrying about the problem for 20 minutes.