Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga and which can be translated as “the science of life” teaches us how to prevent disease and maintain a healthy lifestyle, by living in accordance to the cycles of nature. Let’s see when is the best time of the day to meditate according to Ayurveda.
Meditation is the state of deep and uninterrupted concentration on a particular object which can be anything external or internal eg. the breath, a mantra etc. It is also one of the highest forms of spiritual practice, based on Patanjali’s Ashtanga eightfold path which suggests Dhyana (its name in Sanskrit) is the 7th limb and the step before Samadhi, self-realisation.
Most of us have heard of meditation through yoga perhaps or other spiritual practices. Whilst it’s obviously ok to meditate any time, Ayurveda gives us the best time of the day best suited for dhyana in accordance to nature’s flow. Because we must always remember that we are a part of nature and we should, as much as we can, sink our daily lifestyle/habits according to what is happening in nature.
First it is useful to know that in Ayurveda, the times of the day are split in accordance to the three Doshas (Vata, Pita, Kapha). *If you have not yet heard of these, you can read my blog post on explaining the doshas.
The times of the day representing each dosha are:
Kapha – 6am-10am & 6pm-10pm
Pita – 10am -2pm & 10pm-2am
Vata – 2pm – 6pm & 2am-6am
What does this mean? It suggests that during these times, the specific dosha qualities are dominant or give the “mood” or “vibe” of that particular time. This is also a strong indication on what habits are suitable for these particular times of the day. So for example, we see that Pita time is between 10am-2pm during the day, suggesting that these are the times in which our agni (digestive fire) is the strongest (lunch time in Ayurveda is taken at around midday) and we are most productive/sharp. We can link this to nature as well because the sun is also the strongest at around midday. To understand this better, we can revert back to the qualities of the doshas.
If we look at the morning time, 6 am-10am which is Kapha time, we know by the qualities of Kapha that during this period, we (as well as nature ) are more slow, cold, steady, quiet, heavy in the body and mind (think about when you wake up) etc. Pita time, as explained above is the period of the day when the agni is usually the strongest, when there is more heat in the body and mind, and we are more sharp and focused. And during Vata day time, it is starting to cool down and we are more light, quick and unsteady during this time (think of the air element).
Based on the above, and according to Ayurveda, the best times to support a meditation practice are in the cooler periods of the day, which represent Kapha and Vata time. But as Kapha time is usually heavier and more slow, for some it may be difficult to focus and meditate at this time. They could fall asleep, or find it difficult to concentrate due to heaviness of mind.
However in Vata times, between 2pm-6pm, when the food has already almost been digested from lunch (if you follow Ayurvedic meal times) and the body is more active and unsteady/moving here and there, this is from an Ayurvedic perspective the best period for meditation practice. Although the mind or body may be unsteady, there is no heaviness as there would be in Kapha time, or too much heat as in Pita time. And if we find a helpful concentration technique, both the mind and the body will slowly and eventually start to become more grounded and focused. This is the time when we need to slow down and become more steady.
Once the Vata part of the day is finished, the body is ready to receive fuel in the form of food (dinner) at 6-7pm latest and afterwards, at around 10pm when it is advised to sleep, the body will move into the Pita time when it will start to digest the food and to rejuvenate the body overnight so that we can feel fresh and healthy the next day. Vata night time will follow which will create the movement and prepare us/help us to wake up and then the cycle continues throughout the day.
*There is also another period well suited for meditation and this is in Vata time, just before the changing to Kapha time in the morning, at 4am. I will do another post on this because it has a specific meaning and there is more to inform about this time.