When is the best time to do your sutta practice? It will probably be different for everyone, but here are some suggestions. You may want to first decide how much time you will need to spend each day.
Schedule a regular time
Try and find a time that will work every day or almost every day. Get into a routine.
If you can, read early in the day
If possible, find a time to do your reading practice early in the day. This has several benefits:
- Most importantly, you will have the rest of the day to contemplate the sutta that you read and see its truths in your own life. This is an incredibly powerful experience that builds faith and confidence quickly.
- Even if you don’t consciously think about the sutta, it may naturally come to mind when the teaching you read are needed.
- If you plan to read early but you miss your scheduled time, you still have the rest of the day to fit it in.
If you have a meditation practice
Although you can certainly read the suttas without having a daily meditation practice, if you do, try to link them up. You could either read before or after meditation. Both have advantages.
“There are these five rewards in listening to the Dhamma. Which five? One hears what one has not heard before. One clarifies what one has heard before. One gets rid of doubt. One’s views are made straight. One’s mind grows serene. These are the five rewards in listening to the Dhamma.”
The Buddha—AN 5:202
- Reading the Dhamma calms and concentrates the mind if you do it before meditation.
- If your mind is calm and concentrated from meditation, then what you will read after will surely go to the heart.
- If your daily meditation practice is not quite daily, then make a commitment to read even if you do not meditate. After reading you may decide to meditate after all.
Link it to another activity
If you don’t meditate every day, link your sutta practice to something else that you do every single day. Be creative. A peaceful, quite time is best, but that may be hard to find. Don’t let the “perfect time” that never happens keep you from reading in a less than perfect time that happens every day.
Determine to do it before X
If your daily schedule is not so consistent, try linking your sutta practice to a time period before you do something. For example:
- Before eating any food for the day
- Before getting dressed
- Before going on line for the first time each day
- Before touching your phone
- Before getting out of bed
- Before leaving the house
If you must read late in the day
If your mornings are very rushed (although it’s hard to imagine not having the time to read at least single Dhammapada verse) or if you are not a morning person, you may only be able to find a consistent time in the evening.
- Bring to mind your day’s activities when reflecting on the sutta that you read. How could you have applied the teachings in your life that day?
- Consider taking just a moment the next morning to try and remember and review in your mind what you read the night before.
Don’t break the chain
Reading every single day is extremely beneficial even if it is just for a short time. Try using the Don’t Break the Chain technique to make it happen.
When do you find is best to read every day? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.