After 20 months of daily meditation
I’ve been meditating daily since January 1, 2018. In the 20 months since then, I’ve witnessed vast changes in my mind. The person I was two years ago is in some ways unrecognizable to who I am today.
I attribute these changes to meditation because of the role it’s played in how I perceive my mind. Without this newfound perspective, none of the changes I describe below would have been possible.
What follows are the top 5 things that have changed in my life due to meditation.
1. I can no longer ignore or avoid the problems in my life
Do you ever ignore or avoid the looming problems in your life? Maybe you play video games or watch Netflix for hours at a time, hoping that it will distract you from the fear of actually addressing them?
In time, meditation will make the motivations behind your actions perfectly clear to you — and then there will be nowhere to hide. If there is a problem in your life that needs addressing, that problem will sit in front of you like a big, old elephant, which will then proceed to slap you silly with its trunk until you pay attention.
By placing my problems front and centre in my life, meditation has provided me with the motivation to resolve them. Because of this, I’ve been able to grow and move my life forward more in the last two years than I have in the previous 30.
2. Loving yourself doesn’t (necessarily!) mean you’re a narcissist
Meditation grants you some much-needed distance from your thoughts and emotions. As a result, it can feel a little bit like your life is happening to another person. Just like you can feel love and compassion for someone else, especially when you see them struggling, this distance opens up the possibility for you to feel love and compassion toward yourself.
When you typically think of self-love or self-compassion, do you imagine taking it easy on yourself and settling with what you’ve got? Do you think that both will make you weak and unmotivated?
The opposite is true. Self-love and self-compassion want the absolute best for you. They don’t baby you, but they don’t berate you, either. Instead, they give you the strength and conviction to continue forward despite your fear and anxiety. They will push you to toward your potential.
3. Finding freedom from ourselves
These beautiful words are often ascribed to Victor Frankl: between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. This can feel very liberating and inspirational to read, but how do you put it into practice?
Meditation develops the skill of mindfulness, which grants you the increasingly powerful ability to notice subtle changes in your moment-to-moment attitude. For example, if you are discussing a touchy subject with a friend, you will notice the precise moment when that conversation goes from friendly to adversarial. You will sense the flushing of your face, the quickening of your heart-rate, the feeling of anger.
This is the moment between stimulus and response that Frankl is talking about. It is right here where everything can change. Instead of reacting how you always do and getting what you always got, meditation offers you the opportunity to break out of your old patterns of conditioning and forge a new path.
4. Improved social interactions and friendships
One of the biggest impacts that regular meditation has had on my life is in the realm of relationships. I was a quiet and awkward kid and young adult. I felt extremely uncomfortable having conversations with most people and my mind went blank whenever it was my turn to talk. I was self-conscious and horrified of making mistakes.
With the newfound perspective on my emotions developed through meditation, I’ve been able to look at my aversion to social situations differently. Instead of giving in to my fear and anxiety, I’ve learned to lean into them. To embrace them. To welcome them. And to proceed in spite of them.
To be sure, this was a slow and sometimes painful process, but it’s completely changed my outlook toward social interactions. I now look forward to talking to people. I can listen wholeheartedly without worrying that I’ll have nothing intelligent to add. And I can speak my mind without self-consciousness getting in the way.
Meditation has helped me present my authentic self to the world, at least most of the time!hap
5. I am happier than I’ve ever been
So, no, I don’t mean that I’m always happy. It’s not always appropriate to be happy. Plus, happiness, like any emotion, is transitory — it comes and goes.
What I mean when I say, “I am happier than I’ve ever been,” is that I feel happy far more frequently than I ever have. I still feel all the other emotions, like the ones we’d typically describe as “negative”, but meditation has helped me to mostly let those go.
When you’re able to let emotions go, you enter a state of peace knowing that whatever comes is only temporary. This is a state of openness, of invitation, of welcomeness. You react to the world as it is, not to how you wish it would be.
Amazingly, when you’re in this state of peace, your first instinct is to respond with happiness, awe, and compassion. It’s like these emotions have become your default state of mind.
And that’s as great as it sounds.
Give meditation a try
Now that you’ve read about some of its benefits, will you give meditation a try?
I hope you do. It’s fundamentally altered my life for the better. I think it can do the same for you.
So, download an app like Waking Up or Headspace and get started! What do you have to lose?