In my last post I mentioned that I meditate on a regular basis.
A fellow blogger asked me what impact this has on my daily life. This is a question many people have, I think. Meditation has become mainstream. “Everyone’s doing it.” But what is IT, exactly? And how, aside from all the scientific evidence that it is good for me, does it make my day to day life better?
Meditation is often used as a synonym for contemplation, musing, consideration, reflection, deliberation, rumination, reverie, concentration, but this isn’t true meditation. A definition I like is “a state of thoughtless awareness. The mind becomes calm and silent, yet remains alert. Eventually, one gains higher levels of awareness.” Key word here is eventually.
Why did I want to learn to meditate? I used to have anxiety every day, and it manifested itself in that I was very controlling. I had become very aware of this, and my motivation for wanting to learn to meditate was that I wanted to know how to calm my mind. All the years I was a churchgoer praying and reading my Bible diligently had not brought the peace I so desperately sought.
1. I am calmer, over all. The anxieties and irritations that used to upset my days are now just a little blip in it, gone quickly when they start to rise up. I do still have “hormonal” moments. I get upset about stuff. People annoy me at times. I get emotional and cry. But when I cry, the tears are cleansing rather than draining. And after almost a year, I am beginning to notice a difference in myself, a difference that others have commented on for months.
2. When upsetting events occur, as they will, I am more able to bring myself back to my center, to the present moment, to my breath, or whatever I need to do to look at what is really happening, what is really important.
3. The biggest change I have noticed in myself is that I have become much less judgmental.
I am less judgmental of myself as well as of others. In meditation, it is important to learn not to judge the experience. If I am judging, then what is the point, really? There is no such thing as a “good” or “bad” meditation experience. It is what it is. Sometimes I have loads of thoughts, spinning around and around. Pema Chodron says in her book of daily readings, Comfortable with Uncertainty (p17), that “our practice is to watch our thoughts arise, label them thinking, and return to the breath…Each situation, eath thought, each word, each feeling, is just a passing memory.” In other words, we will have thoughts during meditation, and it’s ok.
As a result, I have taken this practice to the ordinary situations of life. Instead of looking down on others because their choices and behaviors don’t match my particular standards, I remember that everyone is doing the best they can at the level of awareness that they have at the moment, including me.
If you are a meditator, how has it helped you? What do you see as the greatest benefit to your life? Here is a great infographic on the benefits of meditation. I encourage you to explore this, and begin taking a few minutes every day to just sit with yourself.
Namaste. The divine light in me bows to the divine light in you. Have a beautiful day.
4 thoughts on “Sitting with myself (3 ways meditation impacts my life)”
Namaste, Sara. Thanks for this! Exactly what I needed to hear: “everyone is doing the best they can at the level of awareness that they have at the moment, including me.” So easy for me to slip into being judgmental. I’m taking a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class through adult ed right now, with some formal meditation and some other techniques. One reason I decided to take a class was because of the struggles with being judgmental. Judgmental of people, but especially problematic (“Problematic”, a judgement in itself, lol) is being judgmental of the meditation experience. I’ve been meditating for about a year and a half. One thing that I noticed, early on, was that meditation allowed me to be aware of my ego vs. my soul. Seems like all of my struggles and hardships are related to ego. When I can act from Soul (or Source), things go better.
I used to meditate sporadically when I was young. I decided I needed to get into a serious routine with it in July of 2013. Leah took me on an overnight hike in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, on the Highland Mary Lakes Loop. The landscape was just astonishingly beautiful–series of waterfalls and pools, many lakes, alpine tundra, copious wildflowers, interesting geology with a cave! The highest point was 12,800 feet, where we could see for probably 100 miles in all directions. The air was so light and pure that it seemed shiny. I came out of those mountains a different person–completely inspired and mindblown, with a new awareness of how insignificant my little problems are, and how miraculously everything in the Universe fits together and works together, and a feeling of being greatly loved by the Universe.Leah teases me and says that I was changed by the lack of oxygen at that high altitude, lol. But I thought I had been given a gift and I wanted to take it and use it. Wondering what to do with this profound sense of inspiration, my first thought was, daily meditation, and then see what happens from there.
I can feel the benefits in my own relationships and my own emotional experiences, although I’m definitely aware of slipping into ego too often. But I have meditative techniques now to help me deal with pride, judgement, fear, anger, attachment. I feel like I have more choice in the matter of my daily emotional/mental state. And usually more capacity for Love.
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Your page here is one of wisdom. I also meditate especially to find inner peace, cope with the stresses of everyday suburban life and also to help heal my stomach from fructose intolerance. I practice yoga stretches regularly and my yoga teacher also takes meditation classes. Every Tuesday I have an 80 minute yoga/relaxation session followed by a 10 minute break then 60 minute meditation class. Tuesdays are fantastic days. One meditation strategy is Yoganidra and it’s especially a very powerful meditation. My teacher is Jennifer Hanning and she has a wonderful book of practical meditation strategies for sale on Amazon. She also has meditation CD’s and also sells romance novels there but I am not sure of the meditative nature of these.
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Thank you for reading and for your kind words! I will look her up.
[…] I’m sure there are quite a few factors involved, but I would say the main one is my regular meditation practice. It’s been a year and a half, and even I notice that I am less reactive, calmer, more […]