Sitting with myself (3 ways meditation impacts my life)

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.

And now?

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.

wpid-20150204_185943.jpgI 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.

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It’s February!

Here in southeast Texas it is 60 degrees. The temp is expected to climb into the 70’s this afternoon, then rain and a cold front, down in the 40’s tonight. This is my early morning lake view – if you look closely you can see the little coots.

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Looking back at the first month of the year objectively (if that is possible!) I am pleased with myself. I set some reading goals for myself  and finished the first book in about 3 weeks. Additionally, I finished Having our Say and returned it to the wine bar down the street. Setting a goal of only five books in a year may not seem like much, but I had gotten so out of the habit of reading that I  wanted to be realistic.  Now that I finished not one, but two books in under a month, I will likely add a few more to my list.

I posted here 13 times. I’ve thought about trying to write here every day and decided against it. I wrote a cathartic letter to my father, wrote from prompts a few times, and put up a couple of pictures I particularly liked. I have added several blogs to those I follow, and am enjoying interaction with some of you who follow me. (And I thank you for reading!) During November when I was partaking in Blogging 101 and Photography 101 it was exciting to see the numbers going up on my stats page. This past month I decided to pay less attention to that and continue my original purpose, which was and is to push past the fear of uncertainty and explore my voice and inner creativity.

I painted this picture:

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Although not entirely original, because I followed instructions from a book on acrylic painting, it is my own result, I learned some new techniques, and am very proud of it.

Other things I have done this month: Continued meditation, twice daily. Improved my eating habits. Committed to yoga class twice a week, for at least 3 months. Started walking outside more, as weather permits. Got Reiki 1 certification.

Goals for February: Keep showing up! Read, write, paint, draw. Practice kindness.

JUST FOR TODAY (reiki principles)

I will let go of worry

I will let go of anger

I will do my work honestly

I will give thanks for my many blessings

I will be kind to every living thing

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