I began to meditate over three years ago in June of 2013 and have been teaching heartfulness meditation ever since July of 2015. For over three years, I’ve had people ask me about how I meditate, why I meditate, and above all, how meditation has helped me. So I am starting the Why Meditate? Series, a series of blogs hoping to give an introspective and versatile taste of the many answers to that very question.
Below is a brief preview of the different ways I’ve benefitted from meditation:
Reacting to situations
On a reactive level, meditation has helped me moment-to-moment as an emergency response for whenever I find myself in an unpleasant or stressful situation. For example, my senior year of high school, anytime I would get too frustrated during the college application process, I would use meditation as a quick way of taking a mental break. Even today, I will meditate 15 minutes before a test or interview to calm my nerves, focus on being connected to the situation and just clear away some of the stress.
Proactively preparing myself for life
On a responsive level, I see meditation as a proactive way of preparing myself for anything that life might throw my way. When I started meditating more regularly, I noticed that I was able to stay more level-headed in situations that would have otherwise caused me to feel extremely stressed (like missing my flight in another country). In general, I also began to feel less anxious or jealous about situations and people, and I started to become more aware of how music, food, emotions, and other things were affecting me.
Feeling better overall
Looking at longer trends, week-to-week and month-to-month, I’ve noticed that meditating has been able to give me a qualitative benefit; in a way that is often hard to describe, meditation just helps me feel better about myself and about life. Similar to days where you get the right amount of sleep and the world just seems happier and brighter and you feel more in control, I’ve felt something similar with weeks that I meditate more versus weeks where I meditate less or not at all. Over time I have noticed that when I’m meditating more I’m able to feel better about the world, I feel more awake, more aware, and able to remember things for longer periods of time.
Purpose and inner change
At the most nuanced level, meditation has helped me find purpose. At the end of the day, you are the only person who has been with yourself all the way up until now and you are the only person who will be there until you die. For me, I see meditation on the heart as a way for me to connect with who I am at the very core. When I first began meditating, I felt bombarded by lots of thoughts and it was hard to “get the hang of it,” but it was still a way for me to make time for myself to just sit and see what was inside. After a few months, I began to feel like there was something I could connect with while meditating that was beyond my thoughts. Three years later, meditation has become an anchor, something I know I can do every day (even for five minutes) that will be a conscious investment in my own well-being and in getting to know myself better.
We always say we want to become better people. And while we can focus on eliminating unwanted behaviors or emulating “good behaviors” externally, I’ve found that true change comes from a shift in ourselves internally. I can act on the outside like I’m a compassionate person or an empathetic person, but it isn’t until I’ve developed that change from within that I truly begin to exhibit those qualities and become that type of person. That inner change is what I feel meditation has begun in me and has the potential to bring about in others.
These reasons are just the tip of the iceberg! I hope they help to illuminate some of the benefits I have received through meditation and I hope to be able to use this series to expand and explore this topic further.
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Please comment below with your own experience and thoughts – I’d love to hear from you.