Ugh, not another post about meditation…Hear me out, though
You don’t have to wake up at 5 a.m…
And write in your journal…
And take a cold shower…
And work out…
And drink tea with lemon and cayenne pepper (some people do this I guess)…
…all at the same time.
There is something to be said about developing good habits, though. Any success I’ve had in life came from developing good habits.
I do wake up at 5 a.m. every day because it gives me an extra 2–3 hours to work uninterrupted.
I’ve more or less written every day for the past 3–4 years and the habit turned my hobby into a career.
In terms of my overall wellbeing, however, nothing tops my meditation habit.
The hype over meditation is true. Trust me. Try it. It works. As follows are some of the many benefits of meditation. I sincerely hope one of them inspires you to start your own practice.
Meditation Lowers Your Stress
Yes I know, this is me being captain obvious, but seriously, it can really bring your stress level down several notches.
In Vipassana meditation, the goal is to focus on the areas of your body that experience emotion. Emotions are actually physiological responses — think feeling embarrassment your gut and solar plexus.
Your meditation practice can help you notice your physical responses throughout the day — clenched jaw, knot formation in your neck, slouched stature. And your mindfulness can help you decompress when you notice your stressors.
Meditation is the closest thing that I’ve found to an actual “chill pill”.
Meditation Makes You Nicer
I wake up every day pissed off and grumpy. I drink my coffee, meditate, then I’m ready to talk to people.
Meditation makes you mindful of your own emotions. You realize how irritable you can be so you start to recognize why other people are that way and you don’t take it as personally.
Putting yourself in a position to feel more at peace throughout the day will, in turn, cause you to be more pleasant to others.
Meditation Changes Your Perspective
I’ve had times where I was in conflict with another person and decided to take the time to meditate on the issue. At the beginning of the session, I’d feel I was completely right and that they were absolutely wrong, but towards the end, I’d begin to realize there are two sides to every issue and I’d become more empathetic to their point of view.
Meditation allows you to step outside of yourself in a certain sense and be able to see things from a different viewpoint. Your ego-driven mind is quick to jump to conclusions, make false assumptions, and ascribe imaginary intent to other people’s actions. Just pausing for a few minutes can deter that type of thinking.
Meditation Helps You Focus
As a writer, I try to do deep work, meaning work done in an uninterrupted and focused state.
The problem? In daily life, my mind wants to do the exact opposite. Your ‘monkey mind’ loves to worry and find the nearest distraction. When you meditate you step back and see how bats*** crazy your mind actually is. The deeper you get into the practice, the quieter your monkey mind gets and it throws less emotional feces at you.
Then you can focus on whatever it is you need to do to improve your life, career, business, or anything else requiring deliberate attention.
Meditation Reduces Anxiety
When you meditate for the first time, it will blow your mind to step back and see how little control you actually have over your mind. You think tons of irrational thoughts throughout the day. Being mindful of those thoughts don’t outright cure them, but noticing them can reduce your anxiety simply by way of knowing how frequent and inaccurate they are.
Meditation Helps You Sleep
Usually, when you can’t sleep it’s because your mind is racing. You’re worried about the big meeting with the client tomorrow, or the job interview, or the first date you’re about to go on, or the fact your rent is past due or one of an infinite number of sleep-inhibiting thoughts you might have.
Meditation helps you deal with those thoughts and if you are already tired you might fall asleep in the middle of your practice!
Meditation Makes You More Introspective
When you meditate, you may find yourself thinking about your role in your life.
We’re pretty good at bulls***ing ourselves when our mind is in constant motion — it’s his or her fault, my employer is ruining my life, the world’s out to get me — but when alone with our thoughts, we have the opportunity to think about what’s really going on.
Deep down we all know the truth about what we should do and the level of influence we have over our own lives. But, when caught in the rapid pace rat-race, it’s easy to convince yourself otherwise.
Slow down. Look inside. Act on the real insights you gain from your practice.
Meditation Connects You With the World
Eastern philosophy roots itself in the idea that your ego and self-centered viewpoint cause your unhappiness.
You’re supposed to meditate to destroy your ego and become part of something bigger than yourself. The truth is you’re super insignificant and nothing you do matters in the grand scheme of eternity. Even your fears about rejection and risk are egotistical because you think anyone other than yourself actually cares about whether or not you succeed.
The destruction of the ego leads to a connection with others. When you realize how your own thought patterns affect your life, you’ll realize they affect others in the same way and it’ll make you more compassionate. The destruction of your ego leads to you seeing yourself for what you really are — a tiny piece of an infinite universal puzzle.
Mediation Keeps You in the Present Moment
I’m a dreamer and a long-range planner. Often, however, I find myself a prison of my own imagination — always focusing on what’s going to happen and never enjoying what is happening.
Meditation helps you to stay in the present moment, which, according to the teachings of Eastern philosophy, is the only state in which you can be happy — not pulled into the future or sucked into the past. No expectations or worries. Just life.
I’ve found it’s literally impossible to stay in the present moment fully. You can’t even do it for a full day — maybe the Dalai Lama can but not you and i.
Anyway, it’s still important to practice being present. That’s the beauty of meditation and mindfulness. It’s a game you can’t win, per se, but it’s also a game you’re not supposed to try to win. You receive no accolades and awards for becoming more mindful of your actions. The benefits are all internal.
Meditation Makes You Happier
You can’t rid your life of problems.
You’ll never be perfect.
You aren’t going to live out every single dream you have.
I’m not the person to define happiness for everyone, but from where I sit, happiness comes from a few things:
Being okay with who you are, how you live, and what you do.
Having time to focus on things that matter both professional and personal.
Not letting stress and worry and imaginary ghosts ruin your life.
Meditation fits the bill for all three. Again, I’m all for adopting practices and habits to make your life better for your specific reasons.
Meditation will not turn you into a CEO, make you rich, or make you successful.
It will, however, make you more aware of everything in your life, which has an unlimited number of benefits.