Why Meditating Is (Slowly but Surely) Changing My Life for the Better

in #spirituality2 years ago (edited)

A friend recently asked me about my meditation practice. He wanted to meet up for a coffee and open an in-depth conversation on the subject, as he is becoming curious about it.

I replied: "Sorry, I'm currently super busy with this new project I'm getting off the ground - my Steemit blog! But this is actually a very good topic I can write a comprehensive article about, which I will then send to you."

So, here it goes.

Firstly, I must say that I do not consider myself an experienced meditator, or a meditation teacher. I am simply going to share the insights I've been gathering since meditation made its way into my life.

That started exactly two years ago. I became friends with someone who was part of a Buddhist centre in London, and he gave the book "Change Your Mind - A Practical Guide to Buddhist Meditation" by Paramananda.

This book confirmed to me what I kind of already knew: a consistent meditation practice could facilitate a deep and powerful transformation in the way I related to myself and life.

Well, it took me more than a year and a half to actually establish a daily meditation routine.

"I haven't got time for this", "I can't be bothered", "Oh, it's not that important" were some of my excuses.

Do they ring a bell?

In fact, my mind was not yet ready to admit to its own limitations.

My mind was utterly convinced that it had all the answers and that it had to constantly jump up and down with assessments, labels and categorizations.

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But, as I started to meditate, I realized I could access an incredibly bountiful well of inspiration hidden underneath my surface cognitive activity.


"Mmm... " I whispered to myself. "I am getting all these enlightening insights and revelations, I have to write them down."

As I started recording these ideas, I noticed that something happened to the quality of my writing.

My writing became more fluid, more intelligent, more elegant, more insightful.

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It was as if meditation was somehow softening my hard edges... It was as if I was granted entry into a very rich, fertile place that nourished my soul and made it come alive through words.

I was hooked.


“Wow, I can become a better writer if I meditate more!”

Writing is my biggest passion so, obviously, I feel inclined to pursue anything that potentially improves it.

That realisation stayed with me for a while, but life happened again and I lost touch with that deeper invitation.

But not to worry, the invitation came back to me, time and time again.

Whenever I began feeling disconnected from my centre, I knew that I could meditate and find myself again.


Indeed, every time I would get my ass on the meditation cushion, inevitably and consistently, I would find everything I thought was missing and therefore searching outside of myself.

A deep sense of homecoming, of safety and ease would envelop me as I rejoiced in this sense of my own essence, of my own innocence. It felt so good, it felt so right.

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(Photo taken in the autumn of 2016 by a good friend of mine, David Weeden)

But my mind was stubborn.


It wouldn’t want to comply with this sacred directive to meditate more often. It was so easily distracted by the affairs of this wildly spinning world. It was so easily seduced by the promises of satisfaction from external sources.

However, something monumental happened in my life last summer, which altered my entire life paradigm.

I left an abusive relationship, inside which I had lost myself. At that point, I knew I had to find myself again.


So I started meditating and doing yoga. These two go hand in hand… In fact, some yogis say that one pursues the practice of yoga in preparation for the meditation experience, of oneness with the divine.

I was lucky enough to be inspired by a couple of good friends who have a regular yoga practice and shared with me their online resources. (by the way, this is the website I do my morning yoga with)

I started experiencing the benefits of this regular practice, so I knew I had to bring it very high on my priority list.


Why?

Here are the three main reasons why meditation is changing my life for the better.


1. Meditation facilitates the process of individuation.


What does that mean?

Well, I believe that it is a challenge for many of us to develop our own voice, cultivate our own opinions, pursue our own path while being constantly bombarded by endless stimuli – from T.V., the internet, society, institutions, friends and family.

Especially if you’re a sensitive, like me, it’s extremely hard to develop a sense of your unique self. Absorbing information and energy from so many sources has enriched me, but also disconnected me at times from my own inner truth.

Meditation, therefore, opens up a space where I can be fully present with this quiet inner voice.

I learnt that this voice is actually the only one that I am meant to follow in this lifetime, because it comes from my soul’s wisdom and it tells me everything I need to know.

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Heeding its guidance so far has brought me tremendous joy and fulfilment.

Ignoring it has caused what my favourite Canadian writer, Jeff Brown, calls truth-aches – those moments of deep dissatisfaction engendered by not pursuing what feels most true to us.

And so, by tuning in, really listening and then acting upon these inner directives, I become more of who I am meant to become – not that which I think I should be, based on external influences.

And, my friends, this is hugely liberating and empowering.

2. Meditation strengthens your willpower, focus, sense of presence and non-reactivity


If you’re like me, very easily swayed and distracted, I can guarantee that meditation will act as a solid anchor for a ship on stormy seas.

Especially if you have a quick temper or are very impulsive, meditation will wake you up to the realisation that you don’t have to be controlled by the irrational nature of your emotions.

How many times has a current situation brought up feelings from previous stressful situations?

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How many times have you stepped back to look whether your reaction is truly reflective of the reality of the present situation, or is tainted by your unprocessed feelings from the past?

Meditation grows an ability to observe any emerging thoughts and feelings, without having to react to them.


This burgeoning sense of presence is incredibly powerful.

It puts you in a position of being able to make conscious choices based on the truth in the moment, instead of reacting automatically from unresolved past issues.

For example, I am very sensitive to sound. Any kind of loud or disturbing noise really sets me off.

My childhood upbringing informed me that I must react violently against such sonic calamities, but I realized that doing so only makes it worse for me.

Meditation has helped me become more tolerant and tranquil when even the most annoying sounds bombard my eardrums.

Sitting there for 10, 20 or 30 minutes doing nothing but focusing on your breathing can be challenging at first, for it is the nature of our mind to be a constant chatterbox.

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Noticing the thoughts come and go, staying present with that space that contains but does not attach to any of them is an ability that grows with practice and patience.

I can assure you, though, that your effort will pay off. Your focus and discipline will be magnified. And correct me if I’m wrong – is there anyone who doesn’t need a little extra consistency and determination in their lives, so they can achieve their goals?

3. Meditation attunes you to an infinite well of inspiration, imagination and creativity.


If you’re a creative person you go through phases of feeling either super inspired or super dry.

Especially if you’re on Steemit trying to build an audience and have many people read your material – you need some really good ideas to elaborate on in your posts.

I found that meditating works wonders in this department.


I don’t have to think about what to write, ideas come to me simply by me opening this space, and being non-attached towards what will come of it.

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It is not the purpose of traditional meditation to enter a conversation with your ideas, but, if you’re like me and like to do things your way, you can just experiment during the meditation and see what works for you.

I see meditation like entering a garden. It’s up to you, the gardener, to tend to your garden, by showing up every day and doing the work that’s needed there.


If you do, the garden will enchant you with its wonderful delights. If your flowers are not watered properly, they will wither and die eventually.

Let the lush perfume of your inner flowers nourish your spirit. Let their sweet nectar fill your inner cup, until it overflows with beauty and inspiration, to be shared with the whole world.

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So, these are the three main areas that I feel are being massively strengthened through my meditation practice: individuation, presence and creativity.


Of course, there are so many other positive benefits of meditation.

Meditation makes me wiser, calmer, freer, more compassionate, even more beautiful!

My face literally glows after a good meditation session, my energy body feels lighter and my mind rejuvenated.

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(Me after meditating under a tree!)

I cannot recommend meditation enough. It has become an intrinsic part of my personality.

And I think it should be part of everyone’s routine, like brushing our teeth or showering. It is no wonder why so many Eastern traditions teach the importance of meditating.

Imagine needing nothing, accepting everything, and acting from that place of pure joy and wonder at existence, every single day of your life. Doesn’t that sound pretty cool?

We have to know ourselves on a deep, intimate level if we are to embody our truest innate magnificence. And the more we love and accept ourselves through meditation, the more we can love and embrace the whole world.


I’m very glad to see that meditation is being introduced in some schools now. “If every child in the world would be taught meditation, we would eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”(Dalai Lama)

Meditation is a medicine freely available to everyone, if only we made the commitment to devote a little our their time to this intimate, sacred practice every day. It will definitely change our lives for the better.


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Now, I have some questions for you.

Do you meditate? If yes, how often? How is meditation improving your life?

If you don’t meditate, would you like to start? Do you feel like you need some guidance for getting started?

Here are some good resources to get started with: Insight timer, Headspace.

I’m going on my first 5-day meditation retreat in mid-February in Devon, South Western England. I’m very excited and I’m looking forward to taking my practice to the next level with the guidance of experienced teachers.

Lastly, this is a poem of mine about meditation.

I sit once again
On the throne of witness consciousness.

The urgency of certain thoughts
Is numbing away,
Automatic impulses controlled.

The more I reside on this throne
The more expanded overview I get
Over my mental landscape
Seeing beyond the horizon
Oh limiting thoughts
Into the vastness of infinity.

Meditation is being one with existence.
Mind, body, spirit
Unite with all that is,
Opening to timelessness
In the Here and Now.

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(This is me, in meditation pose for the camera *hehe )

I hope this post was useful to you. If it was, I would really appreciate it if you upvoted, resteemed it and followed me!


This is my third post on Steemit. Check out my introduction and my other article on ending self-sabotage, if you liked this post!

Be You, Be Wild, Be Free!

Bristena
#DiaryOfAFreeSpirit

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What kind of meditation technique do you use? You mention:

"Change Your Mind - A Practical Guide to Buddhist Meditation" by Paramananda.

showed you the power of meditation but I don't think you discussed what kind of methods you use. Did you learn it from the book? YouTube videos? Other meditators taught you? You took lessons to learn it from a teacher? Do you have your own ways? Do you mix multiple ones to make one that fits you the best?

I ask because I know there's SO many different techniques and each has its own process; the initial learning phase, the mantra you get in some, what you focus on, etc. I practice Transcendental Meditation (TM) myself and for this type, you learn it from a licensed TM teacher.

Reading the impact meditation has had in your life, I'm quite intrigued because I've never heard from anyone about such immediate results from meditation. I would love to hear more!

Oh that's new. I think i should research on this one.

Hello @cabernet! Most of the time I meditate and focus on my breath, but I am not (yet) super strict with myself on this, as I feel sometimes my meditation turns into a prayer and I enter in communion with God, ie. I feel an opening, as if light from the skies is washing through me and I feel recharged, activated, nourished and inspired. That's where my inspiration is coming from, I think.

I was using both the apps I mentioned in this article, Headspace and Insight timer with their guided meditations to get me started. An ex of mine was also guiding us through a meditation session, which was nice and I learnt how to drop in even deeper.

But because I feel I'm only just scratching the surface now, I'm going to this meditation retreat in a couple of weeks where I intend to learn new techniques and deepen into the practice.

With or without technique, I think it's your state of consciousness and your intention that matters. You are surprised that I've had such immediate results.. well I don't think they are solely based on my meditation practice, I am trying to make my whole life a meditation, ie to adopt a mindful and conscious perspective in everything I do and experience.

I hope this makes more sense to you.. if not, I'm happy to share more :)

I see. That's amazing that you've had such a powerful experience through meditation and yoga. I am very much interested in learning how you turned your life around to become so at peace. Gonna have to follow you to learn more :)

Well, it's an ongoing journey... Peace is a big word, I don't consider myself at total peace, but surely more at peace than how I was before :) Yay, I'm glad you're interested to find out more about me! Hope you will enjoy my upcoming posts. I am going to post pages from what I call #DiaryOfAFreeSpirit, an account of my transformational journey so far.. stay tuned!

i couldn't agree more 💖 meditation really changed my life 360 degrees. i'm more aware of my daily choices and also a great way to start your day - i usually meditate 20 minutes a day as a minimum (5 minutes of presence, 5 minutes appreciation, 5 minutes pre-paving and 5 minutes allowing to receive) the best mediation technique i found so far .

@joannaaxinte I'm so glad to hear your meditation also transformed you life, and thanks for sharing about your meditation practice - that's interesting to hear, because I am naturally inclined to go through certain phases during my own meditation as well, gratitude being one of them. I like the idea of allowing to receive, I feel that there is indeed an opening taking place, and I feel recharged by the divine light. What is pre-paving for you? Never heard of that before :)

Beautifully written and I think a lot of people will recognise what you said about always finding a reason not to. As they say, you should always meditate for 30 minutes a day. If you don't have time, then do an hour.

I meditate 25 minutes a day and that's great for me now. I think everyone should experiment and see what duration works for them, depending on their schedule and their level of commitment to themselves and this practice. Thanks for your comment!

Thanks for your post.
It is a wonderful experience and you have managed to capture it in this medium very well. This is I just want to read here in steemit. I felt identified with each word, because it happened to me when I started. Within a few days I already felt the changes in my way of being and my actions, and reactions to the situations that arose.

In my case, Yes, I meditate, every day, twice a day one hour in the morning and one in the night. And I practice Ashtanga Yoga 6 times at week.
I am a Ashtanga Yoga practitioneer and teacher, according to the tradition of Pattabhi Jois and for me it is also exciting to write, too. That's why I'm here.

Well, I'm to order. I have given you a well-deserved UpVote, and I'll follow you.

Thank you.

Hello @karmadorje, thanks for your lovely elaborate comment. Makes me smile to see genuine people here, who are very open and devoted to the beautiful practice of meditation like you. Wow, twice a day for one hour seems pretty advanced to me, well done! I practice yoga 5 times a week as well. We have a lot in common :) I am checking you out as well! Best wishes x

Love this post! I’ve been meditating daily for about 3 years. I concur with the benefits and challenges of meditation. You are an excellent writer. Now following.

Hello @kp138, I am pleased to find out that you resonated with my writing. Hope you will enjoy more of my future posts!

This post is so beautiful and incredibly well written @bristena :) I am highly commited to my 10 minute daily meditation. I hope one day to be able to medidate for longer periods!

Even though this is already your third post I would like to welcome you t the platform. Great to see people like you joining in!! :))

thank you so much @abigail-dantes! I'm glad to hear you're committed to the practice, it will grow and evolve over time. Thanks for your warm welcome. Hope you will enjoy my future posts as well :) best wishes!

I've definitely come to find my own way of meditating, and I am a much better person for it.

Really great article, and very worth sharing, so I've resteemed!

That meditation retreat in Devon sounds amazing btw (also because I LOVE Devon), I'd love to do something like that one day :)

Thanks so much for resteeming, I am glad to know you're also a transformed person as a result of meditation. Yes, I'm very excited about the retreat. By the way, this is the link to the retreat centre, if you fancy checking it out. They have various retreats on offer and they all sound pretty good. Maybe you'll go there one day too :)

https://gaiahouse.co.uk/retreats/group-retreat-programme/

Yes thank you! They sound great, I'll definitely keep them in mind :)

Also, I mentioned before to you there might be a steemit meet up coming up. Well it looks like there'll be a small one this Sat afternoon, it might just be me and 2 other London Steemit ladies. Come find me on discord(RedRica#0895) or steemit.chat (@redrica), if you'd like to join us :)

awesome! I messaged you on the steemit.chat, I gave you my number, easier to communicate that way x would love to join you for sure!

Great points! Yes I am recently starting to meditate more again. What you write is true! Sometimes I have blocks to doing it, but when I do it I soon remember its benefits <3

I'm glad, @mountainjewel, to find that you are meditating again.. You're not the only one, we all encounter impediments on our meditation journey, but the more you do it, the more you will establish a new pathway in your mind&habit and it'll get easier, I promise!

With meditating comes so much hype and bullshit that an average person is put off by it. And rightfully so. I am glad that I learned meditating without ever reading on how it is "supposed to be done". Instead I just started listening to myself and went with the flow. I made up all the techniques that I use and only later found that there are entire tomes written about most of them. No "guru" or whatever conformity was needed.

In the end it is just an exercise for the mind. With immense benefits!

If somebody wants to start with a push in the good direction, UCLA free guided meditations are great. http://marc.ucla.edu/mindful-meditations
Beware of snake-oil salesmen, because big-spirituality is full of them.

Hi, YES, I totally hear you! Thanks for the link, I'll check it out. It's really good to experiment on our own and just find our own rhythm and style, and while it's useful to learn from others and get inspired, it's indeed a trap to just listen to other people and never turning inwards and really find what is most meaningful there. thanks for the comment, stay in touch!

Yeah i guess i should get back to doing it. It's just that I still haven't found the meditation style that fully resonates with me.

hey, it's great that you are interested, what I personally find works better for me is when I switch from "should do it" to "becoming curious about doing it", and following the trail of my excitement and positive benefits accrued from it. It's somehow more liberating to think this way for me. There are indeed many different styles of meditating, but don't let the overwhelm of that prevent you from actually doing it, experiment on your own and see what works for you. It's all about, at the end of the day, just being with yourself and listening within. Best luck!

That's right. Thanks!

you're welcome!

Finding your inner peace is hard. I have tried to do meditation for few days then i stipped because of my busy life. I hope i can try ro do it even just few min a day.😑

Hmm.. maybe! But having that belief makes it even harder. I hear you, with a busy life it seems that it's difficult to make time to include a few minutes, but believe me, once you will start experiencing the benefits, you will make a point of making time for it, because it enhances everything else that you do, it's about self-care, self-nurturing, if you don't take time to be present with yourself, and tune within, nobody's going to do that for you :) best wishes!

So happy meditating has opened new worlds for you! I especially like the point that your writing has changed, I've found a similar effect in that I'm much more attentive to my internal dialogue. My blog is mostly on various meditations, follow if that is interesting to you!

Hello nice to hear from you, and happy to hear that you resonate on that point :) I love inner dialoguing! I will definitely check you out!

Awesome post. This part sums up meditation nicely: "Meditation is a medicine freely available to everyone, if only we made the commitment to devote a little our their time to this intimate, sacred practice every day. It will definitely change our lives for the better." I just published a short post on my meditation journey too! --> https://steemit.com/spirituality/@stephenparato/i-thought-meditation-didn-t-work

Hey, thanks for checking it out! I will read yours now too x

Haven’t read it all as I have to meditate! Thanks for sharing.

haha! my pleasure!

Aaaaaah absolutely brilliant, I agree with everything you wrote :D meditation is such a big part of my life now, I feel the same as you after each time I do it =] Keep spreading the positive vibes! :D :D I hope lots of people read this and begin meditating =] It's so simple to do!

thanks so much, I'm so glad to feel your excitement about meditation, it is indeed very simple but sometimes the simplest things appear to be the most complicated haha! stay positive! lots of love x

You're welcome :D Look forward to reading your next article =] x