It helps me get to center faster. That sounds very esoteric so let me explain.
A few years ago, after reading many articles of the benefits of meditation, I decided to truly give it a chance of making it a daily habit, instead of sporadic here and there sits. I calendared out 40 days on my wall calendar, and I x’d each day that I meditated. Every morning for 10 minutes. That was the beginning of my meditation practice, now going strong for a couple of years.
So how does it look? What are the benefits?
For me, it brings awareness to my body and how it feels in a restful, calm state. When I’m in this state throughout the day, that’s when I’m most likely to take actions that are aligned with my values. My top ones being kindness and respect.
We often get swept away in emotions and reactions. A few months ago, I felt ‘wronged’ in a group email exchange, and instead of taking a beat, I reacted in kind. Wrong move. It started unnecessary drama with a couple of people in my life whom I adore. Now you may be thinking, “Well, doesn’t seem like your meditation helped you much?”
But it did. Almost immediately afterwards, it prompted me to take stock of why I reacted the way I did and was that really how I wanted to be. For me, my shoulders flare up and tighten when I feel stressed. When I received the email, my shoulders flared up, and instead of taking a moment to feel my emotions and body and take aligned action, I reacted.
Before my meditation practice, I likely would have responded with excuses, “Sorry, I made you feel that way” which really is a non apology. Or I would have made up a story how she was wrong, therefore why should I say anything. This way of thinking just spirals out.
Having built up my muscle of self-awareness, I asked myself, “What action can I take now to be aligned with my values?” I emailed the group back and took accountability for my previous email and apologized to my friend. All is good with us now.
Meditation doesn’t get you in an perpetual blissed out mood. Instead, it brings awareness to the moment. “Why did that comment hurt my heart?” We react when we feel under attack. With meditation, it builds up your capacity to choose differently in these moments.
Many people stop with a consistent meditation practice because they think they’re doing it “wrong” if they have thoughts during a sit. We’re not going to shut down all thoughts. Instead it’s just bringing awareness. You’ll start to notice how shallow your breath may be. Then take a deep replenishing breath. Whenever you notice a thought, simply go back to the breath.
This quote sums it up best. “The goal of meditation isn’t to control your thoughts, it’s to stop letting them control you.”
Hope this resonates – now go get your sit on!