3 Life-Changing Lessons from Meditating Daily
lessons meditation truths
The goal of mindfulness meditation (the kind where you try to keep your focus on your breathing) is to disassociate yourself from passing emotions and feelings. In the 20 minutes I meditate, I can go from blissful elation to acid resentment. These emotions arise because my mind naturally wanders, and my memories and expectations create feelings.
Sometimes when I’m meditating, an emotion will rise up and I’ll feel the need to get up and do something it right away! Maybe I need to call somebody or make a reminder to do something important.
However, if I’m thinking about memories or emotions, I’m not thinking about my breathing, and so I have to let the thoughts go. They pass, and then the emotions pass, and nothing bad happens.
In general, this has taught me that I can choose how I respond to my feelings. Very useful in relationships or when facing fears.
Discomfort Comes from Resisting
Meditating can be immensely uncomfortable, physically, mentally, and emotionally: sitting still leads to stiffness, maintaining focus leads to exhaustion, and the stillness can bring up some very scary emotions and truths.
Often, it’s just a matter of letting myself relax into the sit and accepting that I’m going to be there until the timer rings. Otherwise, I’m resisting. Fighting the position is what causes my muscles to get tight and hurt. Fighting the stillness is what causes my mind to get frustrated.
So, I’ve learned that discomfort is often the result of resistance. As soon as we stop fighting and just accept where we are by settling into it, the pain goes away and we can last as long as we need to.
Adventure, excitement, and unpredictability are all wonderful things, but nature has rhythms. As natural creatures, we do well to respect the ebb and flow of life.
The effects of meditation are imperceptible the first time you do it, and the second time, and the third. But if you stick with it, you’ll discover that you are more alert, aware, and engaged than you had been. If you look back, you won’t be able to find a specific moment when things changed, but the difference will be clear.
Meditation has taught me that it’s better to do things consistently, even if that means committing less time per day. It’s better to write a book 30 minutes a day, every day, than to try for 6 hours once a week.
If I just can’t make the time, I will sit for 5 minutes, just to stay in the habit. This has been the most helpful part of my practice: be forgiving, but find a way to keep the routine alive. Applying this to fitness has been a key component of achieving the success I have. Even when I don’t have time for my full workout, I will do 5 minutes of pushups and squats. I know it won’t make me much stronger, but it keeps my mind in the right space.
Thanks for reading! This week’s exercise is on starting a traditional sitting meditation practice, so if you’ve been waiting, now is the time to learn to meditation! Be sure to sign up for the Practice of Excellence Newsletter.
Photo Credit: Cornelia Kopp on Flickr