Going through major changes in life might seem tough and yes, on a certain level every change requires our energy and persistence. But if we know we are on the right track, on our inner track, then things are easier and will also fall into place without forcing them. Here is why meditation helps me every day on my personal journey.
I started meditation about 4 or 5 years ago. At first I used the support of an APP so I would be more disciplined and could learn some techniques through guided mediation. After a while I let go of this support as I felt the instructions too disturbing and the APP created pressure on when and how to meditate. But it was a great help at first.
Years later I started to teach meditation, as it is the most transformative practice I ever started in my life. This is the one thing I would recommend everyone to do.
You can read many positive things about meditation even drilling down to the deepest scientific research. I personally felt a change in two different ways practicing mediation.
First, meditation relaxes you immediately. A short 5 or 10 minute meditation, even without any concept or instruction, helps to become calm. So this is a very short term effect everyone can experience.
Secondly, it helped me to get to know myself much better. To me this is the key to so many additional realisations I had afterwards about myself, that it’s worth looking into this a bit deeper.
When you meditate it might not be easy to stay still. Also we often believe that we are not allowed to think and try to push away all thoughts that our mind creates. Our mind will continuously try to create thoughts and distract us from our concentration. I learned not to fight the mind, as this gives it even more energy. Instead I accepted the fact that its job is to create thoughts and that it is up to me to decide to let go of the thoughts.
There is a concept I would like to introduce at this point, that I believe is crucial on the way to deeper meditation and to a more spiritual life in general. It’s the understanding that you are not your thoughts.
The job of our mind is to create thoughts and it is a tremendously powerful tool nature has given us so we can adapt to almost every situation and solve problems. But that doesn’t mean that we need to identify with every thought the mind is pushing out.
Example: Remember a situation in which you tell yourself: “I told myself not to think so negative anymore” or “I wanted to not think about this topic anymore”. Let me ask you who is saying that inside of you? Are there two entities inside of you? The mind creating thoughts and another part that tells itself not to listen to the mind that often? Yes, this might sound confusing at first, but I am sure you all had such a thought related experience.
You are not your thoughts and you are not the emotions created by those thoughts.
You can easily proof to yourself that you are not your thoughts by simply creating an opposing thought compared to the one you just had. You can instantly create a thought, right? In this moment you are actively using the mind as a tool. But most of the times we are passively receiving information from our mind, listening to the constant chattering of thoughts.
Here is the important point: we are the observers and not the thought itself.
In meditation we actually try to bring space between us and our thoughts by acting as an observer. In daily life we easily fall back to the pattern of becoming our thoughts. We have a (mostly negative) thought and immediately feel a correlative emotion. So we get angry, start acting weird and probably annoy other people around us and ultimately ourselves.
The more we meditate, the better we can observe our mind and the thoughts it creates. We start to understand the reoccurring thought patterns inside of us and can slowly begin to maintain a certain distance to it. The same works then for the corresponding emotions. We will still have thoughts and emotions, but before identify with them, we have an opportunity to see them coming and react consciously.
Become the observer of your thoughts and corresponding emotions and choose to what extend you want to identify with them.
I recommend to actively accept emotions once they come up. Those energies know where to go in our body and we can gently allow them to do what they should do, but we can actively choose to what extent we become that emotion. Let’s take the example of anger: you can feel the emotion of anger quite early. It will start somewhere down in the stomach when this very active energy starts rising up inside of us until it reaches our chest or even our throat and head. We can feel the heat that this emotions creates. During this physical recognisable process we have a choice to either identify with the anger or choose not to. This makes all the difference in the world as you can accept that anger is inside of you followed by the decision to not freak out. 🙂 Instead you can later on assess and reflect why you became angry and what thought patterns were associated to this energy.
You see that all of this contributes to the understanding of yourself and meditation is where it all begins. During meditation you can become the observer of your thoughts and emotions in a controlled and relaxed context. You do nothing else but observing the mind and allow the thoughts and emotions to pass by like clouds in the sky or cars on a street. They come and go and you observe. After your recognise a thought, you simply gently bring back your attention to yourself, to your body, maybe to your breath if that is the focus of your meditation practice.
This is the game we play during mediation with our mind. We see thoughts and emotions come and go and once we noticed we are carried away by them, we gently bring us back. Over and over again.
The long term effect of this practice and underlying understanding is life changing, at least for me. The better I understood my mind, the fictional thoughts that are mostly negative and the corresponding emotions, the more I was able to take conscious decisions in my life. I was no longer a slave to my thoughts, always identifying with everything that was coming up in my head. I could observe, assess and decide what to do. I gained an understanding of who I really am instead of being locked in the wheel of thoughts.
This helped me in many ways as I didn’t just observed my mind during meditation. After a while I started to practice mindfulness during the whole day, which helped me during difficult work situations or when having deep conversations with friends.
To me this is the ultimate tool to self understanding and self improvement. It is the key to end the suffering when we constantly feel overwhelmed by negativity arising from thoughts and emotions. I tried many other methods for self optimisation like journaling and affirmations but none is as effective as meditation, because it helps us to connect to our true self deep inside of us.
Later on I plan to write another article about how to practice mindfulness during daily live. This is fun and has improved my quality of life far beyond the meditation itself.
I hope this article is helpful and it can motivate you to continue or start meditation.