Even as little as ten minutes meditation every day will make a noticeable difference to your life. Meditation is a form of training, so the more you do, and the more consistently you do it, the more you’ll see progress.
What progress can you expect?
You’ll accomplish all these things by learning more about the way your mind works. You’ll learn to recognize unhelpful patterns of thought, feeling, and action that tend to make you less effective. These unhelpful patterns include getting unnecessarily angry, or feeling despondent.
You’ll learn how to let go of these patterns.
You’ll also learn how to choose to respond more creatively, in ways that allow you to remain calm and aware of the effects of your actions on yourself and others. You’ll learn, for example, how to calm your mind and how to develop more empathy for others. You’ll learn to have more patience with yourself and others.
I’ve often joked that we just say that meditation makes you happier in order to get people to come to beginners’ classes. It’s only half a joke; meditation does make you happier.
But it also makes you aware of problems you didn’t know you had. Now if you see that as a bad thing — good luck! To my mind starting to learn the ways in which you unconsciously cause suffering for yourself and other people is an excellent thing, even if the process is at times very painful. You’ll still experience the suffering you’re unconsciously creating for yourself even if you’re not conscious that you’re unconsciously creating it (if you know what I mean).
If you don’t know what I mean then all will become clear in practice. At times you’ll wish that you could return to an “ignorance is bliss” way of being, but you’ll most likely realize that actually ignorance is the opposite of bliss. In fact awareness is bliss — once you’ve gotten past the state of cringing at realizing what you’re really like. But, hey, that’s what the development of lovingkindness practice is for! Awareness on its own can make us depressed, but lovingkindness and awareness combined make for great happiness.