Even as little as ten minutes meditation every day will make a noticeable difference to your life. Meditation is a form of training, so meditating for a bit longer will help you see progress. Doing it consistently will also help. Meditating once in a while isn’t likely to have much effect beyond some short-term relaxation.
What progress can you expect to see?
- You’ll find that things that used to “push your buttons,” you can now face with calmness.
- You will experience more confidence.
- Your relationships with others will become more harmonious.
- You’ll feel happier.
- You may well sleep better.
- You’ll start to have more psychological insights and better understand why things happen they way they do in your life.
- You’ll feel more at peace with yourself.
- You’ll start to get more of a sense of your life having a purpose.
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.
This is well written, bt I do not think that meditiation is for everyone. I have tried it and always end up frustrated. I am currently seeing a psychologist about why I can’t relax and I fair much, much better doing dance classes and physical activity.
I also try to focus on breathing while doing meditation and thoughts just don’t leave my mind and they come and go. I know that many people have said to just let thoughts come and go without trying to stop them, but even when I am in meditation, my mind is somewhere else.
All in all, it’s nice to say that meditation is great for everyone, but in the end, people know what works for them.
I can appreciate that you’ve found your experiences of meditation up until now to be frustrating. For some people taking a more physical approach is definitely easier. At the same time, I’d suggest that there are other ways of looking at this. Rather than say you “can’t relax” I’d suggest it’s more helpful to say that you “haven’t yet found a way” to relax. The language of “I can’t” creates a self-imposed barrier to making progress.
So with that perspective in mind, I’d suggest that you haven’t yet found a way to be patient with your busy mind as thoughts come and go. It may be that you’ve simply been too hard on yourself, and need to try another form of meditation, like lovingkindness meditation, that helps us to be more patient with ourselves as we observe our out-of-control minds. Or it may be that you haven’t found a teacher who has an approach that resonates with you. Or perhaps you need to do some exercise before you try meditating. Or something else… there are many factors that could be at play.
All the best with your quest for peace.