How 3 years of meditation changed me (Part 2)
Almost every day for the last three years, I sat on the floor, a chair, or my meditation cushion for a few minutes - in silence. What pausing gave me and what I lost as a result.
Who can manage not to think about anything for minutes ?
That's what I thought every single time after my first attempts at meditation. Am I doing something wrong? Why do I think so much? What should be in my head if not thoughts? It took me a while to understand that meditation is not about not thinking about anything, but about continually returning to the present moment. And I also realized that meditation can be quite strenuous. Because meditation requires a lot of focus. Letting your mind wander is easy; Constantly interrupting yourself between your own train of thought requires a little more effort. And concentration.
What is it all for?
At this point you could ask yourself what you are meditating for. What is the end goal? What do you want to get at? What do you hope will happen? In part 1 of this blog article I already wrote a little about my personal motivation for meditation. I was mainly fascinated by the idea of clearing my head and no longer harboring such an excessive carousel of thoughts in my head. Of course, I had heard about the positive effects of meditation on a physical and psychological level. But I wasn't interested in achieving these things; in that sense, I had no end goal or particular expectations from meditating.
I think that's also the reason why I'm so convinced of the practice of meditation: I expected nothing and got a lot. In the end, I lost more than I got from meditation. But more on that later.
Every beginning is difficult
At the beginning of my meditation experience, I couldn't quite imagine that something could change within me. I couldn't even imagine that the distance between my thoughts would increase. But that's exactly what happened. With increasing practice, the gap between the fragments of thoughts became shorter, I managed to “stop” my thoughts more and more quickly and more often and focus on the here and now again.
Sitting still itself was also very difficult for me at the beginning. My arm itched, my legs fell asleep, or I couldn't concentrate on anything other than the tension in my neck. I was very impatient and a few times found myself wanting to just get up and get on with my day. It wasn't uncommon for me to go through the day's to-do list in my head or think about what I should buy or cook for dinner. Especially on days when important things were about to happen and I was already nervous, I had the feeling that the meditation practice was no longer necessary because I couldn't concentrate on it anyway...
It's worth going through
All of these things still happen sometimes today. But instead of getting lost in these feelings and thoughts, I now manage to look at my experiences in a non-judgemental way. I let everything pass by and try as best I can to remain in the observer's perspective.
And I now also know that every time meditating was worth it. Especially in the long term. I feel like I've strengthened my brain, like a muscle you train when you exercise. All the positive changes that I have increasingly noticed in my everyday life and within myself are based on the long-term and continuous practice of meditation. As with many other things, practice makes perfect.
Yes , it takes perseverance and patience. Yes , sometimes meditation can be tiring or frustrating. Yes , sometimes you are tired and don't feel like it. But no , I definitely wouldn't want to miss meditation anymore. It really pays off. Sometimes I'm still surprised at how much my body and mind benefit from something as simple as meditation.
( Small disclaimer: I am aware that I cannot say 100 percent that the cause of the positive changes described below are all due to meditation. After all, I have not carried out a scientific study that took confounding variables and other influencing factors into account. During these three years I changed several things in my life and also grew as a person. So it may well be that some of these effects were not or only partially caused by meditation. But to me it feels like they were all These things are positive side effects of meditation. In addition, every experience with meditation is individual and cannot be directly compared. Every “case” is unique. So, I just wanted to say that briefly. ☺️)
What I won
Here is a brief list of things meditation has given me:
Inner peace, patience, tolerance, self-love, lightness, focus, better body awareness.
I feel more balanced. Have more patience with myself and those around me. I'm not as judgmental as I used to be, but first try to perceive my feelings or statements from other people without immediately evaluating or even condemning them. I approach myself with more openness, understanding and love. This is a really big point for me because I've had a really hard time with this for a long time. Meditating daily makes me feel more carefree; as if I could handle all tasks with more ease. Regarding focus, I have to say that I have always been one of those people who can concentrate on one thing for a long time. But I still have the impression that the whole thing has intensified again.
I didn't expect an improved perception of my body signals at all. But it feels SO GOOD to feel your own body more clearly. To perceive the body's signals earlier and more strongly. I now notice directly when a feeling arises within me. I'm also now able to interpret and assess my body's signals better.
What I lost
Here is a brief list of the things I have lost through meditation:
Feeling of stress, anxiety, spinning thoughts, quick irritability, negative thoughts, insecurity, problems falling asleep.
This list is not quantitatively longer than the previous one, but for me it is more crucial in terms of quality.
I get stressed out pretty easily compared to other people. I am also a rather anxious person and worry easily. I got a better handle on all of this through meditation. Although I can't claim to be a completely stress-resistant person without any fears today, I notice how I'm getting better and better at dealing with these things.
Of course, the list of things I've lost goes hand in hand with the things meditation has given me. The ability to switch to non-judgmental observer mode more often and quickly also leads to being less consumed by fears and worries.
I can let go of recurring thoughts more quickly; just letting it pass by without getting caught up in it. I don't get irritated and annoyed so quickly because I don't immediately relate the events that happen around me to myself and can look at them in a more non-judgemental way. I am in the here and now much more often and therefore have fewer (negative) thoughts and worries overall. I trust myself more and am less insecure because I have learned to interpret my body's signals.
The last big thing that has changed for me is that I no longer have any problems falling asleep. I used to lie awake for hours in the evenings, thinking about one thought after another. I was worried, thinking about my future or the past. I can let go of all this even faster. Instead, I focus on my breathing, on my body, on sensations that I feel in each moment. And hey presto, I fell asleep. 😴
What positive changes have you noticed through meditation?
If you don't meditate yet, can you consider giving it a try?
I would be happy to read about your experiences in the comments . 💛
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