Can we really consider meditation practices as life-changing?
Guest Post by Kelli Cooper
If you are someone, who is even remotely interested in personal development and growth, you know that meditation usually tops the list when it comes to recommended practices. As someone, who has been meditating for several years, I know why—it is probably the most powerful tool you could utilize for improving your life. To the uninitiated, this may seem like a bold claim; you may wonder how simply sitting quietly could produce such dramatic changes. Well, I would like to help answer that question by sharing how meditation has changed me for the better and continues to every day.
Responding versus Reacting
Much of our behavior is strongly conditioned and habitual; something happens, and we automatically react in some way. Someone cuts you off in traffic, and you curse them out in your car; your sister or mom goes into the usual routine of criticizing some aspect of your life, and you flip much in the same way you did when you were 16. But, it does not have to be that way—we can choose to act differently, no matter how justified we may feel in yelling, freaking out or getting all worked up. Now, while I am far from having mastered responding versus reacting, I have made huge strides and I credit meditation. Meditation strengthens that space between our true consciousness and the feelings that arise in the moment, and when we become more aware of that space, we can observe what is happening and how we are feeling; we can choose to respond differently, in a way that causes us less mental and emotional strife.
Realizing the Impermanence of Emotional States and Riding Them Out
Our feelings and emotions are in a constant state of flux during the day—we feel happy one minute, because someone has paid us a compliment, and the next minute we may be filled with dread after receiving a nasty email from an unhappy customer, then we feel better again once we pinpoint the problem. We have a fight with our partner and get all pissed off, and then in an hour we are over it. Nothing in life is forever, and that includes our feelings; in the moment, however, they can be so intense and uncomfortable that we will do anything to make them go away. This leads to doing things like eating emotionally and feeling racked with guilt afterwards, or saying something hurtful to someone just to transfer the pain that we really do not even mean. Meditation has greatly expanded my awareness and one of the most important things I have observed is this impermanence; when you truly become aware of it, you will be able to sit with these uncomfortable feelings better without doing something you may come to regret; you know you will not feel this way forever, and you may lessen that extra layer of negative feelings that come from simply being upset that you are upset.
Increased Clarity about My Life
There is so much noise inside our heads that keeps us from connecting with who we really are and what we really want. We are always judging and criticizing ourselves; we are worrying about what other people are thinking about us; the mundane responsibilities of life consume us and we stray from the path of our personal happiness and fulfillment. Meditation helped me quiet down all this garbage going on inside my head and created a space, where I was able to think clearly about my life and evaluate it; I got back in touch with who I really was and who I wanted to become in the future. There is great wisdom in silence, and meditation helps you connect with that silence.
Kelli Cooper, writing for SolsticeMed, is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about personal development, natural health and spirituality.