Studies show the benefits of meditation. There are stories too numerous to count that hale the benefits of meditation. So why doesn’t everyone do it? Does it require special talent like singing or great sacrifices like becoming a Buddhist monk? No, meditation is done by anyone as long as they are willing.
To form a solid meditation practice, you must want to make change a priority in your life. Otherwise meditation becomes the gym membership you never used or the treadmill that is the best clothes hanger ever.
Why is a willingness to change import? Aside from the physiological changes that meditation can produce (better health; especially in high risk groups, reduced stress and better mental performance as examples), there are emotional changes that arise from a consistent meditation practice.
These emotional changes can range from minor shifts to earth rattling changes in perception. I find it’s the changes at the far end of that scale that can be an impediment to regular meditation.
Of course there are the other reasons, no time, no space, too busy, can’t get away, etc. However when I talk to students, there is a theme that comes up from them after they have been meditating consistently. The emotional changes and the sometimes jarring revelations caused by those changes.
What makes these changes such an impediment? First, they can be frightening. Emotional changes at this level challenge beliefs that are the basis for how we interpret the world around us. To have that lens shattered is often quite a shock.
Second, without some trusted guidance, it can be difficult to understand what these changes mean and what options are available to move ahead. In some ways I think of it as playing a game, then having a whole new set of rules and options introduced. It can be overwhelming at times.
How can these be faced successfully? I highly recommend finding a mentor or teacher you trust. Having a trusted guide through this process will help minimize the fear and uncertainty. Ideally this is someone who has experienced what you’re going through and can provide some tips to ease the process.
Make space for what you are experiencing. Allow yourself to dive in, watch what is happening and how you are reacting, and without judgment, make your conscious, informed choices about how you want to proceed.
From my own experiences, some changes have been simple, silly, profound and occasionally down right ludicrous. A small sample of what I mean should help illustrate:
- I will now breathe 3 long breaths before deciding how I should respond to an angry email
- My favorite food suddenly (and generally without warning) becomes completely unappetizing for a period of time
- I am able to pick my reactions even in the most tense of situations calmly and without feeling rushed, pressured or emotionally cornered
- My body starts craving foods I would not have touched (and some I didn’t even know existed) when I first started my journey
I eased into some of these changes; some of them come up out of the blue. I am fortunate to have a friend and mentor to talk with. And even with that, the changes can still shake me.
However, the results/benefits of what I have gone through to get here, now, are more than worth the effort. Stick with your practice, and if nothing else, just remember to breathe.
Are you ready for change?