So you’ve just started meditating or have been doing it for a little while now, and you’re wondering where this enlightenment thing is? You may have to keep at it for a good 10 years to reach enlightenment, BUT you can reap the benefits sooner than that. Much sooner. So how do you know you’re getting somewhere with your meditation practice? Here is an overview of some of the benefits you may gain in different areas of your life, to know you’re benefitting from the practice. Everyone meditates slightly differently with little tricks and habits, and everyone will notice different things, but here are a few of the big ones.
You will begin to feel more love and compassion for yourself and others, and less anger and frustration. This is because meditation develops your capacity for emotional regulation. You may even develop a deeper empathy and concern for the wellbeing of others. You may notice yourself being much less reactive to negative thoughts. The aim of mindfulness is to reach a state of equanimity, no matter how fleeting the experience is. This is a state where you don’t have either a positive or negative judgement about your thoughts, feeling and experiences, they are just there.
You might notice it in your relationships. If you observe the way in which you interact with your partner, children or friends, you might notice yourself feeling more calm – especially in situations that would have bothered or even aggravated you in the past. This is because meditation is training your brain to become less reactive to your emotions. You will be able to take a step back from habitual thoughts and reactions, accept what is occurring and choose to respond more appropriately.
You might notice a greater sense of peace and calmness within. You may find yourself on your phone less and less during your commute to work or wait at the doctor’s office. Instead you would be content simply being with yourself and your thoughts. Being present is such a powerful thing, and once you have had a taste of its sweetness, it’s hard to go back to bombarding yourself Facebook, emails, music, calls, and Twitter all at once!
You will become more aware of the world around you. You might notice new buildings or plants on your way to work that you hadn’t ever noticed before. With a new curiosity for the world, you may begin to experience the world and all its monotonous nature with a new appreciation. You really start to notice things that you may not have been aware of before, because you are in your body and not up in your head chattering away. You might become more aware of the interactions between those around you. Your attention and concentration will improve, which research has shown time after time.
The effects won’t be so huge at the beginning, but after some consistency, you will start to notice small differences in your way of being and interacting. Meditation helps foster a mind and body connection, so you may notice benefits in either or both of these arenas. You will know when you’re making progress, just like when you know if your medicine is having an effect. You will be able to tell. Just wait it out. Everyone experiences meditation and its effects a little differently. Everyone is on their own personal path of progression. So don’t compare yourself to others. Just notice what the differences are within YOU.