Most of the strongest benefits of meditation occur outside of your practice, in other parts of your life. I’ve personally taught close to 2,000 people to meditate, and here are some common improvements that I’ve seen in the lives of my meditation students:
1. Whatever is bad about you will fade into the background.
What’s “good” or “bad” are subjective terms that often have no basis in reality. However, we all have aspects of ourselves that we may not be proud of. It could be overeating, indulging in pornography, biting our nails, physical laziness, displaying bad behavior in relationships, or some other undesirable trait. We know we have the ability to do better, but we can’t find the motivation to make the necessary changes that doing better would require. One of the most significant benefits of meditation is that it helps to release stress from our bodies—and you can bet that stress plays a role in nearly every bad habit and unpleasant characteristic that we are ashamed of but can’t seem to change. With daily practice, our bodies get liberated from the shackling effects of stress, and we find that our bad habits no longer have the same grip on us as before.
2. Whatever is good about you will rise to the surface.
Daily meditation also allows our best qualities to become realized. The truth is, those qualities were there all along. Once the stress gets released, we begin to discover latent potential. I’ve personally witnessed my meditation students accomplish the following shortly after starting to meditate: One was able to stop smoking cigarettes cold turkey after 20 years as a pack-a-day smoker. Another stopped biting her nails after 27 years of being unable to control it. I’ve seen multiple meditators quit uninspiring jobs and take a leap of faith into founding their own companies. Others began traveling the world. A few have gone off of their blood-pressure medications. Others beat depression. I can’t even count the number of meditators who have reversed insomnia and now sleep like babies through the night. And the list goes on.
3. Your long-term survival functions will become more balanced.
Most people don’t realize that, left unchecked, stress has a diminishing effect on our long-term survival functions: digestion, reproduction, immunity, hormonal balancing, and so on. The more stress we have, the less our bodies prioritize keeping us healthy and balanced. As meditation releases stress, our body’s intelligence wakes up and begins healing all sorts of ailments and imbalances in the body. I once witnessed a man who wore corrective shoes for 10 years start meditating daily; after about eight months, his feet corrected themselves! Looks like a meditation or two a day really does keep the doctor away.
4. You’ll make fewer SBDs (stress-based decisions).
Each of us has to make hundreds of big and small choices every day. When we’re relaxed and trust in life, we develop a greater brain capacity to see patterns and realize cause-and-effect, and we can more easily make choices that will have the most positive long-term consequences. Meditation does this. But stress denies us access to the part of our brains that allows us to see with that same amount of clarity, and therefore we find ourselves making stress-based decisions, which are usually some variation of the fight-or-flight reaction: becoming argumentative, confrontational, disagreeable, irrational, stonewalling, or passive-aggressive, or shutting down in the face of change. Meditation keeps these unproductive reactions in check by relaxing the nervous system, and it allows us to make more rest-based decisions in the face of the same demands, pressures, and changes in expectations.
5. Your BS meter will go through the roof.
You will no longer have to act like a TSA agent when you meet new people. Meditation refines your intuition, and, as a result, you’ll find it much easier to trust people who are being sincere and smoke out those people who are acting shady. This is arguably our most valuable asset—even more than having a lot of money or time. Without intuition, it’s hard to discern between what’s authentic and what’s fake. With intuition, you never have to be concerned about getting caught up in some drama that could’ve been easily avoided if only you had a more refined perceptual acuity.
There are hundreds more changes that will occur when you start meditating regularly, but, in my experience, these are the most notable ones. The idea is to practice meditation daily, and, over time, you will realize each of these changes in stages. Be patient, and happy meditating.