You often hear stories about how life-changing meditation can be and it's no surprise to read about the calming effects of stilling the mind.
The benefits of meditation are wide and varied, from reduction in stress, to increased levels of concentration and focus, to the ability to deal with destructive emotions. The list is endless.
For me, my meditation practice, while it waivers from time to time, has been a fairly consistent feature in my life for almost five years.
I notice that when I don’t do it, I feel less grounded, less stable, and more susceptible to being swayed by my surroundings. It works for me, but I never realized how life changing it could be and in such a short period of time.
Two years ago, I was struggling with a recurring hip injury. I had tried most mainstream methods of rehabilitation but it just kept coming back. I knew it was a sign of my state of mind: the pain always began during periods of stress, it only proved everything I knew about mind body connection, the body is simply a slow mind.
I sought the help of an energy therapist as a last resort to finally ridding my body of the reoccurring pain. Through a series of sessions, I identified I was feeling restless, and, as I said to the practitioner, “I feel like I need to make a decision, I am just not sure what about!”
It was infuriating, everything in my life was OK, I was not in any major upheaval, yet I felt this sense of change lurking. But I had no idea of what, where, or how.
What was wrong with me?
I felt agitated, unsettled and completely overwhelmed, yet I had no idea why.
“Set your worries aside, "the practitioner said. "To get you out of your head and back into your heart, practice the Inner Smile meditation.”
And so I did, diligently each day I'd sit for 15 minutes and practice smiling from the inside out. I generated thoughts of loving kindness from my heart and allowed the feelings to permeate through my body. I sat with the feeling of love, triggering the heart meridians on my face by actually smiling.
At first I felt a little stupid, sitting on my meditation seat grinning, but soon the shyness shifted and I would look forward to my session each day.
After a week, I had already noticed a shift in my state of mind: I was not as agitated and the feeling of overwhelm was slowly melting away. I still had no answers, but then I had no questions to begin with, so I was not expecting any major revelations.
Yet one more week of sitting and smiling each day, it came to me, it was like a bolt of crystal clear clarity that emerged from the depths of the murky uncertainty that had filled me only two weeks earlier: I would quite my corporate gig, get rid of my stuff and head off on adventure around the world. I would finally follow my dreams and let go of the life I had carved out for myself that was filled with other people’s ideals and a huge list of “shoulds.”
Just like that, it was the decision I had been wanting to make, that I had been needing to make, yet I was completely unaware there even was a decision to be made. I had been so caught up in trying to figure it out in my head that I had lost contact with my heart, the one place that always knows exactly what you need to do. A life-changing decision that took only two weeks of meditation to cultivate.
Fast forward two years and, as I Iook out my window at the end of the monsoonal rain in the North of India that is now my home, I smile to myself out how different my life is. And I owe it all to a simple little think called meditation.
I am following my dreams, the ideals that filled my heart, and it is hard to imagine my life any other way.
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