We all know meditation can help us to relax and reduce stress by cutting out the continual white noise of our chattering mind. When I started meditating, my goal was to have at least a few minutes of peace each day from the repetitive loop of thoughts that always seemed to keep me in a perpetually harried state. While I certainly achieved a few moments of respite, in time, these few moments of peace had a tremendously transformative effect on my life in ways I never would have imagined.
Meditation can help you relax. But it will do so much more than that. Regular meditation can also help you to:
1. Make better choices for yourself.
How many times have you made poor food choices, stayed in negative, draining relationships or frittered away hours of time on meaningless activities simply because you were operating on autopilot? Meditation helps you to cultivate awareness of your own patterns and behaviors.
As you begin to pay attention to yourself and your life, you start to notice the small choices you make each day –and how those choices add up to the sum total of who you are and what you do in life. When you can take a step back and get a bird’s eye view, you're able to use this state of awareness to pause and change tack, and these small moment by moment changes can eventually transform your whole life.
2. Heal your relationships.
Meditation helps you to cultivate a sense of presence, and when you're present with your loved ones, or indeed anyone, magical changes in how you relate to each other take place. When you cultivate presence, you not only truly listen to others, but you give them the freedom to be who they are without our limiting prejudices and judgments getting in the way. In the present moment, we allow each of our relationships to be begin fresh, free from past grievances or future expectations, and we see the beauty of each human being unfold in a new light.
3. Increase your productivity at work.
When the mind is scattered, you may start to think of all of the things that need to be done – or worse, you try to do everything that needs to be done all at once, and end up overwhelmed and exhausted. Meditation cultivates clarity, and a clear mind can focus laser-like on one task to complete it without running off in different directions like a bunch of crazy monkeys. This sense of clarity and focus actually allows you to get more done in less time without the stress and drama.
4. Stop the pointless worrying.
Fear, stress, anxiety and worrying are frequently based on the illusory concepts of past and future, and have very little to do with what's happening in this moment, right now. Yet so often people taint the present moment with these unreal imaginings. Meditation helps you to get real and tune in to the present moment, the only place where peace resides. Inner peace is a choice, and it's always here, now.
5. Accept life’s challenges with grace and ease.
Many people reject the present moment because it's not how they want it to be. As soon as the present moment doesn’t measure up to what you think it should be, the sh*t hits the fan, and you check out of the now. You can fall into patterns of victimhood, pessimism, despair or anguish. You may resist life's natural flow and get caught up in mental fantasies of "should have," "could have" and "it’s not fair."
The greatest gift that meditation can give is the awareness that despite the seeming chaos, despite life not going how you think it ought to, when you step back and experience the joy of just being, you come to the realization that all is perfect, right now.