9 Lifestyle Changes That Happen After You Start Meditating
Once you begin meditating daily, life as you knew it will begin to take on some interesting twists and turns. Old habits will break down, outdated belief systems may come into question and as a bonus, you’ll likely start sleeping like a baby.
In short, daily meditation will have positive effects on just about every aspect of your life.
Here are 9 common lifestyle changes that meditators have reported within their first year of daily practice:
You'll start waking up earlier.
Meditation enhances the quality of your nighttime sleep. As a result, you’ll generally require less sleep than you needed before you began meditating and yet, you'll feel just as rested the next day.
This means that the time you spend meditating will be refunded back to you — the time you're not tossing and turning in bed, wishing sleep was working better. The only question is: what to do with all of that extra time?
You might drink less alcohol.
Many people consume alcohol as a way of alleviating stress. If that’s you, then you may notice less of a desire to drink as much when the benefits of daily meditation start to kick in.
Alcohol, after all, is a depressant. As meditation helps you release your stress, the need for excessive amounts of alcohol begins to wane. Cutting down your daily consumption to just a couple of glasses of wine in a week will start to seem like the natural thing to do.
You'll probably have more patience.
The saying “Time waits for no man,” can cause a lot of anxiety if you feel that you aren’t quite living up to your true potential. Or maybe if you've felt like there are people in your life who aren’t as smart as you are, but they seem to be doing better than you.
Meditation helps to expand the window of perception, allowing you to see value in every experience and every relationship. After meditating, you get less perturbed and more patient around canceled plans, insensitive partners, rude customer service reps, or any other situation that may have elicited a negative response in your past.
You can stop seeking external happiness.
Before starting to meditate, the only happiness you experienced may have come from relationships, money, or achievements. After starting meditation, happiness begins to fill you up from within. How do you know? Because as your circumstances inevitably change (i.e. your relationship ends, you lose money, you experience failure), weirdly, you'll still feel happy inside. There will be less of a need to control people, places, or situations. Why? Because you’ve tapped into the source of fulfillment, which has always resided within.
You can do less, and accomplish more.
Let’s do a thought experiment:
You wake up feeling tired, sick or headachy. How generous, compassionate, and open-minded are you going to be that day? Now, imagine the opposite. You wake up feeling rested, bright, and happy. How much will you get done that day, compared to the other day when you felt sick?
Rest is the basis for dynamic action. Meditation supplements the rest from sleep, which enhances your ability to accomplish more during the day while expending less energy.
Less "FOMO" (fear of missing out).
FOMO is a result of the acquisitive approach to happiness — the mistaken idea that happiness is coming in the future, after you achieve a certain experience. But the more you meditate, the more that FOMO begins to get replaced by more present moment awareness, which means you feel less desperation around needing to be somewhere else.
In other words, you have an inherent feeling that the party is wherever you are, and that sense of presence can be felt even while you're in dreaded places such as gridlock traffic, the DMV, or in line at the post office.
More YOLO (you only live once).
YOLO is a universal call to take a risk, to have an adventure, or to seize the day. What keeps you from taking bold actions in life is usually tied to internal fears or uncertainty about the outcome. These are remnants of stress accumulated in the body.
Stress has a paralyzing effect on your potential, and it can dim your sense of adventure. As stress gets dissolved through regular meditation, you find yourself naturally becoming more daring. This means it’ll be easier to quit that dead-end job or relationship, and take more chances. So get ready to start that new business, take up that new hobby, or travel around the world.
You begin trusting yourself more.
The heart has a gained a reputation for making you gullible. But as Deepak Chopra writes, "the heart is our center of wisdom — our internal GPS."
Mixed in with the wise guidance from the heart are the myriad fears from your head. Regular meditation activates a sort of spam filter for the negative self-talk of the mind, and allows you to detect the purest messages from your true center of wisdom. This in turn, will lead you to a greater sense of trust toward the messages emanating from your heart.
You can make faster decisions.
As your daily meditation practice gives you greater perceptual acuity, it will become easier to make distinctions. Whether it’s choosing between two jobs, three apartments, two hybrid cars, or which way to swipe on your dating app, having more perceptual acuity allows you to quickly diagnose which are the best options for you in the moment, and which ones are not.
This also turns out to be a huge time saver, as you will no longer need to bounce ideas off everybody else and can come to the right decision on your own.
There are many more changes that occur when you start meditating, ranging from normal to bizarre. When I teach my meditation classes, I try not to predict any specifics changes that my students will experience. I like to remind them that whatever happens will be exciting and amazing.
Light Watkins is a Santa Monica–based Vedic Meditation teacher, mindbodygreen class instructor, TEDx speaker, and author of Bliss More, How to Succeed in Meditation Without Really Trying. He grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, and graduated from Howard University with a bachelor's in communications. Watkins recognized his passion for teaching meditation after meeting his Guru in 2002. Following years of daily meditation, Vedic studies, and apprenticeship, he traveled to India to be trained in the ancient ways of teaching meditation. His students have used meditation to treat symptoms of PTSD, hypertension, sleep deprivation, anxiety, depression, and cancer.