6 Ways Meditation Has Completely Changed My Life
The true purpose of meditation is to heighten awareness and consciousness. By increasing the flow of energy from the lower chakras to the higher chakras, meditation shifts our inner world. This shift results in a consequent change in our perception of the outer world as well.
When I compare my life before and after meditation, I realize that the old me had no idea that there’s a higher level of awareness waiting for me. What are the actual benefits of becoming more conscious? Why should I care? And what the heck does raising your consciousness mean anyway? For all I knew, it was only restricted to monks, nuns, saints, and sages.
Yet, doing those practices not only gave me more happiness but also shifted my day-to-day life for the better.
When your awareness rises, your perception expands. And when your perception expands, your reality changes. The colors seem brighter. The stars twinkle more. The sounds seem more melodious. You can start to detach yourself a little from your senses when you want to do so. You’re able to notice the smell of a flower while walking in the forest.
Basically, you get the proverbial spidey sense at all times. In simpler words, you start to notice things you’ve never noticed before. Your senses get a bandwidth boost and make every experience richer. Since you’re able to take more input than before, life starts to seem amusing.
Driving, doing laundry, taking a walk, washing the utensils, entering data into a spreadsheet, drying out clothes, and many other boring tasks are not mundane anymore. You’re able to find joy in just being where you are. In an age when most people are hooked to some form of sensory input at all times — music, podcasts, TV, etc. — you can remain at peace within yourself.
When you bring mindfulness to everything you do, nothing seems boring. Everything shines with the joy of awareness. Try it in your daily life: Pick a mundane task and bring all your attention to it. If you’re folding laundry, feel the clothes touching your skin, fold them as neatly as you can and put them one-by-one in the cupboard.
You’ll find greater happiness in even the most boring tasks — because happiness doesn’t depend on our outer world, it comes from within.
Higher awareness is what we’re really after. That alone contains the secret to our happiness. That’s the goal of all spiritual practices indeed — to expand our awareness till infinity — until we find ourselves one with everything that is.
There are only a few skills you need to work on to succeed in every area of life. These can be rightly called meta-skills. I believe that there are three ultimate meta-skills that one should strive to be good at — concentration, willpower, and magnetism.
Just like all colors are made from the primary colors — red, green, and blue — all other formulas for success fit into one of these categories — willpower, concentration, and magnetism.
If you can concentrate your energy single-pointedly with willpower, you begin to generate magnetism. Just like a coiled wire produces a magnetic current, we can also attract the things we want by putting out the right kind of energy.
These skills are the true reason the Law of Attraction works. It’s not laziness or wishful thinking. Rather, as you can see, it’s more about exerting dynamic willpower coupled with concentration to achieve your goals.
Further, these three skills are interrelated and not mutually exclusive. If you work on one of them, you develop all of them.
For me, concentration is a crucial part of the process. It’s the ability to focus on one thing for an ever-increasing period of time. People who can concentrate better can blow past the distracted society that we live in.
The world is becoming increasingly complex. Yet at the same time, the plethora of distractions available makes it impossible for us to deal with such complexity. Only by getting away from these distractions and concentrating on our purpose can we hope to achieve anything significant in this life.
While writing an exam you cannot perform well if the latest hit song is playing in your head. Or while speaking to a client, you cannot give your 100% if you had a fight with your loved one the same morning. All of these things are hindrances to success only due to poor concentration.
Meditation is one of the greatest tools to develop concentration. Most meditation techniques require you to bring your attention to a certain point of concentration every time it wanders.
By training your mind daily, you can see enormous levels of concentration develop in a short period of time.
Many people have told me that I seem to work faster than others. Whether it’s about writing, or doing daily chores. I owe everything to the power of concentration.
How to develop it:
Meditate if you don’t already do it. Here’s a simple technique geared specifically towards developing concentration.
Bring the practice of concentration into your daily life. You can’t expect to practice concentration for 10 minutes a day and then be distracted the rest of the time. Give your work your full attention. Remove distractions from your environment. Use the Pomodoro technique. These are simple ways to dramatically improve your concentration and productivity.
Anger manifests when desires are thwarted in the heart. It emerges out of our desire to control others and to do what we want them to do. With the help of meditation, I learned to calm myself down to see the situation from others’ points of view.
When you meditate, you also realize that there’s a whole world inside you. In this deeper reality, you can experience the inherent Oneness in our nature.
Religion and theology tell** *us that we are one. Meditation and spirituality help us **realize* that from experience. Once you have even a little taste of that oneness, when your ego seems to dissolve, you can’t find a good reason to get angry at someone.
If you know that all of us are one, that we’re facing the same struggles, and that we all are chasing happiness, your anger gets transformed into empathy.
Another virtue that helps in overcoming anger is acceptance. If you see anything in others you don’t like, ask yourself, “Does it really matter?” There are many wrongs in this world for one person to right. I’m not saying that you don’t try to improve. But nothing, *nothing, *is a good enough reason to get mad over.
Accept that there are some things you can’t change — especially other people. Once I did that, there was no reason to be angry anymore. Calm acceptance is your best tool to remain inwardly unaffected.
Breaking Bad Habits
Meditation activates the prefrontal cortex (intellect, planning, decision-making, etc) and reduces the activity in your amygdala (fear, emotions, temptations, etc). By strengthening your intellect and downregulating your emotions, you can sure be more aware of what’s going around to make sane decisions.
In his famous TED talk, Judson Brewer narrates the story of how mindfulness helped heavy smokers finally quit.
Every habit, he says, follows a pattern — trigger, behavior, reward. That’s how your brain knows what to do the next time you’re in a similar situation. If you came out of a bad meeting and found refuge in a cigarette, then the stress was your trigger, smoking was your behavior and the reward was the joy of smoking.
The next time this happens, the brain will tell you — “Hey, remember last time you had a bad meeting? What did you do? It was dope! Let’s do that again.”
So how did these smokers break their habit? They got aware and curious. With the help of meditation, they started becoming more aware of their emotions, triggers, and actions. They started noticing the moments they were motivated to smoke — was it after an argument? Was it a mid-day pick-me-up situation?
By getting curious about their own self and behaviors, they detached themselves from their limited identity. They no longer thought of smoking as something that was a part of their personality. Instead, they found a distance between them and the bad habit. This practice of curiosity and awareness is rewarding for the brain.
Finally, the practice of meditation itself is enjoyable. When you start liking meditation more than smoking, watching TV, or mindless scrolling, you will automatically give up these habits.
We’re all looking for happiness in the pleasures of this world. Let’s look for it instead in the right place — within our own self. That brings me to my next point.
Not Finding Happiness in Pleasure
Binging on your favorite show while having a tube of ice cream after a long day of work may be relaxing, but only gives momentary happiness. In the long run, it only brings pain and suffering — bad health, poor sleep, unfinished tasks, and so on.
Too often we get trapped into things just because they’re pleasurable. The mind equates that momentary pleasure with a sense of happiness. What we fail to realize is that there’s another way to experience the happiness that is ever-lasting.
And that way is to go within. If a deeply meditating yogi could let us experience the amount of bliss he’s experiencing, we would not be able to handle it. His happiness beyond the imagination of expectancy. It’s not even happiness, it’s Bliss.
When you start to meditate, you too will find an alternate source of happiness. To me, it felt like my whole life I was eating stale cheese and never knew that good cheese tasted like. Once I tasted it, I wanted more of the good cheese and less of the stale one.
And so it is with everyone who starts to meditate. If you have a superior source of happiness, one that comes with no future regrets and conditions, why won’t you take it?
It’s not that I don’t partake in any pleasure that the world has to offer. But there’s always a certain feeling that no pleasure in this world can give me what I’m looking for.
Desire to Find God
For most of my life, being brought up in a Hindu family, I’ve seen photos and statues of Gods and Goddesses all around. This idol-worship made me believe that God is somewhere “out there”, sitting in the heavens and judging us for our actions.
As I got introduced to the more practical ideas of western society, my faith in God dwindled. I prayed less and went to temples just out of compulsion.
All this changed for the better when I started meditating and came on the spiritual path. I understood finally that God was not sitting up there but he is ever-present in our own being. In fact, we’re all made in His image.
God is SatChitAnanda — ever-conscious, ever-existing, and ever-new Bliss. All the idols that we’ve used to personify His different aspects are just ideals for us to aspire to. Ultimately, our job is to climb our own inner ladder of awareness.
Once I understood this simple truth my whole outlook on life shifted. I became much more devotional and dedicated to not just meditation but to other spiritual practices as well.
I started judging every action in my life in binary terms — will this bring me closer or away from God. The hunger to find Him was awakened, and it flipped my motivations. I understood how this world came into existence and how we’re just caught up in ignorance not knowing our true nature.
Knowing my true nature has since become a crucial, perhaps the most important, goal of my life.
The above are the biggest ways meditation has changed my life. I’ve now been meditating daily for two years. I don’t remember a day when I did not meditate. But you don’t have to wait for two years to see these benefits. In most cases, you can see them in a couple of weeks.
If these changes aspire you to be your best self, if you too want to have these in your life, I implore you to start meditating. Quit reading about it, or watching hour-long guided meditations.
Meditate right now. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Then notice your breath going in and out of your nostrils. Open your eyes five minutes later and you’re done! You just had a quick meditation.
It’s that easy. But you’ve to be willing to do it. The only question is, are you?