Mind

Stress and Mental Health

5 Ways Meditating Changed My Life

Ever go through life feeling like something is missing? Between double-checking that you’ve got your keys in the morning to the endless to-do list running through your mind while you’re laying in bed, there’s something you’re missing.

It’s simply this: Being okay with where you are. That’s the big way meditation has changed my life. You often worry that you’re “too much” of something: too emotional, too broken or too weird. You also worry that you’re “not enough” of something: not good enough, not pretty enough or not smart enough. You worry you’ll never be happy, and dreams are simply dreams.

Happiness is about living in the present, and yes, that’s something every practitioner will write about. Yet, there are no tricks or spells to get you there. You find your way there because so many of life’s little problems are solved by remembering to breathe and accepting life as it happens.

I don’t do any weird chants, breaths or visualizations when I meditate. I mainly focus on my natural breathing, which may be done anywhere at any time. I let the world come as it is because I am who I am, and that’s all I can really control. As a result, meditation’s transformed my life in so many simple but vital ways. Here’s a look at five of them:

1.I Get the Best Sleep

Sleep is everything! Sleep is important to every function in your body, and you’ll literally die if you miss out for too long. You do the weirdest things during sleep: tossing and turning, snoring and teeth grinding, which are often signs of poor sleep quality and underlying health issues. With meditation, I eventually cured myself of my bruxism[1] habit and stopped grinding my teeth!

My sleep quality is amazing after practicing meditation. I used to become distracted by every little sound, from the refrigerator running to the cars on the highway — not to mention my obsessive thoughts spinning on the hamster wheel.

Meditating an hour before bed helps my mind and body wind down. I let the hamster wheel run its course for a few minutes, with emotional detachment and without judgment. In bed, mindfulness helps me concentrate on my own breathing as I soothe myself into a dream state.

2.I’m Actually a Morning Person

I don’t burst out into song like a Disney princess in the morning, but I’m well-rested, alert and eager to start the day. Before meditation, I looked like a horror movie character with stringy hair and a real grudge against anyone who got in the way of my first cup-of-Joe, because every zombie needs their coffee.

Letting yourself lie in bed and adjust to the morning light helps you remember your dreams more easily, too[2]. That’s because you’re not shocking yourself out of that dream state.

I like to place a hand on my heart and breathe into that space, becoming conscious of my body little by little. It’s my weird way of greeting my waking body in the morning.

Meditation finds its way into my morning routine. A cup-of-Joe is still a vice, but I like to drink water first while watching the sunrise. This also helps me avoid bright light blinding me in the face every morning. My body clock’s thanked me endlessly because it now has time to concentrate on more important things — healing my body and processing information.

3.I’m Almost as Bubbly as Bubble Wrap

I’m not so annoyingly optimistic that you want to pop me like bubble wrap, but I have noticed a mood boost due to meditation[3]. Stress, anxiety and depression may see measured improvements with a daily mindfulness practice. My days used to seem long and drawn out, but now I notice the little details that inspire and ground me: a bird watching me from the window or the soothing sound of a radio host’s voice over a traffic jam.

You carry the weight of stress throughout your body, and the more you ignore it, the more weight is added. Sometimes, I place my hand on my heart and focus on radiating love and understanding throughout my body, as I breathe naturally. I feel the muscles and tension ease. Once my body is comfortable, I focus on extending a feeling of gratitude and love to important people in my life, as my way of silently checking in.

Meditation has definitely improved my daily mood. I’ve gotten compliments from friends on my mellower attitude and the new light in my eyes, because I do see the world definitely now.

4. I Know That I Am Enough

Self-doubt and fear of failure, as well as fear of your potential, are issues that everyone struggles with throughout life, yet they fail to authentically address it at a deeper level. You get so caught up in negative self-talk, reinforcing the narratives you’ve assigned to yourself or that others have assigned to you based on their judgment.

Meditation has reminded me that I am in control of my own story, my own actions, behaviors and thoughts. Meditation reminds me daily that I am enough. I am here. I am good enough.

Each day I do have to pause and breathe through moments of negative self-talk,but the briars of anxiety, negative narratives and self-doubt are unwinding. I know that I am enough.

5. I Am Deeply Connected

Whether you have a network of family or friends or not, we all feel alone and rootless at times. Often we fail to admit it and see this as a weakness. You feel lonely, but you are not alone.

Meditation taught me that lesson. By connecting with myself daily, I connect on a deeper level with the world. I am okay with being alone, and I don’t itch to have someone nearby or have the television playing in the background. Silence isn’t a threat to me.

It’s easier to tell when I feel off and why. I am able to take the time, whether that’s one minute or one hour, to breathe and focus on remaining centered and connected. This connection to yourself is a powerful acceptance of you as you are and the intricacies of people and the world as they are. It brings a powerful and deeper connection to emotion, intellect and spirituality overall.

Meditation is only as complicated as you make it, and all you have to do is breathe with awareness. Breathe with awareness of your heart and all you are feeling and thinking without challenging it. This takes perseverance, but if you can sit with yourself through this, you know you will be able to sit with yourself through anything.

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