Isn't it cool how technology watches our every move and knows exactly what we’re doing all the time? For example, my meditation app (Insight Timer) informed me a while ago that I have now been meditating for one-year! Glad to know someone’s keeping tabs on me.
I just wanted to take some time and share with you guys what I’ve learned over my one year of meditation. Now I know one year isn’t all that much and I’m not some meditation guru now or anything like that. I also know most people don’t love it when others do nothing but talk about all the benefits they’ve gotten from some healthy new practice they just started doing. You don’t want to hear about Becky and how she lost 15lbs on Keto, or Johnathon and how he is so much more present now that he’s started journaling, and you might not want to hear me talk about all the benefits I’ve seen from meditation. So, I’m warning you now because that’s what I’m about to do. I think that I can provide a new perspective to meditation and hopefully shine a light on a benefit that you may not have thought of before. So, give me a chance--I won’t take up too much of your time, I promise.
First off, let me clarify that I have not been meditating for one-year straight, I haven’t even been meditating every day for a year. I simply started meditating a year ago and I’ve tried to make it a daily habit, but I am not perfect, and it was really only 256 days of the year (thanks Big Brother App for that stat)! And most of those days, I only spent about 5 minutes meditating.
Oaky, so here it is. Honestly, meditation has NOT done what I thought or hoped it would do for me. It hasn’t calmed me down. It hasn’t reduced my stress. When I have anxiety attacks, I can’t just meditate and make them go away. It hasn’t even helped me to live in the moment more (it’ll take a miracle for that to happen to this overthinker).
Yet, meditation has still been immensely valuable. Perhaps unexpectedly, it has simply taught me to be more aware of my feelings. Meditation has taught me to listen to my body. To hear what it is saying. To give my body and feelings a voice. Ew, feelings, I know, but hear me out. When you understand what you are feeling, you can then start analyzing why you are feeling that way. It gives a purpose to all your feelings, both good and bad. You stop seeing negative feelings as your enemy but as your friend, trying to show you something. Fear, protecting you. Anxiety, keeping you on top of your work. Sadness, reminding you of all the happiness you’ve felt before. Don’t get me wrong, these feelings still suck to have, but by understanding that they all have a purpose, it makes them a little more understandable and therefore a little less scary. Even useful.
I had always thought that if I kept meditating, that one day I’ll have this realization that I am at peace now and nothing can bother me, but I’ve now realized that is not the case at all. Jon Kabat-Zinn explains this well in his book, Wherever You Go There You Are, when he says “meditation is not about feeling a certain way. It’s about feeling the way you feel. It’s not about making the mind empty or still, although stillness does deepen in meditation and can be cultivated systematically. Above all, meditation is about letting the mind be as it is and knowing something about how it is in this moment. It's not about getting somewhere else, but about allowing yourself to be where you already are.”
Jon Kabat-Zinn also says you shouldn’t talk about meditation or all the things you like about it, but here I am, doing just that. But, anyways, if you’ve made it this far, thanks for coming to my Ted Talk and I hope that you maybe got a new perspective on meditation and one of its many benefits. Of course, your experiences may vary.
Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation for Everyday Life. Piatkus, 2016.
A special thank you to all my friends and family who have not only supported me on my journey but have helped along the way. None of this would be possible without them. Remember to take time to appreciate those in your lives!
Copyright © 2020 Nick Siegel, all rights reserved