The powerful benefits of meditation on your body and mind are announced everywhere, almost to the exhaustion, as if this was a magical road to a better life.
Reduced stress and anxiety, increased focus and attention, better sleep, more empathy, or general emotional wellbeing. All these seem to be immediate consequences of sitting down and taking a few quiet breathes, while enjoying a moment on your own.
Yet, many people can not feel any of this when they start meditating.
I have been meditating on and off for five years and I have felt most of the benefits listed above. I have used meditation to control my reactions and emotions, to calm me down, to give me perspective, and to make me feel more connected to the world.
I’ve tried to talk friends and family into giving it a try too because I believe it is one of the most life-changing, yet effortless things one can do for their own well being. But very rarely one of my friends or family members reported feeling any of these benefits.
The thing is: they didn’t give it enough time.
Practicing meditation is exercising the brain. And the brain, like the muscles, needs consistent exercise to perform well. You don’t go to the gym 3 times and then quit because you still don’t have a dream body, right?
You keep going, building up a routine, until eventually working out becomes so naturally part of your day that you miss it when you don’t do it. And the weeks when you don’t exercise, you feel sluggish, tired, and out of shape. You realize the importance of working out by not doing it.
It is exactly the same with meditation.
You need to build up a routine first and make it a part of your life, to the point where you don’t even question if you should do it or not. And then, life will throw rocks on your way. You will have weeks so busy at work that you can’t sit down for ten minutes. You will have depressing periods that will make you lose your motivation to do anything. And you will stop meditating, for some time.
And that is exactly when you realize that you were benefiting from meditation all along.
When you don’t do it, you miss it. And you miss it because you feel less grounded, more anxious, and find yourself reacting negatively and impulsively to the environment around you.
I have felt the results while practicing meditation regularly. But I have always been reminded of its power the most when I don’t do it.
So go ahead and start meditating every day for a month. You will complain about not feeling any benefits. Then stop. You will painfully realize how wrong you were.