How To Get Results With Meditation
Can you really get results from simply sitting and breathing?
People quit meditation because they’re not noticing the benefits and results of their meditation practice.
Have you ever ate right, began exercising, and suddenly hit a plateau? Did you stop or go on?
If you forged on, I can bet you ultimately saw results.
Many results from meditating require a consistent practice; long-term is best. Meaning, we can’t just “try it” and expect instant results.
You’ll find that all self-improvement practices require us to move past the obstacles, plateaus, and pitfalls in order to achieve results. The main ingredient for results is consistency.
The purpose of meditation
People want to know what really works for the sake of efficiency and productivity. However, the whole idea of meditation is to separate from the instant gratification mindset, not to “judge” the experience, but allow things to happen.
Just because you shouldn’t judge your practice, doesn’t mean you can’t notice or take note of it.
Perhaps you’ll notice a different state of mind, a different feeling, a shift that initiates another way of being-thinking-seeing, and more!
Approach meditation with openness- open to whatever may occur.
If you recall, some pretty great things in your life occurred as the result of being open to an experience without expectations; love spontaneity, humor, and the things that create great memories. This is why I love random road trips so I can be open and curious to what I may discover- no itinerary!
Meditation is being open to your inner world. Open awareness.
I began meditation to relieve stress, but it wasn’t even close to one of the first things that occurred for me.
I stuck with it and although I didn’t notice any stress relief initially, I came to the conclusion that I would just be open to whatever.
First, my creativity skyrocketed. I got so many ideas that the first year of meditation was sorta-meditating while jotting down my ideas.
Next came, noticing my thought patterns. I started to investigate and dissect thoughts that came up often. Why do I think that? Who’s belief is that? Who said that to me first? Where do some of my thoughts come from?
It led to realizing patterns in my life that weren’t serving me. I guess you could call those realizations!
The best way to use meditation:
Meditation is simple, but people are complex.
You are a unique individual and meditation has just about as many varieties and uses as there are people.
Meditation should be individualized. Just like a wardrobe- some brands and styles fit us better than others.
Meditation apps are one answer, but no matter how trendy or how many bells and whistles they offer, they are not for everyone and you may find yourself trying out several.
For instance, any meditation app that offers meditation for anxiety yet focuses on breath/breathing, may actually trigger a panic attack for someone who has anxiety (I’ll explain why later).
The resounding opinion on meditation apps is people tend to enjoy the meditations to get to sleep, but if you’re hoping an app will “keep you on target”, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
If you use guided meditations, also continue a regular meditation practice aside from them as well.
A variety of ways to try what’s best for you:
- What time of day or night do you meditate?
- How long you meditate for?
- Meditate in a group or by yourself?
- What type of meditation (Guided meditation, mindfulness, mantra, kundalini, Transcendental, etc.)?
- What things you notice after meditating (more relaxed, sleeping better, focus better, aha! moments, stress relief, creativity)?
You can make meditation fit you and your lifestyle.
It’s difficult to go from overstimulation to silence. Guided meditations using visualization are a great way to bridge the gap between the modern busy mind/lifestyle and the peaceful inner mind.
If you’re angry or tense, go for a mindful walking meditation.
If you have career goals, try meditating and visualizing your goal completion and ideal outcome.
Try a Personalized Meditation!
Let’s clear up some things about meditation.
Negative thoughts and feelings still occur with meditation.
The great (and unrealistic) expectations of meditation is usually what disappoints people- they think they’ll reach enlightenment, clear their mind completely, have no stress or negative thoughts, become one with the universe, never get angry, and experience transformation overnight. Just like you can’t expect life to be all sunshine and rainbows…
Meditation gives you the tolerance and tools to not suffer as much when negative thoughts and feelings arise or negative events interrupt your rainbows.
“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
When it comes to your thoughts and feelings, meditation is best described in this acronym: R.A.I.N.
Recognize…your negative thoughts or feelings.
Accept….because resistance only creates suffering and makes the bad thoughts and feelings persist.
Investigate… curiosity is neither positive or negative, but IT IS open to another way of being or thinking about something. Get curious and investigate the roots or the feeling itself.
Nurture… compassion. Don’t beat yourself up for having negative thoughts. Comfort yourself with words and gestures that make you feel nurtured and cared for. How many of us are from the “Suck it up” or suffer-in-silence generation?
A fun metaphorical story called The Second Arrow, describes a man, a valiant warrior who after a long hard-earned battle, takes his armor off to rest and suddenly he’s hit by a stray arrow in the arm.
He wasn’t killed. But it was a huge pain and perhaps a blow to the ego too.
The first arrow was painful, but his suffering began when he ruminated over how unfortunate and unlucky the event was. “Why me?”, he protested. The second arrow was his suffering. He made it worse with his ruminations.
We often don’t realize we’re ruminating because it can become so habitual. Negative thinking and over-thinking are also habitual. Meditation can give us pause and help us experience our thoughts differently.
The mind is like a wagon wheel that turns and turns with our habits and suddenly you throw a wrench in the middle of one of those spokes and it stops the wheel. Meditation is that pause.
Is meditation always relaxing?
Not always. I’ve had people write into me that details from their traumas have come up during meditation.
We lead busy and distracted lives. Many people are hesitant to check in with their inner world. That may be the least peaceful place for them.
But with slow, gradual, and compassionate meditations such as loving-kindness meditation, Most people will find the comfort they crave as they begin to practice self-compassion.
As I mentioned above, meditation is an ancient practice when people lived much differently- we had frequent times of story-telling, congregation and contemplation as we sowed our fields or gathered with others as we gazed into a fire.
These experiences were good for our soul.
Sitting still is another issue people wrestle with. That’s why it’s called a meditation PRACTICE. If you’re running around, not getting the results in life that you want, then try something other than running around….like meditation.
Doing something different, like meditation, is uncomfortable but also exactly what we may need.
Your experience in meditation is normal.
Different things occur for different people when it comes to meditation. That’s why you should be flexible with your practice.
Focusing on breathing, for instance, isn’t relaxing for everyone.
Mindfulness meditation and some guided meditations focus on breath and that’s not entirely wrong, but if you have anxiety, and depending on your stress level and circumstances, a change in breathing can trigger fight or flight- it’s also one of the first signals of a panic attack.
Your heart rate increases and it feels like you can’t breathe or your breathing is “off”. Focusing on breath can trigger a panic attack for some people.
I first became aware of this when I took a mindfulness course and a fellow student mentioned that breathing triggered his anxiety. I had experienced some of this too so I’ve always been cognizant of this.
Suppose you get someone to sit down to meditation and you begin with a nice deep breath in. Well, most anxious or stressed people hold their breath a lot more than the average person. They take short shallow breaths all day long and in fact, inhale more than exhale.
The best thing to do instead? Exhale. If you focus on anything to do with the breath during meditation, take a nice long exhale…blowing all the way out. You’ll instantly relax and taking a deep breath will be much easier.
Some people are hypersensitive to sensations in the body so try using the sounds in the room, meditation music or objects in the room to focus on instead.
The more you get to know yourself through meditation, the more you improve your meditation experience. It’s a win-win!
If you have any questions about meditation, never hesitate to contact me.
If you’d like to try Therapeutic Meditation™, book a session here.
Peace and Be Well,