A couple years after college, I started a new job. It was at a well-respected company and the role seemed to be a great fit for me, so I was excited to get started. But a couple weeks into my new role, I began to realize that the company had pulled a bait-and-switch on me. My role had nothing to do with the job duties I had been promised, and I found myself doing menial tasks that a high school grad could have performed. And my attempts to change the situation went nowhere. My boss was a complete psychopath who was constantly berating and belittling everyone who worked under her, including me. She had a small circle of other psychopaths who received preferential treatment and everyone else was just counting down the days until they could find a new job.
I started looking for new jobs just a few weeks after I started, but I knew it was unlikely I’d find something right away. I’d have to survive at least a couple months of working for a lunatic. And I knew that if I was going to do it without losing my sanity, I’d need to find way to cope. That’s when I discovered something that would help change my life: meditation.
Of course, I’d heard about meditation before. It’s gotten so popular in recent years it’s hard not to have heard about it. I had never really believed in it or felt the need to give it a try until then, but all the stress at work pushed me to finally try it out. So I downloaded the Headspace app and started with their intro course.
Some people say that it takes awhile for them to feel the benefits of meditation and they never really know if it’s working. Thankfully, I was lucky. I started feeling different almost immediately. I won’t go into the technique for how to meditate here because there are much better resources out there. Headspace is one I highly recommend. Instead, I’ll talk about some of the ways that meditation has changed my life, and how it could change yours.
1. Calmer Mind
I’ve always been the type to have a racing mind. My thoughts constantly bounce from one thing to the next and I tend to obsess over problems until I’ve found something resembling a solution. Sometimes, this is a good thing. It helps me think creatively and concentrate on problems until I’ve solved them. But the problem is, I have a hard time turning my mind off.
Meditation was a huge help in this respect. I haven’t changed my natural tendencies, but I have a much better ability to “reset” my mind when I feel my thoughts getting overwhelming. The ability to calm my mind has been a benefit in itself, but it’s also helped me in a few other ways, which I’ll describe next.
2. Less Anxiety
Being able to have more control over my mind has been super helpful when it comes to anxiety. I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog that I’ve had issues with anxiety at different points in my life. Meditation hasn’t necessarily cured this anxiety, but it’s definitely helped reduce it. And in periods of my life when I haven’t felt anxiety, it’s helped to keep these feelings away.
To be clear, if your anxiety is severe, meditation alone might not fix it. It might be more effective as a part of a treatment plan you discuss with a doctor that might include therapy and medication. But if you have occasional bouts of mild anxiety, I think you’ll see a big change after a few weeks of meditating.
3. Higher Self Confidence
This one seems odd at first. What does meditation have to do with self confidence? Well, here’s how it’s worked for me. When I’m sitting and meditating, there’s nothing to distract me from being present with myself. So it forces me to really become comfortable with myself, or to become comfortable in my own skin, as they say. I’ve found that I’m able to take this feeling of comfort and apply it across different situations in life. I won’t pretend that meditation has cured any type of insecurity I’ve ever had. That’s definitely not the case. But I do think that it’s made me a bit less likely to feel insecure in situations that might have caused some of those feelings in the past. If I can be comfortable in my own skin when I’m alone with my thoughts and no distractions at all, I can be comfortable in my own skin anywhere.
4. Better Physical Awareness
What do I mean by this? Well, a big part of meditating is being aware of what you are experiencing in the moment. And this includes physical sensations. In the past, sometimes I’d let things go on too long before I addressed them. I’d ignore things like aches and pains, digestive problems, and other physical issues because I wasn’t acutely aware of how I was feeling. Now, I’m a lot quicker to notice when something is wrong and take action.
5. Better Mental/ Emotional Awareness
This is a pretty similar idea to my last point, but mentally instead of physically. I’ve found that I’m a lot more aware of what I’m thinking and feeling than I was before starting meditation. This is especially true when it comes to emotions. In the past, my tendency was to let my emotions all blur together and try to convince myself that I wasn’t feeling anything at all.
Our society is especially hard on men when it comes to emotions. Men are expected to be stoic and only show emotions in the most extreme of situations. But this isn’t how it should be. We don’t only feel emotions in extreme situations, like a family member dying or getting into a major car accident. And here’s why it’s such a problem that we aren’t taught to be in touch with our emotions.
Just because you’re not aware of an emotion doesn’t mean it’s not there. And our emotions can have a huge impact on our behavior. If we’re conscious of our emotions and how they’re affecting us, we can regulate our behavior so our emotions don’t control us. But if we’re not even aware of our emotions, this is impossible. So being aware of our emotions can be incredibly helpful in lots of ways, including in your dating life.
Say you’re on a date with a new girl and it’s going well. You’re really hitting it off and you’re certain you’re going to have sex with her that night. Then you ask her back to your place and she says no. It’s natural to feel angry and frustrated in this scenario. If you’re not aware of how you’re feeling, it’s possible that you’ll let this anger and frustration lead the way you respond to her. You might end up offending her and killing your shot at a second date. But if you’re aware of your emotions, you can recognize them and decide to react in a different way. If you choose not to show this anger when you respond to your date, you’ll probably end up with much better odds of getting a second date and having sex with her.
The great thing about meditation is that it takes very little time. If you can commit 10 minutes a day to meditating, you’ll notice huge benefits. Even with 5 minutes a day, you’ll probably start to feel some changes.
In general, the meditation apps like Headspace will give you much better advice on how to meditate than I can, so I won’t get too much into it here. But there is one last thought I want to leave you with. When you start meditating, you have to believe in it 100%. If you go in skeptical and don’t really commit to it, you probably won’t see as many benefits. You really have to believe in what you’re doing and commit all the way. If you find it’s a waste of time after a few weeks, then stop. But I think it’s more likely that you’ll be happy with how you’re feeling and will want to stay on the meditation journey.