I’m not going to share with you the scientific data about the benefits of meditation.
I’m going to tell you about the benefits of meditation based on my personal experience based on 10+ years of meditating and doing numerous silent retreats.
Meditation doesn’t promise to solve your problems or guarantee everlasting happiness.
Life with all of its challenges will still happen.
What meditation can help you do is to change the way you relate to your circumstances.
It can help you to be calm when you’re experiencing chaos both internally and externally.
In a nutshell, meditation can help you transform who you are.
A bold statement, but I can whole-heartedly say it’s true because meditation changed my life in so many ways. But the changes didn’t all come at once.
Some came during or after my practice.
Some took weeks.
Some took months.
And some took years.
But with a consistent practice approached with an open mind and a willingness to investigate my mind, I gradually created long-lasting changes that have helped me create a better life and a better me.
So what meditation can do for you, is to help you change the way you feel about yourself and your life.
It can change your mindset, the way you approach life and the way you see the world.
The Benefits of Meditation Based on my Personal Journey
Based on my own personal journey here are the benefits of a consistent meditation practice:
1. Reduced the Impact of Depression and Anxiety
I’ve experienced depression, anxiety and panic attacks.
And before I started meditating these mental health issues would severely impact me.
The depression I experienced could last for months. I’d have no energy or enthusiasm for anything. I wouldn’t go out and I’d struggle to get through my days and look after myself properly.
I’d often sit at home watching TV and eat food that tasted good in the moment but wasn’t doing my health any good, hoping these indulgences would make me feel better. But they didn’t.
When I experienced anxiety it would overwhelm me. My mind would race out of control and on occasions I would end up spending days or weeks feeling on edge.
I still experience depression.
I still experience anxiety.
But because I’ve consistently practiced meditation for years, I’ve been able to lessen the impact these mental health issues have on my life.
When I get depressed I’m aware that I’m feeling depressed, but rather than letting it consume me and holding me back from living my life.
I accept the experience and do my best to carry-on with my life the way I want to, allowing the depression to naturally run its course.
So rather than the depression consuming me so I operated my life at a 1, 2 or 3 out of 10, I’m able to do so at a 5 or 6 out of 10 instead.
When I experience anxiety I’m able to notice it, to sit with it in my practice or throughout my day and allow it to pass without reacting to it.
I’ve essentially learned to be OK when everything is not OK.
2. Dealing With Challenging Emotions
Over the years I’ve struggled with challenging emotions, either bottling them up or allowing them to drive the choices and decisions in my life.
And just like with my mental health issues, meditation has helped me to deal with my emotions, like anger or sadness, in a more constructive way.
So imagine a meditation practice is like learning to surf.
When you don’t know how to surf a wave, whether it’s big or small, it can come along and wipe you off your board.
But when you practice and your ability to surf improves, you’ll eventually be able to ride the waves no mater how big they are.
It’s the same with your meditation practice. When you practice meditation regularly and consistently, you can learn to surf emotions like anger or sadness just like a surfer learns to surf a wave.
So rather than allowing your anger to take over so you snap back at someone, you’re able to experience the anger physically and mentally without reacting to it.
When you feel sad, you’re aware that you feel sad without trying to push those feelings away or feel sorry for yourself.
3. Coping With and Managing Stress
In my career as a TV Producer I worked in incredibly stressful environments. It was high pressure, fast-paced and incredibly long hours.
Working 60 -80 hour weeks was commonplace and I even did a few 100+ hours week.
And there wasn’t a lot I could do about it. The demands of the show required it, so my meditation practice was incredibly valuable to me when the pressure was high and the workload extreme.
Without my meditation practice my mental, physical and emotional well-being would not have been in a good place during or after making the show.
So how do I know that?
Because there were times when I didn’t keep up my meditation practice during some of the shows I made and as a result I suffered and struggled to keep my emotions in check.
I’d go to bed with my mind racing, replaying the day over and over again which impacted my sleep.
Getting through the work day became a struggle because my energy and motivation would dip along with my concentration and focus.
And rather than making calm and measured decisions, I would panic and be on edge.
As a result my work and personal relationships suffered and so did the quality of my life outside of work.
And once filming had finished it would take me months to get over the stress.
But, when I meditated consistently on the shows where the stress levels were high I would cope much better. And even thrive.
I was more measured and calm, improving my ability to work under stress.
I made better decisions and worked more effectively with my colleagues.
I was able to approach each day with a clear head because my mind would be prepped and ready after a morning practice. And my sleep improved because my mind would be racing less before I went to bed.
And when filming was finished, I didn’t feel burnt out because I’d managed to cope with and manage my stress rather than allowing it to get on top of me.
And because I was less impacted by the stress at work, it reduced the impact of the stress on my relationships and quality of life outside of work.
4. Mental Strength and Self-Discipline
Meditation has massively changed and impacted my mental strength and discipline.
Because while meditation can calm and focus the mind, it’s also going to allow space for plenty of challenging thoughts, emotions and sensations to come up.
And at times you’re going to feel uncomfortable, like there’s a storm internally. But just like a storm passes, so to does discomfort.
So whether it’s an uncomfortable physical sensation or a challenging thought or emotion, when you can sit through the inner storm, to sit with your discomfort without reacting to it, you create mental strength and self-discipline.
Because it takes self-discipline and mental strength to be willing and open to feel uncomfortable in your practice without reacting to it.
And by sitting with discomfort in your practice you’ll develop an inner strength and resilience to overcome tough situations in your life from the big to the small.
You’ll start to embrace challenges and even welcome them into your life rather than shy away from them.
Because as my mum always said to me.
‘The easy way is often not the right way.’
5. Personal Heath and Well-Being
Meditation has had a dramatic impact on my personal health and well-being in the following ways:
- Increased energy levels
- Improved sleep
- Increased compassion
- Improved my relationships
- Increased creativity
- Improved self-esteem and self-confidence
- A more positive state of mind
My self-esteem and self-confidence improved because I’m able to reduce the impact of negative thoughts and the inner critic, helping me to develop a more positive state of mind.
My energy levels have increased because my mind is calmer, meaning I’m less stressed so I get more sleep and make better decisions when it comes to my diet and exercise.
My relationships have improved because I’m more present and more compassionate with people.
My mind is less jumbled with thoughts, so there’s more space for new ideas to emerge increasing my creative output.
Overview of the Benefits of Meditation
So as you can see meditation has so many benefits and can do so much more than just calm the mind.
The benefits I’ve outlined above are just some of the amazing ways meditation has transformed my life.
For a summary of all the benefits I’ve personally experienced see the list below:
- Make you calmer and more relaxed, so you can reduce the impact of stress
- Improve your psychological well-being and help you develop positive states of mind
- Help you cope with negative emotions & reduce the impact of depression and anxiety
- Help you manage your emotional state so you can overcome your fears, negative thoughts and limiting beliefs
- Improve your health and increase your energy levels
- Help you accept yourself; accept your circumstances in life and to feel more content, so you can be OK when everything is not OK
- Help you grow and awaken spirituality
- Increase compassion and improve your relationships
- Improve your focus in your personal and professional life
- Improve sleep
- Improve mental strength, resilience and emotional intelligence to get you through tough phases in your life
- Change your mindset and perspective
- Improve your ability to work under stress
- Improve your decision-making
- Improve and develop your self-awareness
- Improve your self-esteem and confidence
- Increase creativity