5 Magical Ways That Meditation Helps With The Little Things in Life
Due to its ability to alleviate all kinds of psychological and physical problems, mediation is very often described as “life-changing.” Indeed, if you Google the phrase “‘meditation changed my life,’” you’ll get over 23,000 results. These relate to people extolling its transformational effects – celebrating their freedom from a multitude of previously debilitating issues, from social anxiety to stomach-churning digestive conditions.
The chances are, if you’re contemplation-curious, or have recently begun practicing, you have heard about the benefits of meditation, and are keen to ring some big changes in your own life. Maybe you’ve been feeling sluggish and want to maintain a razor-sharp focus throughout your working day, unaided by caffeine? Or, perhaps you like the sound of never feeling stressed again?
From the transformational to the tiny…and back again!
Rave reviews of meditation have led you, tantalised, to a seated position, incense sticks aglow. The great news is that they’re telling the truth – you will benefit in innumerable ways from embarking on your meditation practice. The not-so-great (but actually, better than great!) news is that its benefits will be unique to you.
This means that the benefits of meditation that you experience won’t necessarily bear any resemblance to the effects described in the case studies that reeled you in – or that you’re looking out for.
Starting meditation often involves periods of feeling disheartened, particularly if you were on the lookout for results like feeling born-again, (complete with admiring comments from family, friends and even passersby, of course). The reality is that you may not notice any perceptible changes in the way you move through your day – especially not at first.
When your meditation practice does begin to work its wonders, these are usually much less obvious than you would necessarily expect. Every day is, at its essence, a sequential series of moments. When you meditate regularly, you will start to find that – in more and more of these moments – the ways that you feel and act will begin to surprise you. These changes may be so incidental that they do not necessarily register with outsiders, but they will make a world of difference to you.
They may be minute, but the following types of micro-milestones are signals that your practice is working, and that you are advancing victoriously on the path to an unknown, and exciting, new you.
1. You will ditch your perfect plans – and embrace the unscripted
Our inbuilt stress response – in which we go into a state called “fight or flight mode” – is perfect for life or death situations, such as escaping from the pursuit of a sabre-toothed tiger; the kind of tight spot in which our ancestors would once have used it. Missing an Uber, or getting home with not a nanosecond to spare – only to realise that you’ve forgotten one of the crucial ingredients you’ll need in order to cook the perfect risotto – are prime examples of miniature-scale calamities that can propel you into a state of primal turbulence.
With regular meditation, gone will be the days of panic-rushing to the supermarket to stockpile the forgotten stock cubes, only to begin date night in anguish, five minutes later than intended, through a hyperventilative haze of tears and stray grains of carnaroli.
It could only take a few weeks of meditation practice to unlock a less flappable version of you. This could be a you who says goodbye to the original plan of having dinner on the table for 8 PM with all the swiftness of a single breath, before contentedly remodelling it into a slightly later, collaborative cooking session. And the private, personal mantra you are given when you take up Beeja meditation practice could well become the secret ingredient in every day’s recipe for less mind chatter and a calmer lifestyle.
2. You will be here, now
Do you ever “come back to earth” only to find that many minutes have passed since your eyes and thoughts wandered away from the book in your hands? “Don’t be ridiculous,” I hear you cry, “I never have time to sit down with a book!” Whether you have the kind of schedule which already incorporates “treats” like reading time, or your day consists of rushing between back-to-back commitments with no time to take the book you’ve been excited to start for the last month out of your bag, chances are you are familiar with zoning out.
Catapulting you into the future or pulling you back into the past, zoning out means getting sucked out of the present moment. You might find yourself spiralling towards a vortex of forward planning, or worse, agonising over the finer details of a conversation you had a week ago. Either way, wouldn’t it be great if there was a technique you could use to pull yourself back into the present, and indeed make drifting off in the first place less likely?
You’re in luck; one of the most understated life-perks that your mantra-based meditation practice can help you unlock is the joy of focussing fully on the activity you’re currently engrossed in ‒ be that listening to a set of directions, drafting an email or wending your way, centimetre by centimetre, through a traffic jam. (Which, you are surprised to find, you are navigating while feeling inexplicably boyed up by a previously unimaginable undercurrent of compassion for your fellow drivers… and even ‒ if you’ve been meditating for long enough ‒ for the ones that caused it!)
3. You will let it go
One of the littlest – and most “life-changing” – things that you are highly likely to catch yourself not doing when you get into mantra meditation is getting sucked into pointless arguments.
You are highly likely to have one of your first “that’s the meditation working!” moments when you’re waiting for the rest of your family to finish a “debate” about where to go on holiday, only to realise that you haven’t chipped in once – in fact, you’ve been half-listening to the bickering, with a soft look of cosy contentment. By the time the holiday itself comes around, this moment will have become the first of many.
Two important benefits of meditation are at play here. One is perspective; the ability to zoom out and see the “bigger picture.” The other is compassion; the ability to notice the conflict, and, rather than feeling anger, finding yourself brimming with affection at the various ways that your siblings still find to wind each other up, even as adults.
Meditation holds the key to finding greater fulfilment within relationships of all types. You will discover the ability to tune into the nuances of each moment, without getting caught up in other people’s emotions or consumed by your own knee-jerk reactions. As your empathy deepens in step with your increasing sense of perspective, you will find it easier to relate – and deliver appropriate support – in all manner of situations.
4. You will age, elegantly
One of the most imperceptible changes that meditation can bring to your life is also one of its most miraculous. As well as becoming increasingly accepting of the fact that the number of candles on your birthday cake will go up every year – and welcoming the wisdom that this can bring – meditation is believed to be able to pause the physical process of aging for anything from five to 15 years.
Mantra-based meditation works to slow down the aging process on a biological level, with studies indicating that it improves many different aspects of our health and cell regeneration. It can, for instance, help preserve neuromuscular coordination, make us see better, ward of gum disease, and keep mental-health conditions like depression at bay, which become increasingly likely as we get older.
5. You will rest easy…and more effectively
Many people discover mantra meditation in an ongoing quest for a sound night’s sleep, while battling chronic insomnia. If this sounds like you, you’re likely to perceive your newfound ability to drift off as a change which is dramatic, rather than diminutive. For people who don’t necessarily have problems falling asleep, meditation can nevertheless upgrade the calibre of the sleep you experience. However, the changes in the quality of your sleep will be less overt than the stark difference between sleep and no sleep, and it may take longer for you to notice them.
Changes to your sleeping patterns may include falling asleep more easily, or realising that you now sleep through the night. You may have a perception of sleeping more deeply, which is likely to result in a sense of feeling well-rested. If you are prone to nightmares, and often find yourself rushing to the Dreamland Offices to give a presentation in your birthday suit, teeth falling out all over the pavement as you go, you are likely to find that these reduce in frequency or stop altogether as your overall stress levels diminish.
The big secret that catalyses these little changes
All of the various little things in life that you might find are helped with meditation can be attributed, on a fundamental level, to a reduction in stress. Our contemporary urban existence is full of microcosmic mishaps that – although they couldn’t, technically, be further from a life or death situation – precipitate the same major stress response. Meditation diminishes the body’s general propensity towards the fight or flight response.
The result is that it becomes possible to weather the many different kinds of everyday stressors without being catapulted into a state of disproportionate panic. Learning to notice the ways in which meditation helps with the little things in life will key you into newly discovered levels of subtlety on which it is possible for your consciousness operate. No matter how “normal” you seem on the outside, it’s time to marvel at what the inner you can do.
If you are keen to find out more about how meditation could help you make the little changes that make a big difference, join us on our meditation courses and classes in London.
Words by Rosalind Stone