Reflections on a month of meditation ― 4 min read
I've been running an experiment in my life to see what impact meditating for at least 20 minutes every day has. I started the experiment at the beginning of this year and wanted to jot down my preliminary findings.
I enjoy meditation
In keeping with how we should not force ourselves to do things we don't like this is good news for the experiment.
In my past I've sometimes felt that meditation was a chore and have sometimes felt as if I was forcing myself to do it. I've had times where I experienced very unpleasant feelings while meditating and I've had times where I was waiting for the clock to tick down and the session to end.
Now though I really enjoy meditating and actively look forward to it.
Meditation makes me feel better
I've tried to keep a degree of quantification around this process by using a mood tracker that I built. I've been tracking how I feel on a scale of 0-10 and typically my mood tends to lift by at least 1 point after each meditation. Furthermore, meditation has not lowered my mood once. Typically I experience much greater feelings of calm, clarity and relaxation after meditation.
This is quite gratifying. I can't think of any other tools I have at my disposal that lift my mood so easily and with no negative consequences. I am increasingly turning to meditation when I feel low as a proven way to feel better. All it requires is a bit of time and solitude.
I have been less stressed
I noticed this more at the beginning of the year so am still not certain to what degree this was an effect of the break I took over the holiday period, however, I've had a number of experiences where the people around me have been suffering or stressed and I have remained calm and detached from their experiences.
My mind generally feels clearer and less busy. I feel less driven by internal impulses and more focused.
I am not more compassionate
As mentioned above the stress and suffering of others affects me less. I would like to feel more compassion towards others who are suffering but I find myself not really understanding why they get so worked up and carried away by their emotions.
One of the benefits I was hoping to get from meditation was an increased capacity for compassion, but unfortunately I haven't seen any positive changes on that front.
I don't feel any closer to enlightenment
I actually don't really know what is meant by enlightenment or why it is pursued, I find it enough for me that I enjoy my practice and it's a tool I can always fall back on when needed. As a corollary I don't necessarily believe I'm getting any "better" at meditation after 1 month of doing it every day.
My behavior has not noticeably changed
I've asked for a third party opinion on this which has confirmed my suspicion that my behavior has not changed in any obvious way. I still get irritable and angry and I can still be judgmental and harsh. I often feel negative emotions, and can still feel disconnected and not fully present in my life.
I think I'll be continuing this experiment for the foreseeable future, mostly because of the enjoyment I derive from the practice itself.
I'd love to see some wider positive changes come into my life. Meditation seems to promise so much, but there's only one way to find out what it will actually do for you versus what people say it will do for you. I'll continue with my practice and see what happens.