Meditation offers you a way to deal with the stresses and challenges of everyday life. It facilitates self-awareness and self-acceptance through the mindfulness of feelings, thoughts and emotions. Mindfulness helps you develop a sense of presence and takes you to the root cause of stress, tension and anxiety so you can address it more effectively.
Most people try to avoid dealing with difficult emotions and pain, and they ignore it or distract themselves. This is a short-term solution, as you are only suppressing your feelings and sensations. What often happens is that these feelings and issues fester and become worse over time. Then you find yourself acting out in compulsive and self-destructive ways.
Alternatively, you might direct your frustration toward others and act in hostile and argumentative ways, being overly critical and controlling. Maybe this feels good for a moment because there’s a release of tension and pent-up frustration. But essentially you’re not taking ownership of your emotions and problems. This can result in underlying anxieties that eat away at you because you know you’re out of integrity. It may even affect your ability to sleep.
Your behaviour may hurt your loved ones and impact the relationships that are most precious to you. This will likely make you feel guilty and cause you to suffer from low self-esteem since you know you’re not being the best version of you.
When you are mindful, you learn how to be with all your emotions and pain, your anxiety, confusion, conflict, tension and illness. You develop the skills to navigate through the stickier parts of your mind, body and being by cultivating presence and kindness for yourself and your humanity.
You gain perspective and insight into your life which will help you manage your reactions and be conscious of the choices you make. With this comes greater clarity and the inner resources to address your challenges courageously. The quality of your relationships improve because you’re more composed in the face of conflict and can communicate with compassion.
You Don’t Have to Do It Perfectly
If you are sincere and open, you will benefit from the practice of mindfulness even if you’re not following every word of instruction and precisely practising the technique. If you show up with a clear intention to learn, with the right instruction you can learn how to practice and get all the benefits of meditation you read about. However, you must make an effort to learn and set aside the time to do so. To persevere when it’s boring, hard, and uncomfortable.
By practising the ability to sit with your discomfort and stress, you’re developing the skill to stay steady and resilient in the face of adversity.
You learn to focus your mind by noticing all of your thoughts, then making the conscious choice to bring yourself back to a point of focus. It’s an ability you hone over time through repetition. This is where the techniques and instruction come in. They guide and support your learning.
You don’t have to have a mind clear of all thought. The practice is to be more aware of your thoughts, then choose not to give them control over you. Likewise with your emotions. You aren’t trying to avoid your feelings or change them, you’re simply noticing what emotions are already there and allowing them space to exist. In time you can delve deeper and gain insight into the origins of your emotions and thoughts, and then your physical pain and health problems.
Each time, and for each person, the experience of practising mindfulness will be a different one. If you stay present long enough, amidst your thoughts, feelings, and sensations, this practice brings you to places of compassion, insight, wisdom and healing. They are the familiar yet elusive places that become more available to you when you’re willing to practice with sincerity and presence.
As you learn to be present, you may even notice an innate spaciousness. It is both intelligent and wise. It can teach you about yourself and give you perspective about your life. This will help you nurture the places within you that are in need of attention and care. And it will show you how to give these places loving permission to exist without judgement or reprimand, so you can accept yourself just the way you are.
Accepting yourself as you are is one of the most unassuming but greatest gifts of meditation because it brings you closer to the truth of your being- that you are perfect, whole and complete in each moment already. If you realise this truth, you can free yourself, as there is nothing that you need to become or achieve in order to find peace and purpose. It has already been within you all along, patiently waiting to be revealed.