Many of us have tried meditation but have failed to do it right. We tried really hard but couldn’t let go of the thoughts and concentrate on our breathing. On the other hand, some of us have been really taking meditation for granted. Why at all do we need to meditate? How do people say that helps them to improve concentration, give less attention to eternal things, increase self-awareness, or feel fulfilled? I used to be out of the second category.
All of us want to feel happy and have a fulfilling life. But do we really understand the happiness equation? Some of us think that happiness is doing what you are passionate about. For others, achievement and success in every aspect of life be it personal or professional would bring happiness. Still others think that finding the right life partner or a perfect job or getting more followers on a social media channel would bring them happiness.
Also Read: Epicurus Quotes on happiness
For me, happiness meant achieving success in my work. Nothing could make me happy apart from pulling all-nighters and improving my performance at work.
But, after experiencing meditation and doing it right myself, I learned that happiness is not what I was trying to seek.
Here’s what meditation taught me.
1. How to Think and Respond Instead of React
Meditation teaches you to be less reactive to triggers or the surrounding stimuli. Earlier, it was assumed that it is difficult to change the way our brains function. However, there are now studies that support that meditation helps in altering the way we think.
For instance, a client call used to make me really anxious. Before even having a word with the client, I used to imagine a thousand scenarios about the call. What if I’m not able to give an appropriate solution? What if the client gets upset with me? What if the client refuses to take my services?
However, after a few sessions of meditation, I was bothered less about these scenarios. I care about giving my best, but not what the outcomes are going to be or whether I’ll do well.
As one of Mark Manson’s quotes from his book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck says “The key to a good life is not giving a fuck about more.; it’s giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important.
2. Happiness is An Internal State of Mind
Thinking of happiness as something external instead of an internal state is where most of us go wrong. Instead, happiness is focusing attention inwards rather than trying to seek it by fulfilling the external world’s desires.
This is what meditation helps. It enables you to focus on your inner self, where you’re all calm and comfortable with things outside, even if they don’t work out as per the plan. Thus, when you feel calm and at peace inside, you do not need the outside things to make you feel comfortable.
3. How to Accept Thoughts Without Engaging With Them
As mentioned earlier, meditation is about thinking. It’s about being attentive, noticing, and accepting thoughts that occur to you without actually getting involved with them.
Contrary to common belief, it’s not about going all blank in your mind. It’s simply about acknowledging the thoughts as they come and then letting them go. For instance, many times we have thoughts like “Did I do well?” or “Was I right in saying that?” or “I don’t see myself doing well in the upcoming interview”.
Now, it depends on you what you have to do when such thoughts occur. Either you can keep thinking and ruminating over such thoughts. Or you can simply take it in a way that “let’s just allow these things to come my way”. There’s a difference between the two.
Having a thought or an emotion is one thing. But, overthinking and mulling over such thoughts is another. It is difficult for us as humans to sit quietly without letting such thoughts overwhelm us. This is because that’s how we are made. But, practicing meditation on a routine basis can help us get rid of such overthinking and rumination.
4. Everything is Temporary
Meditation helps you to understand that nothing is permanent. In other words, the thoughts or emotions that coax us to ruminate are here for some time and will eventually fade away with time.
So, if you learn to live through some uneasy situations that life puts you through, without reacting or ruminating, you can alter the ways in which you deal with things and the way you feel.