How Meditation As A Solitary Practice Helped Me Move On Through

meditation negative patterns
| Mind & Body > Mental Health

I thought meditation wouldn’t work, then discovered I personally needed it. That solitary time of sitting, breathing and emptying helped me discover and move through all kinds of negative patterns and struggles to cope with life’s potholes in the road.

When I first considered practicing meditation, I honestly thought it wasn’t worth my while. Other people have had success with it, but I assumed it wouldn’t be able to calm me and my racing mind. I tried it anyway, perhaps to prove a point that it wouldn’t do anything. And I discoverd what I think so many people do – that meditation made a difference. It helped. With time, it has completely changed my outlook on life — here’s how.

Meditation Reduces Stress

Before meditation, stress clouded the way I looked at my life — everything from work to my relationships felt the pressure from my overly critical mind. But both my own practice and scientific studies on meditation have proven to me — it really can help reduce stress.

Typically, stress causes our bodies to release cortisol, which is responsible for many of the adverse side effects of stress. Namely, cortisol’s presence prompts the release of cytokines, which cause inflammation. Inflammation is beneficial in the case of an injury — it deploys white blood cells to fight off infection and promotes healing. But too much of it can cause a slew of diseases, including asthma, diabetes and cancer.

But plenty of studies have shown meditation can help reduce stress and, therefore, the body’s inflammatory response. I have to say, I have a much calmer outlook on the future now that I meditate.

Meditation Helps Us Avoid the Same Patterns

How do you face adversity? Do you charge at it head-on, or do you avoid whatever is challenging you? Why do you act this way? I used to answer “I don’t know” to the above questions, but meditation helped me watch myself and learn my patterns.

Meditation has given me time to work through my perceived problems, as well as your responses to them. I began to note how similar triggers provoked reactions from me. And I’ve been working to change that pattern, now that meditation has made me more aware of it.

To that end, meditation strengthens the brain in a multitude of ways. For starters, those who practice apear to experience growth in their mid-prefrontal cortex and the mid-insular region of the brain — in other words, it looks like there are actual physical changes to the brain that result from meditation. And these changes help ignite new pathways within the mind, thus allowing us to rewire our thought processes and come up with new solutions to our problems!

Meditation Makes Me Less Reactive

Let’s face it — many of us react immediately when facing a speed bump in our progress. We try to come up with a solution, of course, but we also experience anger and annoyance in the face of adversity. With meditation, I no longer feel as put-out when something inconvenient happens.

Instead, I’ve noticed I think through issues and respond in a much more measured way. I come up with thoughtful solutions and responses, rather than flying off the handle. I seem to have my temper and my emotions under control, which has made me refocus my outlook in otherwise annoying or upsetting situations. Indeed, science backs me on this — meditation can definitely make us less reactive.

Mediation Inspires Me to Enjoy My Surroundings

Meditation helps me feel grounded in the current moment. Practitioners can learn not to dwell on the past or worry about what could be in the future — we’re giving ourselves much-needed space to focus on the here and now.

As such, meditation has opened my eyes to the beauty of what surrounds me. Indeed, spending time outside has many similar effects to meditation. One study revealed those who spent two days in nature had lower cortisol levels than those who spent the same amount of time in the city. We already know how damaging cortisol can be.

Spending time in nature can also help us reduce inflammation, de-stress and lower fatigue. Meditation can amplify those effects, and I’ve certainly noticed those effects in myself, becoming more aware of the beauty in my surroundings, wherever I am.

Does Meditation Shows Life’s True Meaning?

As I’ve delved deeper into my meditative practice, I’ve started feeling more like life isn’t about status, wealth or even reaching specific milestones by a perceived timeline. Instead, with meditation I’ve started feeling like the most important thing I can chase is my happiness, and the times when I am happiest are when I have inner peace. I can’t and don’t have inner peace all the time, but have found meditation to be so useful in reminding me what a lived experience of inner peace can feel like.

Meditation has helped me better appreciate how much I have, which allowed me to stop focusing on what I thought was missing. You can’t imagine how much this shift in perspective has changed my overall outlook on life.

So, maybe I haven’t found myself a hugely successful career. I know I’m at peace in the current moment, and that’s enough to fuel me toward my goals. Plus, I’m less stressed, more in tune with my surroundings, avoiding my typical patterns of thought and behaviour and even reacting calmly to things that used to frustrate and hurt me far more.

I was curious about meditation. I had a vague idea of what I was missing, and what I wanted more of in my day-to-day life. Meditation is helping me get there. If you’re feeling curious, I hope you give it a try. It may help you, too.

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