How Meditation Has Changed My Life

Everyone has challenges. Everyone has suffered. Everyone has been heartbroken. We can debate on many topics, but I am yet to find a person who would disagree with me on this: everyone has to overcome something in their lives. It’s great news. Challenges make us stronger. Hardships teach us that we are capable of seemingly impossible things. Now, just like you, I have had difficulties in my life. The list includes but is not limited to anxiety, primarily social anxiety, depression, anorexia, mild dyslexia (I am yet to understand what it means but more on that later), and a plethora of other gifts from the universe. I say gifts without sarcasm. I also say all of this not for you to feel sorry for me but because I understand that a lot of people have had to unpack those same gifts in their lives. All I am saying is that we are all human. With that said, I didn’t realise that I was also human. I thought I was the only anxious weirdo and everyone else was perfectly healthy and normal. 

Many of us feel that way that we are not normal. Especially, since the boom of social media the standards to be perfect have been raised through the roof. I am not complaining. Facebook is a place to share your best moments, so of course, it looks like you are living your best life. Instagram is a platform for artistic expressions, so its only natural that people would post their most beautiful images. To clarify, I am not saying that this epidemic is entirely due to media, but we need some tools to adjust to this fast-changing world. In my humble opinion, Social Media will not stop growing anytime soon. How do we deal with an epidemic of insecurities and depression? I am not saying that depression is something novel however it seems as though it has been affecting younger and younger generations, people who haven’t even started living. 

I don’t have all the answers as of yet; I am still figuring out life. One thing I know for sure is that ever since I discovered meditation, it has changed my life. I am not saying this lightly. I have had chronic depression ever since I can remember, which is fancy for I have been really unhappy since I have been a child. The troubling factor was that I had no idea why I was unhappy. In my early twenties, I finally started to look for answers. Long story short I was invited to participate in a meditation workshop that lasted two days. The workshop was too expensive for me at the time, and I considered not going. The facilitator told me that I don’t need to pay a cent, just show up. I never told the facilitator about my financial situation. I don’t know how she knew, but it was a definite sign that I had to be there. If I don’t like the workshop, I am not losing anything but one weekend.

A week prior to the workshop we weren’t allowed to eat meat, drink alcohol or indulge in any other mind-altering fun. At 7:00 PM Friday night we had a meet and greeted and at 9:00 PM I had my first successful meditation. I was instantly hooked. We meditated, with breaks all Saturday and Sunday. By Sunday night I was a completely different person. It was a positive transformation. This was four years ago. Ever since then there has been hardly a day where I wouldn’t meditate for at least 10 minutes. I have tried all flavours of the practice: mindfulness, Metta – heart focused, “active imagination” (terminology coined by Carl G. Jung), self – hypnosis, affirmations, etc. 

What did I learn? It doesn’t matter what method you prefer; if you stick to daily practice, meditation will calm your mind. Here is the full list of benefits I have been enjoying:

1.    Calm mind. The most promoted benefit of meditation is true. If you are thinking thoughts that are bringing you down like a broken record player you will feel down. It is inevitable. Then these thoughts continue to grow bigger. For example, if you failed your exam, you start thinking you are a failure. Instead of resolving the issue you feed yourself negativity. Turning off your thoughts completely for 20 minutes puts things into perspective. Then instead of drowning in “I am a failure” thinking you will start to see solutions to your problem. Try it out for yourself.  
2.    I stopped taking things personally. This seems obvious but its not enough to say this out loud you have to live it. Now, when someone is mad or angry, I rarely think that I am a bad person. I see that the person who is displaying anger is struggling with some sort of pain within himself or herself. This has helped me tremendously to avoid conflict and stay in good relations. 
3.    Confidence boost. I do not see myself as the best person in the world now but I, not the worst either. You see, low self-esteem is an ego fed poison as well as overly high self-esteem. 

Anastasiia Ryzhkova