When everything sucks, meditation can ease our pain

by Megan Holstein

For the last week or two, I have been meditating regularly in the morning. This, more than anything else, has helped me get my life back under control.

Like many people, I’ve been struggling over the last few months. I wasn’t getting essential work tasks done, I was struggling to feed myself and exercise properly, and I was struggling even to rest or relax in a meaningful way.

I was attempting to fix it the way Americans fix problems. I argued with the people around me. I watched a lot of TV. I bought a lot of stuff on Amazon. None of these were actually making anything better, of course, but they did feel good at the moment.

It was in the middle of this struggle that one day I walked into my office, saw my meditation cushion sitting forlornly where it always does, and — surprising even myself — I suddenly sat upon it and meditated. It made me feel better. I remembered meditation usually makes me feel better, and then, quite without any special effort on my part, meditated first thing every morning for the next week.

And my life is starting to get better again.

The willpower to go to the gym returned to me. My bad mood around loved ones is beginning to lift. I bought my boyfriend flowers the other day. Most importantly, work is finally starting to get done around here. I’m making important marketing decisions on how to sell my writing and am finally making progress on a manuscript that’s been trapped at a standstill for months.

“There is no substitute for the practice of meditation.”

— Wayne Dyer

It’s hard for me to tie these positive improvements to meditation in any direct way. I’m taking ten minutes a day to sit on a cushion on my floor and listen to ringing bells, so I’m able to work out for an hour and a half on the rear deltoid fly machine? Those things don’t appear to have anything to do with each other. Nevertheless, I am finding that with each passing day I meditate, I am more capable and calm in every other area of my life.

Meditation does that. By sitting wherever you can and merely paying attention to the activity of your mind, you gain clarity into your own thoughts and feelings. You become more aware of yourself. In our do-do-do culture, this is a pretty special thing.

If you don’t meditate and you don’t think it’s the kind of thing you would benefit from, think again. There are some things we all know we should do that we just fall into a haze and don’t do anyway, like exercise regularly and eat our greens. Meditating is one of those things, which is how I, someone who enjoys meditating, managed to go over 30 days without meditating a single minute.

The exact ways in which meditation is good for you include, but are not limited to: reducing the physiologically harmful effects of chronic stressimproving the quality of your sleeplengthened attention spanpain reductionreduced rates of depression, and increased happiness.

But I don’t need peer-reviewed studies to know meditation is good for you. I know it’s good for you because the more I do it, the better my life gets.

In a time that is bringing an unprecedented amount of stress and suffering to so many people, it’s a relief to know there is something simple that every single one of us can do to make it a little better.

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Originally published by Megan Holstein on Medium.com.

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