September 12, 2016

To the Skeptics: Meditation Works & Here’s Why.

Friends who have known me for more than four years can easily notice how much calmer I’ve become with time.

Some would joke around and say, “She is meditating too much”—but for me, it’s really not a joke. The truth is, meditation is the reason behind the calmness and awareness I’ve developed throughout the years.

In my own experience—and others’—meditation works.

From what I’ve read and heard, there are several reasons associated with the success of meditation. What almost everybody knows that meditation changes the brain. 

It certainly does. However, throughout the years, I’ve opted to find a deeper explanation through my own experience—and it didn’t just happen overnight. After years of comparing my mind with versus without meditation, I could finally untangle the reason why meditation works for me (and everyone else).

Now, I am convinced that meditation has always worked for me because it exposes my ego.

I like to compare my ego in meditation to a character in a play, on which the spotlight is shed—hundreds of people are watching and waiting for its next move.

I have realized that our main issue is not knowing how to deal with problems. We think the issue is the problem itself, but sadly, it’s not true. Problems are still going to arise anyway. Nevertheless, how we solve them is what creates the real conflict.

The truth is, we avoid confrontation with what’s awry in our lives. We don’t want to meet problems, conflicts and misery face to face. What basically happens is we either push the problem to the back of our minds, or we sit for days (and sometimes years) trying to solve it. (I fit into this category.) Seldom do we think of a middle way.

Thankfully, this middle way is only found through meditation.

When we meditate, we sit face to face with our problems. Thoughts, problems and emotions all come to the surface. Unfortunately, many people quit at this stage—but this is when real work starts: how to deal with whatever is rising.

Meditation teaches us the middle way of reacting to thoughts and problems (the ego), and this middle way is “acceptance”. When we watch what’s happening (without clinging), we diminish its importance. We realize that just as thoughts rise, they will also pass. We don’t follow the interpretations that our minds make. Instead, we let them be.

Having practiced this, the gaps between thoughts grow bigger, and our reaction to problems transforms. With gaps created between thoughts, we instantly develop awareness which will allow us to start acting from the conscious mind instead of the unconscious one.

At the beginning of meditation practice, our ego is exposed. With time, it is annihilated. Like fog at night, it starts to fade when exposed to the light.

Then, every hour of our lives transforms into meditation. The mindfulness that we develop during our practice becomes reality in all situations. I came to notice that meditation has truly helped me to refrain from reacting when my ego is too involved. I don’t hide from the problem, nor do I try to solve it on the mental level. Knowing that I could never solve any calamity through destructive thinking, I now hold still before acting.

I breathe, accept the problem, and remember its impermanent nature. When I do, I react calmly and with awareness.

In order for meditation to bear fruits, we must be patient. When we experience its benefits, meditation no longer becomes a sort of “homework” or a task we “must” do. Rather, it becomes a daily natural habit—just like eating, or wearing clothes.

It becomes enjoyable.

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Author: Elyane Youssef

Image: Instagram @elephantjournal 

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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