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May 31, 2017

How Meditation Made Me More of a Man.

Listen, I know how it is—if you’re a man and you practice meditation, society tends to view you as a bit “odd.”

After all, we as men are objectified (yes, men are objects too!) as being macho, powerful, and not willing to get in touch with our inner selves.

But this is a misconception that needs to be bashed, as I was also one of those people who looked at you funny if you were a man and took solace in meditation. But boy, was I ever wrong. In fact, life couldn’t be better for me now. From my experience, this is how meditation helped transform me, from the inside out.

Meditation Helped Me Fight Compulsion and Exhibit Self-Control.

This is an area that I know men personally struggle with. Men are, after all, creatures of greed and ego. We want it all—to be better than other men, more successful, and to look good as well. It is a hard task, and it’s why men are often depressed but do not outwardly display it. Compulsions can manifest in ways too diverse to possibly name them all, but work and exercise are two simple categories.

We either work ourselves to death in the quest to accumulate more, or spend so much time on fitness that the rest of life begins to seem less important. This can turn into something as serious as “body dysmorphic disorder,” which is the condition of never being satisfied with the way you look.

Meditation helped me to be content with the present; I had a life, and a good one by many standards. I had fresh air, a roof over my head, and loved ones around me. I may never end up being the best looking, or most successful, but this is what I learned:

I am not on trial for that.

And meditation helped me discover it.

Meditation Helped Me Manage My Stress Levels and Enhance My Sex Life in the Same Breath.

Now before you discount my experience, let me back it up with a bit of science for you.

When we talk about “high stress,” often, it is related to having high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This is an important hormone but it does not need to be chronically high 24/7 to do its job. It needs to peak at certain times and should be low at others. Living in the world we do, however, I was unable to really relax. I had a lot of anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Don’t ask me how it does it, but meditation was the best thing I ever did to manage stress.

After about a month or so of “trying” meditation for a few minutes at a time (five minutes, twice daily), I began to notice a profound sense of relief and contentment lasting hours after I performed my sessions. This was followed shortly after by longer sleep sessions—without meditation, I’d find myself awake every 30 minutes or so to “listen,” making sure everything was okay in my home.

But let’s address the elephant in the room. My sex drive had been in a steady decline for many months, and even years, before I began practicing meditation. This has a scientific basis, although I didn’t know it at the time.

What is this link? It is that cortisol and testosterone (the alpha male hormone), share a negatively inverse relationship. This means that as one goes up, the other goes down. So, my diminishing sex drive was actually a result of the ever-increasing stress hormone levels, and not something wrong with the special one in my life, according to this study, which demonstrates the cortisol-testosterone link.

In addition, upon more reading, I was able to find that testosterone and cortisol both require cholesterol for their production, so if you are over-stressed, more of this resource will go to making cortisol, leaving your precious male hormone in the dust.

Most Importantly, Meditation Gave Me My Life Back.

The most transformative benefit I experienced from meditation was its help in getting my life back. “Mindfulness” means to be appreciative of all around us, good and bad—it helps to mold how we ultimately react. I am now able to live each moment aware of all that is going on and not dwelling on things that I cannot control. The mantra “water off a duck’s back” is now as applicable as ever, and I will experience everything that comes my way, but will not let it define me.

~

Listen, what’s the harm of spending five minutes if the payoff is years of peace and true happiness?

If you’re stuck in a boring, high-pressure corporate job, you need meditation. You can meditate anywhere, even in the confines of your washroom. Sure, the position is not ideal, but later on, you may learn specific asanas more conducive to meditating.

But for now, just sit, close your eyes, and focus on nothing but your breathing. Thoughts will interrupt this; it is normal. Just do not get lost from the rhythmic pattern of your breathing, and you will be on your way to contentment, and the awakening of your greater purpose as a man.

~

Author: Alex Eriksson 
Image: doblecachanilla/Flickr 
Editor: Catherine Monkman

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