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5 Ways Meditation Can Improve Your Life and Make You Happier

Meditation

“If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.” ~Lao Tzu

For most of my life I had the overwhelming feeling that I was lacking something. I felt like I was not good enough, smart enough, or pretty enough.

I was nothing but an unattractive, chubby girl of little worth. In my late twenties I formed a huge crush that changed my life, for the worse, or so I thought. Against my will, I developed an unbelievable attraction to women. I was horrified!

Being gay was the cherry on top of my pile of shortcomings. This new realization confirmed the belief that my life would be nothing but disappointment, and it totally crushed the little self-esteem that I had.

In spite of my overwhelming feelings of inadequacy, I took the scary steps of falling in love and coming out to family and friends, with positive results.

Even though my fears of judgment and rejection were proven to be fabrications, I was still unable to shake the negative loop that repeated: “You are not good enough. You will fail. You are a disappointment.”

I convinced myself that any happiness that I experienced was momentary and would be gone in a flash. So when my relationship ended in heartbreak, I was able to bask in the glory of being right.

My negativity was justified. My feelings of worthlessness were correct. I gave myself permission to be miserable, to struggle in the dark caves of depression, to continue to live in fear.

But then one day a miracle happened, even with my negative mantra playing loudly in my head: “Loser. Failure. Disappointment.” Even over the deafening chants of pessimism, I heard a whisper: “You can change this.”

I knew that my life needed changing, but I had no idea how to achieve this. I wanted to find the happiness that I felt belonged to everyone else. I yearned for the elusive joy that kept slipping through my fingers. I was determined to find it and claim it.

I tried superficial ways of being happy; you know, the methods that my favorite TV characters used to deal with heartache: I shopped, I redecorated, I adopted a kitten, thinking surely these things would bring me joy. And they did, but it was fleeting.

Next, I tried psychic readings, life coaching, and finally therapy. It was through therapy that I started a meditation class and my life really began to open up. The veil of depression lifted; I felt lighter and optimistic.

Finally, through the regular practice of meditation, I learned that happiness can’t be brought, predicted, or achieved from outside sources. Happiness comes from the inside out.

With this realization, meditation has changed my life in five significant ways.

1. Meditation gives you a great start to your day.

I am not a morning person. I am not one of those people who spring out of bed before the alarm chimes. I would hit the snooze button, pull the covers over my head, and pretend it was Saturday.

Once the cruel hand of reality finally slapped me awake, the morning panic would start. Up in a flash, I’d be rushing to get dressed then out the door. I’d skip breakfast and I’d arrive to work late, creeping past the boss’s office.

But now I wake up at 5:45am in order to meditate. Though I still have to forcibly drag myself from my warm cozy bed, once I sit on my meditation cushion I’m able to relax, breathe, and set my intention for the day.

Meditation allows you to center yourself and reflect on the day ahead. By setting your intentions, you are able to shape your experiences and your reactions to events around you. It’s a daily reminder that you are in control of your life. You can choose the kind of day you will have.

2. Meditation increases positivity.

I practice Loving Kindness (Metta) Meditation. This type of meditation generates and projects loving and positive feelings/energy into the universe. That means sending love, understanding, and compassion to yourself, family, friends, and even strangers.

I’ve found that spending an hour being positive has made me—wait for it—more positive. Hard to believe, I know, but it’s true.

Our energy and actions are like boomerangs. If you put out negative energy, if that is what you focus on, that is what will continuously show up in your life, and that is all that you will be capable of seeing. But when you create positive feelings, everything you see seems to change.

3. Meditation increases self-confidence.

I have no empirical evidence, but I can say with confidence that as a result of meditation I now have some. Seeing the world in a positive light has resulted in me seeing myself in a positive way.

I love myself for just being me. I don’t feel the need to pretend to be what I think others want me to be. I have learned that I am not required to chip away at my square-shaped self to fit into a round hole.

Taking the time to see the world and yourself in a positive light increases self-confidence and confirms that there is a place where you fit, just as you are. There is no need to try to be something that you are not. Meditation is an opportunity to sit with the realization that you are enough.

4. Meditation reduces anxiety.

Meditation is about turning off the negative chatter that creates anxiety. It’s about breathing and letting go. By focusing on positive energy and thoughts, you are able to reduce the anxiety that you might be holding onto.

Through meditation you can relax knowing that any time anxiety rears its ugly head, you have the tools to deal with it. Deep breaths and a quiet moment may be all that’s needed to calm anxious nerves.

5. Meditation affords you a deeper connection with yourself.

When I first started meditation, one of the most difficult things to do was to sit quietly with my own thoughts. I knew myself from the outside in, from the labels I wore like fashionable accessories, trying to be what I thought others expected of me.

There was a disconnection between who I was and who I thought I should be. However, when you sit in silence without external distractions, your inner dialogue is difficult to ignore. The inner voice that tells the truth of who you are gets louder.

Meditation has a way of making you more mindful of your thoughts, feelings, and sense of who you are. It’s easier to create a life of happiness if you are able to connect with your authentic self. It’s a way for you to get to know yourself, from the inside out.

You can easily incorporate meditation into your life. All you need is a quiet place to sit and a couple of uninterrupted minutes, and you can even use a guided meditation (there are tons of free ones online).

The important thing is just to sit quietly without set expectations, free of self-judgment. There is no right or wrong way to do it.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not skipping around with my head in the clouds. There are days when I revert to my old thought patterns, allowing the negative mantra to cry out. But the difference is that now I am mindful of this and have the tools to deal with negativity more effectively.

Five minutes of meditation can have a significant and lasting impact on your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. It certainly has on mine.

Photo by Tine72

About Nadine Hull

Nadine is a deep thinker with a quirky sense of humur. She’s a writer, a crochet-er, and a poetry maker. She is actively on the journey of self-discovery and is enjoying the process.

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  • kheisty

    I am so very happy for you that you found yourself and discovered that you are a wonderful you. There is such a wonderful acceptance and understanding that comes with meditation and becoming your own good friend. Thank you for reminding me of all that I am missing by falling out of my practice. Good inspiration.

  • lv2terp

    Thank you for sharing your story, and the benefits from meditation! This is an inspiring and encouraging post! 🙂

  • I started meditating 7 years ago to reduce my anxiety levels…I now meditate every morning and evening; my anxiety levels have come right down, and I have experienced the other benefits you have mentioned in your post as a result. Meditation works, but of course it’s important to keep it up 😉 I hope your post will encourage more people to start meditating to make this world a better place.

  • laura fenamore

    love your story. and being gay myself, I appreciate it when any of us come out.

    xolaura fenamore

  • Thanks kheisty. We all need a reminder from time to time. The good thing about mediation is that no matter how long you are gone picking it back up is like a homecoming. :0)

  • Thanks Christiane. I agree the world needs as much positivity as possible.

  • Thanks Laura ;0)

  • Thanks Iv2terp :0)

  • Amber

    This article on meditation makes me want to – wait for it – go and meditate right now. Thanks for posting these reminders of why I need to get back on the mat. Great post!

  • Hi Juli – I usually set for 45 mins, sometimes one hour if possible. Thanks for reading!

  • tanu

    thnkk u so much 4 sharing it
    i hv read it so many times
    can u tell me how did u do meditation cz i m vry confused how exactly we shud do meditation?

  • You can simply sit in silence paying attention to your breathing or you could do a guided meditation. There are tons of guided sessions free on line. All the best and Thanks for reading.

  • Thanks for reading.

  • ice

    Do you have book of all this articles?i’ll never try to meditate before but i’m ineteresting to do that. I know it will helps me a lot

  • Lys

    I started meditation a month ago before sleeping. It helps me a lot to relax and to avoid overthinking. I will try it in the morning or during the day too. I’m on the journey to discovery myself and hopefully this will guide me as much as it has for you:) thank you for your post!

  • infinite

    Meditation in Buddhism is called “dhyana”

    There are hundreds of meditation method in India,

    In other religions also have different meditation,

    The purpose of meditation is different also,

    Buddhist meditation is built on the correct insight,

    Simple said is “the Noble Eightfold Path” and “Three marks of existence”.

    Noble Eightfold.

    The right idea

    Positive thoughts

    The right language

    The correct behavior

    Proper vocational

    In the right direction to develop

    The consciousness of the right

    Correct method of meditation

    Three marks of existence:

    Right way is to “not clinging to ourselves”

    impermanence

    Nirvana silence

    When you have the correct insight is can meditation,

    In Buddhism,

    Meditation is orderly,

    Such as the “nine zen method”

    “Yoga corresponding”, etc.

    Different meditation,

    Have different functions,

    But no matter what kind of meditation,

    All is based on the correct insight,

    For starters, the easiest way to get started is “breathing”,

    You can refer to this article:

    http://zenspeaking.com/meditation/feeling-your-breathe-in-meditation/

    If there is an opportunity,

    I will share with you more meditation method,

  • mimiweijing

    Thanks for sharing it! That is really helpful!

  • mimiweijing

    Yes, I forgot to say I gonna try it!!

  • infinite

    You can try,

    Believe that you can feel to,

    Now people are very impetuous,

    So sometimes it is difficult to meditation,

    At the start of the can use some tools to their own quiet, (cannot use the unhealthy things, such as drugs, cigarettes, etc.)

    Sect incense is a good choice,

    Or aloes could,

    You can try,

    This is also very good to the body,

    No side effects,

  • Guest

    I quite agree with what you said this. I have experienced once.
    At that time I was working in Tibet, I am making a documentary. Tibet’s natural environment is very hard.
    I am unable to calm to meditation.My teacher (a compassionate monk) give me some some incense.I calmed down soon, spirit and body is very comfortable. Heart was filled with happiness, the joy of a very pure.I was quite awake, I can feel that is not an illusion. Is a kind of from the experience of the mind.My physical strength quickly recovered, and can work well.
    It was my first experience of meditation.

  • Johnny

    Hey, infinite! Thanks for your share, are you a major meditator?

  • infinite

    Yes, my major is to practice meditation,

    Of course, not just in meditation,

    Have to learn some other knowledge of Buddhism,

    In order to more correct meditation,

  • mlmsmith

    I have a question that is causing me a lot of concern. I have a lot of ambition, not for material things or concerning relationships particularly. I strive to have an extraordinary life full of incredible and exciting experiences. I love travelling, last year just after I turned 19 I went to shanghai on my own for no apparent reason, just to do something out of the ordinary and extreme. I aspire to be a doctor and am travelling to Tanzania at the end of August to volunteer in a local hospital for a fortnight. I volunteer at my universities first aid society. And I felt like I was on the right track for the extraordinary life that I want. I also enjoy going to the gym and power lifting, I plan to start painting again, join a band to make the most of my guitar playing abilities, and I also plan to start a YouTube channel. But I recently came across the idea that happiness comes from within, separate from external experiences or achievements. I find this very demotivating, as it means that in order to be happy, it doesn’t matter if I do all the things I like doing, and if happiness comes from within through things like meditation, then why do anything? I am now questioning if happiness is the most important thing in the world. Could you please clear up if I’ve misinterpreted this information and clarify what it means.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

  • laurentaylorg

    This SO hit home for me. I’m 31, and I have spent my life (from preteen to present) feeling as if I was never as good as everyone else. Much of my discontent came from my surroundings and the kinds of expectations that I was exposed to from a young age, such as unrealistic beauty standards, religious virtues, etc. So, from a young age, I suppose I have embedded this negative mantra in my head. I have never been truly happy in the way that I perceive others as being. I have been superficially happy, but I have never quite figured out how to be content with myself. I have battled long periods of depression and anxiety. I have been putting out negative energy.

    I have been reading a lot about meditation over the past couple of years, but nothing has ever really stuck with me. Your article was like something clicked into place. I need to be positive! I now have a better idea of how to foster positive thinking through meditation.

  • fellowtraveler

    mlmsmith, all your incredible and exciting experiences will bring you happiness. But the wise people of all ages have said that happiness derived from experiences doesn’t last long and we have to keep seeking out more experiences to generate more happiness or to feel worthy etc. permanent, lasting happiness comes from within you and is not based on experiences. In other words, you could be sitting in a dark cave all alone and you could feel incredibly at peace and content. but, until that happens, if you feel compelled to create and seek experiences, be sure these are beneficial to you and to society in general. From your description, it sounds like you are doing the right things… so keep it up. all is well.

  • idowannagivename

    I would say lots of the benefits you got from this are somewhat exclusive to Metta–as in vipassana tends not to give ALL of the results you listed… but probably most.

  • disamulha

    My understanding of meditation is that you sit quietly for a while trying to think of absolutely nothing. This is very hard and thoughts will come into your head trying to take you down their thoughts paths but you have to acknowledge the thought- not dwell on it and take yourself back to ‘nothingness’. Sometimes you very quickly come back to ‘nothingness’, other times you get lost in the thought and it takes a while before you realise and take yourself back to the ‘nothingness’ rest position.

    Is this understanding correct?

    If so, it seems like one is trying stop oneself from having deep thoughts?
    Does this not shut us off from our emotions. I have been emotionless before and hated it- felt like a robot- platonic- nothing affected me. This was partially good because It meant I couldn’t get hurt but overall very boring and disconnected with my emotional. I would sometimes ‘enjoy’ feeling sad because it was better than feeling nothing.
    I realised I was becoming dehumanised so forced myself to feel emotion.
    I don’t feel like this now by the way.

    I have just started meditating because I’ve read online that it helps you find yourself and I am feeling a bit lost and confused as to what kind of person I wish to be and was hoping meditation could clear my mind happiness.

    I am just worried about the becoming emotionless again and was interested in what practising meditators had to say about it.

  • Mohammed Adamu Idris

    I want to start my meditation from now to get the power of postivtive

  • Tra

    Beautiful, so honest and just soooo inspiring. Thank you for this gift this morning. I too have adopted the practice of meditation..as I am new at it – I can truly see and feel the difference in my head space and I am loving it. It is writings like yours that keep me going. Thank you for sharing xoxoxo