There’s an old meditation joke that says everyone should meditate for 30 minutes per day. But if you’re too busy to meditate, then you should do it for an hour. The humor points to a truth that meditators know from experience. Meditation will change your life, but for it to work, you have to change your life to make room for meditation.
Meditation Benefits and Personal Changes for a Healthy Lifestyle
There are endless anecdotal and science-backed benefits to meditation. But just as exercise won’t help you get fit if you never go to the gym, future plans to meditate won’t significantly alter the structure of your brain. What’s more, most of the benefits of meditation are reserved for those who’ve committed to at least 8 weeks of consistent practice. Maintain your meditation practice beyond that first 8 weeks, and you’ll reap greater benefits. Also, those benefits remain with you, even when you’re not meditating.
Building a life that supports consistent meditation practice may require some changes. The following tips have been practiced for centuries by those with a desire to make progress along the meditative path.
5 tips for a healthy, meditative lifestyle
- Be a Good Person
A foundation in moral, ethical behavior supports meditation. Minimize harming yourself and others by acting in an honest, kind manner, and you’ll find it easier to make it to your cushion. A mind that’s preoccupied with lying, stealing, behaving poorly, gossiping or wishing ill toward others is a mind that’s disquieted and will go to great lengths to avoid spending time with itself in meditation.
- Live by the Golden Rule
If we understand cause and effect, we can use this wisdom to create the causes and conditions that will manifest the world we’d like to live in. If you wish you had more time for moments of stillness and quiet, support others in their quest for the same. Notice how much space opens up when you cease busying those around you with unnecessary chatter, errands and requests.
- Clarify Your Motivation
A daily meditation practice offers many benefits, but we’re fooling ourselves if we think these benefits will inevitably be available ‘later.’ The truth is, we don’t know if later is an option. Impermanence and death awareness practices have motivated people to meditate for thousands of years. Our death is certain. What’s not certain is the date and time. To reap the benefits of a stable mind at life’s most traumatic moment, shouldn’t we make meditation a priority today?
- Accept the Limits of Worldly Pursuits
We spend significant amounts of our time in pursuit of money, things, or experiences. While impermanent things such as these can offer us pleasure, at some point it runs out and we need more. Renunciation arises when we understand the changing things outside us cannot offer a permanent solution to our discomfort, dissatisfaction or pain. The only true solution is to turn toward the abundant source of security, contentment, happiness and self-love that’s available within.
- Deepen Your Faith in Meditation
If you meditate, you may have noticed how good you feel on the days you practice and how you feel differently on the days you don’t. When you do meditate, make it a habit to take note of the benefits you’ve received and how good you feel. By becoming more mindful of the ways in which meditation is improving our lives, intelligent faith in the practice is strengthened, encouraging us to do it more.
How Meditation Can Improve Your Life
The benefits of meditation include a mind that’s more stable, clear, content and joyful. But these can sometimes feel like abstract terms, removed from real-world application. If you’re meditating with change in mind, it can be helpful to hear of some ways in which meditation improves your daily wellbeing.
Sleep better and wake up earlier
Regular meditation practice helps us fall asleep sooner and improves the quality of our sleep. As you find yourself waking up earlier and more refreshed, it becomes easier to start your day with meditation.
Transform old habits and unhelpful patterns
Meditation helps us shift from habitual, reactive behavior and choose mindful, intentional action instead. Once we experience this working in our lives, prioritizing mental health becomes the new habit.
Find more clarity and focus
Meditation is the antidote to a distracted mind. As our focus and clarity improves with practice, we find it easier to complete tasks and make decisions, simplifying our day-to-day and making space for meditation.
Increase resilience in the face of discomfort
When we’re stressed, it’s easy to choose an escape such as alcohol or other unhealthy vices. Turning to meditation instead is life-changing. Our hardships become opportunities to grow versus excuses to remain the same.
Expand capacity for tolerance, patience and compassion
The heart-opening shifts that occur in meditation change us. As we learn to meet ourselves with loving-kindness, we get better at extending the same to others. A more compassionate heart is the cause of our future happiness.
Learn to be happy, no matter what
Meditation introduces us to the infinite source of joy at the center of our being. When connected to this source, we’re less thrown by the imperfect world around us. Despite life’s ups and downs, we can be happy. This realization is among the most profound of meditation’s life changing stories.