Meditation is, without a doubt, the practice which changed the trajectory of my life forever.
It’s a well known fact, with endless studies proving it, that meditation can improve stress, levels of happiness, concentration, responsiveness and intelligence – just to name a few benefits.
Yet, very few are able to maintain a regular meditation practice because the truth is, it is very hard! Sitting with nothing to do except breathe and being with your thoughts is apparently one of the harder things you’ll ever have to do.
It is a very slow progression through meditation and in the early days of it, you’ll wonder if it’s even doing anything at all.
It took me 3 months of daily practice to encounter my first moment of silence. Yes, that’s right. 3 months of practice for ONE second of silence in my mind! It’s hard work for very small gains in the early days of meditation.
That doesn’t mean that you aren’t progressing or reaping the benefits of meditation.
Here are 5 signs that meditation is working for you, even before you’ve reached your first moments of silence.
1. You become more aware of your body
You’ll be sitting at your desk and realise, ‘I’m slouching,’ so you’ll sit up straighter. Or, you’ll notice that you’re sitting cross legged but you uncross them to maintain equal balance in your body.
Meditation, more than anything else, is an awareness practice. You’ll become way more aware of yourself and your surroundings and becoming aware of your body is one of the earlier signs that the awareness muscle is building in your mind.
2. You’ll notice when you’re in a bad mood and be able to just drop it
Most of us will notice when we’re in a bad mood, but what we don’t notice is how much it actually consumes us. After meditating, even for a short one or two months, you’ll catch yourself in a bad mood, notice it and then that’s it. It just stops there. You don’t let the bad mood take you miles away from the present moment.
I once learnt it as though you are on a train platform. You can get on the angry thought train and it will take you miles away, or you just stay on the platform and let the train go.
That’s what meditation does. The different thought trains come and go, but you don’t get on and be taken by the train.
3. Things that used to irritate you no longer irritate you
I actually first started my meditation practice on the train. That’s a really bad place to start your practice because on a busy train there are noises, people brushing past you, bumps and other disturbances. In the early days of meditation everything irks you because the slightest disturbance throws you off.
However, with practice, the very things that used to make you rage internally, will at some point no longer. That’s both in your practice as well as outside of your practice.
Your mind has trained to accept the disturbances but still remain focused on the task in sight.
4. Your usual mental patterns will break
Us humans are nothing more than just a repetition of the same few behaviours. We have the same patterns of repetitive thoughts, behaviours and reactions to life and for the majority of our lives, we are just mindlessly doing the same thing day in, day out. It’s called the path of least resistance, meaning we just take the easiest well trodden path of thought and action in most cases.
After a few months of meditation though, you’ll notice that you just suddenly snap out of very mindless activities and wonder why you’re doing it.
That’s because you are training your mind to be more aware and focused. This interrupts the mindless path of least resistance and you’ll start snapping out of it, due to the strengthening of your mind to being more conscious of what it is up to.
5. You’ll crave the respite meditation gives you
Have you ever been so consumed by your thoughts that you just wish it would give you a rest? Thinking and projecting the worst case scenario and feeling bad for something that hasn’t even happened. Replaying the moments of injustice in your life where someone wronged you. Wishing something would have happened differently. Or just straight up overthinking and worrying.
Meditation is a practice that allows you to switch off from your incessant thinking.
At some point in your practice, you’ll recognise and even start to crave the rest and reset meditation gives you from your thoughts.
Meditation is a slow burn practice. Especially in the early days it can feel like nothing is happening but if you can see some of the small improvements, I hope that’ll be the cue that it is working and that you should continue to persist in your practice.
Want more of Katherine’s wise words? Click here for Five Ways to Incorporate More Mindfulness and Meditation Into Your Life and here to visit her website.