“Just meditating 10 minutes a day can dramatically transform how you react to the world.”
This is quite an amazing yet somehow controversial claim especially if you tell this to people who barely have time to squeeze an entire to-do list in their waking hours.
Excuses such as “I can’t even find time to eat…” or “I’m too busy to sit around doing nothing” would naturally spring up, rationalizing why a mindfulness practice is an impossible feat. However, in this stress-filled world, numerous research and various accounts have shown just how a regular meditation practice can impact your life. The benefits of meditation do not only apply to adults, but to children as well.
But how can these meditation benefits actually change the way you respond to other people, the environment and other aspect of your life?
Human beings possess a primal response to fear and stress which is called the fight or flight response. As the name suggests, this is responsible in alerting our brain to release hormones and adrenaline in face of danger. In ancient times, this has helped man survive like when being attacked by predators.
In the modern world, this response mechanism is still triggered but not always by life-threatening situations. This is because the brain has a difficult time to evaluate which problems are really dangerous or just irritating. Your fight or flight response can then be triggered when someone accidentally bumps into you, or when your employee makes an honest mistake. The initial response is to fight and shout at that other person.
When you practice meditation, this instant response can be reduced, giving you a short time to carefully assess the situation before jumping into an aggressive reaction. This will give you a calmer and more rational way of approaching the situation.
You are faced with many decision-making tasks every single day. Maybe it’s your client asking you about a project, or a friend asking if he can invite your ex to a dinner party, or something as trivial as deciding which shoes to wear for a job interview. Whether big or small, personal or professional, these decisions direct your life and your relationships with people.
When you’re faced with difficult decisions, it is normal to become confused about what to do. The next step of action is not always clear and this can be problematic especially if you are in a leadership position and other people are depending on you. There exists the pressure of making the right decisions as the wrong ones can make life more challenging.
When you practice meditation, studies have shown that even short-term meditation can help you make better decisions. This happens because meditation can influence the reduction in decision making bias by bringing out positive emotional responses. The study revealed that effective decision making is not about being free of emotions, but about not letting the wrong emotions cloud the decision-making process. So the next time you’re faced with a frustrating dilemma, take a 15-minute meditation break to clear your mind.
In his bestselling book series “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”, author Richard Carlson talked about how people often let small, inconsequential things take over their lives. How many times have you found yourself worked up about something that is not really a big deal?
When the delivery guy forgot to include a packet of ketchup with your burger, how irritated were you? When you mistakenly wore the wrong color of socks to work, did you spend the whole day reprimanding yourself about it? Or when your brother was 5 minutes late to family dinner, did you give him a hard time?
A lot of times you unconsciously treat your life as an emergency that it makes you anxious about a lot of things. This anxiety extends to how you respond to different situations. Meditation can help you address this problem.
When you practice mindfulness meditation, research has proven that this can actually help in reducing your stress and anxiety. This means that it allows you to approach situations in a calmer way. It can also help you to focus less on your personal reactions, but also on the bigger picture. A wider perspective gives you the ability to understand what other people are going through in that same situations. It can also help you manage your reactions to things you cannot control like rush hour traffic or sudden weather changes.
When you encounter something that is not necessarily agreeable to you, it’s easy to jump into conclusions and assume the worst without carefully studying the issue. You get distracted by these assumptions and immediately worry about how it can impact you negatively, even if you are not yet aware of the full details.
Taking time to meditate even for just a few moments a day can improve your concentration. This can help you see things more clearly and focus on details you would normally take for granted. As a result, this can help you become more optimistic by seeing the positives in every situation.
Developing this type of attitude does not only lower your stress levels but can also help you inject more happiness in your life. A happy mindset can help you respond more kindly to things that happens to you throughout the day. This does not mean that meditation is an instant problem solver or that it can put a positive on something that is ultimately problematic. What meditation does however, is give you a clearer perspective to help you address the problem instead of just wallowing about it.
Often times, it can be difficult to take a step back and pause – especially when you’re in a constant pursuit of your goals. If you find yourself drowning in stress, anxiety and uncertainty, try joining a meditation retreat to recharge.
If this is not possible, just taking a few moments each day to take a break and meditate can help a lot. Soon, you’ll recognize that meditation can contribute in making your daily interactions with people a much better experience, not only for you but for the people around you.
Starting a mindfulness practice is not difficult. If you want to learn how to start meditating, read our Beginner’s Guide to Mediation.
Founder of this website; currently living vicariously through himself.