Whenever I talk to anyone new about meditation, I usually get the same reaction. They’ve heard enough about meditation to know it can have a positive impact, but they haven’t been motivated enough to sit for meditation consistently. It’s akin to someone telling you that you should eat more vegetables when you’re noshing on junk food.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
From my experience, meditation can have a major impact on your life whether you practice it regularly or only in times of need. Naturally, you’ll see a better effect if you practice regularly, but don’t let that stop you from getting started.
A special feature by Trevor McDonald
In my life, meditation has saved me in so many ways. And I know enough about the health benefits of meditation to know that this isn’t a coincidence. Bottom line: it can help you too.
And as I was sitting down to write this post, I reflected on the many moments where meditation saved me.
Over the past five years of practice, I have many, many moments to share. But I’ve narrowed it down to the most powerful moments where I’m certain that meditation saved me.
Anyone who knows me personally, knows my struggle with addiction. Actually, addiction recovery is what first led me to meditation.
I was about a month sober and struggling to remain that way when a friend told me about this groundbreaking (at the time) center where they were using meditation as a tool to help strengthen the mind and reduce cravings associated with recovery. I was intrigued but not yet sold on the idea. The idea that meditation helps with recovery was foreign to me.
So I hit the internet to find out more. And I found a 2010 study where researchers invited drug abusers in rehabilitation to add meditation to their therapy. Of those who did, they saw promising results. The results were more pronounced for females, but it was compelling enough for me to give it a try. And I was glad I did.
As it turns out, meditation provides a dopamine surge that’s akin to drug use albeit nowhere near as intense.
From the moment I tried meditation, I vowed to use it as a tool to fight cravings whenever they came on. And, although it hasn’t exactly been a miracle cure, I’m confident that meditation has helped keep me sober for the past five years.
Stressful new boss
About a year after I began meditating, I got the news that my old boss was retiring. And it wasn’t long before I realized that the person who took his place would become my worst nightmare.
I was in a job that I loved, but I hated going to work every day. I was constantly stressed out and waiting for the other shoe to drop.
It was around this time that I remembered the calm feeling I got while meditating. So, I started meditating every morning before work. There were some bad days when I’d even meditate before bed.
But after a few weeks, I saw a major difference meditation was making in my work anxiety levels. And when I wasn’t so stressed out, I knew I was making better decisions. I was also reacting better to my seemingly unreasonable boss.
After about a month or two, things got better. Because I was able to manage my stress and reactions with meditation, I was able to have more positive interactions with my boss. Over time, we developed a much better working relationship. I still wish my old boss could have worked forever, but I still have my job and I’m in a much better place now.
Have you ever found yourself in a position where you simply can’t decide between any number of options?
I usually consider myself a great decision maker, but there was one decision that left me feeling emotionally and cognitively paralyzed.
This one hit me about two years ago. I had found myself in a significant amount of debt. And we all know that debt isn’t a foreign concept to anyone these days. So, there are options. But which is the best? Should I file for bankruptcy, hire a consolidation company or search for a stop-gap solution to hold me over until I could find a way to make more money?
Each option comes with its own set of risks, and none of them seemed good.
But with some meditation experience, I knew this was something I needed to meditate on. Clarity always comes with stilling your mind and meditation. When we stop controlling our thoughts, the best thoughts find their way to the forefront.
Deep down, we all know what to do. We have an innate knowledge of the things that are in our best interests. And, in most cases, we just need to get out of the way of this intuition. And meditation can help. At least, it did for me.
After one particularly long meditation, I came up with a plan that didn’t involve any of the things I feared most. I was able to negotiate reduced payments with some creditors and delayed payments with others. Meditation allowed me to see a seemingly invisible option – and I’m so glad it did.
Meditation is a powerful tool that can help in so many areas of your life, especially with stress reduction and decision-making. But don’t take my word for it – try it for yourself and let’s swap stories about how meditation has changed our lives.
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Trevor McDonald | Author
Author | Buddha Weekly
Trevor McDonald is a freelance writer, avid yogi and writes extensively about recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction. He has been in recovery and sober for over five years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness and general health knowledge.