Arriving Home :: How To Find Out If You Need Meditation In Your Life
In my years of teaching and sharing meditation, I usually see practitioners arrive to the practice via two ways:
1- Meditation finds them, or
2- At some point, the practitioner realizes they need help. They need more support. Their usual ways of dealing and approaching are no longer working. They just know they need meditation in their lives.
Today, we are going to focus on the latter: how to find out if you need meditation in your life. There are a few tell tale signs that show us when it is our time to arrive and meditate.
Questions To Ask
Asking yourself the following guiding questions provides a helpful and honest inquiry for deciding whether you need to meditate:
Am I truly happy?
Now, for those of you who are familiar with my point of view on happiness, you know my definition of it is outside the traditional understanding. By nature, we will not always be in the highs of happiness. To be human means that inevitably, we will encounter disappointment, sadness, grief and heartbreak. Yet, even when you are on this spectrum of experience, there is a baseline of contentment and understanding that deep down you are okay. It’s important to honestly ask yourself, “Am I happy? Am I okay? Do I feel solid even when life is not going my way?” If this leads you to realize the truth, that presently you are not happy, then this is your sign that it’s time to start meditating.
Additionally, we often think we are happy when deep down, we know that we are not. We are aware our happiness is contingent on life going smoothly or when we are experiencing success. When you ask yourself, “Am I deeply happy?”, there is the built-in opportunity to sense whether your happiness is able to be free and unhinged from external circumstances.
Do I feel overwhelmed in any way? Overwhelmed. Burnt out. Feeling lost. Depressed.
These experiences are very common. Usually when we get to the point where stress or depression is present, it’s because our system has been overwhelmed in some way. Our stress threshold has been surpassed and our coping mechanisms aren’t able to adequately meet the present experience.
Overwhelm is a sign that we are in need of support. Our current ways of dealing and approaching aren’t quite enough. If you find yourself lost and overwhelmed, it is most-likely time to drop into a meditation practice. With meditation being the antidote to stress, the deep inner-support you are looking for can be found in the resilience that comes from the practice.
What To Notice
Meditation is the art of observation. What is so lovely to see with practitioners finding their way to meditation is the inner-observation that gets them there. They know something isn’t quite right. They know they can be feeling better. They notice that what they are experiencing is not supporting them on some level.
If you notice that you are feeling any of the below sentiments, these are also signs you need meditation in your life.
You feel unfulfilled. Like mentioned above, when you are aware that you’re lacking a certain level of contentment and “okay-ness”, this is a sign that you are unfulfilled. Notice this. Be grateful for the message of unfulfillment telling you to find your inner-contentment. Meditation allows us to see what is obscuring our fulfillment and natural baseline of happiness.
Emotions are running the show. You know you are being taken away by your emotions when pragmatism, discernment and peace are not there. Perspective is allusive. Your emotions have you spun out. Your ability to wisely handle the cause of the emotions is a little beyond reach. Research on meditation shows us that emotion regulation is significantly increased by consistent practice. I know when I first began meditating, I finally felt less pulled by my emotions, impulses and desires. Through the steadiness of emotion regulation and becoming more self-referenced, you can see clearly when your emotions are taking you away, and you can choose to come back through meditation.
A deeper call. If you notice a deeper call to meditation - the feeling or urge to explore what meditation can do for you, this is the sign to begin. Often, this feeling is beyond the mind’s reasoning or intellect and comes from the heart. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “I don’t know exactly why I am here. I just knew I had to be here.”
What To Do
Depending on your honest answers to the above questions, self-inquiry and observations, you will know when it is time to commit to a meditation practice. Like already mentioned in previous ‘Arriving Home’ posts, when you step onto the path of self-discovery, you find stability within, and you learn how to find peace wherever you are. If you know there is more room for happiness, more opportunity to meet life’s stress in a healthier way and if you notice the deeper call to practice, it is time to arrive home to meditation and begin.