Arriving Home :: Being Self-Supported
At a recent speaking event, I was asked one of those ‘silver bullet’ questions about meditation: “In your opinion, what is the greatest benefit from having a meditation practice?”
This question both makes my heart sing and flutter at the same time. On one hand, this is my absolute favorite question. I could speak for 8 hours straight about all of the greatest benefits from meditation, especially with all of the scientific outcomes and studies I so enjoy sharing. The flutter comes from the specificity of the question though - the pinpointing of the one greatest benefit. I have often thought that it may be impossible to narrow down the benefits of meditation to just one, as both personally and professionally from my years in scientific research, I know the outcomes are vast and cover such a wide array of benefits from health and mental wellbeing, to spiritual change and growth.
Still, the question makes someone like me engage my heart and practice with a level of depth and sincerity to where it takes a little extra effort to “sit” with the question. And eventually in the “sitting with”, as any seasoned practitioner knows, the next step becomes apparent which is to let the heart answer this one. Let this answer come from the heart, not the mind.
So my answer these past few years has been one from what I know to be true in my heart and through my personal journey. What I see in so many of my students who come and work on their practices each day. And from the teachings themselves. All answers point to the experience that in some way shape and form, the greatest benefit in my opinion is learning how to become more self-supported through our meditation and mindfulness practices. As being self-supported or inner-resourced is one of the biggest ignitors for personal growth and change.
Self-Support From The Mindfulness Perspective
For many of us, growing up and evolving involves a level of testing our own ability to be resourceful and support ourselves. This is basic “adulting” stuff. How do I learn to trust myself to make wise decisions? How do I know I will be able to support myself, live on my own, pay bills and keep myself safe? Will I be able to create and live the life I want? Do I have what it takes to be on my own inside or outside of a relationship? Not only is the journey of being and becoming self-supported a spiritual practice influenced by the outcomes of meditation, but it is a normal human experience. Every single human being goes through the process of learning what it means to them to become self-supported.
From the mindfulness perspective, becoming self-supported is a natural outcome from meditation and having meditation become a part of your life.
Self-support comes in many forms: more resilience, trust, faith and confidence in yourself. Learning to be more self-compassionate and less judgmental when you make mistakes. And growing awareness of what is and isn’t supporting you in your life.
Ways to Grow Your Self-Support
Growing y0ur ability to be self-supported comes naturally with meditation. Here are my top ways to build your inner-resourcefulness through practice.
Having a routine builds momentum and confidence. When you have a daily mediation routine, a certain aspect of your own being starts to feel settled. You don’t feel as overwhelmed, dispersed all over the place or scattered. You feel centered, more at ease and in alignment. Being in a regular routine builds the momentum of feeling centered, which naturally grows your self-confidence. When you are living your life from a state of centeredness, peace and equanimity, you start to grow your confidence from within.
Create habits for happiness. Self-awareness is one of the most immediate benefits from meditation. This ability to recognize, know and understand ourselves with more clarity and less delusion. The more clarity you gain from meditation, the easier it becomes to see what current habits you have that are supporting you and your life or not supporting you. From not sleeping enough, to sleeping too much. Any eating behaviors that are promoting health or promoting discomfort. To the tendencies of being self-critical, having low self-esteem or too much ego. Through self-awareness and greater clarity, you get to decide whether you want to foster habits for happiness or continue doing what you know may not be supporting you in the deepest way.
Strengthen your compassion. Besides becoming self-supported, I’d say that compassion can also heal all. Compassion is like a healing balm for any open heartache, wound or suffering. Learning to meet your own heart, dreams, goals, desires and pain with compassion instead of criticism or judgement is one of the quickest ways to becoming more self-supported. The moment you stop tearing away at yourself is the same moment you learn what it means to be inner-resourced and more resilient.
Learning to trust yourself. Wisdom comes from trust and open-heartedness. It comes from being willing to not know all of the answers immediately and step into uncertainty with a level of trust, both in yourself and in life itself. Trust is cultivated by being willing to give yourself trust again and again, even after making mistakes, learning through hardships or failing. Trust in yourself is grown by being connected to your center and steadiness and having a sense of inner-solidness within. It is from this meeting place (the mind and the heart) where true wise decisions come from. Decisions you can trust, even if it means going through some growing pains along the way.
Letting The Good Be Good. There is a certain art to allowing oneself to genuinely feel positive emotions. For many of us we wonder if it is okay to feel good. Or we question whether we deserve to feel good at all. One way to build your ability to be self-supported it to let yourself celebrate the “wins”, your moments of success or when things have worked out for you. This taking in the good or “positive savoring” creates a positive feedback loop in the brain. When you let yourself feel good, you will be more willing to trust yourself to continue to feel good and make the right decisions, moves and actions to welcome more good into your life.
Whether becoming more self-supported and inner-resourced is the one greatest benefit of meditation or not. One thing I know for sure is that when I see people start to trust their own hearts and minds more, their life experience changes and starts to feel even better.