Arriving Home :: How To Know If You Are Growing From Meditation
Growth in meditation comes from continuity, consistency and continual engagement with the practice - even in the midst of everyday life.
As a meditation teacher, I get to see my students progress as they continue showing up and growing their practice. One of my greatest joys is meeting someone relatively new to meditation and week by week, observing the growth both they and their practice experience as they mature through struggles and success.
Growing a meditation practice is much like learning anything new. There’s always an establishing process where you figure out what it is you are doing, how you do it and also why you are doing it. I tend to liken this to starting a new job or project. It can be a little awkward, clumsy and filled with uncertainty at first. What gets you through is your attitude and commitment to becoming comfortable and self-sufficient, so you can be up and on your way to the actual work of moving towards the goal at hand.
After a student gets some basic footing with the practice, which we have explored in a previous Arriving Home and in BEGIN, the practice then starts to really take hold and grow. So let’s discover what growth looks like in meditation and how to grow your practice.
What Growth Looks Like
Growth takes on several forms when it comes to meditation. While growth is individual, it also has some very universal characteristics to it. Think of this list of qualities as signposts that you are progressing down the path of practice.
You are a little more used to being uncomfortable at times in meditation. Whether it is physical, emotional or mental discomfort.
You keep showing up to practice anyway. You’ve had enough experience where you know you are benefiting from meditation, even if it doesn’t necessarily feel like it.
You are softer. You notice when you are carrying tension or have a hardened shell around you, so you soften yourself back to homeostasis.
You’re less quick to judge yourself and others.
You are able to sit more still and longer in meditation. Your mind and body have learned what it means to settle.
You feel more grounded.
You feel that you are transforming. Simply put, you feel different.
You are more centered in who you are. Your self-understanding and awareness have grown, so the feeling of being at home in yourself has grown.
You understand how your mind works more. You are aware of your usual thought patterns, emotional reactions and types of mental chatter.
How To Grow Your Practice
There are two ways to grow your practice: one being through meditation, and the other is by the consistent application of mindfulness in your day-to-day life.
Growing through meditation: As is so often discussed in our online practice space, the surest way to experience growth is to make meditation a habit and practice consistently. When you practice regularly, your momentum of mindfulness grows, your attention becomes stronger, concentration builds and your heart softens with more kindness. Research on meditation tells us that it is consistency where you also begin to see changes in your brain, immune system and mental health.
Growing through mindfulness: Remember that meditation and mindfulness are different. Meditation is the training that produces mindfulness and mindfulness is the ability to have your attention in the present moment. There are several ways to stay engaged with being mindful as you are in the midst of your day. Taking conscious breaths to reset yourself and your mindfulness. Practicing mindful eating and walking. Taking mini meditation breaks. Practicing mindful listening and speaking. In Deepen, a whole day is dedicated to this teaching of creating mindfulness touchstones during your daily life. You will quickly learn what works for you and soon be taking many mini mindful moments as often as you can.
You will begin to see your engagement with mindfulness become more and more natural as you get used to practicing it. What first might seem like some extra effort soon turns into a secondary way of living and operating in the world. After all, life is practice and practice is life.