Meditation: the art of doing nothing.


The French philosopher Blaise Pascal once said, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,”

When I was asked to write an account of my journey in the world of meditation, I admit that I hesitated quite a bit: I was afraid of not being able to adequately convey and describe the sensations, the goals and the immense satisfaction that this discipline has brought to my life. But then I told myself that these words could help someone take that tiny, microscopic last step towards a path they had never taken due to lack of time, will or motivation, just like it has been happening to me for years.

Meditation requires patience

I was the first to experience the difficulties of tackling a practice that doesn’t give immediate results: I’m a very pragmatic person, and I wouldn’t say I like investing my time in something that doesn’t give me quick and tangible results. This is why I have tried to meditate many times since I was a teenager, but always without success.

I didn’t realize that meditation is not a goal but a continuous path, and I didn’t understand how important it was to practice it consistently to see its many benefits — which, I assure you, are worth all the patience invested.

Then I challenged myself, the last attempt to approach this practice before shelving it forever: meditate for 70 consecutive days, regardless of everything. Whether tired, sick, listless or too busy, I promised myself always to carve out at least ten minutes daily to devote to meditation.

So here’s my testimony to shout to all those like me “Don’t give up!” — meditation is too precious and important to be catalogued as a useless activity or an end. Here’s what I learned from meditating for 70 days:

How Meditation Changed My Life (For The Better!)

Meditation brings benefits on four levels: physical, mental, emotional/psychological, and spiritual.

I will focus on the mental and emotional benefits because those are the ones I felt the most. I never had any major physical problems, and my spirituality was strong even before meditating. But mentally and emotionally, I was very fragile, so I noticed the biggest changes in these two areas.

I must emphasize that I am sharing my experience here according to the techniques I have chosen to practice. I practised meditation in an unstructured way for the first 10–20 days (the time to get familiar with the technique), and then I concentrated mainly on Zazen meditation. If you follow other meditation techniques, your experience may differ completely from mine.

Less impulsivity

If someone cuts me off in traffic, my natural reaction now is to breathe and relax rather than fidget and start cursing. The same goes for when my computer crashes, an appliance doesn’t work, or my cat breaks something.

There are no more negative automatic reactions in my brain. Regardless of what is happening in the outside world, if an automatic reaction is triggered in my body or mind, I can block it and reflect for a second before it happens. And I consciously choose whether to support the reaction or block it.

Meditation has allowed me to contemplate and evaluate situations, truly being able to “count to ten” before bursting.

With less impulsiveness, there is more conscious action and less regret.

Resilience and self-esteem

I am more comfortable having difficult conversations, facing obstacles, or dealing with people who don’t appreciate me. I have the perennial feeling that I can always accept whatever the present brings and make something good out of it. This allows me to be more in control, less anxious and less worried.

Sure, I still worry. But when I do, I immediately recognize the source of the discomfort and know its effect on my nervous system.

Mental flexibility

The deeper I enter meditation, the more flexible my mind becomes in processing and analyzing concepts, beliefs, and worldviews. Even two opposing truths can coexist in my brain simultaneously without any problem.

Continued personal growth requires that you contradict yourself from time to time. And meditation gives you the mental strength to let go of the old ideas you’ve been holding on to and say, “I was wrong”, without fear of losing face.

Concentration and willpower

The main exercise of meditation is to be constantly aware of what is going on in our minds. Directing our attention wherever we wish. Thus, in just one meditation session, the areas of the brain dedicated to self-awareness, focus and willpower are exercised dozens of times. In other words, the more I develop the art of attention, the more willpower and mental resources I have for everything else.

With sharper awareness and more intense intentions, many things in my life have become easier — like taking care of my health, relationships, career, etc. There is less friction, less scattering, and less procrastination.

Meditation is one of many ways to develop these qualities and skills. But for me, it was an incredibly effective method. It’s an exercise that can discipline your mind to the max… if you take it seriously and practice it daily. The more you practice, with the right attitude and technique, the more results you get. That’s why my previous attempts had failed miserably. I expected great things from ten or twenty minutes of meditation and didn’t consider continuous exercise.

My Results

I won’t deny that meditating for 70 days was difficult, especially the first week. There are so many distractions and excuses that our brains can find to escape from tasks! But I’m grateful that I made it, that I persevered. Over the past 30 days, meditating has become an indispensable pleasure; a habit rooted in my days that I could never do without again.

Meditation has the power to bring this and so much more. Your trip will be uniquely yours. Don’t expect enlightenment or big revelations immediately. You’re on the right track if you try without giving up and see the benefits in your everyday life.

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