I could write a long list of ways I have changed after meditating every day for 5 years. Recalling every shift in personality trait and habit would make for an entertaining read, but would not do justice to the real transformation that has taken place. The culmination of a consistent, daily practice has brought about ONE magnificent, extraordinary, significant change in myself that I am convinced, could not have happened in any other way than through meditating every day over a long period of time.
The best way to illustrate my biggest transformation is through a story from everyday life:
Last month, I was getting some yard work done that required digging into the ground. The Homeowner’s Association (HOA) in my neighborhood requires that certain modifications made on personal property require pre-approved permission. They are known for strictly monitoring the area and sending out any violation notices to residents. Upon thinking and researching, I decided that what I wanted to get done didn’t need to be authorized by the HOA, so I went ahead with my plans. What was supposed to be done in a day, turned into a week. Thoughts of whether the HOA would find out and reprimand me, started crossing my mind. What if they saw the two men working in my yard and noticed that I didn’t get permission. Then, one evening while the sun was setting and the sky was turning into dusk, the amazing people who were helping me were still working in the yard. It was getting dark. A thought crossed my mind- if I put the light on in the yard, what if someone from the HOA walks by and sees the work being done. I may get in trouble because I didn’t get approval. And, in a second that thought turned into: If I am doing something wrong, then I deserve to get in trouble. But, I shouldn’t punish the people working outside. They had nothing to do with it. I put the yard light on and told myself, may whatever needs to happen, happen. In that moment, I realized what it means to put others’ needs before mine.
Looking at the greater good, putting our own selfish interests aside, and doing the right thing for all of society, this selflessness can only come from a daily meditation practice.
The change in thinking that happens with a meditation practice, cannot be made in any other way. Undoing conditioned patterns of the mind, restructuring the brain, rehabilitating how one thinks and what kinds of thoughts one has, cannot happen because someone desires it. This cannot be forced upon oneself. Someone who tells themselves, from now on I will be selfless, can only keep it up for so long before they go back to their old ways of thinking. There needs to be a fundamental shift in the mind.
Selflessness, compassion, thinking about what is right for humanity and what will help others, removing selfishness and overcoming thinking only about how oneself will benefit, these are not things that happen easily or quickly. Unfortunately, many only see this final result, but do not want to put in the time and effort to arrive here. Sometimes an individual may start acting selflessly or what they perceive to be kind and giving behavior, without having done the inner work to get to this place, naturally. This can be dangerous in several ways, not only does it repress true feelings and emotions that will arise later, but it could also leave a person feeling discouraged and confused about what it means to be spiritual or a person who meditates. Selflessness comes to be a type of sacrifice, instead of a natural outpouring of one’s character.
It is through a daily meditation practice that one can have a direct experience of unconditional love and expanded awareness. Through this subjective experience a person comes to realize the true meaning of connectedness. Gradually, the mind changes to not only act selflessly, but to be and live oneness. A person with this realization remains in equanimity no matter the circumstance, at all times. This is the true result of meditation.