A Year of Peace

The search for peace is an important one.

Meditation is rarely a topic on this blog, and for good reason. You either get it or you don’t, and the latter isn’t easily converted. I understand. For years, I didn’t think that meditation could help in any tangible way, or maybe I never really considered it. I started meditating in New York at the insistence of my roommate, but I stopped when I moved home. Back in Massachusetts, the practice began again, and then it sputtered. I was unemployed, and spending a little too much time in a bath robe. I was restless, I was antsy, and the last thing I wanted to do was sit in a chair and close my eyes.

This is the first time in my life where the practice has been sustained and consistent. In some way shape or form, I’ve meditated almost every day.

The time I spend in meditation isn’t long, but just a little stops my word from spinning too fast. It relaxes me when I’m feeling overwhelmed, and if there is any major benefit, that’s absolutely it. Meditation neutralizes my negative and anxious thoughts so that I can see the world as it truly is. I really do believe that anxiety distorts your perception of the world, that it warps and blurs your vision, when the reality of a situation is much more innocuous. With my mind at east, that’s when I can make an informed decision and act.

I was wrong in my initial judgment, as I’ve been about so many things. I’ve found a use for the practice, or rather, I’ve found uses. Through the everyday practice of meditation, my life is much better than it was a year ago. Some people won’t find this post helpful, but I hope you’re able to take something from it, something that can make your day a little more meaningful and peaceful.

What follows is a list of how things have improved in my life because of meditation. I may not convince anyone to start, but at the very least, maybe I can make you reconsider.

Sleep: One of my early posts was about my occasional insomnia, about how sleep was a rarity in my life. I slowly came to a point of acceptance, and I learned how to operate on only a few hours, even if these hours were punctuated by anxiety dreams. In my mind, anything was better than nothing, even if I was running on fumes. It wasn’t a good way to live, and I knew it would catch up with me, but there didn’t seem to be another way. Melatonin helped, as did shutting down electronics before bedtime, but when I’d try to sleep, my mind would become a broken water main, and I was powerless to stop the torrent of thoughts.

Things look a little different now. Not every night is filled with eight hours of sleep, but I’ve never been an eight hours person. What I do get is roughly seven hours, and sometimes I sleep the whole way through. Before bed, I sit down to meditate. I bring my breathing to a manageable level, get my mind to a place of restfulness, and then I lie down and drift off in about 10-15 minutes. Maybe I wake up once or twice, but I’m able to get back to sleep with little fanfare. I cannot describe how much of an improvement this is. I never expected to regain a regular sleeping pattern. I figured that good sleep was gone like the drawings of my youth, but now I’m sleeping through the night with no additional supplements needed. What a dream.

Focus: I’ll be honest, this is something I still struggle with. I’m frequently scattered. I probably have some light ADD, but meditation has given me the ability to focus. I’m able to pay attention while keeping my thoughts at bay, and that’s cause for celebration. I never thought I’d be able to sit and pay attention to something without drifting off. I still struggle to pay attention to things when I’m not inherently interested, but I suppose we all do. I’m thankful that in my life, most of the presentations that I listen to, that I’ve found them to be compelling. I don’t often have to sit through things that make me want to take a nap.

Confidence: After my dad passed, my self-confidence was shattered. I’m not sure why that happened, but in a way, I absolutely understand it. When you base your confidence on something outside of yourself, when it disappears, your confidence goes with it. I never expected to learn that lesson so early in life, but I learned so much from it. It was painful trying to figure myself out once again, to reestablish myself, but I learned so much about who I was, and who I could be. Every bit of progress was hard-fought. There was absolute agony in the worst moments, but I’m still here, and I’m realizing that in this life, that I am not as out of my depths as I initially thought. I’m stronger than I thought I was, and let’s face it, we all are. We all need to give ourselves more credit.

My approach to problem-solving has changed dramatically. When I’m faced with something I don’t understand, I listen, I pay attention, and I do some research. More often than not, I’ve been able to figure things out, or I put my trust in others who have the necessary skillset. Rather than saying absolutely no, I’m saying, “Quite possibly, yes.” I know that doesn’t sound like the most confident response, but in my self-talks, there’s a lot less, “You’re stupid and worthless,” and a lot more, “Keep an open mind and see what happens.”

I didn’t want this to get too long, and so I’ll stop here. Meditation has been hugely beneficial, and I attribute a number of positive life changes to the practice. I’m not imploring you to pick up meditation, but I do hope you find something that brings you peace, something that helps you grow. Focus on habits that are constructive rather than destructive. Do your best to help others, to change your mindset, and see if your life changes for the better. At the very least, you may sleep better at night. It’s amazing how much that solid foundation can change everything else. Thanks for reading.


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