Many people start to meditate because they are looking for more relaxation in their lives. And meditation is a perfect tool to reach that.
How does it work and what to expect?
That meditation results in relaxation is something you can easily experience yourself. Directly after your first meditation session you will probably notice a more relaxed feeling than before the session. Although it often doesn’t stay too long at first, it’s a good indication for what is possible. Research shows that meditation gives even more relaxation than relaxation exercises (Tang Y. et al.) and is also more effective to reduce stress that relaxation exercises (Levy D. et al.)
An important misconception that people have is that relaxation is something that has to occur during the meditation session. Everybody that has some meditation experience knows that often isn’t the case and that this also isn’t a problem. People with no or minimal meditation experience often have the impression they do something wrong when they do not experience a feeling of relaxedness during their meditation and can experience the restlessness they encounter in their mind as frustrating. I also often hear that people seem to experience more thoughts and feelings in their mind after a few weeks or months of meditation, compared to their first meditation sessions. Also this doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong, it actually means that you have become better in observing of everything that is going on in your mind, that you experience the things that were already there and you didn’t notice before.
It is important to not look for relaxation during your meditation. If it occurs that is fine of course, if it doesn’t and there is a ‘storm inside your head’ that is okay as well. During meditation the only thing that counts is that you experience what is and accept it like it is. A ‘fight-meditation’ like I sometimes call it, when you are just busy getting back from distraction after distraction, maybe even is a better training of your awareness that the meditation where you only experience ‘zen’.
The more you meditate, the easier and more relaxation you will experience during your sessions. But there will always be the ones that you don’t experience a lot of ‘peace and calm’ and you are distracted a lot. Just like an athlete sometimes has a good day and sometimes an off-day, your ‘meditation ability’ can vary. In the end it isn’t important what you experience during the meditation, it’s important that you observe it. After a meditation almost everybody experiences a clear relaxation, how ‘stormy’ the meditation might have been. If you are experienced or not doesn’t matter.
So be careful with expectations about what ‘has to be or happen’ during your meditation. False expectations are in my experience the main reason why people come to the conclusion that meditation doesn’t work and quit. Give it some time and observe what happens to you more in general. Relaxation after meditation can be short and whit more practice it will become longer and occur more often in daily life as well. Learning how to meditate isn’t easy, just like learning how to ride a bicycle or car. Also there it is important you get to master the technique first before you experience the results. And do you invest time and energy so that it eventually helps you to get from A to B, without leaving the method as soon as you fall once or have problems with the clutch. To learn it almost everybody needs a certain amount of training. The same goes for meditation.
Train it and don’t judge the quality of meditation too much and you’ll see that the results emerge automatically. By learning how to distance yourself from what is happening by simply observe without judging, interpreting, wanting to stop or change anything, the things that occur in your awareness will have less and less influence on you and you can detach from it more easily. That leads to relaxation because you are not busy all the time with everything that happens in your awareness anymore.
Meditation does actually a lot more for you than just relaxation. Like a Zen teacher explained it: to use meditation just like a tool to relax, it is like using a diamond to support the uneven leg of a table’. By structurally using meditation as training of the mind and not to use it as a ‘relaxation-paracetamol’ in moments that you are stress or restless, you will also receive the many other effects like more productivity, creativity, energy and clarity of mind. Use it to the fullest I would say!
Do you want to learn quickly and effectively how to meditate? We would love to help you. Follow one of our meditation programs or follow the easy step-by-step plan in my book: Meditation, your daily mini-break (unfortunately only available in Dutch). It’s very easy and won’t take much time. Try for yourself and experience what meditation can do for you.
I hope this blog helped you get a better understanding of the what meditation is all about. Do you have a different question regarding meditation? Send it to me and who knows, it might the subject for my next blogpost!
Meditation trainer and autor of ‘Meditatie, je dagelijkse minivakantie’
More information about meditation you can find here on www.meditatie.amsterdam and our Facebook page
Do you also want to benefit from all the research and experience I gathered for many years to get to the core of meditation and translate it into contemporary, accessible and practical methods to get the best out of yourself? If you would like to work with me, apply now for one of my next activities.
Beginner or more experienced, I am happy to help you on your way towards more inner peace, balance, energy, clarity and freedom of mind, with methods that can have lifechanging effects within weeks. See you soon!
Roel Wilbers – meditation trainer and author of ‘Meditation, your daily mini holiday’