I think we can understand intellectually that small changes done over time can yield big results. However, when you are in the midst of those small changes it can be hard to really understand that things are in fact changing. Imagine a huge project that is being worked on by many people, such as the great pyramids in Egypt. Putting aside the debate about whether those who physically built the pyramids were slaves or not, it took a lot of people a long time to build an ancient pyramid. It's speculated that it took 100,000 people 20 years to build Khufu's Great Pyramid. If you are one of those 100,000 people, your view of the pyramid at any time is limited to the little part you are working on. On any given day, the progress you can see in your little part is so small compared to what is still left to be done. You may not be able to imagine how the small parts you are working on are contributing to the construction of something so grand. And yet, day by day, week after week, year upon year, eventually the work adds up and an amazing pyramid has been completed.
Meditation can feel like this. In the beginning, changes in joy and stress relief can be pretty noticeable. I have a client who noticed right away positive changes in skin inflammation that she has struggled with for a long time. Over time, however, those things level off or you get used to them, and you might feel like you aren't really making progress anymore. However, always remember that each time you engage in meditation you are shifting energy and doing yourself a huge service mentally/emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
This was illustrated to me last weekend. My family and I went to a hotel that has a great big water park inside. We were there the whole weekend and never had a need to leave the resort, and when we were loading up the car to leave we saw we had a flat tire! I got out my phone to see where the nearest tire repair store was and saw that I had just received a text from our pet sitter who sent a picture of a hole our dog had chewed in our new rug and said that she (the dog) seemed pretty sick.
Each of those events was stressful, and in a perfect world if I had to deal with them at all they could have at least had their own moments so I could focus on them one at a time. That's not how it happened; they arrived in the same moment. I had to do the best I could to address them both concurrently.
Everything worked out in the end, as it does if you give anything the appropriate length of time to get worked through. My husband was able to get the spare tire on for us, we found a Firestone near by, and I was able to advise the pet sitter in the meantime.
What struck me later about the series of events was that even though they carried stress with them, it was handled peacefully. My husband is very good in pressure situations, so that helps. But I know that before having a steady meditation practice my knee-jerk response to having two stressful situations in front of me at the same time would be to get frustrated and snap at those around me. That's not a way I enjoy acting, and it's of course not fair to those around me because they aren't any more responsible for the circumstances we find ourselves in than I am, but it's just how I process things when I'm not the best version of myself. Before meditation I didn't have that space between something happening and my reaction.
Through situations such as these that crop up as we move through life, those little changes that happen bit by bit as we commit day after day to meditation shine through. It's unfortunate in a way that sometimes it takes those times we'd rather not have to deal with to spotlight those changes within, but then again they will come whether we are prepared for them or not so we might as well keep strengthening our armor through meditation!
I am an Ananda® certified meditation teacher. I am passionate about meditation and embrace a yogic lifestyle for greater wellness physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
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