For our busy brains, trying to find peace is a funny thing. We can get so consumed with questions like “Am I meditating correctly?” and “Oh no, what if I’m doing this wrong?” and “Is this what you’re supposed to wear; don’t I need candles?” that we can completely erode the benefits we’ve worked to achieve! What are the signs of progress in meditation? Step one: relax. There is a reason that meditation is called a “practice.” This means that perfection is not required, expected, or even desired.
The point of meditation is to become aware of the present moment without judging it. And without judging ourselves. So, let go of the judgment, false expectations, and counterproductive worries. Meditation is a practice, and a process. Some days, you feel completely at peace, calm, focused, and refreshed. Other days, you can’t sit still or quiet the thoughts in your head. Know that this is all ok… it is all normal… and it is practice!
8 Signs of Progress in Meditation
There will be ups and downs – but, when you are patient and kind to yourself, you will also begin to notice these eight signs of progress in meditation.
- You feel more motivated. When you get up, you are full of energy about the possibilities of the day. Ok, realistically, sometimes you just need a cup of coffee. But after that, you are ready to make today better than yesterday.
- You are sleeping better. How many of us spend hours tossing and turning? Lack of quality sleep affects our physical and mental health, as well as our mood. Meditation is a completely natural, risk-free sleeping aid.
- You got this! When practicing meditation, we often just start to leave negativity behind naturally. Those thoughts get pushed aside as we realize that our mindset really does impact our happiness. And because meditation is all about withholding judgment, we become more used to seeing experiences as they are while maintaining a positive perspective.
- You stop comparing your practice. When you are really starting to progress, you stop tracking your progress, if that makes sense! For example, have you caught yourself thinking, “Wow, yesterday I really had a great meditation. Today, I’m all over the place!”? You may get discouraged or down on yourself. But remember: that’s judgement, and we leave our judgment at the door when we meditate. You will begin to do this more naturally, and more often!
- You are less stressed. Stress and anxiety often come because we are worried about the future or the past. While it’s a cliché to “live in the present,” it does wonders for mental health. While we need to plan and prepare for the future and learn from the past, we don’t need to live there. Meditation helps us realize this.
- You have more room in your mind. It’s so easy to become consumed with life, with worries, with anxieties, with ourselves. When we meditate, we open room in our minds for compassion. We have greater capacity to be kind and empathetic, to view and consider the perspective of others, and to leave judgment out of the equation (at least some/most of the time… again, it’s a practice!)
- Meditation isn’t something you have to do – you look forward to it. Let’s be honest: sometimes, we only hit the gym or go for a run because we have to or feel we should. Mediation can feel like that in the beginning. But as you progress, you will find yourself looking forward to this time and even need it to recharge. You will also find yourself turning to meditation often throughout the day, as you seek peace and contentment.
- You realize you don’t need a dark room and scented candles. Sure, they’re nice – and we certainly encourage you to light your favorite scents! But as you progress in your practice, you can meditate anywhere. Waiting in line, stuck in traffic, on the subway… these are once-stressful or boring situations that can become peaceful and serene.
Other signs of progress in meditation include better posture, better mood, more enjoyment of the “little” things (like a glass of Natura wine, cup of coffee, or chat with a friend), greater awareness of your actions, a stronger inclination to just listen and observe, and more capacity to handle everyday stresses.
Am I Meditating Correctly?
Are you meditating? Yes? Then you’re doing it correctly. You can take courses, buy books, watch YouTube videos… and please do, if that is your inclination. The more we learn and practice, the more refined our practice becomes – and the more clearly you will see signs of progress in meditation.
If you are a beginner to meditation, make sure that you are comfortable and in a quiet location. You should actively seek to minimize disruptions and intrusions. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes (anything from designer yoga gear to your favorite worn old sweats is fine) and find a position that allows your body to relax. Your mind will follow.
It is often helpful to do guided meditation as you are developing your practice. As you progress, you can find that state of stillness for yourself. There is no shame in having a guide at any stage of your practice.
Remember, leave judgment behind. Give yourself the gift of a few minutes of peace and quiet to observe and witness the world around you, to be fully present. You will be amazed at how effective this time is for you.