Do you meditate? While my meditation practice started only a few years ago, the lessons I’ve learned from meditation are ones that resonate for an entire lifetime. In this post, I list my ten most beautiful life lessons learned from meditation.
About three years ago, I meditated for the first time.
If you aren’t familiar with meditation, you probably have some preconceived ideas about what meditation is and how it works. I know I did. I thought that meditation was only for really exceptional people—people who knew how to turn off their thoughts and had this special superpower to transform their minds into perfectly blank slates. That sounded impossible, so I never really gave any serious thought to trying to meditate.
But a few years ago, I started noticing people talk more and more about meditation and all of its benefits, so I decided to give it a shot. I downloaded a meditation app and tried a few of the beginner meditations. For a while, I meditated off and on, sometimes meditating every day for weeks while other times not meditating at all for months. Finally, though, I decided to carve out dedicated time to meditating every day. I knew it’d be a positive thing, and I told myself it didn’t have to be a big ordeal. Just ten minutes a day was all I had to do.
Well, after “just ten minutes a day,” meditation has given me more than I ever could’ve possibly dreamed. I was going to type that my life has completely transformed since I started meditating, but I realized that would be wrong. From the outside, my daily life hasn’t actually changed all that much. I still do a lot of the same things: I work, I write, I run, I read, I eat cookies and binge watch shows on Hulu with my boyfriend in the evenings. In some ways, my life hasn’t changed at all, and in other ways, everything is different now: the way I see myself, the way I see the world, my relationships, my goals, my dreams.
While I’ve only been meditating for a couple years now, the lessons I’ve learned in this short time will stick with me forever. Below, I list my ten greatest life lessons from meditation.
Lesson #1: I’ve learned how to accept and receive love.
This has been the lesson that’s taken me the longest to learn, and it’s something I have to work on every single day. I’ve always been a perfectionist, and I don’t say that with pride. For my entire life, perfectionism has smothered and suffocated me. It’s kept me from going after my dreams for fear of failing. It’s kept me afraid and small. And it’s this perfectionism that’s kept me from really accepting love from others.
I thought the only way I could be loved was if I looked and acted perfectly. I thought that failure and making mistakes gave people an excuse to no longer love me. These deeply ingrained beliefs held me captive for almost my entire life. But as I started to meditate, I found myself challenging these beliefs for the first time.
I wish I could say I just woke up one day and decided to let myself be loved, but the truth is, it’s been really hard. It’s hard to let go of something you’ve believed about yourself your entire life. When I first started on this journey to self love, I’d spend entire days with my chest feeling hot and tight and heavy from anxiety. I found my brain going back to its old bullying tactics over and over again.
The real transformation came when I stopped fighting it. I let myself feel the anxiety; I allowed the bully to speak.
And then I would gently set my hands out in front of me with my palms facing the sky, and I’d quietly say, “I accept love. I receive love.” Dozens of times a day, over and over again, the bully came out, and I’d just keep telling myself that I accept love. I receive love. I am loved.
The bully still exists, but she’s much quieter now, and when does she come out, she no longer has any control over me.
Lesson #2: I’ve learned to recognize when my inner critic is trying to protect me—and to gently let her go.
Like a lot of people, I’m my own worst critic. Historically, whenever I have a positive thought about myself, my brain follows it up with at least five negative ones:
Yeah, you did that one smart thing, but just don’t forget that you’re fearful and awkward in social situations and that you’re not good at reaching out to people and you should probably volunteer more and you have no self control around chocolate and don’t get me started on your nose.
It makes me cringe when I think about how badly I’ve bullied myself throughout my life, but I’m not going to suppress that inner critic or pretend she doesn’t exist. I’ve seen her and met her in the darkest places inside of me, and after sitting with her for a while, I learned that she’s trying to protect me. And once I learned how to accept and receive love, that critic became a smaller and smaller voice. She still comes up a lot in my daily life, but I’ve learned to recognize when she shows up. Instead of feeling bad about myself, I very gently and kindly tell her that her service isn’t needed, and I allow myself to let her go.
Lesson #3: I’ve learned that happiness comes from within.
I’ve heard this my entire life, but I’ve never really felt it until recently. Have you seen the graphic where one person goes up to another and asks where he got his happiness, and the second person says he made it himself? It’s taken me a long time, but I finally get it.
The best way I can illustrate what I’ve learned is this: My whole life, I’ve wanted to be a writer. I daydream about the day I’m signed to a publishing deal. I imagine what it’ll be like to hold my first hardcover novel in my hands. I imagine that I’ll be so happy. It’ll be the best day of my life, right? But do I really have to wait until that moment to start to feel happy? And when that day comes, do I want to rely on that single moment to sustain my happiness for the rest of my life? What if I could just be really, really happy today? And tomorrow? And all the days after that?
I’m not going to pretend I’m the human equivalent of a cup of rainbow sprinkles, but I believe my life is as good or as bad as I choose to see it. I can be happy now. It’s my choice. My life isn’t a sum of all the things that happen to me that I think I have no control over. My life is a sum of the way I choose to see it. And I choose joy.
Lesson #4: I’ve learned the power of gratitude.
This is the real secret of my joy. After hearing my teachers speak of gratitude in the app I use for guided meditations, I became more aware of acknowledging all the positive things in my life. It started with a conscious effort to write down a few things I’m grateful for every single morning. Then I added a practice where I thought about the three things I was grateful for that day before I went to sleep every night. When I went out on a run, I tried to consciously find things to appreciate: my legs, my lungs, my heart, the trees, the person who smiled and waved on the other side of the street, the sunshine, the guy who lifted his fist up in the air through his car’s sunroof to cheer me on.
When things are going badly, it can sometimes be really hard to find things to be thankful for. In these moments, if all I can be grateful for is the air in my lungs, that’s okay. But those days don’t happen very often anymore, as it seems as though the more grateful I feel, the more positive things show up in my life to feel grateful for.
Lesson #5: I’ve learned how to slow down.
This is another one that’s taken me a long time to learn. I’m a fast mover. You may not see it because I’m a pretty quiet and gentle person, but I’ve always had kind of a difficult relationship with time. I despise being late, so I’m always in a rush to get out the door to get to my destination early. When I’m hiking or running, I’m always trying to move faster. To go quicker. The destination has always been more important than the journey.
One of the best things that’s ever happened to me was my mountain bike crash that sent me to the ER on the very first day of a trip to Moab, Utah last October. I couldn’t ride a bike the rest of the trip, and it took me several weeks before I could even walk at a somewhat normal pace. All of our plans for the trip had to be adjusted. Instead of long and arduous hikes, I could only go on very leisurely strolls and scenic drives. And you know what?
It was okay.
Better than okay, actually.
It was incredible.
At a slower pace, I really opened my eyes and looked out at the world, and I reveled in the beauty that surrounded me. I realized that if I’d been moving at my normal pace, I would’ve missed all of these wondrous sights. I started to lose sight of this lesson over the holidays, but meditation has brought it back to me. Now, sometimes when I’m out running, I’ll purposely find moments to stop and just walk for a few minutes and soak up the beauty of the moment.
Lesson #6: I’ve learned that contrast is beautiful.
In theory, I would’ve loved to go my whole life never injuring myself on a mountain bike and having to go to the ER on the first day of vacation. But now in hindsight, I’m kind of glad it happened.
Experiencing several weeks where my body was limited and in pain helped me to appreciate my healthy body even more.
Overdrafting my bank account during (and after) college makes me more grateful for any money I do have now.
Having bad bosses has really made me appreciate the good ones.
Losing friendships makes me cherish my forever friends even more.
And experiencing rejection has made success even sweeter.
As meditation has helped me to shift my default perspective to one of gratitude, I’ve become more and more appreciative of all the times things haven’t worked out the way I planned.
Lesson #7: I’ve learned that affirmations are powerful.
I’ve known about affirmations for a long time, but it wasn’t until they started showing up in my guided meditations that I really began to embrace them. I’m not sure if I can really articulate just how much affirmations mean to me and how much they’ve helped me. Like my journey with gratitude, they started out as something I had to stop and consciously think about. Somewhere along the way, though, they became a part of me. They became real. Now, instead of my mind wandering to negative thoughts, I have this constant soundtrack of positive affirmations echoing through the back of my mind. I’ve become and embraced the very things I’m affirming.
I am worthy. I am powerful. I am abundant. I am loved. I am beautiful. I am joyful. I am exactly where I need to be. All is really well.
(If you’d like to add some inspiration to your day, check out my free ebook, 400 Powerful Affirmations Designed to Uplift, Inspire, and Empower Your Highest Self. I’m also always adding new affirmation tools to my Resources page!)
Lesson #8: I’ve learned that I am worthy and deserving of my dreams.
This has really come from a combination of affirmations, self-compassion, gratitude, and love—the whole toolkit. The words “worthy” and “deserve” have been roadblocks in my journey that I’ve really had to spend a lot of time with to discover why I’ve had so much trouble with them. Saying that I’m worthy of something or that I deserve something has always sounded so wrong. I should be humble, right? I shouldn’t just go around saying I deserve something. Nobody does that!
But as I’ve slowly and gently removed some of these protective layers, I’ve learned that saying I deserve or that I’m worthy of something has nothing to do with not being humble. To help me find peace with these words, I started to picture people I love. Do I believe my best friend is worthy and deserving of her dreams? Unequivocally yes! Are my nieces and nephews worthy? Do they deserve immense joy? Heck yes. What about my parents? My siblings? My boyfriend? Yes, yes, and yes. So if all of these people are worthy and deserving, what makes me the exception? I’m not. I am just as deserving as I believe everyone else to be.
Lesson #9: I’ve learned that someone else’s success doesn’t take away from my own.
I hesitated including this because it reveals one of the uglier things that’s lived inside me. For years, I had a hard time coming to terms with the success of others in the writing community because I felt like they were all getting the thing I dreamed about most. A voice in my head told me I wasn’t good enough, and over many years, I let that voice get louder and louder. I steered clear of the writing community because I didn’t want to watch everyone else succeed when I felt like a failure.
Deep down, this had nothing to do with anyone else and everything to do with my own insecurities and self-doubt.
Again, I’m grateful for the contrast now, because I’ve learned that it feels a lot better to be happy for people and cheer them on. If you’ve ever experienced similar negative feelings regarding other people’s success, I can say this with absolute certainty: Nobody else’s success can ever take away from your own. Just because someone else is abundant and thriving doesn’t mean there’s less for you. There is room and space for all of us, and there is an infinite amount of success, happiness, love, creativity, kindness, generosity, and abundance out there. I promise.
Lesson #10: I’ve learned how to have self-compassion.
I haven’t had a whole lot of self-compassion throughout my life. And even as I started learning all these different lessons through meditation, I’ve still struggled with self-compassion. Because everything I just listed? I’m not perfect at it all. I’ve had ugly moments. I’ve had moments where I still try to move too fast. I’ve felt crippling anxiety. And to make things worse, I’ve then reprimanded myself for allowing negativity to seep into my life:
You’re not supposed to be sad right now! Remember, happiness comes from within. You know all the “right” things you’re supposed to do. You have the tools to be happy. What’s wrong with you?
It’s taken a lot of time and work to learn to have compassion for myself in these down moments. I’ve had to remind myself that I don’t have to be “on” all the time to be loved. I don’t have to accomplish anything to be loved. Even if I never do anything in my life except walk and sit and breathe and think, I get to be loved and love myself every single day.
Has meditation helped you to uncover any deep inner fears or stories you’ve told yourself? What life lessons from meditation have you learned? Leave a note in the comments below to share your experience!
Interested in Learning More About Meditation?
- 10 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Meditation.
- 7 Types of Meditation Practices for Beginners
- What is Mindfulness? Plus 15 Powerful Quotes
- 10 Ways to Cultivate Mindfulness Today
Awesome Meditation Apps
Hi, I’m Zanna! I’m a blogger/freelance writer living in Boise, Idaho. My mission is to help you break through the barriers holding you back from accessing infinite abundance and to inspire you to gather the courage and confidence to follow your dreams.