The Unexpected Benefits of Meditation

When people first become interested in mindfulness practice or meditation, it’s usually for stress relief or relaxation. The problem with this is that after the immediate reason for practice is alleviated, the motivation to practice wanes, until the next bout of stress, depression, anxiety or insomnia. The real benefits usually occur with some kind of regular practice. Even the most minimal and half-hearted attempts at regular practice yield benefits (ask me how I know!!!).

For this reason, I try to share information (kind of like a broken record) on all of the benefits of meditation documented by science with my clients and students.

Recently, I’ve started to notice some extraordinary effects in my own life, and thought perhaps it would also be helpful to others if I start to share what I am experiencing. I think it helps provide additional motivations to practice, and hearing about other’s experiences also makes reasons for practice seem more real. I can’t say for sure meditation is solely responsible for all of the change I see in myself, but I sure can say meditation and mindfulness practice has been a major and crucial part of it.

What I have noticed recently, and in a really big way this week, is what seems like a new response to life that is more calm, balanced, and unable to overreact to anything that is going on. In case you’re wondering, the things I am suddenly unable to panic or get excited about this week are: the only car in our single car family is suddenly unsafe to drive on the highway with no real funds or time to purchase another, and requires new tires just to be allowed to creep to work and back on side streets for the two weeks left of its life; mortgage broker trying to pressure us into refinance and appraisal of a house in need of repairs; unfinished, unanticipated, unavoidable paperwork that drags my rate of pay down to near minimum wage, husband’s job load and stress continues to grow, the paint I purchase for touching up the living room walls is actually the color of the family room and I don’t discover it before I begin painting; and one of my trips to the paint store finds me there without my purse. Add to this a new business startup that I never seem to have time to devote to, and the nagging pressure on my throat that is somewhat like being mildly choked all day long and caused by I don’t know what.

For the former version of myself, even half of this would be quite enough to send me under the covers into a quivering ball of tears. Just ask my spouse.

For some reason, this week it’s been quite easy to witness the internal movement that starts to try to get bent about what’s happening, and then just dies mid-stream. Then, there’s this new movement that seems to takes over without any real effort on my part that just meets whatever is in front of me without taking it personally, unable to make it a problem, neither latching on to it nor pushing it away. It’s like I can’t get it up to be upset about anything.

I couldn’t be more shocked that I find myself in this place. I’ve wanted it, wished and hoped for it, and then completely gave up on ever knowing it, and suddenly, here it is. It’s nearly impossible to describe, but here’s my stab at it:

You know that “waiting for the weekend” feeling? I’ve become very intimate with it over the last few years. And it seems completely meaningless right now. It’s like it’s all weekend now, or all workweek, but it doesn’t matter which. I think this might be the freedom all the spiritual teachers talk about. Just FYI, it’s nothing like what you imagine AND it’s better than anything you can imagine.



About Cynthia M Clingan

Cynthia Clingan is a licensed professional clinical counselor in Columbus, Ohio who offers somatic psychotherapy, spiritual coaching, and meditation and mindfulness instruction.
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