“When will I see the effects of meditation working?”
This is the question we would all love the answer to and, unfortunately, there is no way of knowing. Meditation is not like a prescription — 30 minutes of meditating does not equate to a full day of peace. Meditation is a method of bringing ourselves to a place of attention in which we are more receptive and responsive to the world around us. There are four stages that we go through in our development with a meditative practice.
We start off in the dark; unaware that we are unaware. There is nothing inherently troublesome at this point because we are so disconnected from ourselves. The problem is that the more we act unconsciously the more susceptible we are to living inauthentically and by the command of the environment around us. The second stage occurs when we become aware that we are unaware. Freedom comes from awareness. When you are sitting in meditation, watching the mind dart from thought to thought, anxious by the fact that you can’t sit still, this is the awareness that you need to take the leap forward. This discomfort is a positive thing.
As you bring your awareness and attention back (to the breath for example), the awareness you culminate will grow. It will extend outward to all areas of your life. You will make better choices, surround yourself with better people and find life to flow more seamlessly. This stage of being aware of your awareness is what we should strive for. This is the third stage. But with practice, patience and maybe even a bit of luck, the final step is being fully aware without effort – and allowing awareness to be our natural state.
So how do you know when meditation is working, ask yourself, “How do I feel? Can I feel?” “Am I living in a way that feels authentic?” “Does my life seem to be unfolding in a way in which I shape?” “Do the people around me lift me up?” These are just a few of the questions that will let you know when the practice is working.