Meditation is an excellent way to find yourself, to understand who you are and what matters to you. It’s a way to connect with yourself and through a better connection to self, create better connections with others.
To make the most of it, there are two goals you should seek in meditation: to understand yourself and to appreciate yourself.
Try the following tips to achieve these goals.
Meditation to understand yourself
When you’re meditating to understand yourself, there are a few things you can do to really dive deep.
Turn off your phone and other electronic devices
When you’re meditating to understand yourself, you need to connect with yourself — and keep that connection uninterrupted. No texts, no phone calls, no emails or video chats. You don’t need your calendar reminding you of events coming up later today.
Turn off the phone, the computer, and the TV. Ideally, silence would be the best way to do this meditation to avoid all interruptions. But if that’s not possible, turn on some soft music — preferably on a stereo or through an app on your TV that doesn’t allow for anything other than the music.
Observe your thoughts
Your thoughts are not you but they can give you insight into who you are. The things you think, positive or negative, point to deeper things such as your values. However, we often believe that we are our thoughts and we tend to have an emotional attachment to those thoughts.
During meditation, take the time to observe your thoughts without judgment or attachment. Simply watch what you think the way you would watch traffic moving around you. See it, note its direction, and let it go.
Scan your body
Spend a few moments scanning your body. The very first time you do this, you may not really notice anything. But with continued practice, you’ll begin to notice where you hold tension and stress in your body. You’ll become aware of your breathing, whether you breathe into your chest or your abdomen.
You’ll learn to consciously relax your body and let go of the tightness. You’ll become more in tune with your body and when things aren’t quite right, you’ll become aware more quickly.
Evaluate your values
What’s important to you? What matters most? Family? Education? A strong work ethic? A fairy tale kind of love?
Time spent in meditation is a great time to evaluate what you value. It’s more than just identifying what you value. Take the time to ask yourself why you value those things. What about them makes them important to you? How do you rank them? Is family more important than education?
You can go over multiple values in a single session, or you can devote a session to a single value and really dive deep.
Analyze your motives
Why do you do the things you do? Why do you work? Why do you read or watch TV? Why are you in your relationship? Why did you have children?
Each and every one of your actions, from the smallest act to the largest, has a motive behind it. That motive may be simple or it may be complex. Part of understanding who you are is understanding your motives. Understanding why you do the things you do helps you to reconsider the things you do and not waste your precious time on things that don’t matter to you.
Like values, it’s important to not just identify the motive but to really analyze it. Is the motive good or bad? Your own or one someone else instilled in you? Is it an old motive that no longer applies to your life?
This one is an extension of your meditation, arising naturally out of your continued practice. As you evaluate your values, analyze your motives, get to know your thoughts and understand yourself more deeply, you’ll begin to live more mindfully.
You’ll start to instinctively evaluate situations as they’re presented to you. You’ll begin cutting things out of your life that don’t matter or take away from your happiness in life. You’ll start adding in things that you value and that contribute to your bliss.
You’ll pay more attention to conversations, activities, and even the smallest moments of life. You’ll lose interest in the past and though you’ll continue to plan for the future, you’ll find it easier to live in the moment and let the future take care of itself.
Meditation to appreciate yourself
Understanding yourself is step one, but you should go beyond merely understanding yourself and into appreciating yourself. It’s easy to feel stuck.It’s easy to think we’re not getting anywhere, not making any progress, and not as great as others we see around us. It’s important to do things that remind us we’ve done some incredible things and deserve love and appreciation.
Practice acceptance by embracing all your imperfections
You’re not perfect. I’m not perfect. No human, alive or dead, is perfect. Striving to be the best you can be is fine, but striving for perfection is a wasted effort. Accepting that you are not, and will never be, perfect is important. One of the steps to this acceptance? Embracing your imperfections.
The gap between your front teeth, your inability to pronounce the word aluminum correctly, the extra pounds you carry, or the mistake you made at work last week are all things that make you who you are. Being embarrassed about them or seeing them as problems will only limit you.
Does this mean you can’t try to better yourself — say, by wearing braces or seeing a speech therapist? Of course not! But it does mean that if you can’t afford a “fix” or you’re unable to fully resolve the situation, you shouldn’t see it as a failure. And it also means that if “fixing” it isn’t what you want, you shouldn’t let someone make you feel bad about it.
Stress wreaks havoc on the body and mind. And it doesn’t do you any good. Stress is useful in situations where you’re physically in danger — being chased by a tiger, or fighting off a home intruder — but most of our stress today comes from too much work, too many responsibilities, and a general sense of anxiety that life won’t turn out all right if we don’t stress over it.
Eliminating stress is one way to show yourself that you love and appreciate yourself. It shows that you care enough to try to ensure that your mind and body aren’t made unhealthy and unhappy by unnecessary stress.
Of course, we all know that eliminating all stress is highly unlikely. But I promise there is stress that you can get rid of. It requires being honest with yourself. It also requires being willing to let go. You might have to learn to live with a dishwasher that’s not loaded the way you’d do it, less than perfect homework from your kid, or letting someone else work on part of a project for you.
But the reward is worth it.
Recognize the progress you’ve made
We all have plans and goals. And we all tend to focus on that end result. The fruition of our plans, the accomplishment of our goals, is a satisfying thing. But when they’re long-term and take time to reach that pinnacle, it’s all too easy to feel like we’re not achieving anything. Or when we fall short, we feel like a failure.
How about, instead of seeing yourself as a failure, you instead looked at what you have done? Maybe you didn’t achieve the ultimate goal you were after, but what did you accomplish along the way? There were probably several smaller things that you completed along the path — why not be proud of them?
In fact, you don’t even have to stick to things you did while chasing your goal. You have an entire life behind you. Look through your history, sift through your memories and find all those things you’ve done that you can be proud of. Graduating high school, moving out on your own, getting married or maybe getting divorced, raising children, getting promotions — there are probably dozens, if not much more, things that you can be proud of.
Find them, recognize them, and remember them.
Express gratitude for what you have
What’s good in your life? Do you have a loving family? A good job or a thriving business? Supportive friends? A beautiful home? A solid spiritual faith? There are many good things in your life, big and small. Be grateful for them, knowing that they may not last forever and that many wish they had what you do.
Consider how to turn an apparent negative into a thing to be grateful for. You might be grateful for a breakup because it frees you up to find a man who is faithful or who wants marriage like you do. You might be grateful for a fight with a friend because now you realize the friend was never truly your friend in the first place and you’re better off without her. Perhaps you’re grateful for a less than ideal childhood because it’s shown you what kind of parent you don’t want to be.
This isn’t to say that you can never wallow in a little self-pity. We all have those moments where we feel like we have nothing, no one cares, we’re not getting anywhere, and what we really want is out of reach. But you should be focusing on what you have and your gratitude for it far more than you focus on what’s missing.
Repeat some affirmations
Being positive and grateful can be difficult sometimes. Repeating affirmations can help. You can look some up online, ask someone you trust to create some for you, or write them yourself. However you get them, your affirmations should be personal to you and match what you need.
If you’re looking to improve your confidence or self-esteem, your affirmations might be things like: I am worthy. I am loved. I am talented.
If you’re looking to improve your career performance, they might be: I have the skills and knowledge I need to succeed in my career. I am capable. I am worthy of any task set before me.
Affirmations should always be “I am” statements, spoken as if they are already true, even if you don’t actually believe them. That is what convinces you to believe them, embeds them in you, and makes you the person you want to be.
End your meditation with a resolution
A lack of direction or motivation can make it difficult to make any forward progress. If you really want to understand and appreciate yourself, try ending your meditation with a resolution of some sort.
Give yourself some kind of challenge to complete before the end of the day or week. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant challenge, like completing a triathlon or becoming president. It can be as simple as challenging yourself to eat one healthy meal today or to put down your phone and spend 20 minutes reading instead of scrolling social media. It can even be something like taking the longer, scenic route to or from work.
Challenge yourself to do something that makes a difference for you. Something that makes you feel special, relaxed, loved, healthy, organized, or any other word that you want to apply to you.
It’s not an instant process. But if you’re consistent about it, you’ll soon find that meditation has created a deeper understanding and appreciation of yourself, the things you’ve overcome, and the things you want.