Earlier this year, when I was about to turn 30, I had been grappling with a severe existential crisis for 2 years. The impact of turning 30 resulted in overwhelming, self-defeating thoughts.
This is when I went on a 10- day silent meditation retreat. It was my second Vipassana retreat though the first time happened 8 years ago.
After continuing the practice for over 3 months, the biggest realization I have this time is that meditation is not a magic pill to get peace or solve your issues.
I noticed a few common things that happen as a result of daily meditation.
1. Things get worse in the beginning
Things often feel worse when you start meditating regularly. This is because you get hyper-aware of the mental chatter, chaos, and confusion in your head suddenly.
But this does not mean you are meditating in the wrong way.
Some people assume that the purpose of meditation is the cessation of all thoughts. While that might happen in advanced stages, in the beginning, the purpose is to become a detached observer of those thoughts.
You turn your attention to the flowing stream of thoughts in your head.
You get aware and witness them from a non-judgment perspective. They are like clouds passing through the sky of your mind. When you refuse to engage with them and choose to simply be aware and let them go, they go away.
But it is not easy of course.
Of course, when you meditate 100 hours in 10 days, you’d feel light and clear-headed.
But it won’t last unless you continue the practice.
That is why one needs to persist with the practice. Vipassana tradition recommends a daily practice for 2 hours.
2. Your sessions will become boring
As you get more aware and present, the anxiety, chaos, and confusion begin to go down.
Your ability to deal with uncertainty gets better. The initial overwhelm and chaos you observe pass through your awareness and once you let go of it, you feel at ease.
Some days are tough, some are easy.
Eventually, it might get to a stage where you can also feel the meditation sessions getting boring.
This is a crucial stage as this is the place where one needs to continue the practice.
I am guilty of this stage recently when my frequency of practice has gone down. But you need to continue with the practice especially when it gets boring.
It is similar to when you hit a plateau when trying to lose weight. You must keep going.
That’s how breakthroughs happen.
3. Channelize the clarity into creativity
Another pitfall I experienced is if a clear mind is left on its own, it tends to wander and can fall into negative patterns.
The clarity that emerges from your meditation is best used for any creative endeavor.
When I had first gone to Vipassana at the age of 22, it resulted in writing as a form of creative expression. I wanted to share my experience with the world and eventually, it led me to create my first blog. Over time, I switched from my first job as a sales engineer to a writer and marketer.
This time when I went for the second time, it resulted in enrolling in an acting course as a form of creative expression. I had always wanted to learn to act as a kid but never got the courage. The clarity and courage I experienced as a result of those 10 days took me on a beautiful 3-month journey of learning method acting.
4. Comfort with uncertainty
Another common pattern I noticed post-regular meditation is comfort with uncertainty.
When you unlock your creative potential, it comes with uncertainty. It needs courage. And the natural tendency is to lean into those urges of creativity despite the uncertainty.
Going through uncertain territories is the key to unlocking hidden potential in you.
It can lead you to different paths which can lead to deep fulfillment even though you might not know what it would look or feel like.