How can we measure the benefits that we gain from meditation?
Over the years, we have invented various metrics/indicators to measure things with actual numbers. From medical equipment to any meter or gauge of physical units to express physical conditions. From work performance KPIs to fitness pointers for evaluating our progress and development.
But, is it possible to know if mindfulness practice actually improves mental wellbeing?
Before answering, there are two key challenges here;
It can be difficult to measure the impact that meditation has on our wellbeing due to the fact that the meditation changes the way that we perceive our experience. During and after meditation, the brain actually changes. Mood, sentiments, and mentality also change.
Meditation benefits are qualitative rather than quantitative, so there are no units to measure them by. There is also the added complication that these qualitative benefits are affected by so many other factors.
Meditation can lead to many benefits, such as;
And the list goes on.
Unlike the units we use for physical expressions, like speed or force, we cannot measure the above qualities in specific metrics.
And even if we could measure these targets with quality variables, (e.g., I meditate for two months and already feel less stressed), our lives are busy, and things get mixed up all the time.
No human being is only a meditator. People, in general, are awesome, and history has proven that we are boundless. It seems that we are limited only to our imagination and capabilities.
There are so many factors that affect us. We cannot know for sure if meditation is solely the reason for our overall wellness and development.
So, is it possible to know if -and to what level- our meditation practice is beneficial for us?
Yes. All it takes is understanding these five pillars;
- Meditation as a practice
- Direct meditation attributes
- Indirect meditation attributes
- I and the Outer Universe
- I and the Inner Universe
Learn more about mindfulness and meditation using Medito, the 100% free meditation app.
1. Meditation as a practice
Maybe practice won't make perfection, but continually meditating can help to bring the best out of you.
- Time. You stop thinking of how much time is left, or time feels like it’s passing a lot quicker than before. Over time you can practice longer, with no feelings of uneasiness or boredom.
- Thoughts. As mentioned frequently during the Medito beginner guided course, it is ok to get carried away by your thoughts. The more you meditate, the less these thoughts will derail your routine. Also, you stop judging them with less effort.
- Comfort. As you get used to your posture, you can add minutes to your routine. Also,you start to adapt to all the internal and external disruptions, meaning that you can practice almost anywhere and at any time. This is key for me.
- Unique experiences. By nature, meditating is a personal experience, and you will encounter unique states of mind at some point. They might seem odd at first, but embrace them with both your mind and heart open, as they are part of your journey.
2. Direct meditation attributes
The common, well-known ones that most people know are:
- Posture. Over time you will find yourself adjusting your position automatically, and you will be able to immediately feel any discomfort.
- Calm, quality breathing.
- Your body clock will tell you when it is time for meditation.
- Regardless of the meditation routine you will choose, it will be a high priority to your day. No matter your social preferences, this time alone will be of high value.
3. Indirect meditation attributes
As we are a complex system, here are some additional benefits.
- Being in the present moment. You will find yourself focused on what's happening at the present moment, with no analysis of the past or predictions for the future.
- Choices. Being in the now, with a clear mind, you will start thinking in and out of the box. innovative thinking will frequently occur, and with less effort.
- Your actions are yours. More or less, all we have are our thoughts and choices. So, you will feel total ownership of the NOW, meaning you will be the captain of your ship.
- Feelings of calmness and accomplishment.
- Inner and outer strength. Your breathing pattern will improve.
- You will sleep better and you will fell well rested.
- Increased pain threshold.
- Reduced blood pressure.
- Reduced stress. As your stress levels will drop, all your functions will work in the optimal mode.
- Creativity, memory, and metabolism will flourish.
- Your binges on alcohol, tobacco, and sugar will not be as aggressive.
- Some studies even suggest that your ageing process will slow down.
- The mentality of a free man. You will start worrying less about things you can't control, and at the same time focus on what is your responsibility for achieving maximum results.
4. I and the Outer Universe
Some signs you will notice are related to the world around you.
- Compliments. You will receive positive comments from people about your change.
- Details. Some things that were right in front of you will become obvious and clear. Some of these will not be positive or pleasant. As mentioned above, if you can't control these details, you will not worry a lot. If you can apply some changes, you will decide how to proceed with a clear mind and heart.
- "It was never about you". The more you reach your inner centre, the less egotistical and selfish you will be. You will develop your emotional intelligence in various dimensions and feel compassion for others' needs, fears, and problems.
- Fear-free. Your heart won't disappoint you on your tough decisions. Like thoughts during meditation, your worries will not derail your critical thinking. And even your mistakes will look like an opportunity to grow and learn, not a punishment.
- ”The Rockstar in the room”. Confidence has nothing to do with others' approval. And the more you meditate, you will realize the value you and others possess. That means you will treat everyone in the room with respect, including yourself. There is a golden ratio between valuing others and being independent.
5. I and the Inner Universe
The shortest, but most important list. With this one, you can generate any of the previous four.
Spontaneous, free-thinking about;
- Resolution of problems
- Realization of problems
- Helping others
- Improve current situations
Never forget that mindfulness is a gift to yourself. It can be practiced anywhere, requires zero equipment, and also, with zero cost. It is a practice that you devote to yourself, and what matters the most is that you deserve it.
Learn about meditation and mindfulness and build a lasting habit using Medito, the 100% free, nonprofit and open source meditation app.