by Kristin Andrews
The Unlikely Yogi: Meditation's Reaching Effects Print E-mail
At one point in my life I was stuck in a dark depression for close to a year. Though I was the only person who could free myself from it, I was too numb and empty to even try. Anyone who has ever suffered from depression, knows exactly what I’m talking about and may have found themselves in the same place at times. Adhering to my own narrow misconception about depression, I thought I was the only one suffering. However, my entire family and close friends had to suffer from my depression as well. I know that when I’m in a happy and healthy place I’m generous with my love, fun to be around, forgiving, and my actions and behaviors are positive. On my ‘dark days’ I’m completely useless to the people that are close to me, and it becomes very obvious to them that I am not myself. On the yogic path I am beginning to explore, my meditation practice is a beautiful but constant struggle. However, I can honestly say that in the little time I’ve been practicing, I feel more grounded and content than I have in a very long time. And this has broader, sweeping effects on my relationships and everyone close to me.
As a full-time student and part-time server, like so many others, I lead a busy and sometimes hectic life. I often become consumed and overwhelmed with school and the stresses of working in the service industry. In fact, working with what is sometimes a rude and demanding public has proven to be a constant mental challenge for me. I have found through meditation, however, that taking the time to clear my mind and quiet my thoughts has done wonders for my overall mental and emotional health. The most surprising change is my level of compassion, which I must admit, does not come naturally to me. But finding the space to cultivate compassion rather than allowing anger and impatience to pervade is slowly becoming a part of my new existence as an “unlikely” yogi.
In a recent article, blogger Timothy Eden discusses the question of whether meditation is self-indulgent. He refers to meditation as “spiritual housekeeping.” This brought to mind an important question for me: Would I consider taking a daily shower, exercising or eating healthy self-indulgent? Meditation is merely the cleansing of one’s thoughts and mind. Only in North America would we dissect something so simple and common that brings us pleasure and is incredibly beneficial to our overall health. Maybe the benefits of meditation are self-serving, and some would say that sitting quietly does nothing to help humanity, but as witness to my own transformation through meditation, I can attest to the potential it has to affect, not only me, but everyone in my life. This makes me wonder what the world would be like if every single person were able to practice meditation. It seems only natural that this would create a shift in perspective that could reach toward the greater good.
In what ways has mediation changed your behavior or your life for the better?