Hello guys, it’s been ages since I made a post on my blog. I have been very busy with medical school, participating in volunteer works with non-governmental organizations and trying to build a personal brand outside this blog. I’m working on two books, so fortunately/unfortunately most of my attention would be diverted into writing and completing the books.
Below is a picture of mine taken at the swimming pool, no I wasn’t meditating in the pool, I just felt it fit this article well.
Once I wrote about my experience with meditation on this same blog, but I stopped just like I usually stop every other habit I tried to build that I didn’t find interesting. I later paid dearly for stopping meditation for so long. I used to experience frequent bad moods, depressing emotions, feeling unaccomplished and other bad feelings a young adult experience before I started meditating. All that ended when I started meditating but I stopped it.
There was a time (some few months back), it was so bad; I was moody, bad-tempered, overreacting, always getting bored and feeling like crap often. I even lost all hope in life, I felt life was useless and without meaning and it all made sense to me then. How I could survive it beats my imagination. My situation was even worsened by some people who tried to troll/provoke me. To them, they are just catching fun, but only I knew how crappy I felt. My life fell out of control and direction. I worried endlessly, get sad about me not having money, ruminating over past issues/mistakes/regrets. Do you get the picture?
So as usual, in my problem solving, answer seeking attitude I looked for answers online. I researched on the human emotions specifically anger, loneliness, jealousy, sadness, etc. I have always liked the author David Lieberman who is a world-renowned human behaviourist; I started reading his books, one of which really helped me was the Never get angry again, a book of his. I enjoyed his style of writing; he gave wonderful examples, science-based explanation and referenced his stated facts. It was along the way that I remembered how I used to meditate but stopped.
I researched on meditation and found some science-based explanations for meditation. A lot of scientists have studied the brains of monks who meditate as a tradition and what they found out about their brain was astonishing. There was a significant difference in the structures of their brain compared to those who don’t meditate (https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=meditation+and+brain+structure+&btnG=). The part of the researches that really got my attention was the fact that the prefrontal cortex of their brain was thicker than regular people’s brain. And guess what I discovered about the prefrontal cortex? The ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) is involved in emotional regulations, behavioural control and decision making. While the lateral prefrontal cortex is known to regulate the execution of behaviours. Now when these two structures of the brain are thicker than average, it means more activities in those regions and more connections are formed between the vmPFC and lateral PFC. This means the individual would find it easier to regulate their behaviours, control their emotional reactions to social situations and make sound decisions. This implies that the person would have a generally happy life. This is for obvious reasons; anyone that can control his emotions and behaviours would be in good terms with others and him/herself generally.
I have only meditated for 42 days non-stop, and I have already noticed changes in my inner life. Some few things I have noticed since I started meditating are:
1) I no longer take things personally. This is a very great feat for me. Normally I get offended easily and react. I lash out and criticize those who piss me off and end up being labelled the bad person. This frustrates me a lot, especially how I always get to be blamed and ignored, even when I was the provoked one trying to keep cool. It’s always a very funny situation from an onlooker, watching how I take things to heart and get affected by what people say or do, and ruminating over it. It was hell for me. Guess what fellas? I have taken nothing personally since I started meditating again. How do I know this? I deliberately put myself in situations where I normally get pissed, interacted with people who normally get me pissed. I even messaged my ex-girlfriend to see if I have truly changed. We almost always fight and get on each other’s nerve without even trying. We are like fire and gasoline. Guess what fellas? She was the only one who got pissed in our interactions and I was completely cool, this must have confused her because she got no reaction from me as usual. I even got back on a WhatsApp group where I constantly get pissed off and react angrily almost every time I chat there. The whole group was on fire when I got back there. People I have lashed at in the past fired me from every corner and removed me from the group. Although I felt bad (which means I’m still a normal human being, hopefully), I still didn’t react angrily. I didn’t feel that intense anger in my body (tensed muscle, shaky hand, adrenaline, flushed face). I was just laughing. I only felt bad for split seconds during the attacks after which I felt nothing. It’s complicated to explain how I feel now when someone attacks me. I know I can still feel hurt, but I just don’t feel hurt as I used to anymore. I’m able to look at situations logically and understand why the person is acting that way towards me. Once I see no logical reason to react, I don’t react. I even offer to help the person feel better. And if they attack me further, I simply laugh it off and let their anger die with time.
2) It’s easier for me to realize when I am wrong and openly admit it. I also noticed that during arguments with others, I’m able to realize when someone gives a sound argument against mine. Arguments are no longer a personal thing to prove who is smarter, consciously and unconsciously. It’s now a genuine opportunity to learn and challenge my own thoughts and intelligence. I have frequently admitted I was wrong and apologized whenever I realized I needed to. It’s easier for me now to objectively look at my stance against others without bias. And I no longer feel any tension in me whenever I’m in an argument, something that often happens before. I feel relaxed and my head is clear and thinking straight when in an argument even when it’s heated for the other person.
3) My memory has improved. I remember things easily now. For example, I easily forget things that I cannot make sense of. I noticed that I can recall something even when I cannot make sense of such information. Although my memory didn’t improve with a great leap, I noticed some improvements.
4) I can relate with anybody, friends or enemy without grudges. I find it easier to forgive people and not hold grudges. I no longer feel resentments for people I once used to. Since I no longer take things personally, I find it easier to relate with people I once held grudges against if I decide to. You might wonder now, does that mean I no longer have personal boundaries? Does that mean anybody is free to say or do anything to me since I won’t take it personally? That brings us to point 5.
5)I still have personal boundaries. I am aware when someone is deliberately being obnoxious and unreasonable. I do not feel angry when people are obnoxious towards me, but I still have my personal boundaries and let the person know I do not appreciate such treatment. Isn’t it funny? If I claim to be in control of how I feel, why do I care if someone is obnoxious, why do I even have personal boundaries? OK let’s look at this together. Remember I said I am now more inclined to look at situations objectively and logically without strong emotions? I noticed whenever I don’t let the person know I realized they are being obnoxious; they do it again another time. If I keep letting them continue, it will become a habit for them and others will notice this and also pick up on the same habit. Imagine a handful of people treating me with disrespect and it has become a normal thing. I wouldn’t want that to happen to me, so I bring the persons attention to it. If the person continues after the warning, I simply cut ties with the person (hoping the person realize what they did wrong and change). These are done in a calm state of mind. It’s rational to cut ties with someone who is bent on being obnoxious even after warnings.
6) I have a better self-esteem and lower ego. I noticed I now take rejection positively. I feel indifferent towards getting rejected. I don’t feel that deep sense of failure in me anymore. I take no for an answer, even easily. Whenever someone says no to my request, I feel neutral about it. Any kind of rejection (scholarly, emotional, social, romantic etc.) now feels neutral I can literarily decide not to feel bad about it. I noticed the same thing with criticism. I remember how someone criticized one of my written works; she said nothing good about it; I felt neutral and wasn’t even swayed from writing more articles.
7) I overcame some addictions of mine. There are some bad habits I used to have, which I no longer have. I would do anything just to stop them and end my fixations on them. One notable example was how I put myself in front of my addiction and effortlessly decide not to succumb to it. It was unbelievable, considering how I was controlled by it for years. It’s something personal so I won’t specify my previous addictions here.
How my meditation is affecting people I relate with.
I also noticed some things about other people I relate with since I started meditating.
1) People are expecting me to have a different personality. No, I still have the same personality. I’m still who I am, the only thing that changed is that I now have my emotions under control. I am still the same curious, argumentative, complex thinking, doubting Thomas, answer seeking, knowledge seeking kind of person. Nothing about me changed except the aspect of being in control of my emotions. I have always wanted to be in control of my emotions because I realized the amount of damages I do to myself and others due to lack of emotional control.
2) Some people who are used to provoking me are now getting provoked. Those people who are used to getting me annoyed are the ones getting annoyed by my non-reaction. They feel frustrated that all their time-tested methods of provoking me are no longer working. One even called me out on it that I’m just pretending, that I have no control of my emotions. He keeps trying different ways to get me angry, but so far, he has been the one getting angry. It has come to my realization that some people need to make others feel bad about themselves before they can feel good. My kind of person would be the worst nightmare for them.
Where things get scary for me:
What if I’m gradually losing the ability to feel emotions? You know this reminds me of alexithymia which is an inability to experience and describe emotions in oneself. This leads to an inability to connect with others on an emotional level. As unlikely as this is, it’s a possibility. But when I think about it, I realize I’m still able to experience normal human emotions like anger, it’s just for a very short amount of time. I’m able to switch off the anger emotions anytime I felt the need to. It would have been a different case if the anger wasn’t even there at all to start with.
I guess I would drop my pen here.