3 Lessons I Learned from 5,000 Hours of Meditation

Apr 28, 2024

Read time: 5 minutes

Uncover the power of meditation to navigate life's challenges with greater ease and clarity

Meditation isn't just for monks in the mountains.

From Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to elite athletes, everyone is discovering meditation’s benefits. It’s a tool for anyone, anywhere, especially in the hectic rush of city life.

But why is this tool becoming so popular?

Because science has confirmed what the ancients knew. Meditation works. It reduces stress. Sharpens focus. Helps you develop the mental clarity and emotional intelligence vital for personal growth.

I had doubts too before I started in 2017. "I'm bad at this." "I can't sit still." "I don't have time." But I soon realised those were just excuses. Meditation isn't about perfection. It's about putting in the reps – even if you don’t feel like it.

Why? Because the benefits are profound.

Starting each day with meditation has been the best decision I've ever made. I'm more resilient, patient, kind and present. My relationships have deepened. I'm less stressed, sleep better, and have more stable emotions.

In this article, I'll share 3 key lessons from my 5,000+ hours of meditation to help you start or improve your own transformative practice.

Lesson 1: You don’t have time. You make time.

Finding time for meditation seems impossible.

But maybe you decide to give it a shot. You set a lofty goal: 20 minutes every morning. You sit down, close your eyes, and your mind starts wandering. To your to-do list. To that awkward conversation. To lunch plans.

Before you know it, your 20 minutes are up and you feel more frustrated than relaxed. The next day, you hit snooze. No time for meditation. A few skipped sessions later, you're convinced: meditation isn't for you.

But it's not you. It's your approach. Trying to go from zero to 100 with a new habit is like running a marathon without training. Unless you’re David Goggins, you won’t finish the race.

The secret? Start small. Laughably small. We're talking two minutes a day. Surely you can carve out 120 seconds for a little mental maintenance. Stick with that tiny habit until it feels automatic. Then slowly ramp up.

When I started, five minutes felt like forever. My mind wandered constantly. But I kept showing up and I began to notice shifts in my thinking. Instead of getting caught up in frustration, I paused to ask, "Is this worth getting upset over?" I started catching myself before reacting impulsively.

Gradually, those few minutes began to reshape my mindset. I approached challenges with more clarity and less stress.

Meditation didn't make life's problems disappear. But it empowered me to face them with greater patience and resilience.

And then I gradually increased the time.

Two minutes become five. Five becomes ten. But only when you're ready. The goal is to make meditation a part of your routine.

Master the habit first. Worry about length later. Consistency beats intermittent perfection.

Lesson 2: Anchor meditation to an existing habit

Deciding to meditate is one thing; doing it consistently is another.

Many fail because they lack a clever strategy. That's where James Clear's "habit stacking method" comes in. He breaks habit formation down into three simple steps:

  1. Define your habit. Be specific. "I will meditate for 5 minutes each morning." Start small. If 5 minutes feels daunting, make it 2. The goal is to make it easy.
  2. Anchor it to an existing routine. This is the secret sauce. Attach your meditation to something you already do religiously. For example, "After I shower, I will meditate for 5 minutes." This leverages established neural pathways, making your new practice feel more automatic.
  3. Embrace a new identity. Lasting change comes from a shift in identity. See yourself as a calm or mindful person. Every time you meditate, you reinforce this identity. "I'm a calm person who meditates daily."

In practice:

  • "After I turn off my alarm, I will meditate for 3 minutes, because I am a person who prioritises intentional living."
  • "After I shower, I will meditate for 5 minutes, to become a mindful person."
  • "Before I sleep, I will do a 5-minute body scan, because I prioritise restful sleep."

Notice the pattern? A specific action, anchored to a consistent cue, tied to a larger identity.

So grab a pen and fill in the blanks for yourself. What tiny meditation habit will you commit to? What existing routine will you attach it to? And who will you become in the process?

Change doesn't happen overnight. Trust the process. Stay consistent. Watch as your actions reshape your sense of self.

These questions are your roadmap to lasting change. Take that first small step, and keep stepping.

Lesson 3: You are not your mind

Meditation seems simple. Focus on your breath, a mantra, or an object. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back. Rinse and repeat. Easy, right?

But if you've tried meditating, you know it's not that straightforward. The mind seems to have a will of its own, constantly pulling your attention away to random thoughts, worries, and distractions.

Meditation is simple but not easy.

Your mind will wander—it’s natural.

It's like reading a book and realising you've no idea what you just read. Eyes on the page, mind elsewhere.

This is where most people quit. They think they're failing. But a busy mind is exactly why we meditate.

By experiencing the challenge of controlling or quietening the mind, we get clear proof that we are separate from the mind and its contents. And this is an essential concept in meditation. We are not the mind or its contents. We are the constant principle. The unchanging perceiver and observer of the ever-changing mind.

When you identify with thoughts or feelings, you're tossed by every worry, desire, or emotion. Like a tiny boat in a storm, pushed around by the waves — it’ll be very difficult to be at peace.

But, if you understand that you—the self—are not your mind or its contents, then you can be an unaffected observer of the mind’s contents including its demands, desires and so on. And in this way, you will not be swept away by the mind’s strong currents. It’s like watching waves from steady ground.

Easier said than done, of course. Training your mind to focus is hard, but every time you bring your wandering attention back, you're getting stronger.

This "super-awareness" you're building in meditation will start to flow into the rest of your life, helping you stay centred and clear-headed even in chaos.

With consistent practice, you'll find this clarity and self-mastery naturally showing up in your day-to-day life, even in challenging times.

Putting it all together

Meditation is a practical tool for training your mind. Just like physical exercise strengthens your body, meditation strengthens your attention, awareness, and ability to manage your thoughts and emotions.

But meditation is less about what you do and more about who you become. It's a gradual process of self-discovery that requires patience, consistency, and a willingness to show up even when it's hard. By making time for this practice and learning to observe your thoughts without getting caught up in them, you'll start to experience profound shifts — greater clarity in chaos, deeper compassion for others, and a steadier sense of peace in daily life.

The best way to understand the benefits is to experience them yourself. That's why I've created a simple, no-nonsense guided meditation. Think of it like a workout for your mind — the benefits come from consistent practice over time.

If you're curious to give it a try, click here to access the guided meditation.

Meditation won't make your life problem-free, but it will change how you relate to those problems. And that, ultimately, is the greatest transformation of all.

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