The way most people come across meditation is they're looking for a way to relax. The problem is that it's not a relaxation technique. If you begin by expecting nothing but calm and comfort, you're in for a shock.
Is it relaxing?
Will it reduce your willingness to get stressed in the first place?
But so will reading, jogging, exercising, feeling gratitude …
Meditation works on deep levels of your mind. It expands your consciousness by bringing suppressed thoughts into your awareness. Unlike what Freudians will tell you, not everything that's suppressed is a bad thing. Expanding your consciousness gives you greater control over your thinking.
Relaxation is a side effect.
So if your main reason to moderate is to feel calmer, you'd better be prepared for the rest of it.
Now, I will say that not everyone will experience this. Some people meditate for years and only feel a light, pleasant relaxation. If that's all they want, then good for them.
But most meditators reach the stage where they break through to something new. It's like opening a door in your house that you never noticed and finding a ballroom on the other side.
This is wonderful. The only word that comes close, for me, is transcendence. A wave of new thoughts, memories, experiences and perspectives floods your mind.
It is sublime. This epiphany enriches every corner of your mind.
This is why I started meditating in the first place. I kept running into barriers in my life. A major one in my teenage years was that I was irritable, even angry.
Every day, some trivial experience would get under my skin and make me lash out. (Verbally.)
I did not like who I was, so I turned to meditation.
Thank goodness I did, because it expanded what I was capable of. In every moment, I had choice. Yes, I could get angry. Or I could feel happy or calm. The options were mine.
This is transcendence – realizing that there's an easy way around the problems in your mind.
Most of your problems disappear when you stop doing X and start doing Y. That's easier to say then do … until you expand what your consciousness is capable of.
But if you're meditating to relax and suddenly your mind blooms …
Well, it freaks some people out. Not because it's bad but because it's intense and unexpected.
They just wanted to chill out – they never signified for becoming enlightened.
If this happens to you, you have two options:
Stop meditating. If you want to relax, take up knitting or something.
Or keep meditating. Take care and take it slow as you integrate these new avenues into your mind.
One feels good. The other is like winning superpowers.