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Effects vs results in meditation

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Did you know there is a difference between the effects of meditating and the results of the meditation practice? Most people are not aware that a distinction between the effects and results of a meditation practice can be made. Knowing that the effects are part of the process and are necessary in order to experience the results of a meditation practice can be a powerful motivator to a regular practice.

Comparing the effects and results of meditation with physical exercise can assist in unpacking this distinction further.

  Meditation Physical exercise
Purpose – aim Cultivating attention, focus Staying fit
Method – what you do Return to what is already there, over and over again (e.g breath, body, sounds, etc) For example: jog
Effects – experiences arising during the practice Clear, stable, dull, bored, emotional, sleepy, distracted, peaceful, at least, relaxed, blissful Energised, invigorated, winded, sweaty, stiff, store, tired, etc
Results – what develops over time Increased clarity, stability in attention, less reactivity, reduced anxiety and depression, increased resilience, improved immune function, less autopilot, improved ability to manage emotions, better sleep, etc Increased strength, stamina and muscle tone, etc

(The above was adapted from Ken McLeod, Unfettered

  • A range of experiences (pleasant, unpleasant, neutral) arise during meditation and are normal – these ‘effects’ are part of the process and not a sign that something is going wrong. Opening to this kaleidoscope with curiosity is what this practice is about, which in itself builds equanimity and resilience.
  • It is important not to get side tracked and caught up in the effects of the meditation practice. If this happens, you might quit which means you won’t meditate long enough in order to experience the results of the meditation practice.
  • Effects are an essential part of the meditation landscape – results are the fruit and come down the track.
  • In order to experience the ‘results,’ a regular meditation practice is necessary.

Learn more about the effects and results of a regular meditation practice at the upcoming 8- week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course and 5-week Learn to Meditate course in May. 

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