Ahem… Where are the Results of My Practice?

By Stephanie Wagner • 3 min read

Joy of Living

In today’s fast-paced world, everything is at our fingertips. From instant messaging to same-day delivery, the culture of quick returns has permeated every aspect of our lives. This rapid gratification can foster impatience and can condition us to expect immediate responses and instant results in all areas of life–including our meditation practice. 

Reflecting on my own meditation practice, I can see how many expectations I had initially. During one meditation retreat, I asked Mingyur Rinpoche a question: “Rinpoche, I’ve been practicing for many years, and I’m still an anxious mess. I must be doing it incorrectly because I should not be anxious anymore at this point.”  Rinpoche quickly assured me that as long as I was aware of my anxiety and not a “zombie,” I was doing the practice correctly. He encouraged for me to keep practicing and said I would experience results through time and consistency. 

Fast forward 20+ years later, I now look back at that anxious version of me when I was still early in my practice, and I see how much I’ve changed as a result of meditating consistently. I am no longer chronically anxious. I have what I would call normal “situational” anxiety. As Rinpoche points out in this video, change happens as a result of our practice; it just might not be the way we think it will be. This is certainly true of my own practice. 

Although meditation is definitely a long game, research has shown that we can experience the benefits of practice in as little as 4-5 minutes a day. This can run counter to a common misconception that we must practice for long periods of time to experience the benefits of meditation. 

Three Strategies

This is why strategies to help develop a habit can be very helpful. 

  1. To practice in daily life, try anchoring. This is when you choose an activity or habit that already happens during your day and use it as an opportunity to practice. For example, you can practice each time that you walk to the bathroom or take a drink of water. 
  2. Create a plan for how long you want to meditate. Choose a length of time that you are going to practice that feels achievable and realistic. The tip is to start small and expand as you feel inspired and are able to do so. 
  3. Get curious about what supports you and gets in the way of your practice.  Do you consistently oversleep and skip your practice? Try a different time of day. 

While the allure of instant gratification can make us impatient in our practice, it can be helpful to put our energy into meditating consistently and trust that the results will follow through time. Remember Rinpoche’s advice that we can practice anywhere, anytime, and it doesn’t need to take long. Change will unfold if we can practice being patient in an impatient world.

June 2024

About the Author

Stephanie Wagner is a board-certified health and well-being coach (NBC-HWC) with a Master of Arts from the University of Minnesota in Integrative Health and Well-being Coaching. In addition to her work at Tergar, she is the Director of Learning and Development for a nonprofit Healthy Minds Innovations, founded by renowned neuroscientist Dr. Richard Davidson.

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