“Meditation will not carry you to another world, but it will reveal the most profound and awesome dimensions of the world in which you already live. Calmly contemplating these dimensions and bringing them into the service of compassion and kindness is the right way to make rapid gains in meditation as well as in life.”– ZEN MASTER HSING YUN
Meditation is perhaps the best kept secret when it comes to personality change.
Those who meditate regularly reap rewards that are completely unknown to the average person. Unbeknownst to the meditator, as they clear their psyche of toxic emotional and mental debris, they create space for higher-order qualities to enter their lives.
Their actions are no longer governed by egoic drives — they are instead oriented outwards; away from their ego and towards genuine happiness. But no need to take my word for it: research has reliably shown that long-term meditators acquire more positive personality characteristics.
At a glance, here is the personality profile of a meditator:
1. Creates harmony wherever they go
2. Not triggerable, no matter the subject or circumstance
3. Authentic, able to be themselves without fear
5. Spontaneously joyful and grateful
6. Unconditionally loving and accepting
7. Free from addiction and negative thought-loops
HOW DOES MEDITATION CREATE PERSONALITY CHANGE?
Meditation changes the personality through a positive feedback loop by doing two things simultaneously: increasing our awareness and eroding our ego.
How Meditation Transforms The Personality
1. MEDITATORS CREATE HARMONY: THEY ARE ATMOSPHERIC ALCHEMISTS
An avid meditator operates at an emotional equilibrium, one that is not easily triggered or swayed by a different opinion or a mindless insult. When a meditator enters a room, they act as an atmospheric alchemist; they alter the energy of the room without brute force or without suggesting a change. Their sheer presence cuts through the cacophony of apathy, hatred, disunity, and unhappiness and imbues it with total peace and harmony. Meditators continually resolve their inner psychic conflict — so they have no conflict within, and they diffuse conflict wherever they go.
2. NOT TRIGGERABLE: MEDITATORS HAVE THICK SKIN
It’s hard to offend someone who has a weak ego. “Weak” here is used in the positive sense; it means you do not identify strongly with a fake self. Instead, you identify with your true self, which is not interested or implicated in any sort of shallow identity. When you identify with a wholeness that is much greater than your small ego-self, you are not bothered by injuries to your ephemeral identity. What’s more, is that you have rare insight into the motivations of others: you know that what they say to you is ultimately not even about you. It’s about them and how they see the world. Meditators spend time letting their own thoughts come and go; they realize how random their own thoughts can be. When you don’t even take your own thoughts seriously, how can you be offended by the vocalized thoughts of someone else?
Meditators have been shown to have a greater capacity for self-regulation. Self-regulation is our capacity to monitor, evaluate and control our own emotions. When you have better control of your own internal state, you are not easily swept into an argument or useless debate. Ultimately, you realize that the negativity of others is caused by disturbances in their own mind. Once you realize this, how can you be perturbed by the unresolved emotional conflict in others?
3. AUTHENTIC: MEDITATORS CAN BE THEMSELVES
When we meditate, we shed the layers of our artificial selves. In doing so, we increasingly embrace our true nature, which is free from self-judgement. The negative, critical voice inside our heads weakens over time with meditative practice, and we embody a more childlike stance. Children are unbothered by their little imperfections and “flaws”. Meditation allows us to return to this state of carefreeness. Meditation also enhances self-compassion and compassion towards others, and when we have compassion for our shortcomings, we are able to have compassion for others too.
4. PROLIFICALLY CREATIVE: MEDITATORS TAP INTO BOUNDLESS CREATIVE POWERS
Meditators grow increasingly comfortable with silence and nothingness; and as it happens, “nothingness”, or idle time, is the fertile soil upon which imagination grows. In meditation, we tap into an infinite field of undifferentiated ideas and avenues to explore. Research has shown that meditation increases creative performance and cognitive flexibility, both of which are required to see things differently. When we shed the layers of judgement and expectation that we have of the world, we are able to detect different patterns in what we see. And we can only innovate when we see things differently.
5. SPONTANEOUS: MEDITATORS ARE EFFORTLESSLY JOYFUL AND GRATEFUL
Those who undertake a mindfulness practice reliably become more happy and grateful, without having to remind themselves to be. They have what I call, “sober shroom moments”, which are instances of feeling completely submerged in love, joy, gratitude and bliss—all before 8:30 a.m. with no drugs involved! This is because meditation acquaints us with the impermanence of life; we realize we have such a short amount of time to be here, to be alive, and to enjoy every moment we are given. When we are awakened and alerted to the passing of our lives, we can’t be anything but grateful and happy to be alive, no matter where we are.
6. UNCONDITIONALLY LOVING AND ACCEPTING: MEDITATORS SEE YOU AS YOU ARE
Meditators are trained to accept the present moment exactly as it is, and that involves including themselves in the equation. They learn to accept exactly where they are, who they are, and how they are. Studies have demonstrated that meditators have an increased capacity for emotional acceptance.
When we truly accept ourselves, we can’t help but extend that acceptance to others. This is just one way that meditation improves all of our relationships in one fell swoop: when we transform the creator of our relationships (our own mind) then we transform the relationships themselves. Too often, we look to the other person as the cause of our misery or unhappiness or dissatisfaction. But that’s what we are mirroring.
We’re always seeing what we are. So when we meditate, we see ourselves, we love and accept ourselves, and we naturally accept and love others. Loving-kindness meditation in particular enhances this capacity.
7. FREE FROM ADDICTION: MEDITATORS ARE ABLE TO CONFRONT EMOTIONS HEAD-ON
Meditation counteracts addiction on multiple levels. First, meditation has the serendipitous effect of increasing the strength of the self-control network within the brain, improving our baseline ability to refrain from harmful habits and addictions. Second, meditation enables us to become comfortable with discomfort. This is an invaluable skill. The ability to sit with your anxiety, depression, broken heart, or desire for an escape, without acting on any of it, is a superpower.
Unfortunately, too few people experience the ephemeral nature of emotions; they don’t learn through direct experience that even the strongest and most horrifying emotions pass with time. Emotions ultimately want to be expressed; they want a way out of your body and your mind. By sitting with them, allowing them to rise and fall away, we give them their chance at expression without harming ourselves in the process.
Addiction, at its root, is a means of escape. When we are comfortable experiencing even the most acutely painful circumstance in our lives, we don’t need to escape anymore, and we don’t fall prey to addiction.
“Touch your inner space, which is nothingness, as silent and empty as the sky; it is your inner sky. Once you settle down in your inner sky, you have come home, and a great maturity arises in your actions, in your behavior. Then whatever you do has grace in it. Then whatever you do is a poetry in itself. You live poetry; your walking becomes dancing, your silence becomes music.”– OSHO