Improve self-esteem with meditation: a guide to realize your hidden strength
“Love others before yourself!” was what I always heard growing up. As a part of a society where everyone puts other people before themselves, it became my lifestyle to also think about people around me before I say or do something. I constantly second-guessed and what was really on my mind did not get spoken. I felt the need to demean myself whenever I talk to someone to avoid offending them.
I did not always take my own opinion seriously. I used to allow other people to have their opinions on what I should wear, how I should behave or who I should become. Even when toxic people tried to degrade me by using their ‘constructive’ feedback in disguise, I just passively took it while I should have defended myself. The more my mind absorbed these rather unhealthy thoughts, the more insecure and self-doubt I became.
Every self-restrained attitude and behavior these past years has shaped me into a person with low confidence and self-esteem. And it seems that I am not alone. The Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report in 2016 showed that 85% of women and 79% of girls would avoid life activities such as joining a club or engaging with loved ones just because they do not feel good about their appearance. 8 out of 10 women and girls feel pressure to never make mistakes or show weakness. How terrifying to see how many people are struggling to find self-confidence and increase self-esteem while they should have been nurtured.
As a college student, I find confidence one of the most crucial factors that contribute to my success. There are so many lectures, presentations, meetups and hangouts where I must have the confidence to show my values to other people because I do not want to be a ridiculous and unworthy nobody. Of course, I can just sit back and wait for someone who sees the real me, does not judge me and try to bring me down. But I decided that it is easier to be the change myself. Fortunately, I found the solution to my problem: meditation.
Meditation, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, is a practice where a person focuses on a certain thought or activity to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. When I was introduced to meditation, I was skeptical. I always thought spending 10 minutes a day practicing a speech in front of the mirror would be more effective than using that 10 minutes to sit down and think about one thing. But then after the first week of daily meditation, I felt a huge change in myself. I became less self-doubt and more confident to show myself. I am convinced that meditation will bring changes to your life as it has to mine.
So how can meditation boost your self-esteem?
Aside from great benefits such as reducing stress, improving focus and memory, and enhancing our immune systems, meditation builds you up with positive self-talk. It is known that we are our worst enemy. Andy Puddicombe, the founder of Headspace, a famous meditation app states that low self-esteem is a result of over-identification. So rather than thinking we are the best in the world and brilliant, we instead think we are the worst in the world and not that good. Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way, an international bestseller, believes that in each of us, there is an eternal perfectionist called The Censor. It disguises as the truth and criticizes us whenever we compliment ourselves.
It is true that we do not give us enough credits. It is also true that we are reluctant to do so because we strive for the better and feeling proud of ourselves make us feel like an obnoxious and arrogant human being. But without loving and believing in ourselves, we cannot build and improve that desired self-esteem. We will never feel that we are enough.
Meditation is the time for us to feel great about ourselves. I would like to think that my meditation session is my conversation with the 6-year-old me where I give myself words of encouragement. Try repeating statements, or what meditation practitioners call ‘mantra’, like “I feel good to be me”, “I accept myself” or “I am proud of myself” in your mind. Though it might be difficult for you at first, you will gradually believe in these words. As you bring acceptance and kindness to yourself, you may uncover the deeper belief that you do not deserve to be happy or that you are good enough — a built-in self-destruction that has been eating you alive. As Oprah says: “You become what you believe.” Invite kindness into that lack of self-esteem, until such uncertainty dissolves in love.
And how to meditate if you are not familiar with the concept?
When I first started meditating, it was hard. Just imagine having to sit down and think of only one thing while there has been so much happening in your life: your assignments, your chores, your plan for the holidays. It is difficult to not let your mind wander. But do not fear, my friends because the following information will suggest what you can do.
1. Find Youtube channels about guided meditation
Meditation is hard work, no argument there. But with proper guidance, you will become familiar with it and enjoy it even. There are useful guided meditation Youtube channels where the video creators demonstrate how to meditate, what mantras to use and what is the goal for one session. They are accessible and free. I highly recommend two channels: Boho Beautiful and Yoga with Adrienne. These two amazing ladies have been practicing yoga and meditation for years so they are the perfect guides on your journey to meditation.
2. Install meditation apps
Meditation has been made easier than ever when there appear companies who launch their own meditation app. There are numerous search results about an app that can help you meditate when you Google it. From my experience, the two most effective apps are Headspace and Calm. The two programs cover the basics which are just what beginners need. There are multiple 5-minute voice-led meditation sessions and breathing exercises to get you going.
3. Attend a meditation class
Find any meditation class near you and join in. Just like going to the gym, meditating also need accompanies. It is so much better to meditate with many people who share the same problems with you as they understand you. You get to let your mind rest and have new friends. What can go wrong with that?
What meditation has taught me is that it brings out the best in me, the one that has to hide from judgment. It also makes me realize how stronger and more powerful I am without the phantoms in my soul dragging me down. Meditation has influenced me in a way that I could never imagine and I truly hope it will do the same for you.