I became "hooked" on meditation after four life changing experiences. They were the direct result of my "baby" meditation practice.
The first experience was of walking from the hospital, through a park, to the train station to get to my afternoon clinic. Prior to the meditation workshop, I had NEVER seen that park. I was always focused internally, post hashing the patients I'd seen that morning or pre hashing the patients I would see in the afternoon. But on that first day after the workshop, I put my learnings into practice. I was "in the moment". I remember seeing the trees and the interesting seed pods they held. These would float to the ground, whirling like little helicopters. Then I noticed a bald eagle flying overhead. I remember feeling joy at the vibrant beauty of my surroundings.... and feeling astonishment that I had missed this beautiful daily walk for 9 years!
The second experience was not getting my expected transportation to a conference. The metro system started a few hours later on Sundays. I went into a panic. But I then remembered what I'd been taught in the meditation workshop and turned my attention from my distressed thoughts, to my breath.
I could literally feel the panic drain out of my body, through my feet, into the ground. Of course, it was back again shortly. But each time it returned, I returned my attention to my breath and then re-experienced the feeling of calm. In the moments of calm, I was able to think clearly. I made a plan on how to get to the conference.
I was thrilled with the calm that I had created myself. But the biggest surprise was once I was in the lecture hall. I had arrived just in time for the first speaker. I listened carefully and took notes. About half way through the lecture I suddenly realized that I was LISTENING to the speaker! Of course, that was my goal: to get to the conference on time and listen to the speakers. But in the past, if something distressing had happened to me, I would NOT have been listening to the speakers. I would have been post hashing my "trauma".
The third experience was of preparing dinner for some friends. As usual, I hadn't left enough time for all the preparation, so started to agitate. The agitation was the cue that caused me to remember the meditation instructions. So, instead of focusing on the fact that I wouldn't have dinner ready when the guests arrived, I focused on what I was doing in the moment.
I was peeling carrots. The peels were making beautiful spirals. I really "got off" on their beauty. Next, I was mixing a cake and the oil and other liquids were making a beautiful, changing pattern. I "got off" on that too! When the company arrived, I felt relaxed and invited them into the kitchen to chat while I finished the preparations. In the past, in a similar situation, I would have felt like a limp dishrag and been too exhausted from stressing out to enjoy my company.
The fourth experience was a change in how I listened to the stories my patients told me. I cared deeply about the people I worked with, and worked hard to give them the best treatment I could offer. While they were telling me their story, I was listening intently with 1/2 my brain, and with the other 1/2 was figuring out their diagnosis and deciding on a treatment plan. I thought I was being efficient, for their sake.
These four experiences showed me how simple the meditation technique was, yet how profound it's positive consequences.