New scientific studies continue to reveal the many benefits of meditation. It’s inherently a spiritual practice, and its true purpose is enlightenment. But we know that it has a positive impact on our physical, mental, and emotional health. The question is: does regular practice of meditation also improve our confidence and self-esteem?
Meditation improves confidence by teaching us to deal with our thoughts and emotions. Studies show that meditation increases intelligence and social-confidence. It also decreases fear and anxiety, enhances emotion regulation, and makes us more empathetic.
Most of us have only a vague conception of what confidence means. Read on to discover the meaning of genuine confidence, and how meditation helps you achieve it. We’ll also discuss the scientific research in this area, and a meditation technique to help you get started.
What is real confidence?
Genuine confidence comes from a truthful realization of your own abilities. It springs from an understanding of yourself and has nothing to do with external circumstances or comparisons.
When you’re confident, you don’t go around seeking everybody’s approval. But it also doesn’t mean you don’t seek approval at all (that would be arrogance). Genuine confidence is when you realize that only a few people are worth seeking approval from because you look up to them.
Also, confident people have compassion and don’t put others down. They own up to their mistakes and aren’t afraid of asking for help. These are things that will usually hold you back if you’re pretending to be someone you’re not.
All of us have identity-based goals in our lives. We have a mental picture of who we want to be in the next few months, years, or decades; it’s the best version of ourselves. When you work toward that, you naturally feel happy and good about yourself.
So, authentic confidence is a sense of being at ease, knowing you’re in tune with the best version of yourself. You may not be there yet, but you’re walking the path with honesty, and that contributes to your self-worth.
We are often told by advertisements that we need to wear certain types of clothes or have certain things in our homes to look and feel important. But there’s a huge difference between this false bravado and real confidence. As we’ve said, genuine confidence has nothing to do with what you wear or how you look.
How meditation improves your confidence
Meditation is a gradual process. You may experience the short-term benefits of meditation within a few days, but it takes several weeks or months to see real progress.
When you meditate, you’re trying to free yourself from comparisons and sit without judgment. In the beginning, thoughts and emotions come running from all directions. Maybe you replay that embarrassing moment again and again. Or you’re angry at yourself because of something you did. Or you feel elated remembering the time you beat your competition.
When you’re meditating, your job is to come back to your breath regardless of what thoughts come into your mind. You may find it hard to let go in the beginning. But with practice, it’ll become easier for you to bring your attention back to the breath.
Over time, you learn to distance yourself from the stories in your head. You’re able to let go of your thoughts and emotions without being controlled by them. They stop undermining your self-confidence, allowing you to trust your faculties.
The benefits of meditation are also backed by science. Although the scientific research isn’t as conclusive as we would like it to be, meditation isn’t overrated. Millions of people all over the world have been experiencing these benefits for thousands of years. Let’s look at a few that contribute to your confidence.
A 4-year study reveals that regular practice of transcendental meditation sharpens our intelligence. It was also found to increase sociability, social confidence, maturity, and mental health.
Another study observed the effects of meditation over an 8-week mindfulness meditation program. It was found to increase gray matter in brain regions linked to introspection, empathy, and emotion processing. It also reduced gray matter in areas associated with fear, stress, and anxiety.(1)
Lastly, mindfulness stops negative self-talk by reducing activity in the default mode network.(2) This area of the brain is active when we’re not thinking about anything in particular. It’s responsible for wandering thoughts about the past or the future. These thoughts often lead to nothing productive and only cause worry, anxiety, and sadness.
How to get started with meditation
Breath-focused meditation is a simple technique to start meditating. It involves focusing your attention on your breath while keeping the body still. Here’s how you practice meditation for improving your confidence:
- Set aside 10 to 20 minutes every day. Use an alarm clock or set a timer on your phone.
- Spread a mat or place a cushion on the floor. Also, make sure that the room is quiet, so you’re better able to focus your mind.
- Cross your legs and sit down. Sitting cross-legged is considered the best posture, but you can also sit in a chair if that’s more comfortable.
- Keep your back straight. Look straight ahead and maintain an upright posture. Make sure your spine is erect, but not stiff.
- Rest your hands in your lap. Keep one hand on top of the other, palms facing upward. Or you can just cross your fingers and drop your hands in front of you.
- Close your eyes and relax. Closing your eyes helps you concentrate better—but don’t squeeze them. Relax your body and establish yourself in the posture.
- Take a few deep breaths. It’s a good idea to take a few deep breaths before beginning your practice. If you’re feeling restless, deep breaths will calm your mind.
- Watch your breath. Let the body breathe on its own and be aware of every inhalation and exhalation. Just watch your breath without doing anything. You can notice the sensations at your nostrils or the rise and fall of your belly button. The idea is to stay mindful of every breath.
- When your mind wanders, gently bring it back. This will happen a lot, especially in the beginning. When you find yourself thinking of random things bring your mind back to your breath.
That’s all you need to know to get started with this practice. If you want detailed instructions with tips, read the complete guide to mindfulness meditation. To learn how to make it a part of your life, read the article on 10 practical tips to make meditation a daily habit.
All forms of meditation offer various physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits. We’ve discussed how meditation contributes to our emotional wellbeing. It increases our self-awareness, social-confidence, and maturity. Not only that, but it also decreases fear, stress, and negative thoughts. Regular meditation helps us get out of our heads and live life more confidently.
Hopefully, this article inspired you to start your meditation journey if you haven’t already. If you’re ready to get started, make sure to learn the fundamentals of meditation. I’ve also answered many beginner queries in the meditation FAQ section.
|1.||↑||Kilpatrick, L. A., Suyenobu, B. Y., Smith, S. R., Bueller, J. A., Goodman, T., Creswell, J. D., Tillisch, K., Mayer, E. A., & Naliboff, B. D. (2011). Impact of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction training on intrinsic brain connectivity. NeuroImage, 56(1), 290–298.|
|2.||↑||Brewer, J. A., Worhunsky, P. D., Gray, J. R., Tang, Y. Y., Weber, J., & Kober, H. (2011). Meditation experience is associated with differences in default mode network activity and connectivity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(50), 20254–20259.|