Meditation and Emotional Affect

Affect is that term psychologists use when the rest of us would use words like attitude, outlook, or mood – a positive or negative disposition.

How’s your affect?  For years mine was passionate, anxious, and irritable.  I complained, criticized, and always expected the worst.

But now I am seldom anxious, accept myself where I am, and expect to bless and be blessed.  What happened?

Well I saw some good therapists, gradually became more self aware, accepted who I was, and began to meditate; more or less in that order.

But what I believe has had the greatest impact on my emotional state is meditation.  For years I was on medication for anxiety.  Now my only prescription is roughly ten minutes of meditation, three times per day.

The fruit of this meditation has been equanimity.  It didn’t happen all at once.  But with regular practice over the course of maybe 60 days, noticeable changes began to take place.

Moreover the meditation itself has been a process of experimentation, observation, and modification.  As you probably know, there are a myriad of ways to meditate.  Some work better for me than others.  I’ve tried:

  1. transcendental meditation,
  2. observation of the breath,
  3. various kinds of pranayama or yogic breathing,
  4. Chanting via kriya yoga.

The last has worked best for me; surprisingly so.  If my therapist had not assigned it for homework, I never would have tried chanting.  But chanting may not work best for you.  And there are many modes of meditation I still haven’t tried.

The empirical evidence is growing of the many positive benefits of meditation.  Moreover there is also growing evidence that positive affect leads to a higher quality of life in general.

I encourage you to try some sort of meditation, and to keep trying and experimenting until you find a method that works for you.  Especially if you, like me, suspect yourself of having a negative disposition.

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