During stressful times, your mind might be a giant black cloud of thoughts. Like smoke trapped in a building. But by focusing your energy on your breathing and entering the space between your thoughts, the clouds of smoke dissipate and soon you can see things with calm and clarity again - the path becomes clear. It's like a release valve that lets all the clouds of smoke out.
That's why meditating is the first thing I do when I start to feel stressed out or overwhelmed. It's counter-intuitive to think that the best thing to do when you have a million things to do is to sit still and do nothing, but it is. There's a proverb that says you should meditate for 20 minutes per day, unless you don't have time. In that case, you should meditate 60 minutes per day. I believe that to be true. The state of clarity I achieve through meditation allows me to objectively chart the best course of action and execute it without being preoccupied with other things. It not only saves me time in the long run, but also makes me more focused and therefore more effective. Meditation improves my performance in every aspect of my life simply because it frees me up to focus on what I am doing instead of being preoccupied. The difference in performance is not incremental, but exponential.
Meditation not only improved my work. More importantly, it improved my relationships with others. The more you meditate, the more aware you become of how you are feeling. The better you are at recognizing how you feel, the better you become at recognizing how others feel, and the result is that you become more empathetic. This ultimately makes you a better son, brother, friend and business partner. At least it has for me. I am not perfect at anything I do, but I am a lot better than I was before I started meditating. Happiness used to seem like an impossible aspiration to me, but I realized that it comes from meaningful work and meaningful relationships. If you have those two things, then you have everything you need to be happy.
It's no cliche to say meditation has changed my life. It's a fact. Meditation, reading and writing are three of the major keys to my continued growth and therefore continued ability to contribute to those around me. Meditation was the key to me realizing what I need to be happy.