As a stress coach and meditation teacher, people often open up to me about their meditation experience or lack thereof. The top two comments that I receive are:
1) “I've heard there are so many benefits. I’d like to do it but... I never do.”
2) “I’ve tried to meditate but can’t. It isn’t possible to quiet my mind, so I stop.”
In my professional opinion, many individuals do not attempt to meditate or try and give up because they have a preconceived notion of what meditation is supposed to be. Well, today I am going to debunk FIVE of the myths that I commonly hear. My hope is that by debunking these myths that you will realize that you are capable of meditation and that it is a tool worthy of keeping in your wellness toolbox!
You have to stop all thoughts.
This is the most common misconception about meditation. Often times the human mind is referred to as, ‘the monkey mind’. Trying to quiet or silence your mind is like fighting the monkey and guess what, the monkey will win! The monkey (thoughts, physical sensations, noises, etc.) will creep in but that is okay. Instead of forcing a quiet mind or fighting the monkey we become an observer of the mind. We can observe the thoughts, sensations, the breath or anything that is in our awareness. The trick is to not engage in or judge the thoughts but to simply watch.
Tip: Think of observing your thoughts like watching cars go by on a highway. We are not driving away in one of the cars but we are simply noting them arrive in our mind's eye and leave as easily as they came.
Meditation is a way to escape.
This is related to MYTH #1. There is a notion that meditation is a tool to escape the turmoil of our mind. What I’m about to say maybe a little scary but meditation serves as a way to look at that turmoil right in the eye (the painful stuff, the hard stuff, the self-judgment and any of the things that you don’t want to recognize). It is also a way to come to peace with or let go of some of that turmoil. The trick? Compassion. The strife or anxiety of our mind is equally a part of who we are. By bringing awareness to the perceived good and bad parts of our being we can start to be more at peace with ourselves.
Tip: Have compassion for yourself. You are enough. You are capable. You are worthy of what you desire. It will work out. If self-judgment creeps in then take a deep inhale through the nose and a long exhale of the mouth to let it go.
Meditation is a religious practice.
Simple answer. Meditation, for the sake of this article, is about slowing down and being present to slow the chatter of the mind, stimulate the relaxation response, and bring a sense of contentment. This could be a spiritual practice. You could integrate your personal religious beliefs OR it could have no spirituality to it at all!
Tip: Your meditation practice is yours and yours alone. Bring to it the components that are important to you.
It is a waste of time because I’m not being productive.
Any meditation is better than no meditation! In our busy Western world even taking a couple of minutes to be with our breath is powerful. Wake up 5 minutes earlier. Skip just one Facebook and News breaks. Do it on your lunch break. Schedule meditation or 'you time' into your life!
Tip: Start short, maybe 2-5 minutes. Why? Physically sitting and being with your mind might not be comfortable at first. With time there will be more ease and then you can incrementally increase the practice to 5, 10, 30, or even 60 minutes. It may feel like you have to make time for meditation now. Eventually, you will want to make time for it!
I don’t have a quiet place for meditation.
What is your vision of meditation? Someone sitting peacefully in a garden, on a beach, or in a pristine studio. Others burning incense, sitting on a special cushion, or chanting. You know what? You can meditate anywhere and all you need is yourself! You can do it at your office in a chair, while walking, in your bed, sitting on the floor, on a beach, literally anywhere. Find the space that is available to you and use it!
Tip: If you choose to sit cross-legged on the ground then make sure that your hips are in-line or higher than your knees. Use a pillow, folded blanket or anything that you have available to sit on. Assuming this type of posture allows your spine to be in a more neutral and hopefully more comfortable position. It may be hard, but try to not lean back into your chair or the wall behind you. By sitting up tall you can be more energized and present.
That is all folks! 5 commons myths about meditation debunked and 5 tips to get you started. If your curiosity is piqued and you would like some more specific info on how to meditate, meditation for stress reduction, meditation for insomnia, meditation for trauma, how to breathe in meditation, or any other questions please feel to reach out!
If you would like to get started today from your own home then look into our Instinctive Cognition program!