There’s no shortage of opinions out there about meditation. Plenty of myths to wallpaper your entire garage. Some of it sticks with you, some of it doesn’t.
What sticks will either discourage or encourage you.
The more preconceptions you have about meditation, the less open you are to letting it be what it is. The more skepticism could be preventing it from working in your life.
So let’s bust 4 myths of meditation and lay the lies to rest…so you can begin your practice in peace.
Myth #1: I don’t have enough time to do it.
TRUTH: What you tell yourself will be your truth. If you tell yourself you don’t have enough time, you won’t make enough time. If you tell yourself you have enough time, you will make enough time.
If you treat meditation as a priority, you will find the time for it—just like you find the time to eat, sleep, work, exercise and call your mom.
Evidence is out there of very successful, very busy people who meditate regularly, e.g., Oprah Winfrey (mogul), Tony Robbins (businessman), Gwyneth Paltrow (actress) and Rick Rubin (music producer). If they can do it, is there any doubt you and I can fit it in?
When you start meditating, you’ll notice that you actually have more time. Out of thin air, time expands to allow space for what you want to do (probably because you’re not running around blindly filling your plate anymore).
Not only do you gain clarity on what your priorities are so you can focus on them, but you’re less likely to deviate from what matters to you most.
And with clarity, you’ll create what’s possible instead of bemoan the impossible.
10-15 minutes a day (or less!) of meditation will reap drastic rewards in your well-being, your peace, your concentration and stress management. See the other benefits of meditation here.
Myth #2: I can’t sit still which means it’s not for me.
TRUTH: There are so many types of meditation, you’re guaranteed to find something perfect for your lifestyle. Moving meditation is one type. Techniques like tai chi, qigong and walking meditation are for those who are less inclined to keep still—or who just need a starting point for quieting the mind.
All types considered, the best posture for meditation is seated upright with a straight spine and closed eyes.
This posture facilitates concentration and stabilizes your energy. It serves as an isolation tank to hear your thoughts without much external stimuli. In this posture, your ears are opened to insight about the average 35 thoughts you have per minute.
If you need to scratch an itch, scratch it. You don’t have to be a statue during sitting meditation. (However, there is a benefit to feeling the itch and watching it fade away when you don’t react to it.)
I’m a fidgeter and tend to have a lot of nervous energy when I’m out and about. But I can sit still to meditate for 30 minutes or more a day. If I can do it, you can too.
The important thing about meditation is the discipline of doing it. Nothing works if you don’t work it. Sitting, walking, tai chi-ing; pick one and do it.
If you don’t ever try it, you’ll never see what it can do for you.
Myth #3: Meditation doesn’t work unless I can completely silence my mind.
TRUTH: This is the most misleading myths of them all. A quieter mind is the objective, not the prerequisite. Notice I said quieter, not silent.
The aim of meditation isn’t to silence the mind, it’s to slow it down.
With practice, moments of “silence” will come in glimpses, but the mind will continue to wander (even for you Buddhist monks).
All minds wander. Your mind won’t be calm unless you implement practices that invite it to calm. See how that works?
The purpose of meditation is to come into awareness of where the mind goes, bringing attention to its thoughts. When you see where it goes, don’t judge, criticize or react to what you hear, just observe.
Even if your mind doesn’t stop its rant the entire session you’re sitting down meditating, believe it is still working its magic. You’re still reaping the benefits of meditation simply through the practice itself.
There is no time wasted in meditation.
Eventually, you will experience the space between thoughts—the home of peace and consciousness. You’ll become familiar with it and committed to its frequent return.
Myth #4: Meditation conflicts with my religious beliefs.
TRUTH: You can adapt meditation to any religious belief. You can use a prayer or a scripture as the phrase you repeat in your head and return to when your mind wanders.
While meditation, per se, draws its roots in Buddhism and Hinduism, all religions have some sort of reverential, devotional prayer done in a contemplative manner. How you do it is the only difference.
It is up to you what you make meditation. You don’t have to speak a mantra or a prayer. That’s just one technique for centering and slowing your thoughts. There are several types of meditation that incorporate other aids.
If you incorporate religious undertones, props, beads, mantras, prayers of your choosing, then that’s up to you. For some, these aids serve as a distraction…and further delay the actual practice of meditation.
When you strip away (er, declutter) all the religious connotation, you have meditation in its intended form: a tool or technique to monitor your thoughts and attention. Applicable to all walks of life.
Meditation doesn’t require a particular religious or spiritual belief, except a desire to reap the mental health benefits it offers.
If what you’re doing in meditation is getting in touch with your inner self, deeply and purely, then what argument is there against it? When you tap into connecting with yourself more, it makes you more connected to others—recognizing the unity we all have. (Is there a religion out there opposed to that?)
Meditation is not a right or a wrong.
Release your expectations so you don’t get discouraged. Expectation and frustration are just more limiting thoughts.
Giving these 4 myths your attention only creates more of a roadblock, more chatter (clutter) to wade through. If you keep focusing on why not meditation, you’ll be met with proof of why not. When you embrace why it can be great for you, you open yourself up to why it will be great.
It takes years to reap the benefits of meditation, or it takes a few minutes, depending on how you look at it. Don’t get caught up in the endgame before you start. That’s too daunting.
What’s the goal of your practice right now? To have “me” time for 5 minutes? To settle your nerves? Hold that intention softly in your mind as you begin your session. Later, your goal for meditation might change, but remind yourself often of the simple beginnings.
Learn to enjoy the process of going within. Hear your thoughts, bring attention to them. From there, decide how much attention you want to give those thoughts or if you want to change what you’re thinking…
The beautiful effects of meditation carry over into every aspect of life: more presence, more life enjoyment, lower blood pressure, reduced stress, less reactive relationships and improved sleep.
How does that sound?
To read more about meditation, click here.