Meditation has become more popular recently as more research is conducted and more people discover the benefits of it. There are so many myths and misconceptions about meditation in the world today, so I thought I would take a moment and address some of ones that I have been asked most about:
Misconception #1: Meditation Is All About Weird Positions, Chanting and Smelly Stuff
This is the one that I hear most of all, in various forms. I have heard “I’m not flexible enough to meditate”, “I don’t do that weird OM thing”, “I’m allergic to patchouli”, “I can’t focus”. You name it and I have heard it. Meditation is something that is truly unique to the person doing it. You can do it: On the floor, in a chair, standing up, laying down, outside, inside, clothed, naked, alone with a group, etc. (Do I sound like Dr. Seuss yet??) If you can think of a way or position, you will find that you can meditate while doing it.
Not everyone finds peace in sitting in a full lotus position, while burning incense or candles and chanting. For some it is as simple as sitting in a quiet place taking 5 minutes to just breath and be in the moment. For others, they prefer not to be alone, they need a group and/or someone to guide them through a specific exercise where they allow their minds to let go.
A person’s mediation practice is not one that can be decided by someone else. You are the only person who can decide what form works for you… you may need to try many different kinds, but I promise you, you will find at least one that works for you. For me, I personally utilize many different methods: I practice yoga, that involves silent meditation, as well as chanting/singing
specific mantras. I also try to join a meditation group for participation, to be able to reconnect myself. It is a case of refilling my own glass before giving to others.
Misconception #2: Meditation Takes Too Long – “I don’t have time to do it”
The first time you try to meditate, I can almost guaranty you it will feel like it takes too much time… even if you only try it for 5 minutes! The number one thing I hear people say is “I don’t have any free time now, how am I going to get find 10, 20 or even 30 minutes a day?” My answer to that is simple… Set your alarm a few minutes early, go to bed a few minutes later, just find the time. You deserve a few minutes of “me time” and if you really try to do it, you may find that meditation actually seems to add time to your day.
You will feel like you have more control over your thought and spend less time being distracted and that you have more focus. As a result, you could feel more energized, which will help you in dealing with the mundane daily tasks that we all have to deal with.
Plus, you can start with as little as 2 or 5 minutes a day. Once you get into the routine of doing it and you see the benefits, you may want to increase the time… you may not, the choice is always yours!
Misconception #3: How Do You Think About Nothing
I laugh thinking about the first time I had this conversation with someone. My response to them was that I am too busy to think about nothing, but I am not too busy to quiet the “busy” and to focus on consciousness and choice.
People think meditating is all about creating a blank mind and don’t understand how to achieve it. As a result, they have a hard time trying to do it and feel like they're "bad at" meditation and give up. No one wants to fail, so they just stop trying. If you look at meditating like setting aside some time to guide your mind, you will see that it is a peaceful, yet active process, where you work towards achieving some awareness, become conscious of what is around you and choice over how you respond.
Misconception #4: It Takes Ages to Learn to Meditate
Most people assume that you must devote significant amounts of time to learning to meditate and get good at it. For ages there have been stories of people devoting years of their lives to their practice, giving up all that they must devote their lives to meditation.
Those are personal choices that they individuals made! When in fact, you can start to get benefits from meditating on Day 1. You don’t need to do it for years or dedicate your life to it. Do all runners spend 24/7 living a life devoted to running? No. Can you feel better in yourself if you run for a few minutes every day? Absolutely!
Meditation is the same, you can make it a life choice if you want and live a life dedicated to the practice… OR you can add a few minutes where you can and still make a difference in giving yourself. The choice is always yours.
Misconception #5: Meditation is for "Spiritual People"
It is true that true that meditation is practiced in various spiritual and religious traditions. However, meditation is NOT tied to any particular faith. It is non-sectarian, non-religious and non-theistic.
It is a mental exercise that has been tested by clinical science and has been proven by research to have many benefits for a variety of conditions: PTSD sufferers, high blood pressure, ADHD patients and even cancer patients have experienced improvements from meditation. That being said, you do not have to be physically or mentally ill to benefit from meditation.
Meditation is a powerful tool for anyone, no matter the age, gender, ethnic background or faith that they have.
Misconception #6: It's About Stress Reduction
It is not a secret that meditation can help reduce stress and is actually the first “side effect” that people experience once they start to meditate regularly. It is also the one that is most commonly associated with meditation, but there is so much more to mediation than simply reducing your stress.
Meditation can help you calm your mind and center your thoughts. It helps improve your physical health, because you are more aware of your body and what you are feeling. By getting more in tune with yourself, you may find that you end up being a better communicator because you have more focus and that you end up more productive person in general.
I personally use meditation as a tool to balance myself and reconnect. It leaves me more focused and ready to deal with life.
As meditation becomes more main stream, I hope that there are less of these myths and misconceptions. In the meantime, why not see what meditation's like for yourself by setting aside a few minutes to practice? If you aren’t sure where to start, contact Creating Balance for some assistance in getting on your path with either a 1:1 consultation or participating in a group meditation class.