Meditation is a simple practice that has the potential to change your whole life – from the inside out. Science has proven the many benefits of meditation – from better mental health to happier relationships and improved work performance. Many potential new students are deterred, however, by a few persistent – but wholly untrue! – myths and misconceptions about meditation – so let’s debunk them one by one.
Misconception 1: “I Tried It Once And It Didn’t Work”
Perhaps you have tried meditation once and were disappointed with the results. You were most likely expecting peace but instead felt like your mind was like a bunch of monkeys on speed. This is a totally normal experience – the problem lies in making the assumption based on this one experience that meditation simply doesn’t work for you. Meditation is a practice; it’s something that needs to be done regularly. It can take time before you get more accomplished at quieting the mind.
Misconception 2: “I Just Can’t Stop My Thoughts”
One of the biggest meditation misconceptions out there is the erroneous belief that meditation should involve a perfectly blank mind with no thoughts at all. This belief causes many new meditators to start struggling against their thoughts or give up in resignation. Meditation does not require a state of no thinking, but simply to become aware of when the mind is distracted by thoughts and to refocus the awareness on the meditation object.
Misconception 3: “I Don’t Have Time to Meditate”
You don’t need to sit on your meditation cushion for hours each day in order to experience its benefits. Even just dedicating 5 to 20 minutes of meditation per day can be life-changing. The key are to practice regularly and to make time to meditate; we are all busier than ever these days and we must consciously schedule in time for our priorities. It’s simply a matter of making our own happiness and wellbeing a priority.
Misconception 4: “I Don’t Have The Space To Meditate”
It would be nice to meditate in some extraordinary natural location or in a peaceful monastery, but that’s hardly practical for most. It really doesn’t matter where you do your meditation, as long as you just do it! Find somewhere reasonable quiet where you won’t be disturbed for a few minutes, and where you can sit up straight comfortably; it could be sitting up in bed, on the floor, a cushion, a chair or even on a bus!
Misconception 5: “But I’m Not A Buddhist”
Meditation is not unique to Buddhism; however, many forms of popular meditation techniques such as mindfulness meditation are loosely based on ancient Buddhist practices. Having said that, you don’t need to subscribe to any particular set of beliefs to meditate. Meditation is for everyone regardless of whether you belong to another religion or no religion at all. There are much excellent meditation training, classes, and retreats held at Buddhist centers around the world, but most of them are open to the general public and are not specifically intended just for Buddhists.
Hopefully, this post has cleared up some misconceptions that may have stopped you from embarking on your own meditation practice. Meditation is truly for everyone and with patience and perseverance, it can change your life in many profound and unexpected ways.
Sharee James is a naturopath and a yoga and meditation instructor with a special interest in stress, anxiety, and depression. For more information on meditation check out her Youtube video How To Meditate or visit her website at http://www.ashimaliving.com/