“Meditation is the ultimate mobile device; you can use it anywhere, anytime, unobtrusively.” ― Sharon Salzberg
I’m sure you’ve heard at one point or another that you should meditate, right? There is continually growing research revealing how helpful it is for our health and well-being. But despite this knowledge, many people struggle to incorporate the habit of meditating into their life.
The problem is, many don’t realize what meditation really is, or they have a misconception about how to do it. We assume that mediation is something for a spiritual master or yogi. It has an esoteric air that is off-putting and scary to many people. If this is the case for you it’s time to rethink your concept of what meditation really is.
“Meditation is not a means to an end. It is both the means and the end.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti
I completed a new certification in meditation from the Unity Temple here in Kansas City, and learned a couple of things that tend to hold people back from even trying to meditate, so I wanted to share them with you here.
It’s time you let go of these myths that are holding you back from your daily dose of peace. Here are five common myths to overcome so you can start to meditate more confidently and consistently.
Myth #1: You have to sit with legs twisted like a pretzel
Sounds uncomfortable right? I used to believe that I had to sit with my legs crossed, with perfect posture, not moving a muscle in order to meditate properly. My legs would fall asleep and my lower back would ache. All I could do was think about how uncomfortable I was. Meditation wasn’t very relaxing to say the least.
Guess what, you don’t have to sit in the traditional lotus position to meditate. You can sit in a chair with your feet on the ground. You can lean against a wall to support your back. You can meditate anywhere. This isn’t cheating and no one will know anyway. Get comfortable and relaxed when you meditate.
Myth #2: You have to meditate for long periods of time
I used to think that I had to meditate for at least thirty minutes for it to be official. This was torture at first. If someone is a novice mediator, having an expectation like this is going to completely discourage their practice.
What if you could meditate for even just five minutes and have benefits? Would that make it easier and more enjoyable? Try finding a few moments throughout your day to sit with your breath for just five minutes at a time. Stop torturing yourself. You don’t have to sit for an extended period to benefit from meditation.
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” ― Jon Kabat-Zinn
Myth #3: You’re supposed to stop thinking
I remember ready the Master Key System in my early twenties. One weekly lessons was to try to stop thinking. I remember trying this and feeling completely frustrated that I couldn’t meditate or I was doing something wrong. I realize now the overall objective of this exercise, but when it comes to gaining the benefits of meditation it isn’t necessary to stop thinking.
Because not thinking is basically impossible. The mind wanders and thinks, that is what it does. The important aspect is to learn not to fuse or attach to your thoughts. Thoughts will come and go and always be there, but we don’t have to grasp on to them and get emotionally attached. Let thoughts go when you notice them and come back to the present moment by following the rhythm and sensations of your breathing.
“Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are just that – thoughts.” ― Allan Lokos
Myth #4: Your religion has something to do with it
Here in Kansas meditation can have a negative connotation. It’s as if people assume they will go to hell if they meditate. (Getting familiar with contemplative prayer helps dispel this myth) Meditation is not blasphemous. In fact it doesn’t have to relate to religion at all. I am not a Buddhist and I meditate. When you meditate you don’t have to incorporate any spiritual or religious traditions what-so-ever if that is your preference.
Meditate for your health if nothing else, and then go to church later. I promise you won’t catch on fire or break out in hives. I personally use meditation as a spiritual practice but don’t let this fixed idea that it has to do with religion deter you from exploring it as a tool for enhancing your well-being.
Myth #5: There is a right or wrong way to mediate
If you haven’t caught the drift of this post yet, there isn’t a right/wrong or good/bad way to mediate. There are techniques and ideas to help direct your practice, but in the bigger picture letting go of the judgment about what you’re doing is one of the most important parts of meditating.
Stop judging yourself for not meditating properly. Stop beating yourself up for having a bad meditation session. This is all a part of building your mental muscles. A non-judgmental attitude and compassionate heart are an outcome of sitting through “bad” meditation sessions.
Let yourself relax, let go of all the things on your schedule and just sit quietly for a few minutes. Whala, you just meditated!
“In the end, just three things matter: How well we have lived, how well we have loved, how well we have learned to let go.” ― Jack Kornfield
What is your experience with meditation? Do you believe these myths? Leave your thoughts below!