7 Meditation Myths and my challenges to them
Meditation myths – to many people, the word ‘meditation’ brings up images of chanting monks in a distant monastery on a hilltop on a deserted island. Draped in long, shapeless robes, they spend eighteen hours a day in solitude for many years, practicing their meditation until they become masters and achieve the elusive state of enlightenment we all want to find.
Whilst it’s true that Meditation was first practiced within a religious context, with the goal of achieving spiritual goals, most modern meditation carried out in the West is not related to religion in and of itself. You can meditate regardless of your faith or if you have no faith at all.
Meditation is now mostly practiced for the well understood health benefits to be gained from taking a little time out. It has been proven that regular meditators suffer less from stress and have a greater tolerance for it. They have an increased ability to access more useful brain states and often think more effectively and creatively. They have more insights into practical things and have more empathy for others. They are more balanced in their thinking and often more motivated. They have more energy, need less sleep and may even younger than they actually are.
If all of this is achieved through meditation relaxing you, it’s not surprising that more regular people practice meditation now than ever before.
If you’ve ever thought about starting meditation but haven’t done it, it’s possible that you will have been put off by one or several of the meditation myths.
Meditation Myths #1 – It’s just too difficult!
Meditation is easy and will only be as difficult as you make it. Getting started at all is the most difficult part and after that, manage your expectations and don’t expect too much too soon. Resolve to make a start and it’s already easier.
Meditation Myths #2 – You need to be a hippy or a religious zealot to do it
We’ve covered the religious angle and talk of meditation may also conjure up images of children of the 60’s, chanting and sitting around smoking pot, taking LSD or whatever.
We shouldn’t judge other people, but not wanting to be associated with that kind of person probably stops a lot of people from meditating. In the past it might have been a bit embarrassing to admit you meditate in case you were assumed to be one of those.
But it’s not like that these days. In a US Dept of Health survey in 2012, it was calculated that 8% of Americans meditate, that’s over 18 million people who have discovered to their satisfaction what meditation is and how it improves their lives.
Meditation Myths #3 – You have to meditate for hours and hours to get a benefit
You do not have to meditate for hours to get benefits from meditation.
Part of the benefit is in allowing yourself some time to let the world stop demanding from you and to connect with yourself.
Five minutes of doing that a day will feel so beneficial you want it to continue.
Optimally, 20-30 minutes a day is all you need, and every time you meditate, the quality of your meditation will improve that little bit more.
Meditation Myths #4 – You have to clear your mind to meditate
Don’t think of a green field! What did you think of?
If you’ve ever tried to think of nothing you will realise how silly it is to believe you have to clear your mind.
Instead, you have to narrow your focus so that your mind will be occupied and not be tempted to remind you of this chore you have to do, or that problem which persists in your life and gives you stress.
As you meditate you can focus on a point on a wall, or you can chant a mantra to force your mind to think of the mantra. The mantra is not the meditation but occupies your mind while the meditation goes on so it doesn’t distract you.
Meditation Myths #5 – You have to do it in a certain place in a certain way
You can do meditation anywhere and tailor your practice to suit yourself.
Many meditate in the traditional lotus position, sitting down, but you can upright sit in a chair if you wish.
You can even lie down but you face the danger of falling asleep instead of meditating, especially if you have recently had a meal and your stomach is full.
It may be beneficial, however, to have a dedicated time and place to meditate. The brain likes routine and after a while your brain would realise, oh we are in the meditating place, we are going to meditate and it may become easier. It may also be better if that place is relatively tidy, uncluttered and free from distractions.
Meditation Myths #6 – Meditation is just a way to escape life’s problems
On the contrary, meditation improves your ability to deal with stress and as you meditate more, you will find that your capacity for stress increases and things that used to stress you don’t any more. You will feel an improvement in self esteem and develop new inner strength.
You will become more mentally agile and able to deal with life’s challenges more intuitively.
Your interactions with other people will improve as your empathy increases.
You will return from your meditation sessions better able to cope with any problems you may have had, not having just escaped from them for 20 minutes.
Meditation Myths #7 – Meditation takes a long time
While it may be true that meditation can take a long time to absolutely master, it is also true that short, regular periods of meditation can deliver sufficient benefits for most people.
As mentioned earlier, any time spent in regular meditation is worthwhile. You just have to make it your goal to fit it into your lifestyle.
Spend a bit less time watching TV. Get up a little earlier and meditate instead of sleeping. Spend 15 minutes on a nice day in the quiet of the garden, soaking up the sounds and sights of nature, feeling a connection with it.
You don’t have to be a monk to enjoy it.
But there is a way to help you get more out of meditation more quickly ….
Listening to binaural beats (read more about them here) whilst meditating can quickly guide your mind into a healthy brainwave frequency and help you get more benefits from your time meditating.
If you wanted to try a single track to get you started, I recommend Deep Meditation. The track brings the mind to a deep meditative state, similar to that achieved by practiced meditation masters. The music contains Theta waves that instantly get to work on relaxing the mind and clearing a pathway for inner awareness and higher spiritual consciousness. Deep Meditation
If you wanted to get into a whole program that takes just 12 minutes per day and over a twelve month period gradually trains your brain to achieve ever deeper levels of meditation, I heartily recommend Zen 12 as I am following the program myself just now and can vouch for the benefits. Each level has an introduction and four different backgrounds to suit your mood and environment. Zen12