5 Common Misconceptions about Meditation

After last week’s lengthy post, I was looking to create a more easy read for folks. When I initially started this draft, it was prior to the pandemic, so there are a few references to activities which one would partake in if we did not find ourselves currently in isolation from one another. I just wanted to make a note of that in case someone reading this finds it insensitive or ignorant for me to be talking about going to the club or going to a dentist appointment in light of the current global situation – I am aware of the current situation and respect the work being done to alleviate and overcome the virus.

Meditation is a way to alleviate stress, relax the mind and get more in touch with your wants, needs and emotions. A quick google search and you will find there are a TON of resources on the Internet about how to meditate properly. However, I think many people stop themselves from meditating before they have even started for a number of reasons, including simple misunderstandings associated with the practice itself. Today’s post is about identifying misconceptions commonly associated with meditation and to prove that you are fully capable and ready to embark on a daily meditation practice.

1. It requires a lot of time

Credit – Giphy

Let me ask you this

Are you on your lunch break at work right now on your phone? Are you grocery shopping? Did you just put your kid down for a nap? Are you sitting on your couch watching tv and you happened to come across this glorious blog? Are you waiting at your gate to board an airplane? Are you lying in bed? Are you at the club regretting wearing a dress, when you shoulda worn jeans (applies to men too, I am welcoming of all humans on this blog) with an over-priced drink in your hand cause you didn’t have time to down that last glass of cab sav like friggin’ grease lightning while pre-drinking with the girls, cause your Über arrived and Jen was taking FOREVER IN THE BATHROOM and now you’re just wishing you were home in bed cause you’re so over it?

yep yep yep

Then you have time to meditate. I just searched for the shortest meditation on InsightTimer – 60 seconds. You are the master of your own time management. Myself, I find it easiest when I am in bed – I try to meditate once when I wake up in the morning and once again when I am going to sleep. It’s not that you don’t have the time, it’s that you’re not creating and giving yourself the time. So give yourself some time to meditate, you deserve it!

2. There is a right way and a wrong way to meditate

Credit – Giphy

There is no right or wrong way to meditate (I mean … maybe if you were screaming while doing it, but maybe you find screaming relaxing? I have researched scream meditation for the sake of this blog and have yet to come across it, but I ought to take a page out of Grimes’ book – ANYWAYS I DIGRESS). Meditation is not a one size fits all practice. What works for one person, may not work for another person and so on and so forth.

Bottom line, you need to ask yourself if what you are doing is making you feel relaxed and feel present. If it’s not then mix it up – change the position you find yourself in – I prefer to be lying down, (Nobody puts baby in a comfortable seated upright position). Perhaps you’re really not feeling the session you’re listening to – turn it off and search for a new one – I can typically tell within the first 20 seconds of a meditation recording if I’m going to be able to stick with it. Change your environment to one which better suits your practice. When I’m comfortable in bed, that is when it works best for me. Sometimes I will also do a quick 5 minute meditation sitting at my desk at work throughout the day.

3. It’s hard

Garden gnomes think of nothing (I mean they aren’t real but that’s irrelevant), why can’t I?
Photo by dorota dylka on Unsplash

When I first started meditating, I was under the impression that when you meditate, you need to focus on thinking of nothing – like completely clear your mind, don’t think of anything, just sit there and just be. While this is partially true to some degree, anybody who has meditated will know, and for those of you who haven’t but want to pick up the practice, trying to think of nothing when you meditate is really hard, close to impossible, especially for someone just beginning to introduce meditation into their life.

Think of your mind and your thoughts like a little boy whom you’ve just told to sit still in his chair at the dinner table: He will probably wiggle around in his seat, get distracted, not eat his food, he might get up and pet the family cat (hell I am a grown ass woman and I still do that with my cat, I regret NOTHING).

Bottom line, your mind will behave in a very similar fashion: It will bounce around, wander off from the present moment, it will bounce to you needing to make a dentist appointment, it will bounce to the dinner reservations you have with a friend in the evening and deciding what to eat, it will bounce to telling you you should be washing the dishes, it will bounce to that sort of goofy thing you said earlier that day at work to your boss. This may come as a surprise to you but your distracted mind is a natural part of life – it occurs to all of us.

As with anything, this practice requires … well … practice. You probably won’t be used to sitting in stillness and allowing yourself the time and the space to practice, so yes, it might be slightly difficult when you first start to meditate, especially seeing as this is something new you are introducing to your mind and body – but it gets easier with time and practice. Engaging in a daily meditative practice is indulgent – most of us are go, go, go, go, go. Trust me – allowing yourself the time to slow down feels really good.

4. It’s boring

Credit – Giphy

Nowadays we live in a very “instant gratification” society, where if we don’t receive what we want RIGHT THIS MINUTE we move on quickly to the next thing which catches our attention. Social media is a very good example of this. We put out and in most cases we receive back (fairly quickly) the approval of others primarily through likes and positive feedback – it’s a quick and easy way to feed our egos.

So a practice such as meditation, which requires us to do the opposite, (it slows us down, and takes time to build in most cases), can be hard for some folks to not make it out like a snooze fest.

On the contrary, meditation is not boring at all. In fact it actually involves you taking an active role – noticing your breath, taking note of your surroundings (sight, smell, sound, touch, taste), gently nudging your mind to return to the present and to your breath. If such bouncing thoughts as the ones above pop into your head (and they surely will), the key is to acknowledge these thoughts, but let these thoughts come and go. Don’t force them to leave (that will make them stick around even longer) but at the same time be mindful they are present. This is at the core of meditation.

5. It’s a Woo Woo Practice

Credit – Giphy

I think one common misconception for people who do not practice meditation, is that it’s some sort of “hippy-dippy” hogwash – it involves crystals, shakras, burning incense, dancing around a fire, perhaps singing kumbaya. While I would definitely agree there are more spiritually inclined meditations available for people to enhance their practice, and that your overall vibrations can be increased with the use of crystals, and cleansing your environment with incense prior to a meditation may provide a more connective, clear practice, these aspects are not a requirement. You don’t have to partake in them. Currently I don’t burn incense or use crystals but I would love to learn more about crystals and their benefits, so in the future I might incorporate them into my practice.

Meditation can be as straightforward and simple as lying on the floor in silence, and observing your breath. I wouldn’t call that woo woo I would call that relaxation, I would call that improving your ability to live in the present moment. When our lives often feel so frantic and busy, and our minds jump from past to present to future, why wouldn’t we want a moment to slow down?

Meditation has actually been at the core of much scientific research. A recent study completed by Harvard researchers suggests that meditation may have the capacity to alter the brains of patients with depression for the better. Many meditation teachers on InsightTimer are respected hypnotherapists, psychologists, scientists, coaches, monks – highly intelligent people, creating meditations for you to practice with. While there certainly may be hippies and more spiritually inclined individuals who partake in meditation, they only make up a fraction of the meditation community as whole.

What are some meditation misconceptions you have heard? Share them in the comments below! Be sure to hit the follow button for new posts every day! Thanks for reading.

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