You probably know meditation can change your life right? But when I began meditating, I learned quickly that there's a lot of people passing down false stories about the process.
I’m going to show you the main meditation myths that prevent good people like you from meditating every day.
And I’ll dispel those myths once and for all so you can meditate, get more done, enjoy your precious time with family, and 10X your zest for life!
1. Meditation Myth: I Can't Stop My Mind From Thinking
Many over achievers and type A personalities stay away from meditation because of this myth. But in reality, meditation doesn’t require you to stop your mind from thinking.
Sasha Bronner from the huffington post sums it up best, “meditation is about tuning in - not tuning out.”
Attempting to quiet your mind often leads to more frustration than it's worth.
We have something like 65,000 thoughts per day. Simply shutting those off can feel impossible. But we do have the ability to choose how much attention we pay to our thoughts.
In fact those who say “I think to much to meditate” are the ones who can benefit the most. Because this is often the people who think a lot...about very random topics.
Rather than shutting off the thought, honing your meditation in on focusing your thoughts will serve you well.
If you do want to calm the chatter though, practice directing your focus to your breath. By redirecting your mind away from chatter and onto something such as your breath or an object in the room you can begin minimizing the noise and clearing your mind.
Just remember that thought is natural. So don’t get frustrated when you find yourself thinking about chores and “to-do’s”. Just get back into your meditation when you notice your mind wandering.
2. Meditation Myth: I'm Too Busy
This is another common myth and one that I have personally fallen into many times. When I wake up in the morning, usually the first things that enter my mind are my to-do’s. I ask myself what I want to accomplish today and find myself adding one thing after another to my list.
Even though my list is never-ending, I would catch myself still setting the goal of completing my list today. And I would put pressure on myself to complete the list...which is stressful.
It's all good to set goals. In fact you should be setting goals. But taking a step back and realizing that your list is always going to be there can help you relax a little. By acknowledging your never-ending list and giving yourself permission to take a few minutes for self care you can increase your productivity tenfold.
In fact, the chopra center says, “in life’s paradoxical way, when we spend time meditating on a regular basis, we actually have more time.”
We move into a state of higher consciousness and lower stress hormones in our body with meditation. AKA giving ourselves more focused attention, increased production, and probably a longer life span.
This is a fact that most high achievers realize at one point or another.
It's estimated that more than 80% of executives practice daily meditation. Oprah and her busy schedule have time for meditation, Tony Robbins who owns more than 20 businesses and actively manages 12 has time for meditation and the list of busy people who meditate goes on.
The point being that if you don’t have 10 minutes to meditate, you probably need several hours. So take a few minutes of me time and watch your productivity skyrocket while your stress plummets.
3. Meditation Myth: I Can't Sit Still
If you struggle with sitting still during meditation, I have good news for you. You can move around all you want! Don’t be afraid to change positions, scratch an itch or get up and walk it out.
Your meditation practice is all yours. Meaning that to get the benefits you have to own your practice and realize that you make the rules.
If you need to move around or if the popular methods don’t work for you, then break the rules and find what works for you.
If you're in a meditation class, then try to do these things quietly so you don’t disturb your neighbor. If you’re at home, then do whatever you want.
Meditation can be practiced in four positions: Lying down, sitting, standing, or walking - just try not to fall asleep if you lie down. So don’t beat yourself up if you need to move around or change positions frequently.
4. Meditation Myth: Meditation is Hard
Like anything, meditation is what you make it. If you go into meditation with the attitude that it's going to be hard, then it's probably going to be hard for you.
I want to encourage you to go into meditation with a relaxed attitude.
Try not to sit down and treat meditation like work. Instead give yourself permission to just relax. If your mind wanders, let it wander and then bring it back or focus on something else. If you need to move around, go for it.
One reason meditation can become difficult is because we’re too focused on the results so we try too hard to concentrate.
We get attached to what we want to get from our meditation and end up missing the whole point of meditation - being present in the moment.
Remember that meditation is a process rather than a destination. Keeping a relaxed, “it’s not going to be perfect” attitude will do wonders and make it much easier for you to enjoy the process.
5. Meditation Myth: You Have to Quiet Your Mind to be Successful
Similar to the “I think too much” point made above, your mind will never be quiet. Thougths are as natural as the wind. They happen and there’s no stopping them. More important than stopping the thoughts is being aware that you’re having thoughts.
Becoming aware of your thoughts is another level of consciousness. Before becoming aware of your thoughts, you may think that you are your thoughts. This is an important distinction since meditation is all about raising your consciousness and awareness.
Liveanddare.com really sums it up well in their article on meditation, “Meditation is simply the process of continuously regulating attention.” This statement is very simple yet profoundly true.
We aren’t aiming to clear the mind of thought but rather notice what we’re thinking about and then guide our attention to another though if needed.
So the next time you sit down, remember that you don’t have to stress about the thoughts that come up.
6. Meditation Myth: It Can Take Years to Learn
While it is true that meditation is a practice, it doesn’t take years to get the benefits. In fact, you may notice benefits from your first session. More than likely it will take about a week though.
The practice of meditation is not the same as losing weight or miles driven. There is no external metric by which to measure.
Instead meditation is all about the feelings you feel.
Therefore it's all internal. Studies show that just 8 weeks of meditation can show major improvements in your brain. In one study conducted by the Harvard medical school found that participants who meditated daily for 8 weeks showed improved emotional stability and response to stress.
While years of meditation can help you get better and reach deeper states of relaxation / higher states of consciousness faster, it also doesn’t mean that you’ll reach nirvana either.
There’s nothing but the present moment in meditation. The sooner you can embrace that simple truth, the further you’ll be. It doesn’t matter how long or short you’ve been practicing.
7. Meditation Myth: Meditation is a Spiritual and Religious Practice
This is one I’ve heard many times. While it is true that many eastern religions practice meditation it is not true that meditation can only be performed within those religious constructs.
One question that opened my eyes on this point was this, “was your breath a Buddhist breath, Muslim breath, or Christian breath?”
There’s obviously no buddhist, muslim or christian breath. The breath is the breath. Plus, there’s a huge amount of scientific evidence showing how meditation can positively impact your physical and mental health.
If you’re christian and your meditation brings you closer to God, that's great! If you’re not religious and meditation simply relaxes you and increases your focus, that's great too!
8. Meditation Myth: I Don't Know If I'm Doing it Right
The beauty of meditation is that it's completely personal. And it's something you can begin doing in just 5 minutes a day. As they say, the only “bad” meditation, is the one you don’t do.
I’m someone who loves to get bogged down in details.
I like to learn everything about a subject before going into it.
For example, when I began meditating I read all these books, articles, YouTube videos and so much more. I would spend hours at my computer every night. While this knowledge has come in handy with more experience, it's not something I needed to do right out of the gate.
With meditation, I can assure you this is not necessary. Sure you should read some books if that’s your jam but don't stress about doing it right.
The basic things you can do during meditation are:
- Count your breaths
- Focus on an object in the room such as a candle flame
- Engage in your thoughts
- Repeat a mantra, or even count numbers
- When your mind wanders, gently guide it back to what you’re doing.
9. Meditation Myth: You Have to Sit in the Lotus Position
Pssssshhhhhh… you don’t have to sit in lotus my friend. I’m a successful meditator and I still can’t get into the lotus position.
The most important part of that position is that it helps keep the spine straight. But that's only if you’re flexible enough to sit in lotus with a straight spine.
When starting out, you can sit on a chair, cross legged on the floor, lying down, or even walking around. It doesn't necessarily matter where or how you sit as long as you are comfortable. Because being comfortable allows you to focus on your meditation rather than your leg that’s falling asleep.
Another point is that you do want to keep your spine straight. So, any position that fulfills that without being uncomfortable is perfect for your meditation. Here’s an interesting article with different meditation postures.
10. Meditation Myth: Meditation is Only For Stress Balls
Obvious fact, most people who meditate are doing it for a reason. But that reason isn’t always stress related.
Many (dare I say, most?) of the most successful people on earth meditate and they’re already living what most of us would consider the “good life.” They have plenty of money, lots of assistants and do what they love doing all day.
So why are they meditating if they have such great lives already?
Because meditation helps with concentration, focus, productivity, attitude and so many other things. While meditation does have the benefit of drastically reducing stress hormones like cortisol, there are many other reasons to meditate.
11. Meditation Myth: Meditation is Only For Adults
As adults, we sometimes forget that kids feel everything we do. They get stressed out, anxious, depressed, and angry just like us. The difference being that we, as adults, have developed more coping mechanisms than our little counterparts.
But what if our kids had a powerful tool like meditation? What if they could pause for a moment to process how they were feeling?
Maybe that kid in the school yard who shoved you wouldn’t be such a big deal after all. Many parents are starting to teach their children mindfulness meditation as part of a before school routine. And some inner city schools have even gone as far as replacing detention with meditation.
These progressive schools have seen great improvements in students stress levels, test scores, and the happiness level of both students and teachers in the classroom.
So next time you notice your little one struggling, don’t be afraid to reach for a quick meditation session.
12. Meditation Myth: You Need a Mantra
If you’re not already familiar with the term “mantra”, it's simply a word or sound that’s repeated over and over during your meditation. It serves as something to focus on and keep your mind busy during your session.
While it's become popular in more recent years to find a guru and have them whisper your secret mantra into your ear; never to be repeated… it's not at all necessary.
Although, I do think it's a cool concept. Some say that the sound creates a vibration throughout your body that has a healing effect. And I will say that I think there’s some validity to that.
But at the end of the day, you can meditate with or without a mantra. It’s all about personal preference.
13. Meditation Myth: Meditation is For The Elite
Who told you this lie? The original meditators in eastern parts of the world gave up everything material. So they were technically “poor”.
Fortunately you don’t have to give up anything or go out and get anything if you want to meditate. It’s all about this one moment in time. And you can appreciate this moment without the need for anyone's permission or any equipment but your mind and body.
But if you do want a cushion, here's a review of the best ones: Meditation Cushions: choosing the right one.
14. Meditation Myth: Meditation is Escapism
At first glance, I can see how you might think this. But, meditation isn’t about escaping any problems. It's actually the opposite. It’s about going inward and facing problems, processing emotions and getting your attention into the present moment.
Escaping is typically done with TV, work, drugs and alcohol or something else that keeps your mind distracted.
In meditation, all of the things you’ve been running from come to the surface. It's up to you to acknowledge them. In fact, many people who think that meditation is escapism, have trouble meditating because they realize they’ve actually been escaping with other things this whole time.
15. Meditation Myth: Meditation is Anti-Christian
This is a big one that I hear a lot. In fact, rumor is that one of the leaders of a large church here dedicated an entire Saturday and Sunday to talking about how “evil” meditation is.
Here's the thing…
Anyone who thinks meditation is “evil” simply has not done their research...Or even a quick google search…
Meditation is rooted in eastern religions; I’ll give you that. But like I said earlier, is your breath Buddhist? Christian? Muslim?
I think you know there’s no such thing. Fact is that meditation is all about breathing and connecting with your present self. You even use meditation as a way of connecting with God or another God if that's your wish but it's not a requirement.
Plus meditation is heavily proven with science (western science) these days. So if you have to pidgeon hole meditation into a category, group it in with medication.
Here's some good reads on meditation and Christianity:
16. Meditation Myth: Meditation is The Same as Relaxation
While mediation is a form of relaxation, they’re not one in the same.
The reason being that meditation is a conscious and focused activity. In meditation you’re focused inward typically, you’re controlling your attention and you’re practicing accessing higher planes of consciousness.
Relaxation on the other hand can be any activity that’s not stressful. Television, movies, drinking beer, baths, etc. are all relaxing activities. But the thing about those activities is that they require you to focus externally.
When you focus outside of yourself, you’re not usually expanding your mind.
Once the movies over, you go about your day and the stress returns.
Whereas with meditation you feel relaxed and also better able to cope with stress and other problems that come with life.
17. Meditation Myth: I Have to Close My Eyes
If you have trouble keeping your eyes closed or you find yourself falling asleep then I have good news. You can keep your eyes open! Many meditators do keep their eyes closed after some practice but this isn’t a requirement for meditation.
In fact there are meditations where having your eyes open is part of the process. Such as when you focus on an object in the room or the dancing flame of a candle.
These are meditations I often did in the beginning and still do now. I used to fall asleep a lot when I first started out. Now it's not as big of an issue so I also do many meditations with my eyes closed.
But the point is that you don’t need to feel pressured to have your eyes open or closed. You can do either one or switch from open to closed in the middle of your meditation. Whatever makes you happy!
If you're thinking about meditating or you just wanted to see if the rumors were true, I hope this post helped you. Mostly I hope that you start meditating. Its free, doesn't take much time and it will change your life.
Is there a myth that's stopped you in the past? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment in the comments section below.