It’s very easy to side-line ourselves from something that’s good for us or enjoyable. Sadly, misconceptions about meditation may prevent us from taking that initial step towards a lifetime habit that is both beneficial and pleasurable. Here are some answers to some common misconceptions about meditation that you might have. So, have a little read and it might help you get started down a new pathway.
1. I’m too busy to meditate
Most people can spare 10 – 20 minutes a day. That’s all it takes. Even 5 or 6 minutes would be a good start. It’s just a matter of regularly setting aside the time. Maybe you can cut short some trivia time. It’s worth the sacrifice and so much more beneficial for you.
2. My mind is too busy to meditate
Don’t worry the busy mind starts calming down after applying meditation practices.
3. I have no control over my mind
Well join the billions of other people in the world with the same problem. Meditation was made for you! You don’t have to actively control the mind, in fact if you do try to your meditation experience will be very frustrating. It may help you to think of the process of meditation like training a two-year-old. If you want the child to stop doing something you don’t rigidly forbid it because if you do you’re undoubtedly in for tantrums. Instead a wise parent will divert the child’s attention by giving it something more interesting to do. So, it is with the mind we don’t have to shut out all our thoughts we are just choosing an alternative occupation for it. Don’t expect instant results, in fact approach your meditation with no expectations and simply observe the process and the results.
4. I can’t sit cross legged on the floor
No worries you can sit in a variety of ways, the idea is to be comfortable but preferably to be as upright as possible. You can have your legs outstretched and lean against a wall, you can sit in a chair or can even sit up in bed. But it’s better to be sitting rather than lying down otherwise there’s a big chance we will drift off to sleep.
5. Sometimes I get agitated sitting in one place for any length of time
Several meditation genres include the possibility of walking while meditating. Of course, we don’t shut the eyes! The walking meditation that I have learnt is softly saying a mantra on beads while out for a walk. It brings another very nice dimension to a simple walk at sunset on the beach!
6. Meditation is against my religion
Christians, Buddhists, Moslems, Hindus and Jews have all embraced meditation practices throughout history. Meditation will enhance the understanding and appreciation of your religion and help you take it to a deeper level.
7. If you are depressed you shouldn’t meditate it will make you worse
Many health practitioners now advise their patients to try meditation instead of or as well as taking anti-depressant drugs. Studies which explored the effects of mindfulness meditation on mildly depressed people found that the subjects enjoyed the same relief from it as did the control group who took only the standard drugs. As a plus the meditators were less likely to experience a recurrence of symptoms in the following months. Other studies have found that meditation increases brain grey matter in the hippocampus which is the centre known to be important for learning and memory and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection. Meditation also has been found to produce decreased grey-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play a significant role in anxiety and stress. Other studies have found meditation helps to release serotonin and dopamine the feel-good substances in our brain.
8. Meditation is escapism
People try to escape from their life in all sorts of ways and resort to urges like drinking alcohol, taking drugs, watching tv or movies, eating and shopping to name but a few but none of these pastimes are going to give you the ability to deal with or appreciation for your life, they are simply cover ups. Meditation however will help you take a step back from your life and in the calmness and peace insights may arise. You will see the workings of the mind and emotions for what they are and find that place deep within where you reside which is full of happiness and wisdom.
9. People who meditate become complacent and accepting of all the bad things in the world
Its true meditation does help us to get a new perspective on life, seen from that place of contentment deep within but that doesn’t mean that a person won’t try and right things that they see as wrong. In fact, through meditation and self awareness one develops better understanding of how to go about making changes both within and externally.
10. Meditation is just a relaxation technique
A deep feeling of peace is indeed a very pleasant outcome of meditation but that’s only scratching the surface. Beyond the relaxation of body and mind is a wealth of insight and inner awareness.
11. You should be alone to meditate
While solitude is very conducive to meditation it is not a necessity, in fact sometimes it is nice to get together and communally meditate. Even though you are looking within you will feel supported and encouraged to be amongst people with similar intentions. This is especially good for those people who would like to meditate but feel they can’t because they are always surrounded by people with no way of escaping constant company.
12. Meditation is too serious
On the contrary meditation can make you very light hearted and joyous. In fact, the form of meditation called kirtan is the getting together with others and singing mantras. Musicians who like playing instruments can contribute in that way while others if the music gets lively like to get up and have fun dancing.
13. Meditation is selfish and self absorbed
When we are meditating we are certainly focusing internally but because meditation takes you on the journey of self discovery deep within, you will develop the ability to look outwards from that place of peace in a compassionate and non-judgemental way.
So now that all the obstacles have been removed just try it, find a good teacher and give it a good three or four months before making any assessments.
1. W. Kuyken “Mindfulness based cognitive therapy effects on depression” JAMA Psychiatry
2. Lazare et al “Meditation rebuilds brain cells” Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging 2011/01
3. Bujatti M, Riederer P. “Serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine metabolites in transcendental meditation-technique”. Journal of Neural Transmission, 1976.