Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve probably heard many experts recommend regular meditation practice for stress relief, reduced blood pressure, weight management, anxiety, mood, and overall health.
I’ve been meditating regularly for over six years. But I still remember the time when I didn’t meditate daily. Back then, I thought that meditating was mystical and kind of “woo-woo.”
Then, one day I saw Deepak Chopra on a talk show. He guided everyone through a five-minute meditation, and I was amazed how relaxed and easeful I felt when we were done.
I bought one of his meditation CDs, and I’d use it occasionally, but I still didn’t think of myself as a meditator. Instead, I thought “other people” were meditators (like how I thought other people ran marathons before I started running).
I was working a very stressful job as a project manager at the time. So, when I made the time to meditate, it significantly impacted my stress level. But unfortunately, I thought I had to listen to the whole CD each time, which was about 45 minutes long. So, even though I knew it would make me feel better, I’d often skip it because I didn’t think I had the time.
Since then, I gradually started meditating more. And it’s helped me in many more ways than just my stress level. I sleep better, I’m more mindful about my choices and how I respond to situations.
Meditation can also help with blood pressure, weight management, anxiety, mood, focus, etc.
So, maybe you can relate to some of the obstacles and myths that kept me–and keep other people–from meditating. Here are some of the biggest ones I hear from my clients and students.
Myth # 1 – You’re supposed to empty your mind.
This myth is the one I hear the most. Meditation isn’t about stopping your thoughts. You’re human, and we all have countless thoughts running through our minds all day.
The trick isn’t to shut off your thoughts but to notice them. And then, instead of getting carried away with the stories you might be creating, let the thoughts float across your mind like white clouds against the blue sky. Let them go. You can come back to your thoughts later.
Once you get good at watching your thoughts without attaching to them, you can start to notice the space between your thoughts. It might just be a second or two, and that’s okay. But, over time, the space will get a little longer.
So, don’t beat yourself up when a thought shows up. If you feel yourself getting carried away with a thought, bring your attention to your breath. Notice your inhales and your exhales. You can do this repeatedly.
And finally, saying you’ve got too much on your mind to meditate is like saying you’re too dirty to take a shower.
Myth # 2 – You need to sit like a pretzel.
Many people sit cross-legged or in lotus pose, but that’s not a requirement. You can sit in a chair or a cushion, lie on your back, stand, or even do a walking meditation. The key is to be in a comfortable position that you can maintain throughout your meditation. As a yoga teacher, I recommend you keep your spine long. But if that feels uncomfortable, then skip it.
Myth # 3 – Only “enlightened” people meditate.
Meditation isn’t reserved for a select few; it’s available for everyone. It’s meant to help you find out more about yourself. It lets you get in touch with your intuition, body, and mind.
Myth #- 4 – You’re supposed to meditate in silence.
Some people like meditating in complete quiet, but other options include listening to music, nature, or guided meditations. You can use an app like Insight Timer or Calm, or check out one of my free guided meditations.
And what about when it’s noisy where you are? I once met a woman who told me that she could meditate anywhere. She would challenge herself to meditate in various situations. For instance, she told me she had meditated in the back of an airplane where she could hear the engines for the whole flight.
If you can meditate anywhere, you can learn to create a sense of ease in a multitude of situations that might otherwise be stressful.
And for some people meditating in silence can create anxiety rather than alleviate it. So, if that sounds like you, experiment with the other options.
Myth # 5 – Meditation is a religious or spiritual practice.
Prayer and meditation have some similarities. But meditation isn’t connected to any specific religion, and you don’t have to be religious to meditate, and many people who meditate have no particular religious beliefs.
Myth #6 – It takes a lot of time.
I often recommend that my clients start by setting a timer for just one minute. Try it now. Find a comfortable position. You can close your eyes or soften your gaze. Then notice. Pay attention to your breath and anything else that comes up during this time. When the timer goes off, you’re done.
Of course, you can meditate longer, but you don’t have to. And these small one-minute mediations are an excellent way to create a mediation habit. I could’ve used this advice back when I was starting out.
So, be kind to yourself and start small.
Myth #7 – There’s only one right way to meditate.
There are so many ways to meditate. And there is no single right way to do it. So don’t let anyone lead you to believe that you’re ever doing it wrong, even if you fall asleep or have a less than blissful experience. It’s all a practice, meaning that whatever happens is okay.
You can choose any position that feels good. You can create a special mediation space or meditate wherever you are. The point is to do it.
Some different types of meditation are:
- guided meditation
- mantra meditation – repeating a word, sound, or phrase
- walking meditation
- mindfulness meditation – when you’re eating or doing other activities
- metta meditation – also called loving-kindness meditation
- body scan
- focused meditation – focusing on an object such as a candle
- chakra meditation
I’d love to know your thoughts on meditation. Do you have a practice? If not, what’s your biggest struggle with getting started or maintaining a meditation practice. Send me a message, and let me know!
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