Meditation has become an increasingly popular practice for many people living in today’s modern world. Stress and anxiety have never been more prevalent than they are nowadays, and meditation offers a simple, natural solution to boost mental health.
Beginner meditators often have a lot of questions and even doubts about the practice. Now that more people in modern society are meditating, it’s easier than ever for rumors and false beliefs to spread that turn people off from trying it.
Here are just seven of some of the most common myths about meditation people tend to fall for as they find themselves exposed to or interested in the practice.
1. Meditation is for religious or spiritual people.
There are countless ways to meditate, and while the practice itself is rooted in ancient Buddhism and Hinduism, there’s a big difference between what meditation is and what religion is. Meditation is really all about reaching higher levels of awareness beyond the constant chatter of thought that goes on in our minds. Some people may use it to connect to their gods or other spiritual figures, but many use it to simply get back in touch with the vast reality of the here and now.
2. You have to sit quietly with your eyes closed to meditate.
Meditation is much more versatile than many people might think. You can do a walking meditation, you can practice mindfulness meditation while you do the dishes, or you can meditate while sitting in a normal seated position on a park bench with your eyes open. There are no extreme or strict rules that govern exactly how must one meditate for it to be considered meditation.
3. If your mind isn’t quiet, you’re not doing it right.
It’s normal for beginners to feel frustrated by how easy to is to constantly get swept up in thought as they meditate. But frustration only leads to more thought, and the vicious cycle only continues from there. The aim of meditation is not to put a halt to thought. Instead, it’s about finding that peaceful place that exists somewhere beyond thought. Those thoughts may still be going a million miles per hour, but meditation helps us avoid getting sucked deeply into them.
4. It takes a long time to experience the benefits.
While it certainly can take years of daily, disciplined practice to unlock access to those very high states of consciousness, there are some benefits to meditation people can experience even after just one session. You don’t have to be an experienced meditator to get the anti-depressant effects, stress relieving effects, a more expanded state of awareness, and freedom from fear.
5. Meditation should feel calming and blissful.
Meditation is often talked about as a relaxing, calm state of being. But many first-time meditators find it more torturous than enjoyable. Unpleasant thoughts and feelings may arise in the excruciatingly boring silence and stillness, which can be enough to turn anyone off from the practice. When meditation feels the hardest, however, that’s when you really need it the most.
6. Meditation numbs the mind from thought.
Some people argue that meditation is a form of escapism, as if it’s something we turn to when we want to run away from the reality of our problems and responsibilities. In truth, meditation is all about going deeper to the core of the self — the eternal spirit — which lies beyond our problems, responsibilities, and all the thoughts that are triggered in our minds because of them.
7. Meditation is a form of self-improvement.
This one is a doozy. Many people seek a meditation practice to “fix” some part of themselves — whether it’s excess stress, anxiety, insomnia, fear, or something else. But meditation really isn’t about self-improvement at all. What it does is it actually does is allow us to free ourselves from the constant state of “doing’ as we strive for more and more. Instead, we can embrace everything we are right now. Meditation is not a means to an end — it’s the practice of surrender.