Meditation is a powerful practice that brings profound benefits. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide have tried meditation at least once in their lives, and millions of people meditate daily. According to various research, meditation significantly reduces stress and anxiety.
There are many more benefits of regular meditation practice! Some of hem include:
• Calms the mind overwhelmed by thoughts
• Helps relieve depression and elevates mood
• Helps you stay centered and calm when facing difficult situations in life
• Gives you a larger perspective that allows you to see your life and its challenges
from a different, less restricted angle
• Promotes positive feelings and elevates mood
However, still, so many people shy away from meditation. Some think they are too busy to meditate (if you are one of them, then you should definitely meditate)! Many do not meditate because of a lack of understanding of this practice and aversion resulting from misconceptions.
This blog post will describe the six most common misconceptions about meditation. By dissolving these common misconceptions, I hope you will feel more motivated and curious to try this powerful practice!
Some people still confuse meditation with religion. So let‘s dissolve that misconception! I get shocked when I hear some people saying: “I do not meditate because I‘m Catholic (or another religion), and it is against my religion.” Nothing can be further from the truth! Religion is a system that requires you to have certain beliefs and take on a particular worldview. It asks you to perform rituals, celebrate certain holidays, and join a specific culture. Meditation does not require you to do or change any of that if you already belong to a religion! You can absolutely meditate while belonging to a religion. Meditation, in fact, may bring you closer to the true core and teachings of your religion (if performed correctly and consistently). Meditation does not belong to any culture of the world. It is universal. It is a
practice of going inwards to calm the mind, experience inner peace, and discover your true nature. Meditation is the journey inwards that leads to self-discovery.
In meditation, we do not ask the mind to think about certain concepts or look for a solution to certain problems. While contemplating concepts like truth, peace, or looking for answers may be very beneficial, it is a different practice. In meditation, we want to go beyond mental activity. Rather than engaging the mind to think, we want to do the opposite – we want to go beyond thoughts.
While meditation can be relaxing, it is not the same as listening to calming music, burning incense, or inhaling essential oils. Meditation involves using a specific method to go inwards while eliminating external distractions. That means no music! Having absolutely no external stimulants can feel scary to some people. It is because our minds are so used to having sensory and information inputs all the time. However, this challenge can be overcome gradually with consistent practice.
Meditation is about calming the mind and witnessing what is going on INSIDE of yourself. In the beginning, it may feel like the opposite of relaxation – you experience a flood of thoughts and sensations that distract you. However, after some time, you will notice feeling much more relaxed after the meditation. And that relaxation will hopefully maintain during the day. When you establish a regular meditation practice, you will start experiencing profound peace and relaxation also during meditation.
4. Stopping your thoughts
Many people think, „I can‘t meditate because my mind is too busy. “ First of all, if you think your mind is too busy to meditate, you should definitely be doing this! Meditation is not about stopping thoughts. You can‘t stop your mind from thinking! Rather, you want to learn to calm the mind and gradually go beyond the thought process. The thoughts will still be there. But rather than engaging with them, you observe them without judgment or reaction. I like to give the following metaphor to my students: imagine diving in an ocean. Your thoughts are the waves on the surface. If you choose to, you can observe them coming and going. You are the witness. But you can also turn your awareness to the depth of the water and the ocean surface.
5. Meditation requires sitting in pain for a long time
Some meditation schools encourage students to not move from the meditation posture even if physical pain or other intense sensations arise. While this approach has some benefits, like training patience and endurance, it may discourage many people. Meditation is something we must learn that gets better over time, like in almost any other discipline. You must first prepare and train if you have never run a marathon. If you are not a bodybuilder, you will not start training for hours with very heavy weights. The same is valid for meditation. The best progress comes when you go step by step, with consistency. No one should ask you to sit for hours without moving if you are at the beginning of your meditation journey. I believe it is crucial to be compassionate with yourself. For example, if your knee hurts or your leg falls asleep, take a little break. Straighten your leg, massage your knee for a moment, or wait until the circulation is back. It is tough to keep internal focus (which is what we want in meditation) when your mind is busy processing pain and discomfort.
6. Hypnosis or autosuggestion
In meditation, you do not suggest something to the mind or influence it from the outside, like in hypnosis. Meditation is actually the opposite of hypnosis. Meditation aims to make the mind clear and unaffected by the outside influences. You do not try to control the
mind. You simply observe the mind and allow it to become gradually more quiet and calm.
7. Yoga is separate from meditation
Unfortunately, many people think that yoga is something separate from meditation. I sometimes hear: „I do yoga, but I don‘t do meditation. “ Actually, you can‘t do yoga without meditation! Yoga is a holistic practice of balancing and uniting body, mind, and spirit. And meditation is the most essential part of yoga! Practicing asanas only to become physically stronger and more flexible does not make you a yogi. In fact, asanas (yoga postures) were developed to prepare for meditation. Asanas purify the energy channels and make your body more flexible and strong, making sitting in meditation much easier. Another critical preparation practice is pranayama – breath-work. It balances your energy and internalizes the mind. While all yogic practices are beneficial when practiced just by themselves, the most benefits are gained when practiced as a complete system, in a wise approach. Do you resonate with some of these misconceptions? Has reading this article changed your view on meditation? What is your experience with meditation practice?
Rama, S. (….). Meditation: …. …..