Between 200 and 500 million people meditate globally. Over 14% of US adults have tried meditating at least once. And yet meditation is still commonly misunderstood. Here is accurate information regarding 8 myths about the mental side of meditation.
Meditation is no longer a practice reserved solely for those seeking spiritual enlightenment. It has now become a familiar, mainstream activity. Even those who do not practice meditation are familiar with the basic concept.
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What is Meditation?
Meditation is a practice that involves focusing or clearing your mind using a combination of mental and physical techniques.
The practice of meditation is thousands of years old, and different forms come from around the world.
On the outside, someone who’s meditating might not seem to be doing anything other than breathing or repeating a sound or phrase over and over. Meditation is as complex as anything in your mind and as simple as sitting down and breathing.
Depending on the type of meditation you choose, you can meditate to relax, reduce anxiety and stress, and more.
What are the benefits of Meditation?
Even if you’re unsure about the details, you’ve probably heard that meditation is good for you.
In addition to managing stress, mindfulness practices have been linked to better outcomes for patients with heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, depression, and many other conditions.
- Benefit Heart Health
- Help Control Weight Gain
- Reduce Sleeplessness and Insomnia
- Relieve Anxiety, Stress, and Frustration
- Increase Mental Acuity
- Relieve Feelings of Pain and Discomfort
Despite these proven benefits, there are still many myths about meditation.
My goal is to help you sort out the facts from the fiction, so you can discover the actual benefits of meditation and how it can improve your life.
8 Common Myths About the Mental Side of Meditation
Myth #1: Meditation is a religion or religious practice.
While meditation is a traditional part of many religions, it is not a religion in and of itself, nor is it directly tied to any one religion. Meditation adapts to anyone’s personal belief system regardless of their religion. It can also be a completely secular activity with no religious component whatsoever.
Myth #2: Special breathing techniques are just for beginners.
You will be very conscious of your breathing in the beginning. Watching your breathe or counting your inhalations and exhalations is a common technique when you’re starting out, because it helps you focus.
With time and practice, breathing techniques will become more familiar and comfortable. You will always come back to your breath during meditation, but you may be less conscious of doing so as your practice progresses.
Deep and relaxed breathing is essential at every stage of meditation.
Myth #3: You Must Master Your Ability to Concentrate Before You Can Meditate.
Your thoughts are accustomed to racing around all day long. They aren’t going to magically stop.
Meditation is the training that helps you learn to focus your mind. It is the teaching process, not the result of concentration.
Over time, you will enhance your ability to concentrate. In the beginning, anticipate that your thoughts will wander all over the place during meditation. This is normal.
Myth #4: Zoning Out is the Ultimate Goal of Meditation.
It is important that you set your intentions prior to practice. What is it that YOU want from each meditation session?
Meditation can be used just to relax.
It can be a calming respite from the busyness of life, or a form of self-care.
You can also use your sessions to sort out personal issues or seek spiritual attainments.
A state of pure obliviousness is not generally a goal, nor is falling asleep.
Myth #5: You’ll Isolate Yourself from Others.
Sitting by yourself can actually strengthen your connections with others.
You’ll develop more love and compassion, and a depth of understanding and acceptance of the human condition that you didn’t have previously. These feelings will cause you to seek out the companionship and friendship of other people when you are not meditating.
In addition, meditation does not have to be practiced alone. Group meditations are common.
Myth #6: You Will Consistently Improve With Practice.
This may be one of the toughest myths to dispel. Unlike many activities in which practice creates steady improvement, this isn’t necessarily the case for meditation.
Some sessions will go smoothly and sometimes you’ll struggle.
Just when you feel you’ve gotten your practice down, something will come along to distract you. Don’t feel badly if a session doesn’t go well, even if you’ve been very consistent over time.
Just accept it as the way it is that day. Tomorrow is a new day, and a fresh practice.
Myth #7: Meditation is Easy.
Sit quietly and breathe. Sounds easy, right?
Not so fast. Mindfulness can be hard work.
The process is easy.
To make breakthroughs in thinking, address your automatic defenses, set out in a more positive direction, and transform your entrenched habits – these things are hard.
Myth #8: Meditation is Difficult.
Yeah, I know, I just said it could be hard…
Meditation can be simple and fun.
Be gentle with yourself. Lighten up and enjoy the process. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to “do meditation right”.
It’s called practice for a reason. Have fun with the process and the discoveries you will make about yourself along the way.
- 8 Common Myths About the Physical Side of Meditation
- How to Start a Meditation Practice (for Women Over Fifty)
- Meditation and the Midlife Woman: A Powerful Combination
- 6 Basic Steps to Start Meditating When it All Seems too Complicated and Weird
- Guided Meditations That Help Beginners Find Their Focus
Final Thoughts on 8 Common Myths About the Mental Side of Meditation
Meditation practices are full of contradictions and diversity.
They’re also immensely rewarding and worth all the effort you put into them.
Clear up the myths and boost your physical and mental well-being through meditation.