So, you’ve been feeling stressed to the max and have come across meditation. There’s a lot of talk about what meditation is and how it could potentially benefit your mind and body. And all the chit chat, there are a few myths that need to be busted.
Meditation can have incredible effects on your mind and how you organise and cope with your thoughts. It teaches you how to better understand your mind and deal with situations in your everyday life in a healthier way.
If you’re a meditation newbie looking for some guidance, our beginner’s guide to meditation should help you out.
But for now, let’s bust some of the biggest myths surrounding meditation.
1. Meditation requires a clear mind
Many people avoid attempting meditation because the thought of sitting with their busy mind in silence is a little too much. Maybe they even think that they’re just incompatible with the practice because their mind is so filled with chatter.
But this could actually be an even bigger reason to give meditation a go. The aim of the practice is to help you to understand your busy mind, and learn how to allow thoughts to come and go without causing you too much anxiety.
So, don’t worry if your mind feels like it’s got a constant dialogue, that might make you the perfect candidate.
Busy minds might need a bit more guidance, try out the guided meditation below.
2. You have to sit cross legged
And you don’t have to say “om...” either.
Sitting cross legged with your fingers poised on your knees is probably one of the first images that comes to mind when you think of meditation. But never fear, if you’ve not sat crossed legged since primary school, we’re not expecting you to start now.
In most meditation practices, sitting cross legged isn’t necessary. You can sit in a normal seat, or even laid down sometimes. Pretty much whatever you find comfortable, should be your go to.
ou want to be able to focus on your meditation and so don’t want to be distracted by bad posture or a dead leg!
3. You need to meditate every day for at least 20 minutes
Although meditation is no quick fix and definitely requires consistency, you don’t have to do more than 20 minutes a day to feel any of the benefits.
In fact, being faced with such a lengthy expectation for something that you’ve never tried before will feel overwhelming and probably discourage you from continuing to practice.
It’s much better to begin with smaller sessions, as short as 3 minutes, to ease you into the practice.
If you find meditation to be something beneficial to you, you’ll naturally want to set aside more time for your practice, and build up the length of your sessions. But anything more than 3 minutes isn’t necessary when you’re just starting out. Allow the length of your sessions to build naturally as you progress.
Want more info? Try our advice from a mindfulness coach below.
It's time to take 5 and try this.
4. Meditation is a quick fix for stress and anxiety
A lot of people may enter meditation with the expectation to feel like a brand-new person after just one session. Although you can feel the benefits of taking a few minutes out of your day to spend meditating with yourself, this won’t be long term.
However, the more you practice meditation, the more you’ll feel the benefits and develop your skill.
Approach meditation with an open mind, not expecting it to be a quick fix for stress and anxiety, but being something, you invest in, for long term benefits.
5. Meditation isn’t working if you get lost in thought
Often times, especially if you’ve just begun meditating, you can feel frustrated when your mind wanders during a session. Many people see the goal of meditation to be a clear mind, with no thoughts running around.
Neither of these are the case. In fact, its normal for your mind to get lost sometimes during meditation. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t “working”. It simply means you’re human, and so you naturally sometimes get side-tracked with a thought, but you’re still meditating.
Part of the practice is identifying your thoughts, and allowing them to pass, bringing your attention back to the breath.
6. Meditation is purely for yourself
Whilst its clear meditation can hugely benefit your own mind, it’s not an entirely selfish act.
Meditation practice usually encourages thinking about how it can positively impact those around you. Maybe it makes you a nicer, more approachable person. Or perhaps it could boost your self-confidence and make you a better colleague at work. Or maybe your focus is how it will aid your compassion and empathy for those around you.
All of these are plausible long-term goals for meditation. The effects of your practice are just as profound on others around you as they are for yourself.
7. Meditation is strictly spiritual
Although meditation does have cultural associations with some Eastern traditions, it’s not strictly for those with religious or spiritual beliefs.
It’s definitely possible to have more of a secular approach to meditation, using it to understand your own mind and spend more time with yourself, rather than for any religious reasons.
You may find you feel more spiritual after meditation, but this is usually the case if you’re already spiritual in some way. It’s more about your own personal approach to meditation than anything else.
Take Home Message
Ultimately, if you feel the stresses of life getting a little on top of you, trying meditation won’t hurt. And it may actually bring about some long-term benefits that you’ll be grateful for. Enter it with an open mind, which should be easier now some of the main myths have been busted!
So, get in your zen zone, and meditate your way to a more mindful life.