Across the globe, meditation is becoming increasingly popular with a range of health and lifestyle benefits associated with a regular practice. While we are thrilled to know that more people are including meditation in their daily routines, we are also aware that there are some meditation myths circling about that need to be busted.
Here is a list of the top myths we’ve heard about meditation, and we’ve busted them with truth bombs so that you can have a greater understanding of what meditation is and what it is not.
1. You Have to Clear Your Mind
Possibly the most prevalent myth on the internet about meditation is the belief that you need to clear your mind, removing all thoughts. For many people who struggle to quiet the mind, they give up on meditation quickly, believing they’re not doing it right and finding it too difficult.
According to Deepak Chopra, “We can’t stop or control our thoughts, but we can decide how much attention to give them. Although we can’t impose quiet on our mind, through meditation, we can find the quiet that already exists in the space between our thoughts.”
If you believe you think too much to be able to meditate, you’re probably one of the people who could benefit most from a meditation practice! Being mindful of your thoughts is all part of the experience and having thoughts in meditation is a good thing. Some meditation practices will incorporate tools to redirect thoughts while others encourage you to sit in your thoughts and work through scenarios that are troubling or challenging you. Meditation is more about tuning in than tuning out, and the more you practice, the more you train your brain to be mindful and more resilient to stress triggers throughout your day.
2. You Have to Wear Yoga Pants or Sit on a Mountain With a Serene Background
Stereotypical images depict people meditating in the wilderness, with their legs cross-legged and hands in the mudra position; while we’re sure this would be a beautiful way to meditate, it is not a realistic or common practice. There is no strict dress code to follow or environment you need to find or create. All you really need is somewhere to sit or lay comfortably, or a little space to perform postures if you’re doing a moving form of meditation (more on this below).
For many people, they meditate on their office chair, in bed, on the floor of the living room - anywhere that is comfortable and allows you to focus inward for a few minutes.
3. It Takes Hours/Years to Receive the Health Benefits
The benefits of meditation can be felt both immediately and for the long term with continual practice. As soon as you take a moment to experience meditation, the calming effects may begin straight away, and you may find your sleep improves quite quickly. The more frequently you practice meditation, the more benefits you will see.
4. You Need to be Religious to Practice
While stemming from Buddhist and Hindu religious roots, meditation as a practice has no specific religious ties and does not require any religious belief to deliver its physical and mental health benefits. Meditation is about the self and going inward. You can guide your own meditative journey and do not need any spiritual, religious, or God-centered beliefs to be part of your practice.
5. You Have to Sit Still
Believing you have to sit still for hours can deter many people from developing a beneficial meditation practice, but this is not a mandatory element of meditation. If you find yourself wanting to fidget and move while you meditate, that is perfectly fine. Quite often the body can spasm, jolt, twitch, or make you feel like coughing, which is just a few of the many ways the body is releasing stress when it goes into a state of restfulness. You can readjust to get comfortable, scratch that itch, and return back to your practice.
In the Vedic tradition, we say: “Take it as it comes, and as it comes, take it."
If you don’t like sitting, try one of the other traditional meditative positions - standing, walking, or lying down - plus there is a range of movement-based meditation practices including Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and Yoga.
6. It Takes 2 Hours Per Day
Modern lives are busy, full of endless to-do lists, and many of us feel like we cannot find a spare 5 seconds to scratch our heads, so fitting meditation into the schedule could seem like a difficult task but remember, you have the power to choose how you spend your day. If Oprah, Kobe Bryant, Arianna Huffington, and Novak Djokovic have time to meditate, you probably do too.
Make time for meditating in the morning and you will probably find that you get more done over the rest of your day than if you jumped straight into your schedule in a stressed-out, rushed manner. Or, you could try meditating right before you go to sleep to help you relax and experience a deeper, more restorative sleep. You can start off with short 5-minute meditations if that feels easier to take on and then work up to longer sessions.
7. There's Only 1 Way to Meditate
Some people love to chant, others feel silly; find the type of meditation that feels right for you. There are many ways you can meditate, with the most popular being:
- Guided meditation: when you listen to someone else direct you through meditation practice, encouraging you to bring your awareness to parts of the body, sounds around you, and feelings within you. This can be a recording or a live, in-person practice.
- Transcendental meditation: this is a type of silent mantra meditation (made popular by Oprah and Jerry Seinfeld).
- Visualization: the art of creating images of your goals as a form of communication.
- Mindful activities: this brings attention to daily chores and activities to focus on the present, the sensations experienced, and the gratitude that can be found.
- Movement meditation: Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and Yoga bring a relaxed but alert state of mind with intentional breathwork and slow but deliberate movement.
8. You're Doing it Wrong/It’s Difficult
The only way you can meditate wrong is if you don’t do it at all. Taking into account all the other myths we’re debunking in this article, you’ll find that meditation can be done quite easily and quickly in a range of ways. If you’re unsure about meditation, try guided meditations for instruction on what to focus your mind on. You can also learn transcendental meditation from trained teachers.
9. It's Only for Stressed People
While meditation does deliver a range of stress-busting benefits, there are many reasons why everyone, whether they are stressed or not, should regularly practice meditation - including improved sleep, improved immune system, enhanced brain function, and more.
Tennis star Novak Djokovic regularly practices meditation to help him stay at the top of his game. Regardless of whether you’re a world champion, have hopes to become one, or just want to make positive changes in your life, there’ll be something you can take from a meditation practice to help you improve your health and wellbeing.
Plus, don’t think this is just something for adults to do, children can also benefit from meditation. In fact, schools found students who meditated performed higher on tests, improved their behavior, positively impacted their mental health, and generated more positivity in the classroom.
Are you interested in getting started? If you're new to meditation head here to watch a short video from Tom Cronin. He will introduce you to the basics of meditation, touching on the different types and how you can add this ritual into your daily life.
If you're ready to deepen your practice, join us for the 2019 Meditation Summit. Discover the profound effect meditation has on our mind and body in this free 10-day online event. Save your free spot to the 2019 Meditation Summit here.