As a teacher of meditation, I’m always perplexed when I find people who don’t want to try meditation, because the benefits are so enormous. I finally realized that it may be that some meditation myths are holding them back.
So I’d like to address them here:
The 9 most common Meditation Myths
- It’s hard
- I can’t stop my mind entirely
- It takes too long
- I have to sit on a pillow in the lotus position
- I have no time
- I’m not calm enough to meditate
- I’m not spiritual enough to meditate
- It will take years to reap benefits
- It’s a religious practice
None of the above is true, but let’s address them one at a time:
Meditation Myths debunked
It’s hard – If you believe it’s hard, it could be.
There’s a famous series of poems and pictures created in China in the 12th Century known as the Ten Ox Herding Pictures. When I was first introduced to them, I found them annoying because the gist of the poems and pictures is that: meditation is hard.
And it just doesn’t have to be. Because if you’re trying at all, you can’t do it wrong.
You have to stop your mind If you had that much mind control, you wouldn’t need to meditate!
In a 10-15 minute meditation, I may have only a few seconds of a truly still mind, and I consider that a success.
As my meditation teacher said to me: it’s normal to have thoughts such as wanting a grilled cheese sandwich pass through your mind. But if you start to visualize getting up, going to the kitchen, taking out the cheese, getting the bread and grill, and starting to make the sandwich, you’ve gone too far.
Approach meditation like listening to the radio in the car: when a song comes on you don’t like, change the channel. When a thought comes in that you don’t want, change the thought to whatever your meditation is focused on.
To paraphrase a famous quote:
“Thoughts will always come when you meditate, but you can stop them from nesting in your hair.”
It takes too long –you can start with 2 minutes a day, even while you’re cooking your morning egg. I can show you how.
I have to sit in the lotus position. Nope! Any comfortable position is fine, even in a chair.
I have no time. I can teach you how to find the time in my upcoming meditation course.
I’m not calm enough. That’s the point. Meditation will help calm you.
I’m not spiritual enough. It’s not spiritual or religious [unless you want it to be]. View it as a stress-reduction technique.
It will take years to reap benefits. Research shows you can begin to notice results within 4-6 weeks of regular meditation.
It’s a religious practice: It’s not religious — again, it’s a stress-reduction technique that you can practice and benefit from whether you’re Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or atheist. Or, you can make it the core of your spiritual practice depending on the technique you use. It’s your choice.
Some of this misconception comes from the fact that meditation is often associated with Buddhism. Here’s a quote from spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh which addresses this: [And I think you could substitute the word “meditation” for “Buddhism.”]
“There is a misconception that Buddhism is a religion and that you worship Buddha. Buddhism is a practice, like yoga, you can be a Christian and practice Buddhism. I met a Catholic priest who lives in a Buddhist Monastery in France. He told me that Buddhism makes him a better Christian. I love that.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Look for the launching of my online course, “Meditations on the Natural World” this April to learn a variety of meditation techniques – one is sure to be right for you!