Meditation can be a total mystery to many, and mistruths often make the practice of meditation seem daunting and inaccessible. Meditation techniques are simple to learn and add to life. They do not need to be made complicated or restrictive. It is helpful to debunk some of the common myths about meditation to help you start a meditation practice without mystery and mistrust.
Debunking five myths about meditation
1. I have to sit in a seated position to meditate
While many people like to take a seated position to meditate, using a lotus position/easy pose, sitting cross-legged on the floor, this is by no means essential to the practice of meditation. If sitting cross-legged is not accessible to you, try sitting in a chair to meditate or sit on a stool. The key intention of sitting will help elongate the spine, retaining a sense of engagement while meditating. You can also practice walking meditation techniques that achieve a similar intention. You can meditate lying down, but you might find that you are more likely to fall asleep in a supine position as you start to focus, so this should be reserved for people who cannot stay seated. Whichever position you try, it is important to find something that works for you, without too much discomfort and the right balance between active and passive muscle engagement.
2. I cannot move during a meditation session
A common myth of meditation is that you must be still throughout the session. While stillness is an aim of meditation, the intention is to try and reduce external stimuli. Moving your limbs during meditation can be a distraction. However, as you learn to meditate, you may find it helpful to change the position of your legs or arms at regular intervals to prevent any achiness arising, which can add to a feeling of distraction of the mind. If you are practising walking meditation, then you will move your body purposefully with intention and focus.
3. I need to meditate for long periods of time to see any benefit
Regular meditation practice offers benefits to physical and emotional health, and the length of time does not need to be extended to achieve this. Finding simple ways to fit meditation into your daily routine will help you to maintain a practice. One common argument is that you do not have time to meditate. Try to turn the question on its head and think about what you will not have time for if you do not pause and work on your own self-development. Many practitioners find that by meditating regularly, they actually feel that they have more time than before.
4. If I have thoughts when I meditate, I am doing it wrong
There are many different types of meditation, and some provide an alternative focus for your mind, for example, mantra meditation or breath meditation. Emptying the mind of thoughts is not the intention, but you may find with practice that you feel calmer and more comfortable with your thoughts being there. You may notice that your mind fills with random thoughts, which is also ok. Being conscious is the goal, conscious of whatever is going on in your mind at the time of meditation.
5. By meditating I am just ignoring real-life problems
Another myth is that people who meditate are somehow ignoring what is going on in the world and that meditating is escapist. The opposite is often true. When we are busy doing, doing, we avoid the challenging issues in life. We are so busy that we do not stop to observe or reflect on our actions and decisions. By taking time to meditate and move into a state of being, we can change how we interact with the world and be more conscious.
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