I’ve never been a rebel. Buttttt I do break a lot of meditation “rules”???????? I just don’t buy into lotus pose and clearing the mind. I actually think it’s stressful. I decided to just do my own thing while meditating. And you know what? I still reap the benefits. I’m more productive, I’m happier, I feel more creative and most importantly I just feel more ME. My goal for this blog post is to debunk some of the most common meditation myths. I want you to be willing to give meditation just one more try.
Before I get into the most common meditation myths, I have to get on my soapbox for a quick minute. It breaks my heart when I hear people say they hate meditation bc they just “can’t sit still for five minutes.” GURLLL. DONT. Make your own rules. I meditate for under five minutes. I don’t completely clear my mind – I typically daydream and it still works.
The benefits of meditation are undeniable. Science has proven time and time again how critical meditating is for our health and wellbeing. A few of the science-backed benefits of meditation include reduced stress and anxiety, reduced pain and stronger immune system, lengthened attention span, improved sleep, and decreased blood pressure. So why aren’t more people meditating? I believe it comes down to what we think we know about meditation.
Meditation Myths #1: I can’t meditate because I can’t quiet my mind.
Clearing your mind is something that’s tossed around a lot. I’m not sure why. Some meditations encourage you to clear your mind, but many don’t. Every 5-6 seconds your mind is naturally going to be diverted to a different thought. This is human nature. Meditation doesn’t ask that you “simply stop” these thoughts. Suppressing the thoughts actually causes more resistance. In a recent study, suppressing a thought actually causes the thoughts to appear more. Talk about irony.
Instead, allow your thoughts to drift in and drift out. Observe your thoughts as if they are clouds. The cloud floats into your mind and then it simply floats out. Allowing the mind to wander allows the brain to rest further. It’s okay to daydream. Mentally take yourself to a quiet garden and just hang out! A recent Ted Talk by Light Watkins says that these thoughts aren’t “blocks” to your meditation; however, they are symptoms.
Lastly, not all meditations ask that you clear your mind. Some of them ask you to think of very specific scenarios or to create one. If “clearing” your mind is something that stresses you out, I would recommend trying a guided meditation – this will give you something to think about and allow you to relax.
Meditation Myths #2: I don’t have time to Meditate
If Oprah and Kobe Bryant have time to meditate during their day. It’s likely we do too. However, I’m not trying to shame you or guilt you into meditating, but offer a shift in perspective. Taking time to meditate for even five minutes will actually make you more productive during your day. Because meditation helps improve your focus, you are able to get more things completed in a shorter amount of time.
Additionally, there was a study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, meditation slows cellular aging. This affects skin elasticity, vision, cognitive functioning, etc. Conversely, imagine how much stress is advancing cellular aging. If you’d like to read additional articles on this, this one is a personal favorite on meditation’s health benefits.
Finally, there are also short meditations and meditations for beginners that could be a great alternative. Youtube offers five-minute meditations or meditation timers so you may receive many of the benefits without sacrificing too much of your day. Another helpful idea is to pick two days a week to begin your practice. Start small. Set a calendar reminder and commit to at least 2 days a week. Do it as often as you can until you develop a consistent practice.
Myth #3: I’ve tried it and I don’t like it or I think it’s boring
There are SO many different types of meditation. You just have to find the right one that works for you. You may use various types of meditations. If you are new to meditating you may prefer a guided meditation over unguided. In guided meditation, a teacher guides you through each part of the practice. This can be in person or on an app like Headspace or Calm. Here is a video with more information on guided meditations.
Active meditations are another great alternative. This is common for runners and other types of athletes. Many athletes don’t even realize their meditating, but by focusing their attention during a working out they are receiving all the same benefits of a sitting meditation. Below are a few types of meditations – I placed a star next to my personal favorites!
- Loving Kindness
- Body Scan*
- Breath Awareness
- Focused Attention
- Yoga Meditation
- Breathwork* (Would not recommend for beginners)
Meditation Myth #4: Meditation is Religious or Spiritual
This is a common myth that I think deters a lot of people. Most modern meditations have nothing to do with religion at all, but they can if you want them too. Meditations can be used for any purpose we desire. They are a tool. How you use that tool and spend that time is up to you. Many people use this time to pray and connect further to God. However, many people use meditation to connect with themselves or to disconnect from a crazy day and to just relax.
Can you find a religious meditation? Absolutely. Are a majority centered around religion? Nope! You do not need to believe in a particular religion or in any particular thing to have a meditation practice. Meditation is solely about calming the mind and creating peace.
Myth #5: I need to follow certain rules during my meditation practice
This is where I want you to be selfish. Meditation is all about doing what is best for you. What’s most important is that you are comfortable. I’ve had sessions where I’ve laid in my bed, sat in a chair, and sat cross-legged on the floor. You do not have to sit in a specific meditation pose or have a meditation mantra. You do what’s best for you! There are no rules; however, there are certain practices that are helpful, but they are suggestions. Try doing some research on Youtube (5-minute meditation or meditation for beginners) or downloading a free meditation (Insight, Calm, Headspace) app to help you get started.
Have you heard any other Meditation Myths that need debunking? If so, reach out to me in the comments or on Instagram. I’m happy to help you regardless of where you are in your journey. My biggest suggestion if you decide to give meditation one more change is to give it a few tries and enjoy and have fun!!. Having a regular meditation practice can be lifechanging.
If you are looking for other mindset resources check out the following blog posts!