• 5 Common Meditation Myths

    Mediation may be simple, but because it’s not necessarily easy, many myths abound. To encourage you to start or restart your own practice, we’ve debunked five of the more common myths below:

    Myth #1: I’m too busy to meditate!
    "Some people think that meditation takes time away from physical accomplishment. Taken to extremes, of course, that’s true. Most people, however, find that meditation creates more time than it takes." ~Peter McWilliams

    Are you really too busy to meditate? How much time did you spend mindlessly checking your social media newsfeed, checking your inbox, or just surfing the internet in general today? Most of the busyness in our lives is a result of distracted focus—an inability to stay focused on a task at hand (especially in these days of digital distractions), or getting caught up in the whirlwind of thoughts going through our heads.

    Ever notice how if you set a timer to do a task (like washing the dishes or mowing the lawn) it ends up taking much less time than you expected? In fact, you probably spent more time thinking about what needed to be done than the time it actually took to do the thing. Setting a timer is one way to helps you stay focused on the task at hand, allowing you to be more efficient and productive as you become present in the moment, unperturbed by extraneous thought. Meditation works the mind similarly, training you to resist distractions and act with more intention (without the need to set a timer every time you do something!).

    Meditation can also help you focus on the big picture, and you may just realize some of the activity contributing to your busyness isn’t actually contributing more joy, harmony, and peace in your life.

    Try it and see for yourself—commit to meditating for just 10 minutes a day for the next 7 days. And see if you don’t suddenly become less busy.

    Myth #2: Meditation requires sitting silently with your eyes closed
    When you think of meditation, the most common image is of someone sitting on a cushion legs twisted like a pretzel with their eyes closed. But meditation takes many forms. It can be done actively through dancing, walking, emotional expression, and even speaking gibberish! Or simply by being very present in whatever task you are engaged in, whether washing the dishes, knitting, fishing or anything else. In fact, when the Zen master Hakuin was asked “What is ‘hidden practice and scrupulous application’?”, his response was that meditation done off the cushion was of more value:

    “It certainly doesn’t mean sneaking off to some mountain and sitting like a block of wood on a rock or under a tree “silently illuminating” yourself. It means immersing yourself totally in your practice at all times and in all your activities—walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. Hence, it is said that practice concentrated in activity is a hundred, a thousand, even a million times superior to practice done in a state of inactivity.”
    [from Wild Ivy: The Spiritual Autobiography of Zen Master Hakuin, translated by Norman Waddel]

    Myth #3: You need to meditate for an hour or more every day for it to be effective
    Whatever forms of meditation you practice, the most important point is to apply mindfulness continuously, and make a sustained effort. It is unrealistic to expect results from meditation within a short period of time. What is required is continuous sustained effort. ~His Holiness, The 14th Dalai Lama

    Although an hour a day is recommended, duration is less important to your meditation practice than consistency. It’s better to meditate for just 5 minutes (or even just 2!) every day than an hour once a week. So make a commitment to yourself to make meditation part of your daily routine (whether you feel like it or not). The commitment to take this time no matter what is the first step in self-awareness.

    Myth #4: Before I can start meditating I have to go to a class so I don’t do it “wrong”
    While it certainly can be advantageous to have the direct instruction of a meditation teacher to provide guidance, you don’t need to attend a class or find a teacher to get started with a meditation practice. You can begin simply by focusing on your breath (see our 3x3 Breathing Exercise for an example), listening to a guided meditation, or simply consciously being present as you walk down the street.

    Myth #5: Meditation is against my religion
    "Meditation is, first of all, part of every spiritual tradition... in the world. There are breathing meditations in every tradition. There are body-awareness meditations in every tradition. And there are variations of mantra meditation. It has nothing to do with belief or ideology or doctrine. It's a simple mental technique to go to the source of thought." ~Deepak Chopra

    Meditation is not specific to any religious tradition or belief system (although nearly all religions practice meditation in some form), but rather involves techniques that, with practice, help one regulate the body and mind resulting in an experience of balance and inner calm. More than that, meditation assists in developing a state of maturity, of spiritual growth, regardless of the religious (or non-religious) background someone may come from.

     

    Consciousness, Compassion, Creativity—For a Life of Fulfillment (the three C’s)

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