As I began to teach meditation and recommend it to my patients, friends and colleagues, I noticed a lot of common misconceptions that were often holding people back. This blog is dedicated to debunking these myths.
You must sit a certain way.
Let’s be honest. When you think of meditation, one of the first things that comes to mind is a Buddhist monk with eyes closed sitting bolt upright, legs twisted into a pretzel and hands on knees serenely pointing triangles towards the sky. If you thought you had to sit in a certain position to meditate, you are not alone.
As I’ve deepened my practice, I’ve come to find that the most important thing about positioning the body for meditation is to be comfortable.
Beyond that, any position is acceptable. Many people practice meditation lying down, or even walking. Eyes can be open or closed. Your experience of the moment is the focus, and if you are distracted by discomfort in your body, it will likely only take away from the experience.
You must spend a lot of time.
It does not take long to begin to notice the benefits of meditation. In fact, in one study in a pediatric population, children were led through a mindfulness exercise for 5 minutes before a medical procedure. Even with this minor intervention, a decrease in perceived stress during the procedure was noted.
Within your life, benefits are noticed for practicing as little as 5-10 minutes per day. In other words, you do not need to commit hours upon end to notice the benefits of your practice. You can spend less time than you do scrolling through your social media accounts!
You must not think/possess the ability to clear your mind.
This is one of the most common misconceptions that I hear. If you can’t clear your mind, you are incapable or bad at meditation. Quite the contrary! As you practice meditation, thoughts are welcomed as a part of the flow of the present moment experience. The more you fight against them, the more frustration builds. Resisting and battling your thoughts is counterproductive. Instead, opening to your thoughts from a detached place of observation, nonjudgment and acceptance naturally results in a more calm and peaceful state of mind.
“The towns and countryside that the traveler sees through a train window do not slow down the train, nor does the train affect them. Neither disturbs the other. This is how you should see the thoughts that pass through your mind when you meditate.”Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Mindfulness meditation is difficult/I wouldn’t know how to do it.
Have you ever sat silently upon the beach, completely enthralled with the beauty of the rising sun, heard the sound of the waves crashing, felt the sand between your toes, in awe of the beauty of nature? Or maybe you’ve rested quietly at the peak of a mountain, observing the soft flutter of snow gently building upon the vast landscape and towering evergreens? If so, you have meditated. Mindfulness meditation does not have to be a complex process. Simply paying attention now is all that is needed.
Please comment below if you have other thoughts about meditation that are holding you back from starting your practice. I’ll do my best to address them!