There are thousands of people interested in meditation, who haven’t started yet. Many of them, I think, because they’ve heard some of the many pieces of mis-information around. This post hopes to set straight some of the more common ones.
6 of the Most Common Myths
Myth: Meditation takes years of study to do properly.
Truth: While it’s true that people like the Buddhist Monks give a huge proportion of their lives to meditation, it isn’t necessary.
That’s not to say that practicing for years isn’t a good thing. It absolutely is. But, you’ll get immense benefit from even a daily practice of just 5-10 minutes.
Myth: You must be sitting cross-legged on the floor to meditate.
Truth: Most of the images you see of someone meditating, has them sitting this way. This position keeps the back straight, while maintaining the natural curve of the spine and allows free movement of the body’s energy.
But, initially it can be crazy painful! There are loads of exercises on the internet that can help you slowly get used to the position, but it’s really not a huge problem if you just can’t do it!
There are lots of different ideas in this article if you want to try something more comfortable.
Myth: Meditation isn’t working if your mind wanders.
Truth: Everyone’s mind wanders! Even Buddhist and Hindu monks have times where they lose concentration.
The trick, when you notice that your mind has wandered, is to just bring it back to object of your focus, without any judgement. The more you practice, the better you’ll get at keeping your mind on track, but you’ll never stop it completely.
Myth: The goal of meditation is to clear your mind.
Truth: The goal of meditation is to focus the mind. All meditations have a ‘focus object’. Most begin by focusing on the breath, but you can focus on anything really.
Some meditations, like for example Mindfulness meditation, encourage you to be aware of the distractions around you when your mind drifts off. To be aware of the sounds, smells and sensations, etc., then bring your focus back to the breath.
Myth: You have to be spiritual/religious to get the most out of meditation.
Truth: Meditation was, and for many people still is, a spiritual activity. But, the Buddha was a teacher, not a deity.
As Peter Harvey, the Professor Emeritus of Buddhist Studies at the University of Sunderland. says in his book ‘Buddhism and Monotheism‘, “Buddhism is a philosophy which does not include the belief in a creator deity, or any eternal divine personal being.” There are today, many, many Buddhists who are entirely secular.
Myth: I don’t have time to meditate.
Truth: Even 5 minutes a day of meditation will bring benefits. I’m sure you could find five minutes to meditate while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil in the morning?
The benefits obviously increase the longer you’re able to spend meditating, but meditating regularly is more important. 5 minutes each day is better than 30 minutes, once a week.
Hopefully, at least some of your concerns have been settled by these explanations?
Even a small amount of regular meditation can be incredibly beneficial. So, why not give it a try?
If you’ve heard something about meditation and you’re not sure what to think, drop it into the comments. The only stupid question is the one that wasn’t asked. If you have a question, it’s guaranteed that someone else has it too 🙂