Meditation has entered the mainstream of Western culture over the past 25 years, and today it is not uncommon for many people to practice meditation and to find a variety of meditation practices made available through teachings, online courses and one-on-one consulting.
When I learned meditation in the late 90's it was still rare for people to practice meditation and with it's growing popularity a variety of different misunderstandings or misconceptions have emerged, potentially limiting people from practicing meditation regularly. Over the years I have benefited tremendously from my practice and have gratitude for learning meditation and about the mind's habitual tendencies and belief systems that hinder it from resting in its natural state.
Often times the fixation or tendency of the mind to force and control what is going on can be observed in the way we will approach meditation, and instead of surrender and openness it becomes another thing to accomplish on the 'to do' list and amidst a challenging schedule.
So here are 4 myths about meditation practice to explore and to consider
When speaking about 4 myths of meditation, it is really addressing some fundamental misunderstandings about mind and how we relate to life.
Understanding and recognizing how to meditate is also being fundamentally in tune with universal laws and acknowledging that there is a larger reality than our thoughts and habitual fixations.
Meditation is being in our natural state. It is an undoing rather than another way we deepen our confused struggle to get away from our thoughts.
1. Meditation is about controlling your thoughts.
A common myth about meditation is that it is about taking control of your thoughts. This is simply not true, as meditation invites you to embrace all thoughts without having a particular preference to any of your thoughts. It is about learning to allow your experiences to unfold without judging them, rejecting them or involving yourself in further thoughts. This way you learn to let things happen, rather then 'making them happen' and to stop constantly meddling with yourself.
When you just learn to be present and allowing of your thoughts, the mind will begin to settle naturally and you become less identified with your thoughts.
It is impossible to control your thoughts and internal commentary, but you can give space to it, and begin to recognize that you are the witnessing awareness beyond the shifting content of thoughts, emotions and sensations.
2. Meditation is only 'successful' when you have certain experiences.
Sometimes there is the belief that your meditation requires certain experiences to know you are 'progressing on the path.' It is unfortunately a very limiting mindset and a perspective that comes from the goal orientation we are used to. The less we compare our meditation to 'how it is supposed to be' and we don't strive to repeat certain meditative experiences the more we are able to start with a beginner's mind.
At the core of the meditation practice is an openness towards changes of content and an expansion of the witnessing awareness.
3. Meditation takes years of practice to have any benefits.
It is not true that it takes years to experience the benefits of meditation. Each meditation session can bring increased focus, clarity and greater ease and each time you meditate the effect accumulates leading to less stress and more balance. This of course will have a long-term influence on your stress patterns, way of responding to challenges and capacity to focus and transform limitation.
4. Meditation requires a calm mind.
Some people have the idea that they cannot meditate because their mind is to busy and they have too many thoughts. It creates a struggle trying to calm your mind and will become an obstacle to continuing your meditation practice.
The truth is that your meditation practice is about being with where you are at. It does not require you to be in a calm state or to have settled mind. You include your thoughts and busyness in the meditation without judging yourself. This will naturally create greater space between your thoughts, allowing for more restfulness and inner calm.