The 3 Most Common Meditation Misconceptions
Ah, meditation. Humans have been doing it for thousands of years, and these days, it seems to be more common than ever. You often hear claims made about meditation such as “meditation cured my insomnia” or “I met the man of my dreams because I started meditating!” Is there anything that we can’t accomplish by sitting in silence for a few minutes a day?! I jest.
To be fair, meditation is an extremely powerful tool to connect with yourself and become centered in the present moment. Being able to experience the present moment is the key to finding meaning and beauty in the little things, gratitude for the mundane, and cultivating the ability to act rather than react to charged emotions and difficult situations.
I joke about meditation because as common of a practise as it seems to be these days, it seems it’s even more common to hear someone say something like “Meditation, yeah I’ve tried it – but it’s just not for me.” Or “I suck at meditating – I just can’t shut my brain off”. Here’s the tea, sis: we are all capable of meditating. The problem is that many of us have these misconceptions of what meditating needs to look or feel like, so we think we are somehow unable to do it properly. Nuh-uh. You’re not getting off that easy.
Meditation is legit, guys. There are hundreds of peer reviewed studies and infinite anecdotal evidence to support that meditation can help with anything and everything from managing anxiety, helping with weight loss, to becoming an uber-successful business woman. There’s a reason the vast majority of the most influential and successful people in this world have a daily meditation practise.
So if you’re one of those people who believe meditation isn’t something you can get into, do yourself a favour and keep reading. Below are three common misconceptions that people have about meditating that are often holding people back from having a meaningful and impactful meditation practise.
Who am I to write on this, you ask? Good question. I’ve been meditating regularly since November 2017 and I’m the sort of person who needs to dive deep on a topic to make sure I understand everything about it before I actually add it to my very busy daily routine. That’s what I did with meditating. Aside from a Vipassana, I feel like I’ve tried it all; every type and length of meditation, facilitated and non-facilitated, with and without music, timed and not timed, moving and still, etc. So over the last couple of years I’ve noticed some common struggles when it comes to meditating, both in my personal practise and in the practise of friends and loved ones.
Here are the three most common misconceptions holding you back from reaping the benefits from a regular meditation practise:
1. If Your Mind Isn’t Totally Blank, You’re Doing it Wrong
This is probably THE most common meditation misconception I’ve encountered! News flash: even the most experienced meditators in the world cannot completely clear their minds of thoughts when they meditate. Trying to get your mind to stop thinking is just as impossible as willing your heart to stop beating – both your mind and your heart will keep working involuntarily and that’s GOOD!
When it comes to thoughts and meditation, here’s the most basic rule: While sitting in stillness, do your best to notice when you’re having a thought. When you notice a thought, do your best to let it go. Meditating effectively is as simple as that – noticing your thoughts as they come, whether that’s every nano-second or just a few per minute, without dwelling on them or hashing them out. If you are noticing your thoughts and letting them pass without judgement or attachment, congrats, you’re successfully meditating. Looks like it is something you can do after all!
2. If You’re Not in a Crazy Uncomfortable Position, You’re a Meditation Imposter
Here’s another silly misconception that so many people have: You aren’t truly meditating unless your fingers are arranged perfectly in a very unnatural position and you are sitting on a meditation pillow or other prop, or on the hard floor, in a pretzel-like yoga pose that leaves your legs tingling for hours long after your meditation ends. Nope.
Meditation is almost entirely an activity of the mind. The only thing you need to be aware of with your body is that you aren’t in a position that’s unnatural, uncomfortable, or too comfortable. As long as you can make it through your entire meditation without becoming numb or falling asleep you’re in the right position.
Pick any seated or reclined position that is comfortable for you and stick with it. I prefer sitting with my limbs uncrossed so that I have a lesser chance of my limbs going numb. This also helps the energy flow more easily through your body, which is especially helpful when doing a grounding meditation (like this one here). I also like having my back supported and upright and my head unsupported, so I don’t accidentally doze off.
3. You Think You Can Be Inconsistent with Your Practise but Still Reap the Benefits
Okay, let’s be honest, meditating is not always super fun. It might even feel like a chore. With all the amazing benefits it offers us for our mental and physical wellbeing, we kind of just need to shut up and do it. Just like we brush our teeth every single morning and night no matter how tired, lazy, or busy we are, meditation should also be viewed as a non-negotiable.
The truth is, in order to see the benefits meditation can offer us, our practise needs to be consistent and daily. Missing a day here and there matters. Meditating only Monday, Wednesday, Friday because that works best with your schedule is futile. Think of it this way, if we charge our phones just three days a week or only if we remember to do it (or whenever we aren’t too busy or too lazy to plug it in) we would constantly be running on low battery and always risking running out of battery all together which is definitely no good.
Just as one might plug their phone in at the same time every night before bed, you should make a non-negotiable plan to commit to a few minutes at the same time everyday to also “recharge” yourself.
Another important distinction is that charging your phone means plugging it in for an amount of time that will actually add enough battery life to make it until the next time you charge it. You wouldn’t just set your phone down without plugging it in and expect it to be charged up again. Similarly, you don’t get the same benefits of meditation by simply sitting there and being quiet. The mindfulness and intention is crucial to receive that personal battery recharge that we all desperately need. Think of it as plugging into your very own power source – a source from within that, conveniently, you are able to access at any point during your day.
Note: A lot of this info is from an awesome book I read called Stress Less, Accomplish More by Emily Fletcher. If you want to dive deeper into the science of meditation and all it’s benefits, I highly recommend it! It’s great for beginners who need help with everything required to start up a consistent daily meditation practise.
Do you follow a daily meditation practise? Have you noticed the benefits of keeping up with a consistent practise? How do you like to stay consistent? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know by leaving a comment below.