Mindfulness For ALL – Dispelling the 4 Myths about Meditation
- Posted by wellness
Meditation and mindfulness are now part of modern vernacular. We all know loosely what the words mean and the wonderful benefits these practices can bring. Why then is there so much confusion surrounding a principle that can bring so much joy, calm and balance to our lives? The short answer is the perpetuation of a collection of myths that prevent us from stilling the chaos and shunning the day-to-day distractions.
Wellness For Life is here to show you that you too deserve mindfulness and with a little help, it is totally within your reach. Join us as we dispel the four most common myths and make 2021 the year that you swap mindlessness for mind-ful-ness.
Myth No. 1 – I can’t empty my mind!
The goal of meditation is not to achieve an empty mind but to manage the thought processes that reside in it. Mental fullness is the natural human condition, a consequence of the myriad ambitions, emotions, plans, thoughts and ideas we have. It would be a dull existence if we eradicated all of that necessary neural activity and data, not to mention what it would do to our survival chances! Not thinking and having a blank mind are not one and the same. Meditation helps us pay attention to the right here and the right now and still the thoughts and self-talk that can lead to feelings of anxiety, unrest, and stress. Put simply it’s about paying attention to the breath and the body to allow natural thinking to quiet down. When this happens, we halt the constant stream of erratic thoughts and instead notice our body, the way we feel and our emotions. It’s more about choosing what thoughts are in your mind than about emptying it, and that can bring a peace that’s hard to beat.
Myth No. 2 – I can’t sit still
Once you’ve unravelled the first myth, you’ll be well on your way to realising that the traditional seated position is not the only route to meditation and mindfulness. Try to harness what we learned in myth 1. Meditation is more concerned with being present, and the last time we looked, you didn’t have to be sitting cross-legged on the floor to achieve that! Mindfulness is a way of life and can become a natural part of our being whether we’re eating, walking, dancing or people watching. For example, take a walk but leave your headphones at home and turn off your phone. Walk with purpose and focus on the soles of your feet, taking in the scenery and everything around you. Use your breath to anchor you and focus on it if your mind starts to wander back to your to-do list. There, you’re meditating and moving right there! Feels good, doesn’t it?
Meditation can be practised in many ways, so don’t let the meditation mat be the gatekeeper of your mindfulness dreams.
Myth No. 3 – I don’t have time to meditate
In some ways, this misnomer is closely aligned with myth 2. By removing the lotus position stigma, you will see that you can meditate while doing something else like exercise or refuelling your body, so lack of time, my friend is not a barrier. That said, like most things in life, you will get out what you put in.
Theories abound about the optimum amount of time you should devote to meditation. The good news is that research suggests that starting out with ten to twelve minutes of meditation per day can make a difference. Cognitive scientist, Dr Amishi Jha’s study with a sample of US Marines preparing for deployment showed that meditation sessions of just twelve minutes resulted in cognitive improvements. Traditionally monks and nuns in Tibetan monasteries have practised a breath-focused meditation for ten-to-fifteen-minute stretches. However, they are likely to do this several times a day.
The point is you can start small, and you don’t have to set aside a specific amount of time each day. Incorporate meditation into your daily activities like walking to work, eating a meal or even showering and brushing your teeth. Grab as much time as your schedule allows, even if it is only a few minutes each day. Once you start to experience the benefits, you will soon be looking for ways to expand your dedication without trouble.
Myth No. 4 – Meditation is a religious practice
This is perhaps one of the most limiting myths that exist about meditation. Yes, meditation can be traced back to Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism, and it has also lived in many other faiths over the years, including Christianity and Judaism. Though the practice may have been born out of a desire to connect with God or reach enlightenment, meditation in itself does not have to be a religious practice.
For many today, meditation is simply a means of managing a hectic and demanding lifestyle, a proven technique for relaxation and calm. It’s no more religious than your filing system at home, a logical way to clear the clutter and pave the way to clearer vision and clarity.
The beauty of meditation is that it is what you make of it, and you are completely free to tailor it to your own belief system, religious or not.
So, there you have it! Meditation is all-inclusive. There’s no prohibitive sign-up fee and no fancy equipment needed. You don’t have to be a super flexible yogi nor aligned to any particular religion or faith. The only requirement is an open mind, a willingness to explore the real authentic you, freeing you from rampant thoughts and overload.
Thousands of studies underline how meditation can positively impact physical and mental health, not to mention our ability to build more meaningful and enduring relationships. It can help to relieve stress, improve sleep function and alleviate anxiety. Meditation can improve focus and concentration, and some research even extols the benefits for pain relief and chronic illness. When you look at it like that it makes you wonder why we aren’t all doing it more often?
Meditation is yours for the taking. Start today and build your practice in small but manageable steps. Don’t be disheartened or deterred if you miss a day or find on occasion that calm evades you.
Persistence, Practice and Presence should be your guiding words. In time you’ll see the enormous power of this transformative process. And if you want to share any aspects of your experience or you’d like some help with your journey, please feel free to get in touch.