I remember saying this years ago to a friend after reading a personal development book that encouraged meditation practice.
I had a lot of reasons why meditation “wasn’t for me”, and I stuck behind many of the misconceptions about meditation that are prevalent in society today.
Years ago I changed my tune and now I meditate daily for 45 minutes to an hour before I begin my day.
The scientific research on the benefits of meditation is irrefutable at this point. It’s common knowledge that meditation supports both mental and physical health.
The challenge I see in my conversations with clients is that they have beliefs about meditation that are simply untrue.
Maybe you’ve tried meditating in the past and have a belief of your own as to why meditation is not for you.
I invite you to reconsider based on the following myths and truths about meditation. I also include analogies to help you see through these common misconceptions.
Myth #1: My mind is too busy to meditate.
Truth: Reality check; we all think too much. That’s the point of practicing!
You may believe that your overactive mind inhibits your ability to receive the many benefits of meditation, but that’s simply an illusion of your mind.
An active mind is common, and the reason you meditate is NOT to quiet your active mind.
The purpose of meditation is NOT to control your thoughts; it’s to stop allowing them to control you.
Analogy: My muscles are too weak to lift weights.
Isn’t the point of exercising to strengthen those weak muscles? You wouldn’t refuse to go to the gym because you couldn’t benchpress 500 lbs the first time you go, right?
In the same way, you can’t let a racing mind stop you from reaping the benefits of meditation.
Myth #2: It’s way too hard to meditate.
Truth: This couldn’t be farther from the truth, since the practice of meditation is incredibly simple.
While your mind’s natural tendency is to wander, thought to thought, riding the “attention wave” to wherever it takes you, meditation is asking you to focus your attention on one object.
Typically, we start with the breath since it’s accessible and with you everywhere you go.
Is it complicated to bring your attention to your breathing and observe it without judgment?
You may think it’s hard because you believe that you’re “supposed” to keep your attention on your breath for 30 minutes straight without your mind wandering.
That is not true.
You’re “supposed” to observe your mind wandering and bring your attention back to your breath.
That’s the real practice!
That’s how you strengthen the faculties of focus, attention, and awareness.
Here’s a simple explanation of meditation.
Analogy: It’s way too hard to go for long walks.
The act of walking is very simple, right? In the event you have a job where you sit much of the day, walking for long distances may seem tiresome or strenuous.
Sure, going for a very long walk may lead your legs to be a bit sore, but it’s something you build towards with practice.
Same with meditation.
You don’t need to meditate for 45 minutes the first time.
Start by practicing for 5 minutes or less and build your practice from there.
Myth #3: I don’t have time to meditate.
Truth: This is my favorite myth because I find it to be the silliest one of all.
Why is it silly?
Because NONE OF US have time!
We all have busy schedules filled with getting the kids ready for school, exercising, going to work, catching up on emails, checking in with parents, building our brand on social media, cooking dinner, sleeping, etc.
Trying to meditate in your “spare time” is a hopeless plan that will never lead to the development of a consistent practice.
If you want to see a real transformation in your life and reap the amazing benefits that come with meditation, you have to MAKE time.
Your commitment to self-care must be a priority.
If something is important enough, you will make time for it.
That means going to bed a bit earlier so you can practice for 30 minutes before the kids wake up.
That means sacrificing watching the second episode in a row of your favorite show so you can meditate before going to bed.
Analogy: I don’t have time to brush my teeth.
Every morning after you wake up, it’s routine for you to brush your teeth.
You don’t say to yourself, “If I have time, I’ll brush my teeth today.”
In the same way, adopting a consistent meditation practice must be treated as a part of your routine.
Myth #4: Meditation is a spiritual or religious practice.
Truth: While there are many religious and spiritual groups that use the practices of meditation, it is incorrect to say meditation itself is a spiritual practice.
Meditation is a self-care practice that enables us to be aware of our internal and external reality.
The development of such faculties does not imply an inherent need for spirituality or religion.
The practice of meditation in NO WAY contradicts any existing religious belief since there is no act of worship or specific doctrine one must adhere to.
Can you choose to include meditation in your spiritual practice?
This is your choice.
However many choose to approach meditation in a secular way.
Analogy: Gratitude is a spiritual or religious practice.
When expressing gratitude, you can do so fueled by religion or a sense of spirituality, but it’s very common not to.
You would never say that writing out what you’re grateful for, or sharing your appreciation of another can only be described as a spiritual practice.
This goes for meditation as well.
Myth #5: Meditation is only for people who are overstressed or depressed.
Truth: Your mind is the most valuable asset in your possession.
The effectiveness of each word you vocalize and each action you take is based on the clarity, knowledge, and performance of your mind.
Sharpening your mind to be more focused, objective, and clear serves you in ways that go far beyond the restrictions set by this myth.
While it’s true those who are stressed or depressed will find immense value from the practice, one doesn’t need to get to that place to benefit from meditation.
Analogy: Exercise is only for people struggling with their weight.
Exercising is not only for individuals who are overweight or obese.
Everybody benefits from exercise regardless of the number that appears on the weight scale.
In the same way, everybody benefits from meditation regardless of their level of stress or depression.
Myth #6: Meditation makes you lazy and weak.
Truth: My personal experience is proof that this is not true.
I’ve been practicing meditation for years, and if you were to ask my former colleagues or my friends to describe my work ethic, the word “lazy” would never come out of their mouths.
Working at a place like Tesla, being lazy is not an option.
My meditation practice enabled me to move up the ranks from a salesperson to running a national training program in under 4 years.
I credit the practice of meditation for much of my success as it helped me to be more focused, more creative, and more productive.
Analogy: Eating healthy foods makes you lazy and weak.
Consuming healthy foods to enrich the body does the exact opposite, doesn’t it? It gives us energy, vitality, and strength.
Providing your mind with healthy practices will offer similar benefits.
Myth #7: Meditation only helps you relax and be calmer.
Truth: Does meditate help you relax and be calmer? Yes.
Is that all it does for you? Absolutely not.
It’s upsetting to see the mainstream promotion of meditation as some sort of luxurious, tranquilizing, “massage-like” practice that guides you into a utopian wonderland of relaxation.
That type of messaging is misleading and reduces the true value of meditation.
Meditation offers much more than helping you to relax, an example being how meditation helps with making better decisions and tapping into one’s intuition.
Analogy: Lifting weights only helps your muscles get bigger.
Anyone who regularly works out knows that weight lifting does much more than increasing the size of your muscles.
Weight training also helps you to lose weight, build endurance, and boost metabolism.
Similarly, there is a multitude of benefits to meditation that go beyond relaxation.
Myth #8: People meditate to escape reality.
Truth: It’s quite the opposite.
Meditation brings you “face-to-face” with objective reality.
By observing your thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment, you embrace reality rather than escape from it.
Practicing meditation ineffectively could lead you to use the practice as a way to escape reality.
An effective meditation practice does the exact opposite.
It allows you to be honest with yourself and your experience.
Analogy: People journal to escape reality.
Journaling is a practice that allows you to unload and contemplate your fears, your dreams, and your priorities.
Done effectively, it enables you to be more in touch with reality. Done ineffectively, journaling could be used as an escape from the realities of life.
This applies to meditation as well.
Myth #9: I have to sit in a weird and uncomfortable posture to meditate.
Truth: I have thousands of hours of meditation practice under my belt.
I have sat in meditation for extended periods of time, including retreats where meditation was practiced from morning until evening.
Not once have I sat in a lotus position or any other complex posture to practice my meditation.
It doesn’t come naturally to me, plus I’m as flexible as a piece of wood in a winter storm.
The criteria for how to sit involves your body being relaxed, alert, and grounded.
If sitting cross-legged is comfortable, you can do that.
If it isn’t, there’s no need to!
At the same time, you must be alert so laying down is not recommended since you may start dozing off minutes into the practice.
You can sit in a chair, on your sofa, or on a cushion on the ground to meditate effectively.
Analogy: I have to do a perfect backstroke to swim.
While there are some swimmers who have perfect form and look like mermaids gliding through the water, that isn’t a requirement to swim.
Similarly, sitting in a perfect lotus position for 30 minutes is not necessary to meditate effectively.
Myth #10: I’m just not good at meditation.
Truth: The issue with this myth is that there’s an implication that one can be good or bad at meditation, or said another way, that there’s such a thing as a “good meditation” or a “bad meditation”.
If you approach meditation with this belief, you’re not fully understanding what meditation is.
For meditation to be effective, we must approach the practice without expectation or attachment to results.
We set an intention as to why we are practicing meditation, but we let it go as soon as we start.
As long as we are committing to the practice, we are patient with ourselves, and persistently bringing our attention back to our breath (or any other object you choose to focus on), we are reaping the benefits of the practice.
If in one session your mind is constantly wandering and you find yourself having to guide your attention back to your breath over and over again, it doesn’t mean it was a “bad meditation”.
If in another session you find your thoughts to be subdued and your attention stays focused on your breathing the majority of the time, it doesn’t mean it was a “good meditation”.
Both sessions are simply meditation.
Both sessions are beneficial.
Analogy: I’m just not good at listening to music.
The point of listening to music is to simply listen to it and enjoy it, right? You can’t be “good or bad” at listening to music. If music is playing, you’re either listening to it, or you aren’t.
Similarly, there’s no “good or bad” meditation. You’re either meditating, or you’re not.
P.S. Need help to develop and commit to an effective meditation practice? Reach out to see if you’d be a good fit for one of our coaching programs.