Have you been interested in learning more about meditation but have some questions? Or have you heard some “info” about meditation that makes you a bit hesitant to try? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, you are in the right spot! I have compiled a list of common questions and misconceptions regarding meditation. Have a look and feel free to contact me if you have questions that haven’t been covered here, or would like more information!
Meditation is a religious practice: Meditation is a practice that helps us go beyond the mental chatter into a place of stillness. Meditation doesn’t require a specific belief and people of many different religions meditate. I am a Christian, and I have found that meditation actually makes me feel closer to Christ. When my mind is constantly filled with anxious thoughts, I drown out God’s voice. But when I can practice meditation, the mental chatter slows down and I can actually feel a stronger connection to God.
I don’t have enough time to meditate: Even if you can only make time for just 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes in the evening to meditate, that is better than not meditating at all! Since adopting a regular meditation practice, I actually end up creating more time in my day for all my tasks/activities because meditation has helped me with concentration and clarity of mind. So, I end up completing tasks more efficiently and quicker throughout the day! It is really cool how that works!
There is a specific way that meditation needs to occur: You can meditate in any position, anywhere, anytime, and for any length of time! However, the three “primary” ways to meditate are: seated, walking, or laying down. Seated: you want to preferably have your hips raised a bit, while keeping a straight, yet relaxed spine. Your hands can rest on your thighs or in your lap and you can have your eyes closed or open with a soft gaze. Walking: you want to make slow, conscious movements. Really being in each moment, and feeling the ground as you walk. Step as if you are kissing the earth with your feet – very gently and with love. Laying: it can be easy to fall asleep when you are lying down, so if sleeping isn’t your purpose, you need to be careful! Body scans are really good to do lying down. Body scanning is moving through each part of your body, from feet to head, noticing the sensations that are present.
One type of meditation is better than another: People meditate for different reasons; they have different goals and motivations. Some may want to deepen their spiritual connection, others may seek to relax, improve their health, or even see it as a fun challenge. Depending on what your motivation is and your personality, there may be one type of meditation that “fits” best, but all types are equally good.
Meditation is hard: Meditation can simply be focusing on our breath or repeating a mantra/affirmation. When we become too attached to our results, comparing our experience to others, or we simply try too hard to concentrate-this is what causes difficulties for us. Meditation is a continual practice, not something that is ever finished and achieved. It continues to evolve with you.
One must have a quiet mind to be successful at meditation: Can we make our heart stop beating? No. It is the same with our thoughts. Actually, if you actively try to not think, then you will only INCREASE the mental chatter. In meditation, thoughts will pop up. It is completely NORMAL. It is what we do or don’t do with the thoughts that matter. Ideally, when a thought pops up, you can treat it like a cloud in the sky. Allow it to float on through your mind without grasping on to it. If you do grasp onto the thought, that’s ok. When you realize that you are thinking, simply bring yourself back to your meditation. Meditation is a practice of coming back over and over to yourself and letting your thoughts pass on by.
It takes years to see any benefit to meditation: It has both long-term and short-term benefits! Recently, a Harvard study showed that in as little as 8 weeks, meditation helped people feel calmer with less anxiety and meditation also produced growth in the region of their brain associated with memory, empathy, and stress regulation. Some other benefits of meditation: improved sleep, improved concentration, decreased blood pressure and better immune function.
8. I am supposed to have a transcendent experience: Some people are disappointed if they don’t have a wildly awesome experience with meditation immediately. But in actuality, the benefits that come with meditation are seen throughout the day as we live our lives. We emerge from our meditation practice carrying a piece of stillness throughout our entire day. Thus, allowing us to be more compassionate and patient to ourselves and others throughout the day.