The ancient word buzzing about the health and wellness scene with renewed vigor is meditation. Unfortunately, so is a wealth of information and public opinion which creates an air of confusion. While the popularity of meditation increases among the average Joes and Hollywood celebrities, many people still avoid this discipline. Even with traditional physicians prescribing its worth to treat all types of ailments, the response is still mixed.
The truth is that the confusion around and the varied thoughts on meditation prevent many of us from experiencing its benefits. After all, what we do not understand tends to frighten us. And decoding the truth takes time we cannot spare. To successfully wade through the overflow of information on meditation, consider the following myths and misconceptions (along with the truth that debunks them).
Misconceptions About Meditation
With the longevity of a practice such as meditation, the understanding of the concept gets skewed. Add the resurgence in the last forty years, and many variations are likely to arise. Let’s clear the air to understand what meditation is not. Misconceptions teach that meditation is:
In a multi-tasking, risk-driven world, sitting still without audio or visual stimulation sounds boring. And, the truth is the practice may prove a bit unnerving for the novice. Yet, experiencing the benefits of meditation draws you back to the practice. Reduced stress. Increased happiness. Improved self-awareness. It proves anything but boring.
Setting aside the myths and your own expectations around meditation allows you to experience its benefits with ease. The process of learning this discipline is simple. Even children experience the benefits of meditation. In fact, schools find that student stress is reduced, test performance improves and classroom atmospheres become more positive with meditation.
Mental Time Off
Relaxation and taking a mind break are values of mediation. However, this definition alone falls short. Meditating also requires regulating your attention and looking inward, not simply tuning out. In some practices, thoughts are used to bring awareness. In others, a single focus is returned to when distraction threatens. Either way, the brain does not shut down during meditation but learns a new way of engaging.
A Quick Fix
While meditation offers many benefits, it fails as the magic bullet curing all your problems. First, the results depend on your intention and commitment to the practice. Second, meditation improves concentration, deepens sleep, boosts the immune system, lowers cortisol levels and more. These benefits strengthen your ability to handle issues but do not eliminate the problems arising.
Myths About What Meditation Requires
Misconceptions arise about what meditation is like. But myths also circulate about what the practice requires. Questions as to your ability to meditate stop the practice before you even get started. Check out what is not required to meditate.
Devout monks and disciplined yogis offer a picture of meditation. Yet spirituality is not a precursor to the practice. The benefits of meditating come to those with deep spirituality, nominal faith and those with no spiritual affiliation at all.
A Quiet Mind
With the pace of life, no one has a quiet mind. And fortunately, a successful mediation practice does not require it. Meditation expert Deepak Chopra puts it this way, “this nature of the mind to move from one thought to another is in fact the very basis of meditation”.
Burning incense, chanting mantras, sitting in a temple and other specific rituals do not define meditation. Some practitioners may add these components, particularly in a religious context. However, doing so is a personal preference. And, adding such components should be done only if they boost the benefits and do not distract you.
Flexibility (Ability to Sit Cross Legged)
True, the image of legs folded in lotus position often comes to mind with meditation. Also true, lying down, sitting, standing and even walking are acceptable positions for meditating. Meditation keys include keeping your spine straight and being aware of the mind-body connection. Other than that, the choice of posture depends on your personal preference.
Lots of Time
Sitting quietly for unending minutes may appear overwhelming to you. The key is to start small, even with five minutes, and increase as you are able or have time. (Hint: Those who meditate regularly find they have more time.) The other part of this myth is that meditation requires years to perfect. While practice over time does improve your experience, studies prove that many benefits are seen immediately.
Many ways exist to learn the practice of meditation. Books, workshops and online video courses help you explore the basic techniques and types of meditation. Taking your practice deeper benefits from more personal interaction. Meditation meetings or groups and contact with experienced meditators offer insights but master instruction is not necessary for general practice.
Dispelling the myths and misconceptions of meditation gets you in the right frame of mind to experience its benefits. Grab hold of the truth and a few minutes of your day, and begin your practice today.
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