What is meditation? Meditation can be defined as achieving a state of deep restfulness and heightened awareness by focusing the mind on a thought, object (such as the flame of a flickering candle) or activity (like deep breathing).
Meditation is becoming a common practice in modern Western culture, and is increasingly being linked to healthy living, stress management and mental healthiness. Mindfulness exercises like meditation can help to combat a range of mental health problems, including signs of anxiety, or engaged in purely for relaxation.
However, as the practice becomes more popular, the number of misconceptions surrounding meditation have started to creep up. This not only exposes people to inaccurate information but may also put them off trying meditation altogether – and prevent them from reaping the positive effects on both mind and body.
With that in mind, here are 8 of the most common meditation myths, dispelled.
1. I can’t meditate because…I’m not flexible enough.
Contrary to popular belief, meditation doesn’t require assuming the lotus position, or any other posture for that matter! You can sit cross-legged on a cushion or stretch out on a sofa – it’s completely up to you. The important thing to remember is to keep your spine straight and ensure you’re as comfortable as possible before you begin.
2. I can’t meditate because…I don’t have the time.
When simple meditation techniques can take as little as one minute, everyone has time to meditate! Try this quick 3-minute exercise during the working day, while you’re watching TV or before you go to bed.
3. I can’t meditate because…it takes too long to learn.
When it comes to meditation, practice makes perfect, especially if you find it difficult to switch off or your mind is prone to wander. However, you might find you feel better after just one session. In fact, it’s not unusual to feel more relaxed, peaceful and focused after just a few minutes of meditation.
4. I can’t meditate because…I have no idea what I’m doing.
The good news is that there’s no wrong way to meditate. Meditation is a personal mind workout which focuses on your own mental health and achieving an individual set of healthy lifestyle goals. Simply relax, concentrate on taking deep breaths and bring your mind back when it drifts – you can’t go far wrong.
5. I can’t meditate because…I don’t have anywhere to do it.
The beauty of meditation lies in its simplicity. In theory, it can be done anywhere, although a quiet space free of clutter is always better. Aim to find somewhere (your bedroom, the park, your car) where you won’t be disturbed, and where you can allow yourself to fully relax.
6. I can’t meditate because…I think too much.
If your mind is always racing and you tend to overthink things, meditation could be the perfect antidote. Meditation can put you in control of your thoughts, help direct your focus to where it’s really needed and help you feel calmer.
7. I can’t meditate because…I’m not stressed out enough.
Since it lowers the presence of stress hormone cortisol, meditation is a great way to reduce stress. But if how to deal with stress isn’t on your radar right now (lucky you!), you can still turn to meditation to help improve your concentration, sleep and general wellness.
8. I can’t meditate because…I’m not religious.
While meditation is rooted in Buddhism, there is a distinct difference between religion and meditation. Meditation was created within religious contexts, but the religious aspect of certain branches of meditation has been diluted as the practice has spread across the world. So, you can freely practice meditation without being affiliated with any religion.