Meditation has many amazing therapeutic benefits for both the mind and soul. In the practice of being, you can accept the moment for what it is and find peace.
Consistent meditation practice builds momentum and over time, even enables you to become more accepting and loving of yourself and others around you.
The trouble is that as with any practice that requires effort and persistence, the mind often gets in the way. You may expect meditation to be ‘perfect’ and anything less than this simply isn’t good enough.
When you come to meditation with that attitude, you have accepted defeat before you even get started. Here are some of the most common misconceptions about meditation…
1. You must stop thinking
You settle down on your meditation cushion to meditate.
Thoughts continue racing through your mind – 5, 10, even 15 minutes later…they don’t seem to stop. You feel disappointed that you can never ‘let yourself go’ and find calm. You feel like giving up, after all you’ll never reach the zen-like states of Buddhist monks so why bother?
You can’t stop focusing about what’s on TV that night, or what your colleague said to you in work…it’s a never-ending battle between the mind and letting go. So if you can’t let go, why meditate?
It’s a common belief that meditation means silencing all thoughts, stopping them completely so as to find inner peace. Yet when you try, you realise how much is really going on in the mind. It may feel as though you’ll never overcome such incessant thoughts.
Don’t worry, it’s normal to have thoughts cross your mind like clouds during meditation. The important part is being aware and knowing when to pay attention to them.
Over time, as you become consistent with your practice, letting go of thoughts becomes easier. You simply find more space between them, where before they may have felt overwhelming. The more meditation, the more space between the thoughts to experience a deep sense of peace.
2. You will achieve enlightenment
Wanting to become enlightened is a great goal to aim for in human life, but when it’s about placing pressure on yourself to get there, that’s when problems can occur.
Gurus and meditation courses may claim you can become enlightened if you follow their techniques, yet really there is no guarantee.
You shouldn’t feel disheartened if it doesn’t happen within a set time frame or even if it doesn’t happen at all.
A spiritual awakening may set you on the path to liberation from your mind in search of your Highest Self, but it should always come from a place of love and devotion.
Once you start trying to quantify an infinite experience, that’s when problems start to occur, the ego steps in at feeling dissatisfied…and what was once an act of love for the Divine Self becomes simply a competitive exercise.
In life there are no guarantees, but with love and patience in your meditation practice, it’s possible to develop far beyond the human Self you associated with – and eventually realise the Oneness of all creation.
3. Meditation is ‘bad’ for the mind
At certain times in history, meditation has been associated with cult-like activities and even mind control.
Since meditation has only recently been embraced by the Western world, there are still many skeptics and naysayers who are doubtful and questioning of its numerous benefits.
Some people believe it may change brain chemistry, affect hormone balance or even make you do crazy out of character things. While it’s important not to overdo it, as with anything in life, it comes down to balance.
Any negative feelings that do arise are often the parts of you that need to come to the surface for healing.
As most people are rushing around busying themselves with their lives, they may find it uncomfortable to sit still and quiet the mind.
They might not be used to doing that and as a result, it makes them feel anxious and even start to question their very existence.
When they don’t like what comes up for them, they may start ‘acting differently’. Meditation has shone a light on their behaviour and made them more mindful of how they want to live.
As the meditation practice goes deeper, anything false in the life starts falling away as the Higher Self takes over.
It’s not a scary process – it can in fact be like taking a mask off that was suffocating the person, finally allowing them to breathe again.
Once they can breathe, it then becomes easy to know yourself- the real self and to stop living in the shadow of other people’s perceptions.
4. You must meditate for hours to get any benefit
Meditation is medicine for the soul, but you don’t have to sit there for hours on end to finally receive its benefits.
Choosing to meditate for a few minutes every morning or evening will make you feel peaceful.
You don’t have to force the practice, simply go with the flow and enjoy it. You may find that you enjoy the peaceful feeling so much that you want to meditate more as a result.
The more meditation, peace and happiness you experience, the more time you will spend in meditation. Mindfulness meditation is however, something that can easily fit in your life. It doesn’t have to take a long time to experience good results.
Simply try 5-10 minutes in the morning and/or evening and see where it takes you. Journaling your meditation practice can be helpful to keep track of your progress.
5. Meditation will change your life
Meditation cuts through a lot of negativity and situations that no longer bring you happiness.
Yet saying that doesn’t mean it will definitely change your life.
Sometimes it’s easy to read stories and project that meditation is a truly transformative practice that does the same for everyone.
While it can definitely bring plenty of positive change, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will transform you beyond belief.
It might simply mean that meditation brings more peace and contentment into your life; more balance, while worry and anxiety become less frequent. If that’s all you get out of meditation, then it’s still been a success.
At all times you need to recognise that you’re in control of your future and in each moment you make a choice bringing you closer to the person that you want to be.
Meditation simply supports you to break through any resistance, so you don’t sweat the small stuff. And when you let go of the mind’s fear…that’s when your soul can truly start to shine.
5 Common Misconceptions About Meditation | www.spiritualbliss.com