27 Dec Debunking The Meditation Myths
A common response I get when I first tell people that I’m a meditation teacher is “Ah cool job! You must be pretty chilled… you’d never be able to teach me though… I’m one of these people who can’t stop thinking. My mind never shuts down. I actually tried to meditate once and I was really crap. I could only sit for like 2 minutes before I started to go crazy trying to stop my mind from thinking. So I just gave up…I’m not one of those people who can meditate.” My immediate response is, “everyone can learn to meditate and actually learning to meditate is really easy if you have a good technique and an experienced teacher. I happen to be one of those teachers so you’re in luck”. The nature of the mind is that it effortlessly settles down when you create the right conditions for it to do so. The biggest issue people face when they first attempt to meditate is that they don’t have an experienced teacher to get them started or create a proper context for what they are about to experience. There are a lot of misconceptions and stigmas attached to the idea of meditation that stop people properly investigating meditation and giving it a go. I’m about to debunk a bunch of these right now in case you are one of these people who think meditation isn’t for you (because it is).
“You are only meditating properly if you are not thinking.”
This is the one of the biggest misconceptions of meditation. Thinking is actually a very important part of the meditation process. The mind is a thinking machine and it’s impossible to stop the mind thinking about thoughts with another thought to not think… because, well, this is thinking. It’s like trying to put out fire with fire. Impossible.
Thoughts in meditation are a natural byproduct of the body releasing stress. Excessive thoughts in meditation indicate that you are releasing a lot of tension in the body and are gaining great benefit from the practice. Thoughts themselves are no problem. It’s our relationship to thoughts that is the real issue. When we can allow thinking to be present, and effortlessly return to the technique (at the point of realisation that we’ve come off it)… then you are practicing perfectly. Thoughts and all.
“Meditation is about focus, concentration, and controlling the mind.”
This is another misconception that causes many people to fall off the meditation horse early on the ride. Using concentration and focus to control the thinking mind is like trying to herd cats… impossible. Concentrated thought and focus doesn’t make other thoughts go away. It just makes them get louder. With a good technique, the mind is allowed to fall into quieter and more orderly states of awareness naturally and effortlessly. When we relinquish control and allow ourselves to be led by the technique, the mind effortlessly dives deep and the body naturally settles down.
“Meditation requires years of practice to get benefits.”
This is straight up nonsense. It has been scientifically proven that after only a couple weeks of meditation, you can clearly observe profound changes in the body and mind. These benefits include increased brain function, increased immune function, increased cognitive capabilities and noticeably higher energy levels, greater focus and emotional stability. The feelings of being stressed and anxious dissipate and if you stick with it, meditation will increase your resilience so the negative impacts of stress affect you less and less.
Meditation is a powerfully easy way to gain access to deep self awareness which ultimately is the foundation of your well-being. Wellbeing is a the balancing act between your internal resources and capabilities to meet life’s challenges. Without self-awareness, wellbeing is always going to be in a state of imbalance.
There are some fantastic meditation teachers that come through Desa Seni. Be sure to come and learn if you haven’t already. It’s the best investment you’ll ever make in your self.
By Jonni Pollard