The Truth About Meditation Myths
Inevitably, whenever I tell someone that I teach meditation, their response goes something like this…
“Oh that’s awesome. I’ve tried to meditate before, but I just can’t stop my thoughts.”
First of all: To anyone who has tried to meditate, good job! Wanting to begin a meditation practice is the first step on the journey!
Most people have a bit of a fantasy around meditation. It’s often in the style of “things that I will do/be eventually.” Probably goes something like this: you’re sitting blissfully in lotus posture, dressed in white, draped in beads, on a tranquil beach somewhere, a Mona Lisa smile playing lightly on your lips, stock photo style. This is the meditation equivalent of pornography!! It’s just not really like that – and if that’s what you’re expecting, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment!
Meditation is not about the blissful experience of an empty, still mind. Sure, sometimes you might catch glimpses of that…and typically, as soon as it is noticed, it vanishes! The ego takes hold: “Wow. I’m SO good at meditation. I’m not even thinking! Well, I wasn’t thinking. Now I am. I’m still practically an expert. Everyone should do this. I’m going to tell everyone about how I meditate now.” (0r some variation of this internal monologue)
Here’s what meditation is and isn’t:
- It is a practice. You wouldn’t expect to be “good” at the violin or riding a unicycle right out of the gate, would you?
- It’s hard. Which is why you practice.
- It’s not about stopping your thoughts.
- Sometimes it is about becoming aware of your thoughts, as you’re having them.
- Sometimes it is about becoming totally aware of your body.
- Sometimes it is about becoming totally aware of your breath.
- Meditation is the experience of developing awareness where there was none.
- It’s about practicing – over and over – creating new neural pathways so that you can always experience this awareness throughout your daily life, in any situation.
- Meditation is not blissful all the time.
- Sometimes your meditation practice will suck.
- It is about noticing, without judgment, when the awareness has wandered, and where it has wandered to – and then bringing it back to your point of focus.
- Meditation enables you to respond thoughtfully and calmly, rather than react instinctively.
- Meditation enables you to ride the waves, rather than try to control the experience.
- Meditation is not about trying to control the mind or the thoughts.
- Meditation is an act of surrender.
If you’ve been wanting to start your own meditation practice, but felt that you wouldn’t be able to do it, hopefully I’ve listed one or two things to help get you started, gently.