LET'S DEBUNK SOME COMMON MYTHS ABOUT MEDITATION
MEDITATION WORRIES GONE
I was always really skeptical of meditation. Felt like it wasn't for me, that I didn't have the right training for and that it was only for the super 'yogi'. Even on my yoga teacher training I was dubious of meditation. I thought it would be a lot of sitting on a pillow, eyes closed and trying endlessly to think of absolutely nothing. I had TOO MANY notions of what meditation was...and was not. I need you to know what I didn't for AGES about meditation now so you can start your own journey of meditating today!
There is a lot of mystery and misconceptions that cloud meditation:
it lasts too long
it's too challenging
it's a war of thoughts in your head
it's gonna be hella uncomfortable
And when focusing on the myths we miss out on the benefits:
Improved and better sleep
Meditation is becoming more popular and is being increasingly offered in schools, universities and businesses. So let's bust some of these myths so you can start meditating in a way that suits you and reaping all those killer benefits!
MYTH 1 : “MEDITATION IS ABOUT EMPTYING YOUR MIND TO NOTHINGNESS”
Right this was a BIG one for me. As soon as I learned that meditation wasn't necessarily about having 'no thought' I could much more easily get on board. It's so important to note that meditation means something different to everyone AND that there are SO MANY styles of meditation out there. It is a journey. Just like your yoga practice. It will evolve as you evolve and change as you change. The first step of meditation is to become mindful and present, this may start with paying attention and focusing on your thoughts rather than banishing them! As your meditation practice deepens you will find it easier to detach yourself from the outside world and to begin to tune inwards.
MYTH 2: “TO MEDITATE MEANS TO BE SAT VERY UNCOMFORTABLY"
Right folks, whatever vision you have of what it's meant to look like meditating - get rid of it! You don't need to be in a temple or holy place, you don't need to be sitting in the dark, you don't need to be still and unmoving and you don't need to be levitating. Meditating is like a bespoke made dress or tailored suit. It can be whatever you want it to be and you can do it in a way that fits perfectly into your life.
When I realised that meditating could be done on a work break, or while I was walking along the beach or done while I was laying down in bed the meditation game changed! I have a playlist of songs that help me meditate and sometimes I just put them on, close my eyes and focus on the sound.
MYTH 3 : “YOU NEED ENDLESS AMOUNTS OF TIME TO MEDITATE”
There are NO rules to how long you have to meditate for! When we put too many rules around what we are trying to do it becomes a chore and not something enjoyable. When you meditate think about quality over quantity. If you meditate and focus for 2 minutes that's better than forcing yourself to sit for 10 minutes and spending it wiggling and wishing you were somewhere else the whole time.
When you first start meditating pick a time of day that would work best for you. Maybe it is just after you wake up and you sit on the end of the bed, maybe it's in the middle of the day before everyone gets home from school and work, maybe it's just before bed after you've had your shower and brushed your teethe. Routine always makes it easier to start a new habit. You'll start feeling the results of meditating and want to keep it up.
MYTH 4 : “EYES CLOSED AND IN THE DARK.”
Nope this is another myth we are going to bust right now. One of my favourite ways to mediate is when I take Hudson for a walk on the beach. I focus all of my attention on what I can see, hear and feel. As I walk I note these things in my head. It helps me to stay present and calms me down. This is called visual meditation and is a practice of focusing on an image rather than on a mantra or guided meditation. This is a great meditation for those who are more visual learners and find it difficult to focus on sound. Give this style of meditation a go next time you go for a walk. Leave your phone and headphones at home. Watch the world that passes you buy and listen in.
MYTH 5 : “IT NEEDS TO BE DEAFENINGLY QUIET.”
I LOVE music to meditate to. I would highly recommend Sigor Ros's album Liminal Sleep for those who find silence off putting. Meditating in silence is very typical but doesn't mean that this is a stead fast rule. Sound Baths and Gong Baths are a great style of meditation with sound that is so loud it encompasses the whole space and body and is becoming more and more popular. There is some emerging science on sound and the effects on the mind and they show that it helps to relax and quiet the mind.
MYTH 6 : “THERE ARE RIGHT AND WRONG WAYS TO MEDITATE.”
Throw the rule book and the conceptions you have for meditation out the window! The most important thing is that you feel comfortable and happy. If there is something you don't enjoy or don't find useful in meditation then don't do it. If there's something you really enjoy keep doing it! Try all kinds of styles, all kinds of body positions, all kinds of music, all kinds of silence.
Write down what you enjoy and don't and make your own book that fits for you. Some days and some meditations will feel more challenging than others. And some days everything will click into place and it will feel easy and right. What you should do is dedicate a part of your house to your meditation practice, this will help you stay motivated and focus.
MYTH 7 : “MEDITATION IS MEANT FOR THE MATURE AND WOKE ADULT.”
You CAN start meditating at ANY age! There isn't a limit to how young or how old you should be. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents introduce their children to mind-body therapies like yoga and meditation, noting that “the simple act of teaching children how to stop, focus, and just breathe could be one of the greatest gifts you give them.”
There is more and more need for children and teenagers to work on mindfulness and meditation because of how disconnected they can be due to modern technology; phones, computers, social media, etc. A study by Healthy Children .org has found there are benefits for ADHD, anxiety, depression, school performance, sleep, behaviour problems, and eating disorders. There is also evidence showing that a combination of meditation and breathing exercises can help slow down the development of dementia-related diseases.
You can start a meditation practice today by doing the 10 DAYS TO ABUNDANCE COURSE or reading my BLOG on loving kindness meditation and doing the one there. You can also head to my YouTube page and do the meditations that are there!