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5 Meditation Myths You Should Know about

5 Meditation Myths You Should Know about

Meditation is often seen as an esoteric practice for monks, sitting for hours in lotus position. This alone is enough to leave people thinking, “Meditation is a nice idea, but it’s just not practical for my life”.

Let’s bust these myths so that you can start reaping the practical benefits of meditation in just minutes a day.

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1. You have to sit in a cross-legged position on the floor like a Buddha

Here is the truth: meditation is simply exercise for your mind. The way we exercise our minds is through deliberately taking a time out to practice awareness. Whether we sit in a chair, lie in our bed, or immerse ourselves in the ocean, the practice has little to do with what physical position we are in: the important thing is what our mind is doing. All we need to do is intentionally say: “I am now engaging in being present, and observing the moment as it is.”

Additionally, it is important to not judge the experience, but to simply recognize that you benefit from meditation simply through intentionally engaging in the practice. Just like when you set out for a run, you benefit whether you have a superb run or a mediocre run—the same is true for meditation. Some days may feel more peaceful than others, but nonetheless, you benefit no matter what.

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2. You have to know about Buddhism to meditate

There are certainly Buddhist flavors of meditation, but it is not the only type of meditation on the planet! The ability to meditate has nothing to do with any religion. Meditation is just a big fancy word for practicing awareness, presence, and observing what is happening in this moment. By being fully engaged in the moment, you are in fact meditating. When we let go of the big label, and simply immerse in the practice, we relinquish the obstacle of “meditation is only for calm zen monks.” Anyone and everyone on the planet can intentionally say ” I am now going to practice being in he moment, and observe my thoughts and come back to this moment of now.” This is what meditation is all about.

3. You can’t have thoughts to meditate properly

The beauty of meditation is that it’s an opportunity to be fully aware of the thoughts that are coming up. This way, we can observe what is bothering us so that we can willfully choose to let it go. Moreover, our mind likes to be busy, and thoughts are natural by-products of the mind. This is why the exercise of meditation is to be present and aware of the thoughts that arise, so that we can see them, and choose to let them go. The thoughts will show up, but the magic is instead of the thoughts overpowering us and draining our emotional energy, we can observe them, and recognize that we do not need to believe every thought that arises. The moment you can notice the thought is the moment that you can release it. Awareness alone is the powerful tool that transforms the moment, and empowers you to let go of the anxiety around the thought. A helpful tool to do this is to bring your attention to your natural breath anytime you catch yourself thinking. The idea is that if your attention is fully focused on your breath, it will be pretty impossible to be focused on anything else. This is why the breath is such a powerful technique for quieting the mind. Every time you observe yourself thinking, simply come back to your breath to help you let the thought go. This is how we create mental clarity, and this is the home of greater inspiration, efficiency, and an ability to make better decisions in everyday life.

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4. You will feel enlightened after meditation

Look, I won’t take away from you the possibility that you might feel really connected and awesome after a meditation session, but I hate to break it to you: sometimes your meditation session will be full of frustration, anxiety, and constant thoughts. So what’s the benefit of that? The only way to purge the anxiety, frustration, and incessant habitual thinking is by daring to take the time to let these emotions arise. The only way to liberate yourself from these emotions is to let them rise to the surface so that they can release. When you feel these emotions in a meditation practice, the important thing is to recognize that they are normal, and are often part of the fluctuations of the practice. The same way that if you are a runner, you may have days that feel superb and powerful, and other days where you feel weak and can’t stand the experience. This is all part of the fluctuations of the body, and the same is true for the mind. There will be a range of experiences, but the benefit of meditation is just like exercise—the benefits extend far beyond the time in which you engage in the exercise itself. When you go for a run, the benefits to your health are multi-fold and last longer than the mere 30 minutes you spent running. Just like meditation, the benefits of clarity of mind, and less reactiveness extend far beyond the confines of your meditation session.

5. You have to meditate for hours a day

Here is the truth: if you commit to a daily 5-minute meditation practice, you will begin to feel the benefits of clarity of mind, a deeper sense of calm, and more efficiency in your work. You are better off to create a consistent meditation practice that you can sustain on a daily basis, than go on a meditation binge trying to meditate for hours a day. Long meditations are simply not sustainable for most of us. I have seen within myself and my clients that the commitment to a sustained practice of even a few minutes a day has profound benefits. It also helps to strengthen you meditation muscles so that when you do choose to meditate for a longer period, such as 20 minutes, you will have that capacity to sustain a longer meditation. The idea of meditation is to clear our mind so that we can act more efficiently, clearly and lovingly out in the world.

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Are you inspired to start meditating? Inspiration needs action to be of true value. Either use this moment to set your alarm for a 5 minute meditation, simply by sitting in a comfortable seat, and practicing awareness. You can focus your attention to your breath as an anchor to keep you in the present moment. This way anytime you catch yourself thinking, you can come back to your breath to help you let the thought go. If this moment is not the right time to meditate, schedule a 5 minute slot into your calendar now.

Report your insights in the comments below.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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