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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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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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