Advertising

5 Meditation Myths You Should Know about

Advertising
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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

More by this author

5 Ways to Bring Happiness into Your Life Addicted to Your Mobile Phone? 5 Ways to Beat Your Phone Addiction How To Get Rid Of A Cold Fast And Become Much Healthier 5 Ways to Get More Productive Today 5 Simple Ways to Celebrate The Everyday

Trending in Communication

1 10 Signs You Are in a Codependent Relationship (And What To Do About It) 2 I Want To Be Happy: 7 Science-Backed Ways to Find Happiness 3 13 Ways Happy People Think and Feel Differently 4 10 Morning Habits Of Happy People 5 What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Advertising
How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

Advertising

  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

Advertising

Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

Advertising

However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

Advertising

Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

Advertising

  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

Read Next