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11 Things About Meditation That People Think Are True

11 Things About Meditation That People Think Are True

Meditation has become popular, but it’s misunderstood. There are things about meditation that people think are true that are simply myths. Meditation will work for you, no matter what you think, but let’s look at some of the common misconceptions and dispel them so you can enjoy your meditations more.

1. You think that you need to concentrate to meditate.

You think that if you concentrate hard, your meditation will “work.” That’s not so. When you meditate, just sit, or lie down, or walk. (Yes, there are walking meditations.) Your ability to focus and concentrate is a side-benefit of meditation, but meditation isn’t concentration.

Relax. Let everything be as it is. If your mind is in turmoil, allow it. Allow everything, and just be as you are.

If you’re focusing on your breath, gently bring your attention back to your breath when it wanders. The key word is “gently.”

2. You think that meditation is a way of escaping your problems.

Everyone has problems. That’s life—it’s one thing after another. You can’t escape your problems with meditation. However, meditation will enable you to handle your problems gracefully.

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If you’ve started meditating, and someone accuses you of using meditation to escape, just smile.

3. You think that meditation is about religion.

Meditation isn’t a religious movement. However, all the world’s religions, whether great or small, practice meditation as a discipline—as a way to go beyond thought. Many religions consider prayer to be a way of talking to god, and meditation as a way of listening to god.

4. You think that meditation is a form of hypnosis.

Meditation isn’t hypnosis. Meditation goes beyond thought and the mind, whereas hypnosis is focused attention on suggestions which a hypnotherapist gives you, or if you’re practicing self-hypnosis, suggestions which you give yourself.

Physically meditation and hypnosis can have a similar effect: you become very relaxed, but they’re different practices.

5. You think that unless you can stop thinking, you can’t meditate.

You have a mind. It manufactures thoughts; that’s its job. However, you’re not your mind, or your thoughts. Meditation can quiet your mind, so that it’s less like “monkey mind” jumping from thought to thought.

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After you’ve practiced meditation for a while, you’ll be able to watch your thoughts pass through your mind, without becoming attached to them. Minor irritations which once bothered you will no longer affect you. In a sense, meditation gives you greater control of your mind, because you can just let your thoughts go.

As a benefit of meditation practice, when you do want to think about something analytically, your concentration will be better.

 

meditation posture

    6. You think that meditation is supposed to be hard.

    Many years ago, when I first started meditating, I struggled to control my thoughts. I tried hard to focus and concentrate on my breath. Of course, this was the opposite of meditation, which is just allowing everything to be as it is.

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    I wasn’t struggling consciously. Once I became aware, I realized that that was how I lived my life: I viewed it as a struggle. When I learned to let go in meditation, my life became easier too.

    7. You think that meditation is a special state.

    Meditation isn’t a special state; it’s a way of being. In his book, Coming to Our Senses, professor of medicine Jon Kabat-Zinn says:

    We might say that meditation is really a way of being appropriate to the circumstances one finds oneself in, in any and every moment. If we are caught up in the preoccupations of our own mind, in that moment we cannot be present in an appropriate way or perhaps at all. We will bring an agenda of some kind to whatever we say or do or think, even if we don’t know it.

    Any state you’re in can be a meditative state. Although you’ll often feel relaxed during and after meditation, relaxation isn’t meditation. Your meditation is an opportunity to be aware of yourself, however you happen to be, in that moment.

    8. You expect that meditation will give you supernatural experiences or powers.

    Meditators may occasionally have strange experiences. You might feel hot, or cold, or experience colored lights or visions. You may even tap into powers like clairvoyance. However, as spiritual speaker and writer Jiddu Krishnamurti, and other respected meditation teachers have pointed out, these experiences and “powers” are irrelevant. They’re an illusion. Let them go.

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    If they disturb you, contact a meditation teacher for guidance.

    9. You think you don’t have time to meditate.

    Got a minute? Meditate. Yes, you can meditate for a minute, or a few minutes. Just allow yourself to let go of whatever your current preoccupation is, and let yourself be aware of the present moment. If you wish, you can use a meditation focus, such as your breath, and become aware of your breathing for few minutes.

    If you have time, you can meditate for 20 minutes, once or twice a day. However, mini-meditations are just as valuable as longer, more formal meditations.

    10. You think that you need to sit in the lotus position to meditate.

    You can sit in lotus position if that’s comfortable for you. However, the lotus position doesn’t confer any special benefits. It’s become popular as a meditation posture over the centuries because it’s a stable posture. In the lotus position, your spine is straight, and your bound legs give your posture stability.

    If you can’t achieve the lotus position, assume any posture you like, as long as your spine is straight. Keeping your spine straight is good for your health: mental, physical and emotional.

    11. You think that meditation is magical, or that it will change your life.

    Meditation isn’t magical. However, your practice gives you so many benefits that it might seem that way. It changes your life in a fundamental way, because you see the patterns in your behavior. Spiritual teacher Ram Dass, author of Be Here Now, said:

    As you quiet your mind, you begin to see the nature of your own resistance more clearly, struggles, inner dialogues, the way in which you procrastinate and develop passive resistance against life. As you cultivate the witness, things change. You don’t have to change them. Things just change.

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

    your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

      Why You Need a Vision

      Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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      How to Create Your Life Vision

      Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

      What Do You Want?

      The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

      It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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      Some tips to guide you:

      • Remember to ask why you want certain things
      • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
      • Give yourself permission to dream.
      • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
      • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

      Some questions to start your exploration:

      • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
      • What would you like to have more of in your life?
      • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
      • What are your secret passions and dreams?
      • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
      • What do you want your relationships to be like?
      • What qualities would you like to develop?
      • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
      • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
      • What would you most like to accomplish?
      • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

      It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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      What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

      Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

      A few prompts to get you started:

      • What will you have accomplished already?
      • How will you feel about yourself?
      • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
      • What does your ideal day look like?
      • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
      • What would you be doing?
      • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
      • How are you dressed?
      • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
      • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
      • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

      It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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      Plan Backwards

      It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

      • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
      • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
      • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
      • What important actions would you have had to take?
      • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
      • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
      • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
      • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
      • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

      Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

      It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

      Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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