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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 July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com