In our Autumn 2021 issue, our regular meditation correspondent Sandy Newbigging had some great advice to offer on the myths that keep us from meditating … and how to overcome them. Enjoy his article below.
Meditation Myths and Truths
Set yourself free to meditate
by Sandy Newbigging
Despite meditation being simple, and offering such big rewards, there are myths about meditation that can stop people getting started or make them quit before they reap the possible benefits. Here are seven myths that mess with millions of people’s meditation practice:
Myth #1 – Meditation is difficult
When practised correctly, meditation can be the easiest and most enjoyable thing we ever do. For something to be difficult, it requires effort, struggle, stress and stamina. Meditation requires the exact opposite. There is no effort because we are learning how to do nothing. There is no struggle because we are not forcing anything. There is no stress because we are not resisting anything. There is no need for stamina because the main purpose of meditation is to relax.
Myth #2 – I must still my mind
Having thoughts can be a natural part of meditation. When we meditate, the body gets rest. When the body rests, it heals. Healing is an active process – stress is released and healing is being undertaken. Due to the mind-body connection, activity in the body is reflected by activity in the mind – in the form of thoughts. Having thoughts while meditating is a sign that stress is being released. It is not useful
to resist thoughts. To resist thoughts is to resist healing! Instead, let the healing happen by letting them come and go.
Myth #3 – I need a quiet space to meditate
When I first learnt to meditate, I was excited to get home to have my first solo meditation. I dimmed the lights, sat on a cushion, closed my eyes, and within around 15 seconds someone started drilling the road outside my bedroom window! I quit the meditation technique I was going to do for the rest of my life – within one minute.
I’ve since discovered that you don’t need a quiet space to meditate. Meditation is more about discovering the silence that exists within. All sound happens within the context of ever-present silence. In fact, if you are willing to explore inside, environmental noise can make inner silence even louder! You don’t need a quiet space to meditate, so do yourself a favour by not using noise as an excuse not to close your eyes.
Myth #4 – It takes years of dedicated practice to benefit from meditation
We start benefiting from meditation from the first time we do it. Yes, the benefits increase over time, but it certainly doesn’t take years to see improvements. And here’s the thing: if you start today you are going to be much more peaceful, happy and fulfilled a year from now, than you will be if you never start at all.
Myth #5 – Meditation is escaping from real life
When meditating, we are not tuning out or denying reality. Instead, we are tuning into now and fully welcoming reality. When we overthink things, we leave the reality of now and go into an imaginary world. So the truth is: when we meditate we are learning to experience real life more often.
Myth #6 – Guided visualisations are meditation
Meditation helps us to explore beyond the mind and imagination, to experience our ‘real Self ’ and the reality of now. Visualisations may be pleasant and provide temporary relief, but they still use the mind. True peace, freedom and self-realisation is attained by going beyond the limitations of our mind, to experience the fullness and potential of a life lived with self-awareness and peace.
Sandy is the creator of the popular Mind Detox and Mind Calm methods. Visit his website for more on his online mentoring sessions, club and academy.