A friend of mine recently started meditating and she was sharing bits of her journey with me along the way.
It had started out as something that she had to force herself to do, but that it quickly turned into something she “needed” to do to start her day. She started responding to daily stressors differently – and people noticed!
Too often it may seem like just another thing on the to-do list, but her experience reminded me what a valuable and under-utilized tool meditation can be.
If you’ve been nervous about starting a meditation practice, you’re not alone. Here are the 5 most common meditation myths I hear and my 2 cents for moving past them
1. You need to meditate for an hour a day
When you think of meditation, do you immediately conjure up an image of monks in a temple who meditate for days, even weeks at a time? This might lead you to believe that you need to meditate for an hour a day (or more!), but the truth is even 10 minutes can make a big difference to your peace of mind.
My 2 cents: When you’re first getting started, even 5 minutes of meditation can feel like an eternity, so start small and build as you go. I love the Simply Being meditation app, because you can gradually increase over time from 5 to 20 minutes.
2. You’re doing it wrong
This is a special one for all my Type A’s out there. If you’ve got a bit of a perfectionist streak in you, you may be reluctant to really try meditation for fear that you’re doing it wrong. But guess what? There is no wrong way to do it! And the more you meditate, the easier it will be to develop your own unique style.
My 2 cents: One of the benefits of a developed meditation practice is the acknowledgement that your daily practice will turn into whatever you need it to be that day. As your practice goes deeper, you’ll begin to tap into more of your natural intuition and develop a connection with yourself on a deeper level, so have faith in the process and just keep going!
3. You need to clear your mind completely
I’d always struggled with meditation because as soon as I started, all the things that had gone undone that day or replays of conversations I’d had that day would kick off in my mind. I couldn’t turn it off! My mind was officially blown during a meditation class when the instructor told us that meditation was NOT about clearing the mind, but about developing a deep focus.
My 2 cents: A large part of my own meditation practice is being kind to myself along the way. When my mind wanders, I gently redirect using a mantra.
If you find that forgotten to-do items are sneaking in, keep a notebook next to you and when you’re done with your meditation, spend a few minutes doing a quick brain dump.
4. You have to sit still
If sitting in silence for more than a couple minutes makes you squirm, you’re not alone. But there’s good news – meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting or lying down. Any activity where you can be totally immersed (running, walking, yoga, doing the dishes) can offer the same benefits.
My 2 cents: When I first started meditating regularly, I would use long runs as my meditation platform. I’d switch off my ipod and tap into the sights and sounds around me. I used my breath and the sound of my feet hitting the ground with each new step to guide me. It turns out that there was a lot I was missing out on when I was plugged in; the “silence” of running without music actually made the whole experience more enjoyable.
5. There’s only one right way to meditate
WRONG! There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to meditation. You have to find what works for you: guided, music, silent, sitting, standing, moving, morning, night, indoors, outdoors. It doesn’t matter how you do it – just that it works for you!
My 2 cents: Experiment and see what feels right for you. Acknowledge that it may change as you get more experience with meditation or even as your world changes. Let the process evolve right along with you.