Updated: Nov 14
Are you considering learning meditation? Or have you started and are worried if you are not doing it right? You are not alone. Maybe you have fallen victim to some of the myths surrounding meditation. Being familiar with these myths might just make your meditation practice easier and will help you stay motivated.
1. Meditation means emptying your mind
"I can’t meditate. I simply can’t empty my mind." Have you ever thought this? Truth is, we can’t empty our minds. We have a mind precisely so that we can think, contemplate, evaluate, etc. Expecting to able to empty our minds completely is an impossible task, a bit like asking your heart to stop beating for a while.
Instead, in many meditation traditions including yoga, we give the mind something to do. We are actually filling the mind. We ask the mind to focus on one particular thing, for example our breathing, a sound, an image, or a story. The purpose of this concentration-based approach to meditation is simple: By fully concentrating on one (neutral or positive) thing, we train our mind to ignore the other (troublesome) thoughts and feelings like worries, anxieties, to-do lists, arguments, health problems, work stress etc - at least for a while. This can help us ground, reset, and approach our lives with more distance and a new outlook.
2. Meditation is relaxation
"I simply can't relax, meditation is not for me." While it is true that meditation can have a profoundly relaxing effect, it is not the same. You can meditate while walking, playing an instrument, or doing yoga. If whatever you do requires your full attention, if it focusses your mind, your are meditating.
If you use a meditation app you may find that many offer a huge selection of relaxation recordings. This is because listening to these recordings and learning the techniques offered has a double benefit: One one hand, these recordings help you relax, which is of course beneficial in itself - on the other hand they help you focus your mind and therefore are a good way to start a meditation session.
3. You need to sit to meditate
"I simply can't sit still. My lower back start hurting even after sitting for just a few minutes, how could I ever learn to meditate?" Finding stillness (physically and mentally) amidst the commotion of your daily life is certainly the ultimate goal of meditation. But that doesn't mean that you have to sit. In fact, there is a meditation practice in yoga called Yoga Nidra, where you lie on the floor, covered comfortably by a warming blanket. Especially in this day-and-age where we spend sooooooo much time sitting, I find that Yoga Nidra helps me find relief from the strains of sitting and offers the perfect alternative to seated meditation.
Having said this, assuming a seated position has the advantage that you give yourself a signal that this is not relaxation, that you are not trying to fall asleep, that you want to stay alert and conscious. If you start with just 1 or 2 minutes of seated meditation and then progress to more, you may find that you get accustomed to sitting for longer and longer periods of time. You can always slightly change your position as you go along, for example change the way you cross your legs or sit on your heels for a while. Sitting on a meditation cushion or stool can also help you feel more at ease.
Meditation is one of the tools yoga can offer to help you manage stress. To delve deeper into this interesting topic, join the Yoga for Stress Foundation Course. Based on a combination of daily yoga practices, reflections, and a comprehensive course guide, you will get a thorough grounding in stress management tools and techniques.
"Meditation is like a gym in which you develop the powerful mental muscles of calm and insight."