5 Greatest Misconceptions about Meditation

We make meditation difficult by turning it an impossible feat and a near-superhuman ability. But in truth meditation can be so easy. Read on to find out about the five greatest misconceptions about meditation that prevent us from benefiting from this greatest method of self-healing!

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Meditation is easy.

We make meditation difficult by turning it an impossible feat and a near-superhuman ability. But in truth meditation can be so easy. Here are the five greatest misconceptions about meditation that prevent us from benefiting from this greatest way of self-healing!

Meditation is Intense Concentration – Meditation is the relaxation of the mind, not the exercise of it. Trying to concentrate consciously is like stiffening your muscles for a body massage. It is counterproductive to meditation.

Concentration is actually a side-effect or benefit of good meditation. Most people, even many meditation teachers mistake it for meditation. It is not. Meditation is easy focus; like the way you would spend an evening at the beach with a book. You really don’t concentrate on anything. You just let your mind relax.

Meditation is Total Absence of Thoughts – It is not. Once again this is a by-product of meditation sometimes and it is mistaken to be meditation. Meditation is simple awareness of your thoughts. You know that if you try to stop your mind from thinking about something all the mind can then think of is that which you don’t want to think about. And a lot of beginners give up meditation because of this. They think they are simply unfit for meditation. As if someone can be unfit to relax!

In meditation you are training your mind to take your thoughts less seriously. This is done simply by letting your mind think and at the same time watching those thoughts with an attitude of a dispassionate bystander. As if your thoughts are some vehicles passing on the street below as you watch them from your balcony. Yes in the beginning you tend to get lost with the thinking easily. That is the bystander becomes the driver of the car. And all you do, as soon as you realize this, is to go back to watching your thoughts idly.

Meditation must be done only at a certain Place And Time – It is not a must, it just an option. In fact, as a beginner you are most likely setting up yourself for failure if think you must do it at a certain place and only at an appointed hour. Because, then, even if you miss it once you are likely to get frustrated and give your mind an opportunity to quit it altogether. Sure meditating at a certain place and at a regular hour will help with your practice. But there is another benefit to meditating at various hours and at various places every day.

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Even simple sounds such as the patter of water can help you relax your mind and meditate.

That is gaining the ability to relax your mind anyplace and at anytime. Anything can help you do that. The sounds and sights around you, watching your thoughts, being aware of sensations on the body, literally anything! One of the best methods is to combine both techniques of meditation. Meditate at a regular spot and time for a slightly longer time like, say between 10 and 30 minutes, and then meditate just for a minute or two at various times of the day wherever you are. This is one of the best combinations that works for me always! Then even if I skip the longer meditation I am not so disappointed, and I also gain the capacity to relax and heal in midst of work and noise! Try it and see!

Meditation takes a long time to master – What do you want – mastery or benefits of mediation like peace of mind, and mental clarity? Of course, by ‘mastery’ most people assume staying in a particular posture for long hours with intense concentration and without any thoughts whatsoever! Even the most practiced of all meditators cannot claim such an achievement! In a yogic practice such a  state is called Samadhi, whereas meditation is called Dhyana – a state of continued awareness that can lead to Samadhi if the aspirant wishes it. So meditation is different from Samadhi.

The long-term benefits of meditation require sometime to pop up in your life. The immediate benefits of mediation are, however, quite readily apparent. And meditation by itself does not take months or years to master. How many seconds do you need to relax? Relaxing the mind is successful mediation! To be able to relax with such consistency takes regular practice but by no means more than a couple of months if you really go at it.

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Meditation is simple awareness of thoughts!

Meditation is Difficult – Do you really think it is that difficult even after reading all of the points above? Meditation is easy! We are all programmed to believe that we cannot gain anything unless we work hard towards it. And then we translate that belief into mental work too. Mind works the opposite. The harder we try to control the mind, the more violent and chaotic it becomes. In fact, our efforts to control it are adding to the mental noise not easing it.

The trick with the mind is to relax it by letting it wander. And then simply watching it without much reaction. It is easy to do. With enough practice you learn to do it even when you are disturbed. What you need here is not hard work, but short and easy repetitions. Remember, meditation is easy!

 

Simple Meditation Technique to deal with Anxiety and Stress – Part 1

You do not need special places, timing, or even postures for effective meditation.
You do not need special places, timing, or even postures for effective meditation.

In the last posts (Part 1 & Part 2) I discussed about mental health and the most important time of the day where your emotions and thoughts can set a trend for the day. This post let me share with you a very simple meditation method that will help you reduce stress and anxiety dramatically in your daily life. It can also help you become attain peace and calmness if you practise it every day.

The very word meditation sometimes puts us off. We have, at least some of us, have tried in the past various meditation techniques and have failed to achieve the consistency in practise. Two most important obstacles were time and achieving concentration. We either did not have the time to put aside for the meditation. Some meditation techniques demanded a particular time of the day be set aside for it, especially like early mornings which turn out to be particularly difficult for those who are night birds. Some meditation methods insisted on long durations of practise – sometimes even an hour out of our daily routine. The other reason why we give up a few other meditation techniques is because of its demand of nearly super human single minded concentration which seems to be more difficult than time. Just when we want to empty our minds that all sorts of silly thoughts come into our heads.

The meditation technique which I am sharing is neither time consuming nor requires inordinate amounts of mental concentration. You don’t even need to practise it at a regular time too. In fact, the efficacy of this meditation technique lies in practising it everywhere and anywhere you can.

Move into this moment using your body. Now is where Peace is.
Move into this moment using your body. Now is where Peace is.

The Technique

The technique is deceptively simple. All you need to do is to simply move your awareness into your body and this moment. Let me explain how to do that.

First of all, you do not have to assume any meditative posture for this. Doing that can help you initially if you are used to practising meditations, but otherwise it’s not necessary. Again the best benefits of this technique can be extracted if you do this anywhere in any posture.

Simply begin by watching your posture. This can be done either by closing your eyes or with your eyes open. The goal here is to bring yourself, your mind I mean, into this moment and to ground yourself. It means you are bringing yourself here and now. Becoming aware of your posture or physical presence is an easy way to do this. Be like this for a while.

Become aware of your body from the inside. It means you are going into being the posture. See, all postures are actions like sitting, lying, standing, resting, etc. So go into that doing. Be it. Be the sitting person, be the standing person, or be whatever your posture is doing right now. Do not be deceived by the simplicity of this technique. Try it and you will find tremendous results.

The Thinking Mind

Just become aware of your thoughts. No need to control them or suppress them.
Just become aware of your thoughts. No need to control them or suppress them.

Well, what about the mind? You do not have to empty your mind. Just watch it. Do not try to clear your mind. Neither do you try to hang on to a particular thought. Just let them be – in the background. Your awareness is into your posture. Into being.

It means you are letting your mind be what it wants to be and YOU are going away from it. Yes, you and your mind can be separated like that. By ‘you’ here I mean your awareness. So simply let your thoughts be, let your mind be.

What you are doing is letting everything be. You are not trying to change anything. You are moving into the being of the moment. So, like I said, it does not require extraordinary consciousness. Just plain awareness. It’s easy.

Time and Duration

Do it anywhere you want. without any special postures or asanas.
Do it anywhere you want. without any special postures or asanas.

You can do this meditation anytime and anywhere. And you can do this for any duration ranging from just a few seconds to an hour too. In fact, I would not recommend that you do this for longer duration at a set time of the day like other meditation practises. The efficacy of this technique lies in its time flexibility.

I have noticed that in meditation practises people tend to get the best benefit out of it during their early days of practise and then gradually the benefits seem to disappear. The problem is not with the technique but in our ability to compartmentalize our daily routine. We usually stop the benefits of meditation influencing us in the rest of the day after the meditation. In the beginning days of practise, we are so motivated that we feel the lightness, joy, calmness, or peace that we gained during the meditation all through the day. After the initial motivation wanes, we tend to go back to our worry patterns and even the meditation seems to become a burden at times. So what peace we gain during the meditation practise seems to fade within ten minutes of getting up. Yes, any good meditation practise can change that and affect our whole life positively in a long term practise. But that again takes us back to our initial problem of consistency in practise.

So the best way to gain benefit out of this practise is to do this meditation just about two or three minutes or less and do it number of times per day. As you do not have a restriction of posture and you don’t even have to close your eyes for this meditation, it makes it easy to practise this meditation just about anywhere. While sitting in the office or the class during a break, while travelling (if you are not driving, of course), during brief periods of waiting, in the toilet, just after eating. Read the next part here for some best recommended times that can provide greatest benefit out of this technique.

Benefits of Meditation

The meditation can help you remain peaceful and calm all through the day easily.
The meditation can help you remain peaceful and calm all through the day easily.

The first thing that you will notice is the flushing of stress and anxiety. An instant calmness will come over your body and mind as you become aware of them. When you move into the posture and be the posture, what happens is that you are letting go of your identity with your thoughts. You are not stopping the thoughts, but are not attaching yourself with them anymore. Again, the goal is to move into ‘here and now’. Be only in this moment. Any thoughts about the next moment let them be. Just watch them. Don’t try to change them.

This technique acts a vacuum cleaner for stress and emotions. What I mean is that it can effectively stop stress and bothersome emotions from affecting other areas of your life. So when you practise this regularly, you stop carrying emotions across different areas of your life. Stress of your personal life will not affect your professional area. And vice versa.

Due to its flexibility, this technique can be incorporated in your daily life far easily than other longer methods. Of course you can continue any other meditations and Kriyas that you are already doing or intend to take up. In fact, this practise will aid you in other mind management or spiritual techniques.

A constant state of peace will become yours when you pepper this practise along the entire day. You will notice that you are able to look at problems in their proper perspective and proportion. In fact you will even be able to deal with tougher issues with a presence of mind. Worry becomes lesser.

The second part of this post gives you some best recommended times to practise this meditation as well as more useful tips to get the most out of this meditation practice. Read the second part of this post here.

Suggested Readings:

How much time do you spend for your mental health? – Part 1

How much time do you spend for your mental health? – Part 2

Simple Meditation Technique to remove Stress and Anxiety – Part 2

Frustration: The Shortcut to Failure

 

Photo Courtesy: adamr, digitalart, Ambro @ freedigitalphotos.net