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 2

Read the First Part here. The meditation technique is explained there.

Best Recommended Times

The recommended times are for getting the best out of this method. They are not mandatory. In fact, I recommend you not to take up all the below at once. That will simply become a burden to you and that will motivate you to give up the meditation practise.

I personally follow these and I do not meditate for no more than two minutes maximum each time. And I increased the frequency of this practise after I fell in love with the meditation, not before.

The best way to start the day is to become present in this moment when you wake up.
The best way to start the day is to become present in this moment when you wake up.

As soon as you wake up – this is especially good because it can have a great influence over your entire day.

In the toilet – this again is another time of the day where our thoughts and emotions then can affect the whole day. Just a few minutes of this meditation here will help us greatly.

Waiting in traffic or at other times can be a great time to meditate.
Waiting in traffic or at other times can be a great time to meditate.

During travel (if you are not operating the vehicle) – this is one of the best times, I’ve found, to meditate. In fact somehow it is easy for me to meditate while sitting in the bus or train. After this technique, I personally began to prefer travelling by bus or train over driving myself because it gives me a long time to meditate. Especially while returning from a day’s work, this meditation in bus has tremendous benefit. There is an immediate flushing of stress and anxiety which I used to carry from work to home.

Before beginning a work – I have found this to be another huge benefit. When you are able to move into ‘being in the moment’ before you start any work, it gives you the calmness as well as the presence of mind required to handle the task effectively. In fact, I found this even improved my performance.

Being in the moment after eating can help digestion and also tune to your listening to your body.
Being in the moment after eating can help digestion and also tune to your listening to your body.

Immediately after eating – If you do this over a few weeks, you will even gain an amazing ability. You will be able to tell if the food that you just consumed is good for you or not. Body has a great ability to communicate what it wants and what it can’t digest. But we never listen. This technique helps you gain back that listening habit. Not only will your stomach tell you if the food you ate is good for you or not, but if you ate something that is particularly not so suitable for your constitution, the few minutes of this meditation after food actually helps reduce the discomfort or indigestion problem. Of course, that does not mean you can continue to eat whatever you like and use this technique like some antacid tonic. When your body communicates, listen to it. Try to avoid that food stuff in future.

Evenings when free – This is the time when I practise this for a slightly longer time like about ten to fifteen minutes. Sometimes, if I find time, I do this in the mornings instead. This helps me become more anchored in that state of peace and calmness, and also helps me get into this practise easily even during most stressful times in the day.

Before going to bed – I sleep with this technique. It will soon help you fall asleep faster.

Getting the Best Out Of This Meditation Practise – Meditation Tips and Advice

Be in the moment and you will soon enjoy the moment as it is.
Be in the moment and you will soon enjoy the moment as it is.

Enjoy the meditation – Just be and you will quickly fall in love with this meditation. Whenever you are being in your body, you will find a certain peace and calmness in it.

Let it grow upon you – Let the meditation grow upon you not the other way round! Do not try to overwhelm yourself with doing this too many times in the beginning. You are trying to acquire a habit of regular meditation. And anything that you dislike or are trying to force upon self can be tough to become a habit.

Take it easy – If you take this meditation too seriously (instead of enthusiastically) you are only adding to your stress. Remember you are trying to find peace out of this meditation. The more desperate you grow the less likely you will find peace. Just take it easy.

Skip once in a while – Take a break when you feel like it. The importance of peace and calmness is felt more in its absence. Don’t be a stickler to punctuality and discipline. If you enjoy the meditation it will become a part of your daily routine quickly enough.

Don’t try too hard – Once in a while you may find it difficult to move into the ‘here and now’ when you are too stressed out or emotional. Don’t try hard. With enough practise during other times you will soon, within weeks, reach a state where you can go into the meditation even during high stress.

Don’t empty mind – Again the emphasis is to be your posture and thus enter this moment. Not on emptying your head of thoughts. There is no need to change your thoughts. Move your focus from them to your body.

Stay on the goal – As you become more practised in this meditation technique, you will find some interesting latent abilities of yours getting activated. For instance, sometimes when I am doing this meditation, I become aware of the mood and thoughts of people around me. Stay with the goal. And the goal is to gain peace and be stress-free. If you start pursuing this meditation for the sake of latent powers you will lose both peace as well as the powers.

Experience this moment – Each time you do this meditation you may have a different experience. The goal is to be the posture and experience this moment as it is. Do not try to reproduce the experience of your previous meditations. That is where you can get lost and lose peace.

Do it as you are – Do not try to assume special postures for the meditation. Just move into the posture you have at the moment. Of course you can adjust a limb or two for the sake of convenience. Sometimes you can also realign your posture as a physical way of ‘gathering your mind’. Special postures or asanas can restrict the places and times when you can practise this meditation.

 

Suggested Readings:

Simple Meditation Technique for healing Anxiety and Stress – Part 1

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

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

Frustration: Shortcut to Failure

 

Photo Courtesy: graur codrin, rakratchada torsap, Stuart Mile @ freedigitalphotos.net