Do you find meditation difficult? Then it just might surprise you that the "common knowledge" about how to meditate, can often be based on myth and misconception.
Here are three common myths about meditation, and how to debunk them.
Myth #1: You have to free your mind of thoughts.
Tempting as this is to believe, it's simply just not true. Ask any experienced meditator and they'll set you straight.
Here's the thing: mind's think! It's what they do. Just as it is the nature of the heart to beat, it is the nature of the mind to think. Thinking is not necessarily a problem — actually, it's rather essential. But problems arise when we give up our power to thoughts — we believe them, react to them and can no longer see them for what they really are.
Meditation helps us to get some distance from the incessant train of our thoughts. It enables us to become the watcher of our own mental chattering. We begin to experience an aspect of "self" that is beyond the day-to-day ramblings of our busy minds. As a lovely byproduct of all this, the mind does begin to quieten.
Myth #2: Meditation only works if you do it for an hour, twice per day.
Anyone who tells you exactly how long modern Western meditators should practice to "get results" is simply letting you know what worked for them. It might work for you, but then again, you might be different. Research simply can't yet say what the "optimal dosage" for meditation is for any given individual.
Positive changes in brain functioning and wellbeing have been reliably documented in studies employing a dosage of 20 minutes daily.
Myth #3: You have to be able to sit in Lotus position.
Although it might make you look like a yogi, sitting in Lotus is not necessary for meditation. Any upright seated position is ideal, as this helps to keep you awake and alert.
I've attended meditation retreats with monks and have seen some of the sloppiest postures imaginable! What's happening on the outside doesn't necessarily reflect what's going on inside. Be comfortable, stay upright and you've nailed it.
If you're struggling with meditation or have concerns about your practice, relax and get some advice. And next time you hear someone repeating these meditation myths, you can set them straight.