I’m an evangelist for meditation. Can’t help it. I know what it’s done for me, and because of that I know what it can do for you to. But like most things, it only works if you do it. Of course, as I try time and time again to convince people to meditate, to come to my meditation classes, to just try it, I hear a lot of excuses as to why meditation is not for them. Sorry! Wrong! Meditation is for everyone. Allow me to debunk your misconceptions about meditation with this little blog.
Meditation Misconception 1:
Meditation is for People Who are Calm and Peaceful
Sure, I come across as calm and peaceful. It’s because I meditate, baby genius. If you knew me pre-meditation, you might know me as an anxiety-ridden angry misanthrope. In all seriousness, I’ve always been contemplative, but much of that thinking time was spent thinking about how everything is, was, or is about to go terribly wrong, and how much I hate the world and everyone around me. Seriously. Meditation has changed my life, and while I sometimes don’t feel so calm and peaceful, I’m aware that I come across that way much more often, especially to those who don’t meditate. Everything is relative.
Meditation Misconception 2:
Good Meditators Sit Comfortably in Full Lotus Position
I can’t meditate because it hurts to sit like that for so long. Oh really? And by “like that” you mean full lotus? Don’t lie. You can’t even sit in half lotus for a half second, and neither can I, and you know what? It doesn’t matter. Sorry, but you can still meditate. You can sit cross legged all propped up on cushions and blocks. You can sit on your knees, still propped up on cushions and blocks. You could sit on a chair, or you could even lie down!
It’s not easy to be physically still, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. There are plenty of ways to meditate comfortably with the support of pillows and props. The magic of meditation is that once you begin to do it consistently your body will change, and so will your mind.
Meditation Misconception 3:
Good Meditators Have No Thoughts or Emotions
I can’t meditate, my mind is just too busy thinking all the time. Well, that’s too bad then, you must be genetically different from us meditators, who have perfected the zombie like state of mind-stop. We feel nothing and think nothing, and that’s what makes us all just like the Dalai Lama, who is supremely brain dead. Wait. That’s not what it does! That’s not the goal!
For as long as you are human, you will have thoughts and emotions. At least I hope you do, or something is terribly wrong. The goal of meditation is not to bring this to a complete stop, but to change your relationship to your thoughts and emotions. You have not failed at meditation if you if you lose your point of focus. You just need to remember to come back! And no, meditating frequently will not cause you to lose your edge, your energy, or your range of emotion. Your angry edge? Maybe. But if you think that’s helping you, congratulations, you’ve got another reason to meditate.
Meditation Misconception 4:
Meditation is for People with Nothing Else to Do
Oh, you’re too busy to meditate? I suppose then, that if I added up the time you spend scrolling through your phone, or watching television, or spacing out, I couldn’t come up with even 20 minutes of your day that we could set aside for a little sit down quiet time instead. I mean, be honest. Sure, we’re all busy. But we’re not that busy doing important life-saving things that really need to take priority right now over a 20-minute meditation.
In fact, if you give meditation a go, I’d suspect that over time you might feel less busy, even with the addition of meditation to your daily schedule. Meditation is funny like that.
Meditation Misconception 5:
If You’re Not Good at Meditation, It’s Not for You
I’m not that good at surfing, but I still do it every chance I get because I know how much joy it brings me, and I really want to be good at it. When that time comes, more joy! The only way to get there is to practice. I didn’t give up surfing on day one because I was lousy.
Same goes for meditation. Am I good at it? I don’t know. But I can look back and see progress. A whole lot of progress. Not just in my meditation sessions, but in my ability to carry a spacious and happy mind back into my off-the-cushion life. The meditations have grown longer, the meditation-effect lingers longer, and I feel healthier, happier and more whole. When I stop meditating, I lose all these feelings.
Why do we gain the weight back when the diet’s over? Because the diet’s over! This might be a terrible example, I don’t know. But what we do in each moment effects the next moment. Meditation is not something we do really hard for one class, one weekend, one retreat or a year, and then we’re fixed, we’re done, we’re at goal weight, and we can drop it and go back to our bad habits consequence-free.
Meditation is a lifelong practice, but it’s one that you want to consider inviting into your life. Yes, for the rest of your life. Make some space for it. It might not be what you think. The only way to find out is to try it. Meditate! Try it for 21 days, and then let me know if you think you should stop. Need help getting started? You know where to find me.
Sara-Mai Conway is a yoga and meditation instructor who is constantly bugging people about meditating, her self included. Meditate with her on a retreat to Baja, or join one of her classes in Austin, Texas.