4 Myths That Are Keeping You from Trying Meditation

Young woman sitting on granite benchDoes it seem like everyone is talking about meditation these days? Do you feel like the odd one out for having not yet tried it?

Perhaps you have bought into some of the common myths and misunderstandings about meditation that make it seem out of reach or not for you.

Check out the following myths and see if you relate to any of them:

  1. Meditation means making your mind “go blank.” The mind and brain are always active, even during sleep, so this is not even possible. Don’t worry that you can’t do it. I can’t, either. Meditation promotes mindfulness.
  2. Meditation is a religious practice. Meditation is to the mind what fitness is to the body. Meditation is NOT about being Buddhist, Hindu, or part of any particular religion. People of all religions and faiths (and nonreligious people, too) can and do meditate.
  3. Meditation will make you so relaxed that you won’t get stuff done. The truth is that a huge number of highly successful and productive people, including many top business executives, meditate as part of their daily routines—in some cases in order to get MORE done. It’s not a contradiction.
  4. Meditation is time-consuming. In reality, meditation can be done in as little as a minute or three, about as much time as it takes (or less) to make a cup of coffee. And it’s better for you.

Meditation has turned out to be one of my most-recommended tools for helping people I counsel in therapy to manage stress, get a good night’s sleep, deal with the ups and downs of their moods, and summon more energy and motivation.

How to Meditate

Want to give it a try? Start simple.

Sit in a quiet place—cross-legged on the floor, perhaps, or even in a chair—where you won’t be disturbed for a few minutes. Keep your spine and neck as straight and comfortable as possible. Gently close your eyes and begin to breathe deeply.

If thoughts come, don’t worry. Don’t judge yourself for having them. Acknowledge any thoughts and let them be. Don’t chase them away, and don’t follow where they lead. Return your focus to your breath.

Continue for a few moments, a few minutes, or longer, if you like—it’s up to you.

There.

You did it.

You had your first meditation session.

How Did It Go?

How many of the myths above did you believe before you tried it? What else had been stopping you? For those of you who have been at it for a while, what purpose does meditation serve in your life?

Let us know in the comments section below.

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  • Sadie

    Sadie

    June 28th, 2015 at 7:48 AM

    My fear is not all of these things. I have just always thought that I am a little too high strung to ever be able to meditate and it be any kind of effective for me. I think that I would have a hard time focusing on, well, whatever it is that I am supposed to concentrate on while I meditate and I am such a perfectionist that I want to be able to do it and do it right. I guess it all boils down to a fear of failure :/

  • Desiree

    Desiree

    June 28th, 2015 at 10:12 AM

    Many associate the practice with some hippie dippy ting too, and it causes them to shy away from it even though they have never even tried it. They already have this preconception about why they shouldn’t instead of being open to why they should.

  • Diann Wingert LCSW

    Diann Wingert LCSW

    June 28th, 2015 at 3:54 PM

    Sadie,

    It’s normal to resist doing something new that you might not be good at. Meditation is especially helpful for someone who has an over active mind ( anxious, ADD, OCD, perfectionists and so called “Type A” personalities all fit here). The trick is training yourself how to simply breathe and observe your mind with curiousity and lack of judgement. Each time you wonder if you are doing it right, just release the thought and return your focus to the breath. Meditation is a skill and it is referred to as a practice for a reason. Ignoring the self criticism that many of us engage in when we try something new takes practice. Another benefit of meditation is that we become more compassionate toward ourselves and others because as we observe our mind, we notice how hard we are on ourselves. Thanks for writing ! Diann

  • Diann Wingert LCSW

    Diann Wingert LCSW

    June 28th, 2015 at 3:56 PM

    Desiree,

    I agree with you. Most people who judge meditation as woo woo, hippie nonsense or dismiss it in some other way have never even tried it.

    Just for fun, try Googling “Fortune 500 CEOs who meditate” and see if those people seem silly.

    Thanks for writing !

    Diann

  • Beth

    Beth

    June 28th, 2015 at 5:56 PM

    Yeah I think my dad always freaked me out a little about stuff like this because he said that I couldn’t be a good Christian and practice yoga or meditation. Yeah, I’m from a small town and he really did believe all of that. Took me til about 30 to understand that he may believe that but I don’t have to.

  • Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW

    Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW

    June 29th, 2015 at 5:04 AM

    Great post!

  • kiara

    kiara

    June 29th, 2015 at 8:23 AM

    Is there a book or something that you could recommend?
    I stay pretty stressed and I think that making meditation a part of my day would be good for me but I would like to have a little guidance in the practice.
    If I am going to commit to it than i want to make sure that I allowing myself to get the most out of it as possible.

  • Diann Wingert LCSW

    Diann Wingert LCSW

    June 29th, 2015 at 12:31 PM

    Kiara – There are a number of good books on meditation, as well as CDs and audio downloads available. When I am introducing one of my clients to the practice of meditation, I typically recommend that they get the Headspace app from iTunes or Google Apps. You get a 10 minute guided meditation practice and can try it for free for ten sessions. If you like it, a year’s subscription to Headspace is about $100. Because meditation is a practice, it is best learned by doing. Headspace is a great tool and makes developing a meditation practice easy and enjoyable.

    Thanks for writing,

    Diann

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