When I explain to people that I practice a daily meditation as a part of my morning ritual they often proclaim, “Wow, that’s so good for you, I tried that once and couldn’t do it.” But that’s where they’re wrong. There are so many preconceived notions about meditation that desperately need to be sorted out for once and for all.
“So every time I meditate I’m gonna reach this higher state of pure zen, right?”
While a more peaceful mind may be an incredible side-effect from meditation, it should by no means be an individual’s ultimate “goal.” Unfortunately, it seems as though individuals assume they are not meditating correctly because they feel as if they are not reaching a “higher state of pure zen.” This pattern of thinking is totally wrong. Meditation is the pose, mindfulness is the practice, and the zen mindstate is a mere side-effect.
￼More or less, meditation is about taking part in a daily practice that has the ability to transform the mind into becoming more aware of the present moment. As Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist Thích Nhất Hạnh puts it, “In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.” It’s about you being alone with yourself and tuning into what’s happening on the inside.
“I can’t meditate because I can’t clear my mind! It never stops racing!”
Some individuals say that they can’t meditate because they just can’t stop thinking. Well, of course you can’t. You are a human after all. It is impossible to clear every single thought from your brain entirely. That’s not what meditation is about. But rather, meditation is about focusing inward and really trying to hone into how your body feels and the sensations going on inside of you.
Feel the breeze run through your hair, the sun warming your skin, and the grass in between your toes. Really soak in your surroundings and just listen to all that your body, mind, and spirit have to say to you. If at times it feels as though your flow is disrupted, do not be alarmed; it is a normal part of meditating. The best thing one can do in that situation is to simply acknowledge the abrupt thought and recenter into your meditation zone. Don’t try to block out the thought. Accept your mind for what it is and find peace with it.
“Hold on, am I even doing this right?”
Essentially, meditation isn’t about what you’re doing, but instead about what you’re not doing. The fact that you’re taking some time out of your day to just sit and focus in on your breath counts as a legitimate meditation, regardless of if you feel enlightened at the end of your practice or if you’ve mastered the full lotus position. If you don’t want to sit cross-legged, don’t do it. If you don’t want to sit in silence, don’t do it. Do what feels right for you.
“There’s just no point in meditating.”
Statistics show that meditation is fantastic for your body. According to the Chopra Center, meditation restores the brain. A landmark study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital found that as little as eight weeks of meditation not only helped people feel calmer but also produced changes in various areas of the brain, including growth in the areas associated with memory, empathy, sense of self, and stress regulation.
“I wish I could, but I just don’t have any time.”
According to Psychology Today, it’s proven that meditation helps you focus more. So, by meditating, you are actually freeing up time in your day wasted on getting distracted. And let’s face it, in reality, we all have a few minutes we could set aside. A meditation session does not have to be long. Even five minutes of meditation can make a difference. In a world where we’re constantly “connected,” it’s crucial now, more than ever, to take time to disconnect (from our devices) while we connect with our inner-selves.