Free Press Journal

Myths about meditation: Clearing the air


Meditation is not everyone’s cup of tea, people find it hard to meditate as they are surrounded by many unrealistic misconceptions. For making your mind musing easier Smita Jaykar clears the air about myths linked to meditation

During my many discussions, I have also come across some startling misconceptions about what meditation means or what it can achieve. These misconceptions have not only kept many away from beginning a meditative practice, but also caused some unrealistic expectations about what meditation can provide so it is important to tide over these for more realistic results.

Meditation Means Thinking about Nothing
I hear this almost every day. People say to me, “I can’t meditate, because I can’t turn off my mind.” Well, the human mind is like a clock that ticks 24 hours of the day, 365 days of the year. To demand the mind to stop working and think of nothing is an impossible task. In fact, trying to think of nothing will surely make you think of something.
Meditation is not about thinking of nothing. True meditation is about slowing the mind and being aware of your thoughts. Meditation does not require that you empty your mind. Meditation requires you to be aware of your thoughts and reactions. By focusing on the thinking process, the space between each thought will increase, your thinking will calm down, and you will relax.

Meditation Means Going into a state of Trance
Meditation is not about zoning out, achieving unconsciousness, or escaping reality. In fact, meditation is geared toward achieving a greater awareness of ourselves and our thinking processes. Meditation is a more direct, raw experience of reality. When you meditate, you learn to acknowledge the internal chatter and focus on the precise emotions you are experiencing, thereby experiencing them with their full intensity. Meditation enables you to have the courage to face an intense emotion and experience it in all its rawness.
Meditation provides you with the chance to sit with your emotions and actually experience them. This process is initially challenging but, ultimately, you will feel relieved and extremely liberated because the thoughts that you have tried to curtail and shut off will be released. Facing your emotions and acknowledging them will give you mental stamina and emotional resilience, to make decisions that are not adversely affected by your feelings.

Meditation is Only for Holy People
To meditate, you must be enlightened, become a vegetarian, be religious, and do away with bad thoughts. Right? Wrong! Meditation does not require you to alter personal preferences or choices. It does not require you to give up anything that you like. And it requires no special set up. Mediation is a practice of calm, focused thinking and attention. It is available to and effective for, everyone.
Meditation is for people like you and me who work every day and have to make decisions on what to buy or sell; whom to hire or fire, date or marry, think of how to meet a tough deadline or whether to say yes or no to a boring cocktail party. Meditation is for people who face the daily pressures of trying to balance work with healthy family lives and relationships. Meditation is for each one of us.

Meditation Takes Up Too Much Time
This turns out to be the most common complaint from a majority I meet. Infact, I also carried this misconception till the time I practically tried out meditation. Loads of professionals who come for my sessions say, “I already don’t have enough time to do all I want, so how can I start a daily practice?” Well, for many of us, time is already in short supply so it seems nearly impossible to make time for a meditative practice. However, the paradox is that meditation actually creates more time for daily activities.

The deep rest you get in meditation actually helps clear your mind so that you become a more effective thinker. In turn, you will be able to make decisions faster and therefore have more time in your day. By taking time out to focus the mind, you land up making decisions in a more considered way. As you grow in your practice, you will also realize that the effective time you spend with your family or at work will increase in intensity and quality.

Meditation is Only about Relaxation
You could think of meditation as practiced relaxation-the process of concentrating the mind, calming the body, and shutting out external stressors. These are key relaxation techniques and are also the first steps in any meditation practice. But meditation is much more than relaxation. It enables you to delve deep inside yourself, into the subconscious and unconscious levels of your mind. Through this, you gain an awareness of what drives your actions and what underlies your decision-making processes. Simply, it means that your decisions come from awareness, not from mental clutter or extreme emotions.

We are all living in an impatient world where we are often doing things mindlessly…reaching into the fridge when we’re not hungry, checking our e-mail or phone messages while we are in conversation with other people, or losing our temper on small little things, only to regret it later. This is where the practice of meditation and its concept of mindfulness can help by making us respond thoughtfully, rather than react thoughtlessly, to the world around us