What are these Meditation Myths?
Everyone can meditate. Do you? Or do the meditation myths holding you back?
You can start without the Myths and misconceptions about Meditation with an exercise for getting started.
Meditating is trendy. Whether old or young, man or woman – even children already do it. In the yoga studio, in the office, in gyms, in meeting rooms, and on the road – there is hardly a place where you can not meditate. However, despite its popularity, meditation is often misunderstood. See how you can have a good start.
Let’s clean up the most significant mistakes and show that what we call “meditating” is nothing mystical, nothing spectacular, and certainly nothing new, on the contrary. Meditation is a natural state known to us all.
First, of the Meditation Myths, meditation is not an action, but a state of being
This typical sentence suggests that meditation is an action. But it is not. In Sanskrit, meditation is called dhyana and means a state of heightened awareness in which personal thoughts and feelings have come to a complete rest. We can not force this mental silence, let alone compulsively. We can only pave the way for our minds to slip into meditation by itself.
For example, focus your attention on an object. It can be the breath, a mantra, a candle flame, or the black behind our closed eyes. Ultimately, it does not matter what you focus on. It’s all about letting your minds be like a laser beam and focus.
The right thing would be to say: “I focus” or “I focus my attention” to enter the state of meditation.
Not as easy as it sounds, because our mind is hard to tame. It whirls around wildly, searching for new charms. Every time it finds something interesting, it brings forth a thought. To dissuade, it is only possible through loving forbearance and patience, which brings us to the second misunderstanding.
The Second of the Meditation Myths:
Thinking is forbidden when meditating!
Many people say: I can not meditate because I can not stop to think, which is not so wrong. Because, in the state of meditation, conditioned thinking does stop.
However, not if we forbid ourselves to think. The assumption that we have to stop thinking heats our minds even more. We may produce self-deprecating thoughts to condemn ourselves for that.
The goal not to think keeps us even more away from the state of mental silence. The human mind is created to produce thoughts all the time. We recognize this particularly well when we sit down and close our eyes. Then our monkey mind starts moving because we are not distracted by our actions.
Recognizing this is the first step on the path to meditation.
Learn to accept and direct your thoughts for meditation
The second step is to accept the thoughts in our heads. Do not revolt against, but allow them to come. Our thoughts are like little children who want attention. Only when we pay attention to what they ask for they will calm down.
When a thought has finally withdrawn, the third step is to draw attention back to the meditation object until the next one screams for attention. Then we start again at the first step. This exercise is called concentration on an object or Sanskrit Dharana.
Here an exercise to calm the thoughts:
Sit in front of a candle, a flower, a picture, or just in front of a white wall. Turn off your phone and make sure you have a few minutes rest. Be sure to focus on your subject for a fixed amount of time.
Three to five minutes are enough for the beginning. This exercise sounds easy. But you will quickly notice how your monkey mind runs away and wants to deal with something other than the candle, the sky, or the white wall.
There will be thoughts like: “I should work now and not sit here.” Or “I am too fat; I should do rather more sports.” There may also be emotions in you, such as sadness, fatigue, pain, or impatience.
No matter what thought or feeling you notice, always do the same thing: do not value anything. Take everything and embrace it.
You can also wrap the thought or feeling in an imaginary soap bubble. Do whatever suits you. Once you have noticed and accepted the thought or feeling, return to your object. Do the same with every emotion and every thought. Over and over again.
The exercise is not about getting it right. The purpose is to notice your thoughts and feelings to sharpen your perception of yourself. It will help you to accept yourself as you are. To unconditionally accept and love oneself in every moment is the prerequisite for the blissful state of inner silence to come someday.
The third Meditation Myth is the belief that meditating means long periods of sitting still.
Many people find extended, upright sitting difficult. Therefore, they think they are unsuitable for meditation. Of course, it’s easier to observe your thoughts and feelings when you are sitting still and not distracted. But this is not necessary.
Just as well, one can experience meditation in every everyday situation. It will become possible by changing from experiencing to observing.
It means that you are not your thoughts, and we are not your body. A simple example: If I lose an arm, I’m still me. If I let go of an idea and never think again, I’m still me. Thoughts are a product of your mind. They come and go, and we can observe them.
An exercise for calming the mind in everyday life:
No matter what you are doing, switch to observer mode. Look for your thoughts and feelings. As if they were not yours.
Think of food
Or I think about how lazy my brother is
I see clouds in the sky and conclude that it will rain soon and that I better take an umbrella with me
Also, observe what feelings and body reactions trigger your thoughts.
The thought of food whets the appetite
My judgment about my brother makes me angry.
The idea of rain brings me in a bad mood.
Just observe and let go of the thoughts. Not always are our thoughts so clearly. Sometimes only parts of thoughts run through our consciousness, and we can not grab them. Also, observe the chaos in your head as calmly as possible. Above all, don’t give it a value.
With this exercise, you will get away from your thoughts and learn to focus on the here and now. You will also learn that you can let go of everything that your mind produces because you are not your thoughts. But you are the silent witness.
When we take this observational and all-affirmative attitude in everyday actions, it can happen that we suddenly become absorbed in our activities. That we no longer do the dishes like a chore, but it becomes a meditative experience.
It happens when we let go of all the I-thoughts and feel only the water on our skin, feel the porcelain of the plate, smell the scent of the detergent. It is like the oneness with something that we can observe in children who are entirely absorbed in their play. They are very close to the state we call “meditation.”
And here another misconception
Fourth of Meditation Myths: We need to learn meditation
The just described awareness, which only observes and does not evaluate, corresponds to our true nature. Like toddlers who do not ponder the past or think about tomorrow. Those who dwell in the here and now in all their actions. Who do not divide the phenomena of the world into wrong or right, but consider how they are. Full of curiosity. That is meditation.
We all were once a child and know what it feels like to be in the here and now. And we know mental silence, the state of meditation. Also, we do not have to re-learn meditating. All we have to do is remember something familiar to us.
What we can do is pave the way for the memory. By calming down our conditioned, prejudiced thinking step by step. By observing, accepting, and letting go. So that at some point your mind can find back to its natural state of blissfulness and calmness.
What about you? Do you meditate or are meditation myths holding you back?
Please leave a comment and share your experience with us.