Top Three Misconceptions About Meditation
“The practice is to train in not following the thoughts, not in getting rid of them altogether. That would be impossible.” – Pema Chodron
Many new meditators get discouraged by the fact that they begin meditating and after a few days or even weeks of practice they feel like they are actually having more thoughts. This common phenomena occurs because we are actually just noticing the thoughts that we’ve been having all along. In fact, it’s this noticing of the thoughts that is exactly what meditating is all about. There are many techniques that have been developed through the years that are designed to help us with this process. One is to simply label every thought as “thinking” and let it go without attaching to it. This actually is meditation.
2. Meditation is for hippies, yogis, or Buddhists.
“One of the most life-enhancing things I ever did was learn how to meditate.” – Oprah Winfrey
Although many meditative techniques were developed 2500 years ago in Eastern countries and were brought to the west through yoga studios and the like, meditation has now become a completely secular way to engage the natural stressors that accompany our fast-paced modern lifestyles. Mindfulness meditation is now heavily researched and there is a good bit of evidence-based research that supports these practices as beneficial to both physical and mental health.
3. Meditation and mindfulness are two completely different things that both involve being very quiet.
“The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will. No one is compos sui [master of himself] if he have it not. An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence. But it is easier to define this ideal than to give practical directions for bringing it about.” – William James
Meditation typically involves a process of carving out a specified amount of time during your day, getting still, and setting the goal of focusing your attention on a single point. Mindfulness means actively noticing and paying attention to specific elements of the present moment. While meditation often occurs in a quiet setting that is conducive to watching your thoughts, mindfulness can occur during any part of your day–amongst noise, quiet, activity or stillness. Read more about the difference between meditation and mindfulness and how they are connected.