5 Meditation Myths That You Keep Hearing About

One of the biggest myths prevailing today is that yoga and meditation are different. No, meditation is actually the part of the eightfold Ashtanga yoga system. But the reason behind why people look at them differently is because of the countless myths surrounding them.

There are so many rules, regulations, philosophies and fantasies surrounding meditation that you don’t even know how to define it anymore, let alone practice it.

So it’s time we mediate and set some myths straight about what it means to meditate. Here are the 5 biggest meditation myths we will be busting together:

1. Meditation = concentration

“Okay, but what do I meditate on?”

Has this question ever crossed your mind? That’s because we’re used to setting a goal and aiming all efforts at it. Here’s the good news – meditation requires no effort. In fact, meditation is like de-concentration. It is an absolute relaxation of the mind where you set it free and simply observe what arises.

Remember, how they taught you to fully relax your body if you want to simply float in water? This is exactly what you do with your mind.

Here’s the better news – meditation will actually improve your concentration. We assume tensing our eyebrows, tightening our buttocks, and stressing will help us focus our attention. But the more you stress, the harder it becomes to concentrate. It’s like trying to tighten your grip on a wet bar of soap. It will soon fly out of your hands when you tighten your grip.

Woman yoga practicing and meditating by the lake in summer background

However when your mind is in a state of deep rest, you can easily hold your attention on what you want without any stress.

2. Meditation means controlling your thoughts

If you fell for this one myth, it’s most likely your meditation routine never really went beyond a few days. Meditation is possible through effortlessness alone. Whatever you seek to control, you need to apply effort for it.

You are applying effort to push negative thoughts away and pull positive thoughts towards yourself. Try doing this for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, your meditation will start feeling like a never-ending battle. You’ll quickly give up.

When I realized that thoughts don’t come to us by invitation, I understood my mistake. I was treating my thoughts like invaders instead of seeing them as passing guests.

Let thoughts come and go as they please, Just don’t entertain them when they arrive.

When I shifted from trying to control thoughts to simply observing them, like passing clouds in the sky, I experienced a deep relaxation I had never felt before.

For the first time, I realized that you can be in control of your well-being when you stop trying to force it to happen.

3. Meditation can only happen in a silent environment

I won’t deny that a peaceful environment can be really supportive when you’re just starting to meditate. However, the truth is you can access this silence anytime, anywhere. No, you don’t need to retreat to a forest or find a cave in the mountains to meditate (most caves are already occupied by yogis anyway).

You could be in a room where you can hear a pin drop, but still be overwhelmed by a flood of mental chatter. Secondly, most of us city-dwelling people are always surrounded by noise – whether it’s the sound of traffic on the road, the chatter of your co-workers in office, or the TV playing loudly in your own hall. So it’s not going to be easy to find a place that can lock out all of these distractions at once.

You can find your inner peace no matter how noisy your environment is.

Now the beauty of meditation is that no matter how loud, how distracting your environment is, you still have the freedom to find silence within you. How is that possible? Because our mind naturally comes to stillness when we stop judging every noise as “disturbing”, when we stop trying to drown them out. If you can take this approach, it is possible to meditate even in a crowded airport or at a traffic signal.

4. It is a religious practice

“Prayer is when you talk to God. Meditation is when God talks to you.”

What does this quote really mean? Before you go diving into different scriptures to find out, tell us this – where do you think the scriptures came from? From yogis, saints, prophets, and siddhas. They were beings who had worked on their body and mind to become receptive to a higher state of consciousness. This is what allowed them to access the timeless insights that they put down in scriptures.

The importance of truth rooted in experience vs belief.

It’s remarkable how the same truths were reflected across borders, cultures, and civilizations. For instance, the significance of the vibration AUM written in the Mandukya Upanishad was also identified as “Amin” in Islamic texts, and as “Amen” in Christianity. The root vibration is exactly the same. Just like sun shines for everyone and the breeze cools all, meditation benefits all.

It doesn’t conflict with any personal beliefs. Why? Because it simply doesn’t require any belief to practice at all! Meditation is a practice that sheds light on your personal limitations, strengths, and deepest purpose to help you blossom as a complete life.

5. You have to meditate for hours to get real benefits

It’s not about how long you practice meditation. It’s about how meditative your practice has been. What does that mean? It’s the quality of your meditation that matters, not the quantity.

Waiting for the meditation benefits to pour in.

Someone could be sitting for an hour daydreaming or fighting thoughts throughout their practice. On the other hand, someone could be doing a 20-minute breath watching meditation and progressing far more rapidly. But remember this – quality will only deepen through consistency of your practice. And it’s always easier to set up a consistent routine starting with a simple 15-20 minute meditation. Once you establish this, you can slowly increase your practice time as you wish.

Try this deeply relaxing 15-minute guided meditation.

The connection with your inner space, your source, can happen in a fraction of a moment. As a yoga teacher, I have observed that you don’t need to sit for hours to meditate. The connection with your inner space can happen within a moment, which instantly unlocks peace and joy within you. Within 4-8 weeks of starting your meditation practice, many studies have shown dramatic shifts in stress levels, focus levels, and stability of mood.

Tell us which meditation do you practice. If you want to learn more about meditation, join us for our upcoming 21-day Yoga Challenge to set up your practice routine.

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