Think meditation isn't for you? Think again. We're highlighting the benefits of meditation and breaking down five major misconceptions.
The more attention something receives in popular culture, the more it tends to be misunderstood. Mindfulness meditation is no exception to that. Misunderstandings about mindfulness coupled with long-held beliefs about meditation can lead you to believe that mediation is simply not for you. We're outlining five such notions that have been keeping you from reaping the many evidence-based benefits of the practice of meditation.
1. You can't tame your mind.
The biggest myth of all is that meditation is about quieting the thoughts and taming the mind. Mindfulness meditation is about deliberately and non-judgmentally cultivating moment-to-moment awareness of your experiences, emotions and thoughts, as they are in that moment, without a desire to change them. Becoming compassionately aware of your thoughts and feelings is far from trying to tame them. If anything at all, as author and professor Jon Kabat-Zinn of MIT says, “Mindfulness is the way of befriending ourselves and our experiences.”
2. You don't have time.
Can you be too busy driving to get fuel? Many view mindfulness as the fuel for your mind, so it's worth making it a priority. There are people who devote hours every week towards meditation, but that isn't the only way to harvest its benefits. Meditation expert and founder of meditation app Headspace, Andy Puddicombe says it takes only 10 minutes every day, and with regular practice, one can experience a general sense of emotional stability.
3. You think it’s religious.
Psychotherapy, as a form of talk therapy, can be traced back to the practice of Catholic confessions in the church. Logically (and thankfully) it developed into a branch of science. Meditation has the same story in terms of its history — it started as a part of Buddhist and Hindu traditions in India thousands of years ago but has undergone rigorous scrutiny of science. It's now proven to be a beneficial practice, including within the secular settings of a therapy session.
4. You don’t think you’ll be able to keep it up.
It's normal to see breaks in the regularity and rigour of your practice. It won't always be easy, and your mind won't always be calm, and that's okay. Meditation is not only about observing the good way your mind works, but also observing its turbulent state while remaining free of judgement, an act which can encourage you to practice the art of forgiving yourself and living without regrets or guilt.
5. You don’t realize how powerful it is.
From improving immunity functions to delaying the relapse of depression- and anxiety-related symptoms to promoting overall emotional well-being, meditation has proven to have life-changing benefits. Furthermore, its emotional and mental health benefits have shown to have a positive effect on physical health as well social connections. Remember: Steps to improve your well-being start with you. “If we hope to go anywhere or develop ourselves in any way, we can only step from where we are standing," writes Jon Kabat-Zinn in his book Wherever You Go, There You Are. "If we don't really know where we are standing...we may only go in circles.”