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The Main Myth of Meditation

The Main Myth of Meditation

If you chose to read this, chances are you want to meditate, think you should meditate, used to meditate, or are interested in meditation. Meditation has become quite popular in recent years. I am a big fan of it and recommend it frequently to most, if not all, of my clients.

Nobody in our culture is immune to the stressors of our fast paced, technology driven, instant gratification seeking world. We are bombarded constantly with texts, notifications and information overload. All of this takes us away from our natural state of being present.

Meditation is proven to help calm our central nervous systems and can actually rewire our brains to function better and exist in a calmer state. So why doesn’t everybody mediate then?

The most common response I hear from people about why they don’t meditate is “I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t stop my thoughts”. Herein lies the main myth of meditation, your thoughts will not stop! That isn’t even the goal of mediation.

In mindfulness meditation especially, the goal is not to have no thoughts.

The goal is to become an observer of your thoughts, to notice them, find some separation from them. This separation allows you time to decide how you’d like to react to each thought, or if a reaction is even necessary. I would venture to say that a majority of our thoughts are negative and/or unproductive and we should just let them go by. Without this slight pause and awareness of our thoughts, we tend to just react to them. This affects us on an emotional, physical and mental level.

I believe everybody can meditate and I believe everybody can benefit from it.

It’s called a meditation practice because it takes time and repetition to become a habit and to be effective. If you were learning to ski, would you try it for five minutes and decide I can’t do this, I’m not able to ski yet? No, you would take lessons and give yourself time to learn it. Meditation is no different, but I’m sure many people try it once or twice and decide they “can’t” do it.

It truly isn’t a matter of ability, mindful meditation is just paying attention. It doesn’t have to be a formal, sit down in the lotus position for half an hour with your thoughts. Some activities are meditative by nature: mindful walking, running, knitting, even doing the dishes can be meditative. The practice is in paying attention to what you are thinking and feeling, any time you get distracted (and you will), you bring the attention back to either your breath or whatever the focus of that mediation is on. Anybody and everybody CAN do this.

It will take some time and practice to slow things down and be able to pay attention to your thoughts, but as long as every time you realize you’re not paying attention and are distracted you bring your attention back, that is meditation. The brain is like a muscle and the more you practice bringing your focus back, over time the less you will have to do that.

You literally can’t do meditation “wrong”.

If you prefer to sit, stand or lay down, that’s fine. Eyes open with a soft gaze, eyes closed, that’s fine. You fall asleep, that’s fine. You can’t stop thinking, that’s fine. Even one minute of deep breathing can make a difference in your mood, focus and energy level.

If you’d like to start a mediation practice and need some help getting started, feel free to contact me. I believe it is one of the best things we can do for our mental, emotional and physical health.

Kathy Most
Therapist in Westfield, NJ
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