What do you picture when you hear the word meditation? Complete and total bliss achieved by simply crossing your legs and closing your eyes? A room full of monks moments away from achieving enlightenment? Your super “woke” bestie in Lululemon tights teaching you deep breathing after watching a random YouTube video?
The first time I tried meditating, I felt ridiculous. In my head, I had conjured all types of ideas of what a perfectly divine experience it was going to be the minute I got into the lotus pose. The whole time I did it I kept thinking, “Am I doing this right?” It was a whole mess.
After reading so many accounts and speaking to people who have incorporated meditation into their daily routine, not only did I learn that a lot of people had similar experiences but that they were able to move past them.
If you’ve had problems meditating, it’s possible the ideas you have about what meditation is, how to do it and what you can get out of it are slightly askew. No worries, though. Fixing those problems isn’t as hard as you think.
A very common misconception is that in order to meditate one needs to stop their thoughts. That is not at all what meditation is about! The late Indian guru Osho said it best:
Your thoughts have no roots, they have no home; they wander just like clouds. So you need not fight them, you need not be against them, you need not even try to stop thoughts.
This should become a deep understanding in you, because whenever a person becomes interested in meditation he starts trying to stop thinking. And if you try to stop thoughts they will never be stopped, because the very effort to stop is a thought, the very effort to meditate is a thought, the very effort to attain buddhahood is a thought. And how can you stop a thought by another thought? How can you stop mind by creating another mind? Then you will be clinging to the other. And this will go on and on, ad nauseam; then there is no end to it.
During meditation, one should seek to simply be an observer of thoughts; allowing whatever pops up to come and go without judgment. Attempting to stop thinking is fruitless.
Another common misconception is that in order for meditation to be effective it has to be done in total silence for a set amount of time. It’s as if people believe that they will not reap all the benefits of meditation if they don’t do it for at least a half hour in a completely silent environment. The truth is, any amount of time you can set aside to meditate is helpful and frankly, sometimes we need help calming our “monkey mind” and guided meditation can help do just that. Guided meditation is helpful because it helps to direct your focus away from multiple thought patterns and places your focus instead on one thing.
People tend to think that you can only meditate while sitting in lotus position on a comfortable cushion. This simply isn’t true. Chair sitting, lying down and even walking meditation are wonderful ways to meditate. Meditation is simply a way of training the mind for a specific purpose. That being said, your reason for doing it as well as how you choose to do it is entirely up to you.
To get the most out of meditation you have to first identify why you are choosing to meditate. From mindfulness to attaining enlightenment and everything in between, it is imperative that you are very clear on what you seek from practicing meditation. There are a variety of techniques that can assist you in getting the most out of meditating and it is a great idea to write down what you’re looking to get from the practice. Identifying your goal can help you stay on task to reach it.
What have been your experiences with meditation? Share with us in the comments!