Meditation, a word that conjures up lots of different ideas and images, including perhaps sitting cross legged for hours on end, attaining bliss or enlightenment, retreating or escaping from life, awakening, mantras, chanting, visualizations and so much more...
There are also many different approaches to meditation and these days more than ever as it has become somewhat 'trendy' in the world of wellbeing and wellness. Whatever your level of experience with meditation, whether you have been practicing one kind or another for years, or have never given it a go, this article is a simple and practical guide to meditation while busting some myths along the way.
Myth # 1 - Meditation is complicated or difficult: Learning to be aware of our breath and its quality to support a re-connection with ourselves and our body is simply what meditation is all about. No more or less, there is no right on wrong. So exploration, observation and not judging ourselves is important as we practice. You do not need to chant, repeat a mantra, visualize or remember lots of different movements or complicated breathing techniques. It is about becoming a best friend with your breath and your body, connecting with a quality or essence inside and then living it. That is a very personal journey. Simplicity is key, it needs to make sense, be accessible and be usable without being complicated.
Myth # 2 - In Meditation you need to retreat or escape from life: Make your meditation real for you in everyday life. You may initially allocate time in your day to practice (5-10 minutes twice a day is great to start with) but actually as you become more practiced at observing your breath and body, you can make meditation part of every day life. Meditation is about being more present not less, which can support us in all the usual tasks and challenges in our day. If we are connected with our body and our breath, then we handle life with more confidence and steadiness and actually can commit more to our life and what is happening, not seek to escape or avoid it.
Myth # 3 - With meditation you need to stay still: Stillness is a quality, not about not moving a muscle for 10 hours. Even when we are so called 'motionless' or sleeping, our bodies are always moving with breathing, our heart continues to move blood around the body, and many physiological processes keep happening to keep us healthy and alive. As we sit or lie down the world continues to turn around the sun...movement is part of life and is with us in every moment.
It is not necessary to stay physically still for long periods of time, but rather develop stillness as a quality in our everyday movements.
Whilst it is important sometimes to physically stop when we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed or exhausted, once we have re-connected to a quality of stillness in our breath and body, it is important to then bring it back to movement and life.
It is also very important when meditating to honour and support your body as much as possible. This means adjusting clothing, posture etc to make yourself as comfortable as possible while meditating.
Myth # 4 - Meditation has to be guided: Having someone lead a meditation (especially when we are starting out) can be helpful if you need extra support. However we can establish a strong practice for ourselves without being guided or told what to do. In fact it is important that you make your meditation your own, and do it at your own rythym and pace which makes it far more meaningful and personalised and therefore more effective.
Myth # 5 - In meditation we need to have no thoughts: One of the major reasons that people struggle with meditation is because they think they need to completely empty their head of thoughts and then they feel like they are failing when they can't achieve that. We are born to think, we have a brain, thoughts can be very helpful and inspiring.
We need to pay more attention to the quality of our thoughts rather than trying to banish them completely.
As we practice bringing awareness to our breath, we can begin to observe the quality of our thoughts: Do they support us? Are they useful? Are they distracting? Are they circulating and repeating? Do we have thoughts that keep appearing and make us feel unsettled or uneasy? Do we often try to push thoughts aside or out of our head and like a rain cloud they simply blow back in?
If the answer is yes to any of the above, then what can we do...?
A simple way to break the habitual pattern of circulating unsupportive thoughts in our head is to come back to the body. Bring focus to observing our breath as it comes in and out of the body, no more no less, and this maybe something that needs repeating 100 or 1000 times a day, and that is ok....in fact it shows real commitment to bringing more self-care to your day. Making this choice makes space. Gradually and steadily, with commitment, the mind becomes less busy, less negative and leaves more space for the thoughts that are useful and inspiring.
Myth #6 - You need to practice meditation for years: Obviously practice and experience with meditation can make a difference, but in our experience you don't need to practice meditation for long to feel a difference. Perfection is not required, all it takes is honesty and the commitment to give it a go, again and again...the again moments can build a consistency. Allocate 5 -10 minutes once or twice a day to begin with as this will allow space for you to practice the technique and to set a foundation concerning how it can feel. Practicing to be breath & body aware throughout the day in your every day tasks and chores is really important and even doing this for one day or one week you may notice a change. With time and practice this can keep deepening and developing so be patient and understanding with yourself.
Myth #7 - Meditation has to be uncomfortable: You do not need to cross your legs, or get into a difficult or uncomfortable position or pose to meditate. Simply find a quiet, warm place to lay down, or sit, ideally somewhere where you will not be disturbed or interrupted. It is super important to support your body to be comfortable and relaxed with pillows, exercise mats, blankets etc. This will support your body to deeply let go of tension and enables a greater focus on body & breath connection to strengthen and deepen.
Myth #8 - Meditation is a bit 'wishy washy' or 'out there'.
Meditation does not have to be mysterious or 'new age' or spiritual but can be very down to earth and practical.
If you breathe, then you can meditate.
Everyone can find 5-10 minutes in a day to stop, lie down or sit and make being with you a priority. The more we get used to being breath & body aware, the more we can use it as a practical simple tool for every day life. For example if we are in traffic jam, a supermarket queue, or when we are having a difficult conversation, we can reconnect with the quality we have been establishing in our body anytime, so that when we go about our daily lives we can live with more settlement, vigour and purpose.
If you have found this article helpful and want to explore it further, we host a free weekly meditation group, however if you would prefer a one to one consultation, you could book an online wellbeing consultation: Get in touch
Samantha & Andrew Mooney, are a husband and wife team who own and practice at the clinic. They love learning all about life, building a healthy and supportive lifestyle and developing a relationship with health & wellbeing to live and explore their potential. This enables them to support others to explore their everyday health & wellbeing and so to flourish in life and not merely function.