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Seeking truth? 7 meditation myths you need to know.

23 September 2019

Buddhists have been doing it for millennia. Wellness bloggers have been raving about it for some time too. And now, even schoolkids learn it.

Meditation. It’s in the spotlight today more than ever. And unsurprisingly, with the rise of any phenomenon also comes a rise in the number of myths around it.

So, let’s set the record straight – and shed a light on the 7 biggest meditation myths.

MYTH 1: You need to be religious or spiritual to meditate

Buddhists, saints, yogis and monks. Meditation is only for a holy handful… right?

Wrong.

While this may have been the case at first, not anymore.

But if you thought so, you can be forgiven. That’s because meditation emerged in India around 5,000 to 3,500 BCE with the Hindu traditions of Vendantism. Then, during the 6th and 5th centuries BCE, other forms developed in Taoist China and Buddhist India.

Yet by the late 19th century, meditation had spread throughout the West.

Today, it is considered a secular or spiritual practice. This is mainly due to the dramatic rise of scientific research on the benefits of meditation during the 1970s.

From thousands of studies, we now know how useful it can be for all of us.

MYTH 2: You will have transcendent experiences 

Experiencing visions. Meeting spirits. Floating in mid-air.

Many people equate these phenomena with meditation. But while you may experience feelings of peace and oneness with regular practice, this isn’t the intention.

That’s because meditation is not about achieving endless bliss. It’s about nurturing wellbeing and ultimately, putting a stop to your suffering.

Once you start meditating regularly, you’ll realise that what happens during your practice is far less significant than what happens in the other hours of your day.

How you react to a stressful day at work. How you navigate a challenging situation with a friend. Through consistent meditation, you’ll be better equipped to navigate tricky times in a calmer, more compassionate and loving manner.

MYTH 3: Meditation is about clearing your mind

A clear mind. No thoughts – at all. Wouldn’t that be great? Sure, but it’s impossible.

Meditation is not about erasing your thoughts. It’s about becoming aware of them. In fact, it’s the very nature of our minds to jump from one thought to another.

During meditation, we give our minds something to focus on. And through regular practice, this trains our minds to calm down and be less reactive.

MYTH 4: You must meditate for hours

One of the most common excuses people have for not meditating is a lack of time. But you don’t need to meditate for hours.

In fact, you’re still likely to feel different with a consistent 5 or 10 minute daily meditation routine. What’s more, by starting out small, you’ll be more likely to keep it up long term.

And you can always extend your meditation time as you get more comfortable with it.

MYTH 5: It’s only for adults

Meditation is increasingly being taught in schools. And the impact is significant.

Recent research reveals that teaching meditation to children has a positive effect on their wellbeing and social and academic skills.

Students also report higher optimism, more positive emotions, stronger self-identity, greater self-acceptance and reduced anxiety, stress and depression.

It’s an exciting field of research – that’s only just taking off.

MYTH 6: Meditation is right for everyone

You’ve seen the apps. You’ve read the articles. And you’ve heard people rave about it on podcasts and talk shows.

Today, meditation is marketed as the age-old panacea to our modern woes. But contrary to popular belief, we don’t believe it’s for everyone.

For a minority of people, meditation can lead to personality and mood changes. This can include a person experiencing hyperarousal or disembodiment. Meditation might also not be suitable for those who have experienced trauma.

If you’re unsure on whether you should start meditating, be sure to consult a psychologist first.

MYTH 7: Meditation takes years to learn

Actually, you can learn how to meditate today.

While it might take a little while of consistent meditation to feel comfortable with the practice, learning meditation is straightforward.

So how can you start?

Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit. Close your eyes. And simply breathe naturally. Focus your attention on your breath and how your body moves with every inhale and exhale.

There are lots of different meditative practices. Some involve counting, while others focus on body scanning. All have merit. It’s about finding the right method for you.

Meditation apps like Calm and Headspace can be helpful places to start.

Want to incorporate meditation into your daily life – but not sure how? With a psychologist by your side, you can find the mindfulness practice that suits you. Call us on 1300 995 636 to learn more today.