We should all try meditation. Studies have shown it helps lower blood pressure, improves sleep, reduces stress and pain, calms anxiety, balances emotions, helps maintain good mental health, enhances self-awareness and personal growth, increases gratitude, and boosts memory and mental clarity. Less well-known benefits include: helping heal a broken heart (as good as vodka & bad karaoke, promise!); improving mother-daughter relationships (how do they always know exactly which buttons to push?); and saving you from giving Chad in the next cubicle a piece of your mind (sorry Chad… *prayer hands emoji*).
But like other health must-do’s, such as eating our greens and wearing SPF, it’s all a bit zzzzzzzzzzz and just too hard, right? Wrong! Here’s why mediation doesn’t have to be another tedious task on your endless to-do list.
MYTH #1: Meditation is hard
Nope. You don’t even need a professional to teach you. Meditation is simply learning to connect with the true essence of who you really are when you strip away the layers of conditioning, obligation and expectation that life heaps on top of us all. Why not try: guided meditation (teacher talks you through breathing & visualisation), mindfulness zen meditation (silently focussing on the present moment), transcendental meditation (use a repetitive word, mantra or sound to clear the mind), body-scan meditation (progressively relax each body part one by one) or walking meditation (use active movement to cultivate mindfulness of being in the present moment) to name a few. If traditional classes and books haven’t worked for you, don’t just assume meditation isn’t your thing – try a different type or teacher, or a new-age entry point like an app, online streaming, Youtube channel or podcast.
MYTH #2: Meditation is about clearing your mind and thinking of nothing
This is why most people find it hard – our minds never switch off. This doesn’t mean you’re bad at it or not doing it right. “Catching your mind wandering and then bringing it back is an essential part of meditation. It happens to even the most experienced meditators,” says Luke McLeod, founder of online meditation movement Soul Alive. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Allow random thoughts to come and go, observe them without attaching importance to any. Eventually the mind will run out of thoughts and quieten or they’ll simply become background noise.
MYTH #3: The harder I try, the better I’ll be able to meditate
Meditation is not a competition sport. You become better at it by surrendering, letting go, being patient, savouring the moment and not pushing to progress to the next (maybe better) one. Avoid striving to recreate a previous life-changing meditative experience/breakthrough. No two meditations will ever be the same because no two moments in time are ever the same. And even if they were, YOU would be different inside each time. Treat each meditation as a blank slate and leave expectations behind.
MYTH #4: You have to sit in certain positions to meditate properly
Forget the visual you have of super-bendy people sitting in Lotus pose. There is no one “correct” position. The best position is one that you’re comfortable in, whether that’s sitting cross-legged, sitting upright in a chair, lying down or walking around. Some people find that meditating sitting up energises them (great way to start the day). Others prefer lying down before bed to help them relax and drift off to sleep. No matter your position, try to have your bare feet touching the floor to ground you.
MYTH #5: Meditation takes ages to do
None of us really have time to go get our hair or nails done, exercise, have a massage, read a book, cook a favourite recipe, see friends and family… but we make time because: SELF-CARE. Shift your perspective on meditation: stop seeing it as something to “learn” or “study” and start thinking of it as small acts of self-care that you want to do regularly just to feel good. You’ll find it’s more sustainable long-term and you may even start to look forward to it. It could be 5 minutes or an hour – it’s up to you, there are no ideal time limits.
Ready to give it a go?
Try meditating at home with easy-to-access online classes from Soul Alive, live-streamed through a private Instagram account (no need to even download an app). Classes are live and interactive, so teachers can help guide you in real-time if needed. Founder Luke McLeod’s mission is to help modernise the ancient art of meditation, making it easy to understand and accessible for everyone, especially first-timers. Sign us up!
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