Even the word “meditation” conjures images of strange rituals, strange sitting positions, and hours of humming “om”. None of that is true universally. Meditation can be carried out that way of course, but it’s an extremely adaptable technique for clarifying and sharpening the mind while calming the body and reducing anxiety.
Here are some myths about mediation that are worth noting, and the reality in comparison:
Meditation requires special clothes, special training, learning a foreign language. Nope. None of that is at all true. Of those three, “special training” comes closest to truth, with trainers available from either workshops, therapists, or any number of sources, including blogs like this. There’s no dress code! There certainly is no need to learn a foreign language.
Meditation requires several hours a day. No, that one isn’t even slightly close to right. People who are part of highly disciplined cultures that place great value on certain philosophical beliefs may do this. It isn’t required at all for us. Meditation requires several minutes here and there. If you have a spare 20 minutes or so, meditation is a great way to spend clearing your head, unifying your thoughts and feelings from busy days, and decompressing the coiled spring of stress. Many people find meditation so helpful they schedule time in their day or week for it, but that is absolutely no different from scheduling time to go to the gym or talking a daily walk.
Meditation is part of a religion. No, absolutely not. Many religions use meditation as a way of achieving clarity in order to better understand the will of their God or gods, but it’s a tool. Not a religiously bound act of worship.
Meditation means you must clear your mind and empty it out. No. People who practice a very specific kind of meditation do indeed do that. They have years of practice, and it’s something they choose to do. Mediation is not about an empty mind. It’s about holding focus on one thing, one idea, one concept—of peace—while letting other thoughts and feelings emerge like bubbles from deep water. You let them come up, you don’t engage them in additional thought, and they fade. If you get distracted by the other thoughts that pop up and find your attention drawn to them, and you try to suppress them, you’ll be investing mental energy in suppression. That will undo your meditation.
Meditation is a break, but it’s only a time-out. No, we call that a nap, or daydreaming. Meditation’s goal is clarity and mindfulness throughout your day, with life-long benefits. In this way, meditation is analogous to physical exercise. It’s done to promote health for life. Many people hate exercise due to poor results or bad experience, but many others enjoy it, or come to enjoy it once they see its tremendous benefits.