Top 5 Myths About Meditation

Meditation Myth #1 – You Don't Have Time to Meditate

We are busy Americans and pride ourselves on how much we can get done. We live in a country 
where a little more hard work can lead to a different situation for our lives. Self-made people are held in high regard. We are so very fortunate to live in a society where we have all this potential. However, it can lead us to feeling that no matter how much we do, it's never enough.

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Meditation Myth #2 – You Can't Change Your Brain

A popular myth about meditation is that it's just something to do for stress relief or to gain a higher spiritual connection, but few people actually realize that meditating can actually change your brain. There is an emerging new field of brain science in fact called “Contemplative Neuroscience,” or the study of meditation's effect on the brain.
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Meditation Myth #3 – You Just Sit There With a Clear Mind

Many people that I talk to say they can't meditate because they can't clear their mind. They say that their minds keep going from thought to thought when they try to sit still. The biggest myth about mediation is that to be good at meditation, thinking will stop. The truth is that no matter who you talk to, everyone has thoughts, all the time. Meditation helps to tame the mind but it doesn't stop thoughts from coming up. Ask a teacher who has been meditating for 30 years what their biggest challenge is in meditating and you will get the same answer: distraction.
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Meditation Myth #4 – You Have to Be Able to Sit Still

Meditation is a great place to learn how to manage discomfort and pain. By sitting through discomfort, we find a way to separate the feeling from the emotion that surrounds the physical signal. It can create quite a sense of accomplishment to watch that itch come and finally go away without responding.
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Meditation Myth #5 – Sitting On A Cushion Is Boring

When someone is meditating, it looks like they aren't doing anything. If they are just sitting there,isn't it boring? And if it is boring, isn't that a bad thing to be bored? Sitting still can be foreign to most people before they start meditating. While it might look like someone who is meditating is not doing anything, they are actually very active.

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Meditation Myth #1 – You Don’t Have Time to Meditate

We are busy Americans and pride ourselves on how much we can get done. We live in a country
where a little more hard work can lead to a different situation for our lives. Self-made people are held in high regard. We are so very fortunate to live in a society where we have all this potential. However, it can lead us to feeling that no matter how much we do, it's never enough. Americans are terribly sleep deprived because of how much they try to fit in a day. Now add on having kids, two-income families and the never ending litany of activities that kids are involved in to keep them active and out of trouble. Or maybe you are working two jobs or one that feels like two. Sometimes we get caught up in doing, doing, doing without thinking about giving back to ourselves and fueling the fire. 

Who has time to meditate with all that we have to do in a day? You do. 

Think of it as an investment in your sanity. Think of it as self esteem, self worth and confidence. Time Think of putting yourself first and giving yourself the gift of letting go. Think of it as the most important gift that you can give yourself each day.

How much time are we really talking about? Just 8 minutes per day. 

I remember listening to Deepak Chopra many years ago. While I regard him very highly, I just couldn't fathom what he was recommending. He said that people need to meditate for 1/2 hour twice a day. That kind of time commitment was completely out of reach for me so I put it out of my mind and moved on to other ideas. Even now that I completely understand the benefit of meditation and am a fervent advocate of the practice, I still don't have an hour a day to sit. 

There is a less-drastic approach for us busy Americans that is still completely beneficial. 8-10 minutes per day can change your life. The important part is to create a lasting practice, not how many minutes each session takes. Making the commitment to yourself is a powerful statement about self-worth. 

How do you find the time? 

  1. Get up 10 minutes earlier. Meditate before the day takes over. Does hitting the snooze button really give you more rest? 
  2. Take 10 minutes before you go to bed. It's a great way to wind down and prepare yourself for sleep. You may even find that you sleep better. 
  3. How much time do you spend watching TV? In the amount of time the commercials take in an hour-long show, you could have meditated. Watch your favorite show on DVD, On-demand or DVR. Skip the commercials and give yourself time to sit. 
  4. Schedule it in. If you don't put it on your schedule like any other priority, it won't get done. 
  5. Keep to your time allowance. If you let yourself go over time, then it will feel like it takes up more of your day. If you contain your sitting practice to 10 minutes per day or whatever you choose as your time allotment, it will feel like less of a burden. Sit, meditate, timer goes off, your are done. Easy. 
  6. Treat this time as an investment in yourself. Meditation is self-help at its very best. 
  7. Teach others to respect your time. Put a sign on the door and teach your family that this is your time, that it won't be long until you are done but that you are not to be interrupted. It will be a good lesson for everyone in making time for yourself, what a great skill to pass on to your kids. 
  8. Less e-mail, more time. Can you find 10 minutes of time by reducing the spam in your inbox? By unsubscribing to newsletters that haven't turned out to be valuable, creating rules or filters to automate organization or combining messages into daily digests or RSS feeds, you can save time each day and use your e-mail for communication, not a time-sink. 
  9. Meditate when you have insomnia. It's better than worrying and a great way to get back to sleep. 
  10. Take advantage of waiting. When your schedule fails you, find those few minutes to breathe when you are waiting to pick up the kids or see a doctor.  Do a walking meditation and practice mindfulness when you are walking the dog. 

 

 ~ Jillian Avey, purelifemeditation.com

 

 

Meditation Myth #2 – You Can’t Change Your Brain

A popular myth about meditation is that it's just something to do for stress relief or to gain a higher spiritual connection, but few people actually realize that meditating can actually change your brain. There is an emerging new field of brain science in fact called “Contemplative Neuroscience,” or the study of meditation's effect on the brain.

One of the pioneers in the Contemplative Neuroscience field is Dr. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin—Madison has been personally involved with meditation since the 1970s and studying it for 10 years. Davidson has scanned the brains of almost 100 Buddhist monks and other regular meditators during this time. He says, “We all know that if you engage in certain kinds of exercise on a regular basis you can strengthen certain muscle groups in predictable ways. Strengthening neural systems is not fundamentally different. It’s basically replacing certain habits of mind with other habits.” 

Neuron cell Contemplative Neuroscience has also shown that habitual meditation strengthens brain circuits that help us concentrate and express empathy. A study Davidson recently finished looked at how meditation effected those who had never done it before. He found that the beginners stimulated their limbic systems during meditation–the limbic system is the brain's so-called “emotional network.” On the same token, expert meditators (monks with over 10,000 hours of meditation experience) showed markedly higher limbic system activity across the board. Davidson's conclusion? The monks had changed their brains to be more empathetic! 

So meditation can effect your brain while you meditate, but what about when the meditation is over? The answer is yes. There have been observable changes to the baseline brain functioning for meditators outside of meditation. These changes are thought to be linked to generating positive emotions. While Contemplative Neuroscience is in its infancy, this is largely due to the fact that live MRIs (allowing doctors to observe a brain in real time) have only recently become available. 

   ~ Jillian Avey, purelifemeditation.com 

 

More Information/Sources:

The Science of How Meditation Changes Your Brain

Can meditation change your brain? Contemplative neuroscientists believe it can

Meditation Myth #3 – You Just Sit There With a Clear Mind

Many people that I talk to say they can't meditate because they can't clear their mind. They say that their minds keep going from thought to thought when they try to sit still. The biggest myth about mediation is that to be good at meditation, thinking will stop. The truth is that no matter who you talk to, everyone has thoughts, all the time. Meditation helps to tame the mind but it doesn't stop thoughts from coming up. Ask a teacher who has been meditating for 30 years what their biggest challenge is in meditating and you will get the same answer: distraction. The reason meditation is so valuable is that it teaches us to bring the mind back to focus. It also teaches us that the mind and thought are not the only way to experience the world. We learn to use the other senses and give the mind a break.

  ~ Jillian Avey, purelifemeditation.com 

Meditation Myth #4 – You Have to Be Able to Sit Still

Meditation is a great place to learn how to manage discomfort and pain. By sitting through discomfort, we find a way to separate the feeling from the emotion that surrounds the physical signal. It can create quite a sense of accomplishment to watch that itch come and finally go away without responding. When your feet fall asleep, it is another opportunity to learn how to deal with pain without the risk of hurting anything since the cause is a pinched nerve, not reduced blood circulation. All that said, the goal of meditation is not to punish ourselves or be cruel. We can wait a moment, try to separate the pain from the emotion, feel the pain as a physical signal and sit with it for a while. Then, we can adjust our position to relieve the discomfort. If the feet fall asleep, you can stand, stretch your legs or sit with your knees bent in front of you. It's ok to move, just do it mindfully. And then, settle back in to your breath.

  ~ Jillian Avey, purelifemeditation.com 

Meditation Myth #5 – Sitting On A Cushion Is Boring

Get-Started-Meditation When someone is meditating, it looks like they aren't doing anything. If they are just sitting there,isn't it boring? And if it is boring, isn't that a bad thing to be bored? 

Sitting still can be foreign to most people before they start meditating. While it might look like someone who is meditating is not doing anything, they are actually very active. They are working their brain by increasing their concentration power. The person meditating might be focusing on relaxation. Or, they might be contemplating something. All of this is active, just not visible. Being present is work. It's not easy and it's definitely not boring. 

  ~ Jillian Avey, purelifemeditation.com