Starting and continuing a meditation can sometimes feel like an impossible task. You sit on your cushion, contort your legs into a pretzel, and then try to empty the mind of all thoughts.
Then you start to notice the stream of thoughts interrupting your meditation, a string of consciousness filled with ideas and worries that didn’t seem to want to bother you at other times of the day. Why is meditating so difficult?
Meditation can be challenging at the best of times but can be more difficult when we focus on the wrong things. Misconceptions about meditation are usually why most people fail to continue and enjoy their meditation practice.
So if you’ve been struggling with meditation or just need help to improve your practice, this post will go over the most common misconceptions about meditation that can stop you from enjoying life-changing benefits.
1. There Is Only One Kind of Meditation
People often think that there is only one way to meditate. They either believe that you have to sit cross-legged with your eyes closed and hum “om,” or they think that meditation is some weird, out-of-body experience.
There are many different types of meditation, and you can customize your practice to fit your needs and preferences.
Some people can calm their minds best by focusing on their breath, while others prefer to repeat a mantra or contemplate a heart-opening question.
2. Meditation Is Mysterious
Meditation has gotten a reputation for being this inaccessible, otherworldly practice. Some big, mysterious, spiritual things that only “enlightened” people can do.
But meditation’s not that complicated – it’s just a form of mindfulness. And mindfulness is something that we’re all capable of. Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated or secretive to be effective.
All you really need to do is focus your attention on the present moment and let go of your thoughts. That’s it!
3. Meditation Has to Be Done in Silence
Many assume that meditation must be done in silence, with no distractions. But the truth is, you can meditate anywhere, anytime – even in a noisy, chaotic place.
So while it’s true that some forms of meditation require complete quiet, many types of meditation can be done amid noise and activity.
Some types of meditation even involve sound as part of the practice. For example, you focus on repeating a certain word or phrase in mantra meditation.
And in guided meditation, you listen to a recorded voice that leads you through the practice. So if you find it difficult to meditate in silence, don’t worry – there are plenty of other options.
4. You Have to Be Religious to Meditate
Meditation is often seen as a religious practice that only monks or spiritual gurus do. But the truth is, anyone can meditate – you don’t have to be religious or spiritual.
Meditation is a secular practice that can benefit people of any belief system. In fact, many people who meditate are not religious or spiritual at all.
They just find that meditation helps them focus and find peace in the present moment.
There are many ways to meditate, and you can tailor your practice to fit your beliefs and values. So whether or not you consider yourself religious or spiritual, meditation can be a helpful tool.
5. Your Mind Has to Be Empty to Meditate Properly
Most people seem to think that the goal of meditation is to clear your mind entirely and achieve some sort of blank state.
But as anyone who’s ever tried to meditate knows, the moment you want to clear your mind, thoughts come rushing in.
In reality, meditation is a lot more about focus and concentration than it is about emptiness.
The goal is not to achieve some blank state but to focus your attention on the present moment and let go of your thoughts. It’s normal for thoughts to come and go during meditation, and it’s actually okay if they do.
Just let them pass by without getting caught up in them. With practice, you’ll be able to focus your attention more and more, and the thoughts will become less distracting.
6. You Have to Meditate for Hours
Many people assume that to meditate, you need to set aside a large chunk of time – an hour or even two.
And while it’s true that you can meditate for long periods, you don’t need to reap the benefits. In fact, you can meditate for as little as 5 minutes and still reap the benefits.
Of course, if you have the time, you can meditate for longer periods of time. But don’t feel like you need to in order to get the most out of it.
This is unrealistic for many people, and it’s not necessary to see the benefits of meditation. Just set aside a few minutes, and see how it goes. As you get more practice, you can slowly increase the time you meditate until you reach a comfortable level.
7. You Need to Sit in a Special Way to Meditate
Many people think that to meditate, you need to sit in a certain way. You know, cross-legged with your hands resting gently on your knees, spine perfectly straight, eyes closed, and so on. And while there’s nothing wrong with sitting like that, it’s definitely not a requirement.
In fact, you can meditate while sitting in pretty much any position: on the couch, in a chair, on the floor, or lying down.
You can even meditate while walking or standing. The important thing is that you’re comfortable and relaxed. So find a position that works for you, and stick with it.
8. Meditation Needs to Be Done Alone
Another common misconception about meditation is that it must be done alone, completely isolated from the outside world. But the truth is, you can meditate with other people in a group setting.
Group meditation can actually be a very powerful experience. When you meditate with others, you can create a sense of community and support.
And some people find it easier to meditate in a group setting, because there is someone else there to help keep them focused.
So if you’re interested in trying meditation, don’t feel like you have to do it alone – there are plenty of options for group meditation.
9. You Have to Meditate at a Certain Time of Day
People think you need to wake up at the crack of dawn and sit in silence for hours. But the truth is, you can meditate whenever and wherever you want. There are no rules about when or how you should meditate.
You can do it first thing in the morning or right before bed. You can do it on your lunch break or while waiting for the bus.
You can even do it while doing other things, like walking or eating. The important thing is finding a time and place that works for you.
And if you can’t find a time or place that works for you, create one. If you can focus on your breath and let go of your thoughts, you’re doing it right. There are no rigid rules about meditation, so don’t let anyone tell you there are.
10. You Have to Say “Om” to Meditate
The sound “om” is often associated with meditation, but you don’t actually need to say it to meditate. “Om” is simply a sound that is used as a point of focus in some types of meditation. It is believed to be a sacred sound, and it can be used to help quiet the mind.
But whether or not you say “om” while you meditate is entirely up to you. Many other sounds can be used as a point of focus, and there are also types of meditation that don’t involve any sound at all.
So if you’re uncomfortable saying “om” or prefer to meditate in silence, that’s perfectly fine. Just focus on your breath or a certain area of your body, and you’ll be able to meditate without making any sound.
11. Meditation is Boring
A lot of people assume that meditation is boring. I mean, who wants to sit around and do nothing for hours on end, right?
But the thing is, meditation isn’t about doing nothing. It’s about focusing and training your mind to be in the present moment. And while that may not sound particularly exciting, it can actually be very rewarding.
When you learn how to meditate properly, you’ll find that it can be a very enriching and satisfying experience. You’ll be able to focus your attention more easily and start to see the world in a new way.
Meditation may seem boring if you’ve never tried it or if you’re starting out. But if you stick with it, you may find that it’s anything but boring.
Contrary to popular belief, meditation doesn’t have to be difficult, time-consuming, or boring. It’s something anyone can do at any time and place.
So if you’re interested in trying meditation, don’t let the myths hold you back. Just give it a shot, and see how it goes. You might be surprised by how much you enjoy it.
What are some other myths about meditation that you’ve heard? Let us know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be construed as professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms of any mental health condition, we strongly advise consulting with a qualified healthcare professional.