What do you think of when you think about meditation? Do you have visions of sitting with your legs contorted into an uncomfortable pretzel shape? Or your hands hovering over your knees whilst held in a peculiar gesture? Or perhaps you envision being transported to some other dimensions of bliss where your legs and hands no longer bother you? Maybe for some experienced yogis, this might be the case, however these thoughts can be quite off putting to someone who has never experienced it.
The truth is that meditation really IS for everyone. It can be an incredibly useful tool for relaxation, becoming more grounded, gaining focus, cultivating mindfulness and basically helping bring us into the moment and keeping us sane when everything else in life seems chaotic!
I personally love meditation and find it very beneficial, however it is important to get rid of some of the misconceived ideas that many people hold onto. Here are 3 common ones:
You must sit cross legged and remain completely still - This is actually not a prerequisite for meditation at all. Sure, sitting still helps prevent the mind from being distracted by the body, and many experienced meditators have trained their bodies to be comfortable in specific cross legged positions, however meditation can be done sitting in a chair, lying down or even whilst you are walking alone.
When you meditate, all other thoughts in your mind disappear - Nope, this just isn’t so. One of the key aspects to learning meditation is understanding that the mind is often full of thoughts, and always getting distracted and wandering off. With meditation we are not switching a magic switch and silencing the mind, we are actually learning to accept the thoughts are always there, and instead, learning to turn the volume down on them a bit so we can focus on specific techniques to help calm and relax the mind. This is a really important point because many people try meditation, but think they are not doing it right because they keep getting distracted in thoughts. The more often you practice meditation, the easier it becomes to recognise your mind wandering off, so that you can bring it back to the practice. Remember, your awareness is kind of like a muscle of your mind, the more you use it, the stronger it becomes!
- Meditation will instantly bring you enlightenment - Now I am not saying that meditation won’t bring you enlightenment, but as far as I am aware, there are people who have been practicing for hours every day, for most of their lives and still haven’t gotten there yet! For the everyday person like you and me, meditation is a tool we can use to relax and unwind and also to become more aware of ourselves. Mindfulness meditations help us to start recognising patterns of behaviour in our thoughts so we can guide ourselves in the positive direction we wish to be heading.
There are many different types of meditation. Some are used as guided visualisations to help us relax or unwind and even to help us overcome fears, or gain a little more focus or inspiration. Other meditations are designed to cultivate more mindfulness into our lives so that we become more aware of our thoughts and our actions and are better able to approach each day from a grounded and confident place.
So if you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, or perhaps you just feel you could do with some grounding and mindfulness, then consider trying meditation to help bring some sanity to your life.
Keel in mind there are many different types of meditation, and that each instructor has their own style, so look around for one that resonates well for you!