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5 Meditation Myths and the Benefits of Starting Today

Meditating

“Freedom is instantaneous the moment we accept things as they are.” ~Karen Maezen Miller

My personal rock-bottom wake-up call came a few years ago when, despite having achieved all of my personal and business goals, I found that I still wasn’t content or experiencing peace of mind.

Feeling frustrated, I realized that I could no longer rely on my future to fulfill me. I knew continuing to work so hard to accomplish bigger and better goals wasn’t going to relieve my eternal itch that there must be more to life than this.

To make matters worse, my increasing frustration led to a rocky time in my relationship, which inevitably ended with my partner leaving. Along with the beautiful child I’d been raising, the great house I was living in, the fancy car I was driving, and the pile of money we’d jointly secured as projects fell away too.

Rock bottom, needing peace, I started exploring alternative ways of thinking, being, and living.

It was around about that time when I met a group of meditation teachers that changed my life. I saw in their eyes a peace and joy that I had rarely seen before. And the more I spent time with them, the more it became obvious to me that their inner peace was consistent.

Hungry to experience the same, I packed my bag and headed off to meditate with them for a few months. I spent ten weeks on the island of Patmos in Greece, followed by a further fourteen weeks in the mountains of Mexico.  

During my time meditating I had a total turnaround in thinking. I discovered the real cause of my persistent problems had never been my failings at “thinking positively.”

Instead, my habit of thinking was the ultimate cause of my problems. When I was busy thinking, I was missing the peace that’s always present. And by learning to think less and be present, I found life much more enjoyable.

Meditation serves many purposes, from stress relief to self-awakening. Personally, I started meditating because I was fed up with my mind working overtime. I wanted peace, and through meditating regularly I have become less focused on the movement of my mind and more aware of the pristine peace that is always present.

Despite meditation being so simple, and having such big rewards, there are some myths about meditation that can stop people getting started or make them quit before they get to reap the benefits possible from meditating regularly.

The top meditation myths are:

Myth #1: Meditation is difficult.

Practiced correctly, meditation can be the easiest and most enjoyable thing you ever do. For something to be difficult, it requires effort, struggle, stress, and stamina.

However, the truth is meditation requires the exact opposite. There is no effort because you are learning how to do nothing. There is no struggle because you are not forcing anything. There is no stress because you are not resisting anything, and there is no need for stamina because the main purpose of meditation is to relax!

Myth #2: I must still my mind.

“I can’t meditate because I can’t stop my thoughts” is one of the most common reasons I hear from people who’ve tried meditation but quit. However, what’s important to understand is that thoughts are a natural (and necessary) part of meditation.

When you meditate, your body gets rest. When the body rests, it heals. Healing is an active process—stress is released and healing is being undertaken. Due to the mind-body connection, activity in your body is reflected by activity in your mind, in the form of thoughts.

Thoughts are therefore a sign that healing is taking place in your body. Healing your nervous system is a fantastic by-product of meditation. It is not useful to resist having thoughts when meditating. To resist thoughts is to resist healing!

Instead, let the healing process happen, as it naturally wants to, by not resisting the existence of thoughts.

Let them come and go by learning to be at peace with whatever thoughts want to happen when you are meditating.

Myth #3: If thoughts are okay, then it’s good to think.

Although having thoughts is okay, I am not recommending you intentionally think your way through every meditation. There is a big difference between having thoughts and thinking.

When you are meditating, you want to let thoughts flow through your awareness without engaging in them through the act of thinking.

Thinking occurs when you stop observing your thoughts and you start being your thoughts.

When you are thinking, you are in the thought stream. You are in the dream. Engaged in the story of your mind, you are having an imaginary conversation with your friend, planning what you’re going to have for dinner, or whatever.

Thinking is very similar to falling asleep. When you are thinking, you are essentially lost in your mind. You are no longer present, nor consciously aware of your real self. Thinking is a habit you learn to do less through the regular practice of meditation.

Be gentle on yourself if you find yourself thinking when meditating. It’s just a habit! When you become aware that you’ve been thinking, simply come back to being alert and present.

Myth #4: Meditation stops when I open my eyes.

Most of your day will be spent with your eyes open, so thankfully the little flaps of skin that you call your eyelids do not need to impact your peace.

Peace is experienced when you put your attention on the still, silent space that resides within your conscious awareness. You can direct your attention with your eyes open and closed.

One “goal” of meditation is to develop the habit of effortlessly having some of your attention looking inward on the presence of still silent space at all times.  Eyes open or closed—it need not matter.

Myth #5: It takes a long time to enjoy any benefits.

You start benefiting from meditation from the moment you begin. You might not experience immediate peace or joy, but your body will get a chance to rest, release stored stress, and heal.

This myth reminds me of a story. A seventy-year-old man wanted to learn to play piano. His son questioned what the point was because it takes so long to learn. However, the piano-playing pensioner wasn’t persuaded to quit.  Instead, he simply told his son that if he started now he’d be a much better piano player by age seventy-five than if he didn’t start at all.

I love this story because it is very much the same for meditation. It may take a little time to experience highly noticeable changes. But if you start, and keep doing it regularly, you can be sure you will be experiencing much more peace, love, and happiness over the coming months and years, compared to if you never start at all.

About Sandy Newbigging

Sandy Newbigging is the creator of the Mind Detox Method, a meditation teacher, and author of several books including New Beginnings, Life Detox, and Heal the Hidden Cause. His work has been featured on television channels including Discovery Health. Visit him at sandynewbigging.com or on Facebook or Twitter.

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  • Knowpeople12

    Great story to inspire people to meditate as well

  • To support 4 and 5, I’ll add that tai chi as been referenced as “meditation in movement”.

  • Zoe ZenGarden

    What a great article! Regarding Myth #3, what really brought home the difference between having thoughts and thinking was when someone described reacting to the ‘having thoughts’ as being like watching clouds drift by… the thoughts pop up just like little clouds, and drift across your consciousness, just like clouds in the sky. I love that analogy because it gives me a mental ‘visual’ to help pull me back when I find myself starting to think (which, in my mind, is akin to looking for animal shapes in the clouds)…

  • Marisa Becker

    At first I wanted to argue with Myth #1 – Meditation IS hard, said my mind. There is struggle because I am forcing myself to be mindful. There is resistance to my impulse to get up and go do something else. Stamina is needed to endure those first 20+ minutes of meditation where it doesn’t feel like meditation at all because my brain is still abuzz. Thinking is much easier than not thinking. 

    But before I could even scroll down to the comments, the Buddha Within reminded me, this is not so. My most natural state is one of peace; everything else I do in my life, the to-do list, the worrying, the arguing, the planning, the justifying, is me working against my own inner peace. struggling to subvert it and bury it and keep it from growing. Unconsciousness is much harder than consciousness. And just like the thinking that interrupts my meditation, my daily tasks and rituals interrupt my inner peace. Both are inevitable, but both are also impermanent. So instead of lamenting that meditation is hard, or that I have no time for it, or that everything else just gets in the way, I can regard my non-meditation activities without positive or negative attachment, the way I would regard stray thoughts during meditation – just put them in an inner tube and send them down the river (to use my favorite image-mantra for banishing stray thoughts from meditation). 

    Thank you for connecting me to this piece of wisdom from within myself. 

  • Aquarius Company

    Truly beautiful post … thank you – namaste.

  • A lovely story and great inspiration for those who think meditation is all about cross legged yogi’s sitting in India or where ever meditating for hours!!  We know as little as 10 minutes a day can make the world of difference.  My only problem is I always fall asleep :))

  • Love the article. I agree. I’ve found meditation amazingly helpful in allowing me to de-stress and ground myself each day.  Also it has allowed me to get to know my higher self through intuition that comes from meditation.www.JoeRapisarda.com

  • Mrsliberis06

    I meditate and it heals my body and my soul. I don’t expect anything and it happens. Thanks appreciate u…. <3

  • Meditation is a great way to chill out. I am practising it for 2 years. It really helps me to manage stress.

  • Sandy C. Newbigging

    ‘meditation in movement’ … yes, I like that phrase, very nice. Sandy

  • Sandy C. Newbigging

    Great comment Marisa!  One way I like to think about it is this – your thoughts, emotions, and everything you do in your life like the worrying, arguing, etc is part of the CONTENT of your life.  And these things are all temporary and change. Yet, despite all these things coming and going there is an aspect to you that does not.  An aspect to you that is permanent, unchanging and beyond limitation.  I call it your Real Self to have a neutral term for it.  Still silent conscious awareness is the CONTEXT to every thought, feeling and action.  It is present within you – always – and by it’s very nature, conscious awareness is peaceful.  Meditation can help you to become aware of your conscious awareness… and because you feel what you focus on, you naturally begin to experience the CONTEXT of peace throughout your day, irrespective as to what the CONTENT happens to look like. 

    Hope that helps you to connect with more ‘peaces’ of wisdom within yourself! 🙂

  • Sandy C. Newbigging

    Brilliant!  You are so right, meditation is a great way to chill out.  Well done for keeping your practice going for 2 years 🙂

  • Sandy C. Newbigging

    Meditation certain does help the body heal.  It can also help you to discover that your soul was never sick in the first place.  That your soul is perfect, complete, beautiful, beyond limitation and one with love. 

    And it is great that you don”t have expectations.  Innocence and being open to whatever wants to happen when you meditate is key to it being an enjoyable experience.  Keep up the great ‘work’ 🙂

  • Sandy C. Newbigging

    Great to hear that you love the article Joe.  And yes, as you quieten the mind you live less from thinking everything through, and instead, live from intuition.  I certainly find it helps when I’m writing my books.  Have you found that too?

  • Sandy C. Newbigging

    Yes Sara!… it’s a myth that you have to sit like a pretzel to meditate ‘properly’ 🙂 In fact, the more you can be aware of the state of meditation throughout your day (not just with your eyes closed) the better, in my opinion.  The meditation I use (known as CALM) can be used with eyes open and closed so it can help to make peace a more on-going experience for those that use it. 

    Oh, and if you fall asleep that is fine.  Your body will do what it needs to do.  If it needs rest it will sometimes put you to sleep!  If you find that it happens EVERY time then you might want to drink a glass of water before or do a little stretching or yoga before you begin.  Or meditate at times of the day when you know you will be more alert.

    Keep meditating… you really are making a ‘difference to the world’ as we are all connected 🙂

  • Sandy C. Newbigging

     Thank you.  Peace to you 🙂

  • Sandy C. Newbigging

    Hi Zoe, I’m happy to read that you liked my article.  Yes, and the cool thing is that YOU are the sky (consciousness) that temporary thoughts float through.  As you become more aware of the conscious CONTEXT of thoughts you naturally improve your relationship with your thoughts.  It becomes clear that no thought has the inherent power to negatively impact you.  And what hurts is holding onto the thoughts (by forgetting that you are the infinite and peaceful sky!) … Thanks for sharing your comment.  Sandy

  • Absolutely. In the past few years, I have developed my intuition to the point where it is able to guide me in the direction my soul wants to go. This has helped me to feel more fulfilled in all areas of life.

  • Wogglebugs

    Is the point of meditation really to relax?   It certainly is a benefit that keeps me going to my cushion but If I keep relaxation as my focus then I may end up frustrated when my meditation is not relaxing.    Let go and let yourself feel the stress.   : ))

  • Meditation and reflection are the breeding ground for self-discovery and transformation.

  • Gool

    Great Post. It clears a lot of myths surrounding the word and concept of meditation. May all beings be happy and peaceful.  Gool Desai

  • Roshni Behal

    Wonderful!

  • I never tried meditation before and planning to experience how it feels like to be relaxed and free from worries. And good thing I found your blog, which I believe will help me more about meditation. Thanks a lot. This will really help as soon as I start meditating.

  • Very helpful post. Meditation helps an individual overcome these emotions to facilitate a calm peaceful mind and a healthy and stress free body.Upon daily practice an individual will blossom into an unshakable personality. 

  • I definitely agree with meditation on helping you see the positive things in life. We are bombarded by everyday stress factors surrounding us that sometimes we ended up so consumed with only the negative things happening in our lives and failed to acknowledge the positive side of life. With meditation, it lets you see the two perspective of life (the negative and positive) and lets you focus on the positive side rather than dwelling on the negative aspect. 

  • Sandy!!, you deserve Kudos for giving an insight into meditating. I exercise it daily for decreasing stress and building self-confidence and self-esteem, and keeping good health.

  • Frank

    nice story, indeed meditation can relieve stress and somehow help us think clearly, health conscious folks should meditate and can read some health info

    frank
    http://www.medictax.com/

  • Meditate before or after studying can help us retain what we had studied, it calms our mind and clears negative aura.

  • Listening to meditation music can help us meditate effectively, but it also depends on the individual. Relaxing and soothing music make a good jives to our mind

  • Karina

    I’m learning from this post. Meditation is indeed a great way to start the day. My usual routine every morning is only take up breakfast and read world medicine updates.

  • It
    such a good documentary about the meditation sure it can help. It such a good
    information

  • Andrew

    I agree. I’ve found meditation amazingly helpful! Also I found 7 myth of meditation that are awesome!

  • Naveen Arden

    One of the benefits of meditating in the morning involves the state of mind many people have when they initially wake up after enjoying a reasonable amount of sleep. Many people wake up feeling refreshed and free from the negativity and worries that may present later in the day. Even if they went to sleep with worries on the mind, many people wake up feeling more positive and ready to take advantage of the day by making a new start. Some meditation experts also state that the hindrances to one’s karma are cleared away during sleep, making the morning a good time to meditate.

    Naveen
    http://www.anamayaresort.com

  • Nwskus

    There is no “you”

  • SpiralDynamics

    Ridiculous. Non-dual awareness is only one of the options available, and clearly not always the most appropriate.

  • am

    does meditation also improve intelligence and intellect?

  • Mind is the universe

    It’s weird but I think I was meditating constantly all the way thru my childhood. Only at a later point in my life I started thinking more and more and started to get owned by my thoughts eventually more and more and became more and more unhappy and detached from my real “me” my real personality. Meditation (just a few times a week for a few weeks) changed that dramatically. I’m as happy and peacefull as I was when I was a child (after a few weeks!)

  • Mind is the universe

    It’s also weird but I have the feeling that I solved the problem of infinite never ending universe (it used to scare me

  • Mind is the universe

    I know I sound like I’m on drugs

  • Mind is the universe

    I’m not!

  • Pankaj

    hi r u still there to reply