What comes to mind when you typically think of meditation? Most likely in your mind’s eye, whether you practice meditation or not you might envision a prevailing stereotype – a person sitting cross-legged on the floor, with eyes closed, hands in a mudra and chanting Om. That is not really untrue for many people who practice meditation, but it is not necessarily true either.
There are different forms of meditation – a physical practice such as yoga or running can be a meditative practice, prayer can be a form of meditation…the list goes on. Regardless of the type of meditation you might practice, meditation allows you to connect with your inner-self and can take you to a deeper state of relaxation. When practicing regularly, it can help you overcome negative thoughts, reduce stress and help to alleviate depressive feelings and thoughts. Still, a myriad of myths surround meditation. So let’s clear some of them up here –
Myth Number One: Meditation is a religion.
False. Whilst meditation can be a spiritual discipline, it does not belong to any organized religion, nor is it used to recruit you to join one. It can be equated to a prayer or a form of worship but it doesn’t ask you to pray to or worship any particular person, god, faith or religion. In fact, as a practice, meditation is present in all the religious traditions throughout the world. It simply takes numerous forms.
Myth Number Two: Meditation is a form of escape from the real world.
Again false! Meditation merely teaches us to encounter what is happening in our present reality with more conscious awareness and focus. Meditation meets reality head on. It does not create false illusions, nor does it allow one to escape from the reality we live in at present. In fact, it trains the mind allowing people to pause before they make a knee jerk reaction. This state of being often results in responding – aware – to true and real situations.
Myth Number Three: Meditation is bizarre or unusual.
False. Human beings sometimes associate adjectives like mysterious, unusual or bizarre to things they just don’t know about or understand, especially when it isn’t a part of mainstream culture or they haven’t learned about that something from a young age.
Meditation in its simplest form is essentially a very uncomplicated mind exercise. It doesn’t require anyone to be in a trance-like state to achieve precisely its goal of a deep state of calmness. Indeed, there are a few meditation practices that promise to take one to another level of existence, or claim to develop and evolve some psychic abilities. Even if you practice a form of meditation that in fact will help you to become more connected with all that is, there is nothing to fear.
Myth Number Four: Meditation is self-centered.
False. Even though we are focusing on ourselves when we meditate and, meditation necessitates that we spend some time alone, it does not mean we are isolating ourselves from the rest of the world. We are
Myth Number Five: Meditation is not for everyone.
This is not one size fits all here because meditation is not limited to one type of practice. So blanket statements like these are false. Instead, some forms of meditation will work better than others for different types of people.
Moreover, some forms of meditation will rattle the ego and even bring up old traumas which can then be healed. This may require a person who struggles with old wounds to get some help. This is the nature of inner work and personal development practices. It’s OK to not be OK. It’s OK to get help!
Myth Number Six: Meditation is egotistical.
There have been some recent and relatively small studies that show that people who practice yoga or other meditation techniques show ‘increased self-enhancement.’ Some people are saying this is negative and makes one more egotistical. In fact, an article published in Inc. magazine says this –
The author later argues that people are missing the point and can make course corrections.
The results are interesting but find it difficult to give them credence when we live in a complex world. It’s also important to know that the people studied were mostly women and from the ‘West’ and the Western culture is one that is:
- filled with comparison especially since the culture worships both youth and celebrity.
- its members of society undergo intense institutional conditioning (schools, religious institutions and corporate propaganda, etc.)
- perpetuates bias through subtle and direct messages via media.
- people are bombarded with advertisements.
- economic models are capitalist and consumer-oriented.
If people take up yoga or meditation and develop more confidence and peace in their
That people want to do something for themselves to live a better life even if it is oriented to or for themselves does not account for the fact that every person is on their own journey. We all have different identities, responsibilities, duties and periods in our lives when we can and cannot do some things. Not everyone is able to ‘give-back’ to the whole society during all periods of their lives.
Self-enhancement isn’t a bad thing when people are continually bombarded with messages that they are not enough or don’t conform to some random criteria, and when there are people that lack self-esteem and need uplifting. How is it wrong or egotistical that people take on
In the end, meditation teaches us to be able to see beyond the darkness in our own lives – hence people often use the phrase that we become ‘enlightened’ as we see beyond our own darkness. When we begin to calm our minds, heal our past traumas and move into a more peaceful state of being, then we can be of better help to others.
What myths and mysteries have you heard about meditation, share them in the comments?
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