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Fact or Fiction? Meditation’s Truths

Catharine Willett March 11, 2016 0 comments 0

[su_dropcap style=”default” size=”3″ class=””]A[/su_dropcap]s daily life becomes increasingly demanding and unpredictable, more people are seeking a new way to unwind. Many have found the solution to their stress through meditation; however, there are still many skeptics of the practice. Some of their doubt can be traced to the media’s misrepresentation of meditation, which has made it difficult to decipher between fact and fiction. Specifically, there are five common myths that cause people to shy away from meditation, but facts can easily thwart these myths.

1) Fiction: Meditation is hard.

     Fact: Meditation requires one simple task: focus. The myth that meditation is difficult comes predominantly from the idea that only monks, saints, or holy individuals perform meditation. Although the history of meditation does begin with Hindu and Buddhist traditions, meditation does not have to be a religious activity. In fact, many of those who practice meditation don’t consider it a religious experience, rather they view it as a time to relax after a long day. Anyone can perform meditation because it is simple; all it requires is your focus and as little as 5 minutes of time. Although there are ways to make meditation more advanced, basic meditation is easy enough for children, and sometimes they do. It is a beneficial experience for those young and old.

2) Fiction: It takes years before the positive effects of meditation occur.

     Fact: Meditation’s effects are both immediate and long-term. A study from Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital discovered that in just over eight weeks, meditation reduced anxiety and enlarged parts of the brain responsible for memory, empathy, and stress. In addition to health benefits, meditation can leave you feeling lighter and calmer as soon as the day after your first class. The long-term effects of meditation are beneficial to health and can even help those who practice to break bad habits. Meditation has proven to boost immune system function, decrease blood pressure, and provide better sleep.

3) Fiction: Meditation requires a quiet and empty mind.

     Fact: Meditation creates a calm and relaxed mind. The busiest of minds can find solitude in meditation; this is one of the benefits of the practice. It is not about controlling or stopping your thoughts, instead, it is about redirecting them. Meditation instructors often share techniques for addressing thoughts that linger outside of the meditation experience, while others actually encourage outside thought. It depends on the practice. Remember, thinking is actually part of meditation. Your thoughts are simply focused on the moment.

4) Fiction: I have no time to meditate.

     Fact:  A few minutes of meditation each day will actually leave you with more time. A few benefits of meditation are relaxed breathing and lowered heart rate and blood pressure. When we experience these physical effects, the body reduces production of stress hormones. Therefore, feelings of urgency are replaced by a relaxed state and productivity. If the day gets too busy for your routine practice time, five minutes of meditation is always better than none. For beginners, start small and gradually work more time into your meditation routine. This way, you’re less likely to skip a day of meditation and you’ll eventually create a full routine.

5) Fiction: I don’t know if I’m doing it right, so I can’t meditate.

     Fact: There is no wrong way to meditate. Depending on which form of meditation you choose to practice, you need only focus on your breathing, a mantra, or something visual like a candle flame. When your mind begins to wander, it just requires redirecting your thinking back to your focal point. The only wrong way to meditate is by not meditating at all. If you don’t experience hallucinations, levitate, or have an epiphany about your future life decision, don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you went off track. The experiences that are more likely to result are a sense of stillness and peace. As you continue working on your focus, you’ll find the effects only get better. Guided meditation can also be an immensely helpful way to fine tune your practice.

Meditation is finding its way into the lives of people everywhere. For those with doubts, your hesitation is understandable. Many people think of “the force” from Star Wars when they hear meditation, but fear not. You do not have to be a Jedi, a monk, or an already calm individual to practice meditation. It’s very simple: anyone can do it. If you need some tips on where to get started, view our Beginner’s Guide to Meditation blog. Don’t let these five tales of fiction scare you away. Consider the facts!

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