There are many myths about meditation that keep some people from really practicing or from even trying it. Let’s disqualify some of them right now.
1) Needing to Clear Your Mind of Thoughts
This is probably the biggest myth and it drives me the most crazy. Meditation is not about force!
Internalizing your awareness into your mind and punishing that mind for having thoughts is “like trying not to see with your eyes open” (30 Days of Mindfulness). All being easily distractible means is you are in the early stages of developing your meditation practice. The ultimate goal is not to have a thoughtless mind, but to practice not always getting totally lost in these thoughts (30 Days).
Think of your distractible mind as a child on a path and you are the adult guiding them. If they run off to look at a flower or chase a squirrel, you wouldn’t punish them like you might be punishing yourself; you would gently guide them back to the path and patiently do so every time they ran off again (Change Your Mind Hypnotherapy).
“Don’t beat yourself up for any emotion or thought. Instead, allow them to rise, say ‘thanks, mind,’ and then dissolve them. The key is to remain aware by focusing on your breath and becoming the observer” (“How to Meditate Without the WooWoo”).
“Meditation doesn’t have to make you docile like some sort of a Zen master inside a cave that’s secluded from the rest of the world. Instead it’s a mental technique – a skill of will, like weight lifting for your mind to make you more mindful” (“How to…WooWoo”).
2) The “Wrong” Way to Meditate
There is no wrong way to meditate.
Is sitting up straight too painful or distracting? Lie down – grab a pillow and a snuggly blanket.
Are you feeling too anxious to feel relaxed when your eyes are closed? Meditate with your eyes open and simply bring your eyes to a soft gaze.
Don’t have time to meditate? Do a 2-minute induction.
The repetition of a 2-minute meditation is even better for your brain than setting one solid hour aside anyway! And remember: if you don’t have time to meditate for 10 minutes, you should meditate for an hour. But break it up throughout the day.
3) My Thoughts are Distracting Me from What I’m Supposed to Focus on
Maybe that distracting thought is so persistent because it’s what you need to be processing right now.
Observe your thoughts objectively and allow them to come and go, but if something is pushing hard for your attention, maybe that’s what you need to be thinking about during your focused relaxation.
This could even include your thoughts or feelings about meditation itself while you’re doing it that you can process: “not good enough”, or “I’m too…”, or “this is…”. What’s on the agenda for today?
4) Breathing Deeply Gets Uncomfortable
Discomfort is uncomfortable! Being uncomfortable is not going to help you relax or focus. Either focus only on your current, natural breathing and only deepen your breath at a natural rate or only breathe as deeply as is actually comfortable right now.
The point is to focus on your breathing and the safety it represents- not to suck all the air out of the room to try to feel peaceful.
5) Meditation Doesn’t Work for Me
What are you expecting to happen? It’s a meditation practice.
Working through the difficult aspects of focused relaxation is part of the long-term benefits of meditation.
(P.S. Make sure you’re calming your limbic brain (Step 1) through safety and predictability acknowledgement in order to calm yourself. If you’re trying to feel calm without calming the limbic brain first… I mean… good luck.)
You are learning how to bring yourself to this place with more and more ease. It’s all part of the “practice”!
Danielle Rachlin, CNSF
Danielle received her Neurosculpting® Facilitator Certification in the original round of NSI graduates in 2013. Since then, she has taken an academic approach to teaching and has brought Neurosculpting® into the world of college campuses with her recurring quarter-long series at Colorado Mesa University. Danielle has also produced an educational ghostwriting collection for the Neurosculpting® Institute during the completion of her Master’s degree in Public Service for Environmental Policy.
Danielle is passionate about introducing these concepts to people that do not necessarily already know they are interested in the subject and in making the information accessible to all kinds of people. She is motivated to spread the content of Neurosculpting® as widely as she can because she wants everyone to understand the natural processes of their brain so personal development is not an uphill battle. She has been meditating since childhood and was originally drawn deeply to Neurosculpting® due to its solid and digestible foundation in science. Follow her Facebook Neurosculpting® Page for upcoming classes and events here.
Danielle Rachlin Neurosculpting® Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/daniellerachlinneurosculpting/?ref=bookmarks
Neurosculpting Institute www.neurosculptinginstitute.com
“Help! I Can’t Stop Thinking! (and other Mindfulness Myths)” by Nickolas Grabovac http://www.30daysofmindfulness.com/help-cant-stop-thinking-mindfulness-myths/
Change Your Mind Hypnotherapy: www.teddirachlin.com
“How to Meditate Without the WooWoo” by Siim Land: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egxAqM8f5TE&list=LLYfN8zD2bKCofz93iX3KmhQ&index=39