Do you hold back from meditation thinking how will people around you react? Do you think of it as a religious practice? Do you think meditation is only for people suffering from mental health issues?
Or you just want to stay away from it because you don’t believe in spirituality? In this post, we will bust all these misconceptions about meditation with science-backed research.
Meditation and mindfulness have become mainstream words in the modern world. You rarely come across anyone who hasn’t heard about it. You do a google search about meditation and an astounding number of results show up.
The idea of meditation has been especially popularized in the West by people like Robin Sharma, who in his book “The monk who sold his Ferrari” describes the significance of this practice. Corporate moguls have adopted methodology and reaped benefits.
From schools to political leaders, everyone is talking about it. A few have become ambassadors too. Indian PM Narendra Modi is one such example and is often seen talking about the benefits of yoga and meditation.
Despite all the popularity, science-backed facts, data from practitioners, there are still a lot of misconceptions about meditation looming around. Some believe it doesn’t work while others get into a battle of where it came from.
Misconceptions about meditation demystified
1. Meditation doesn’t work
The more you talk to people about it the more opinions you get about the practice. One of them being it is useless and it doesn’t work. And most of it comes from people who haven’t tried it in the first place.
Meditation is a tried and tested technique and has been studied for years by scientists around the world. They found the impact of the practice significant in neuroplasticity and amygdala.
It releases the neurotransmitter serotonin. It reduces the level of cortisol in the body. Reduces negative thoughts and makes you emotionally and physically stronger.
2. Meditation is only for monks
If it was so then you wouldn’t find doctors prescribing it or corporate moguls writing a book about it.
It sure is the reason why monks are so peaceful. But it has taken them thousands of hours of meditation to achieve that state of mind.
However, for people like us, it is more of a tool to address the issues inside us. It is what gives you a moment of peace and calm in the constant chaos.
Meditation will shift your perspective and allow you to see the people and situations in a new light. Meditation is for everyone, especially for people like us.
3. Meditation takes a lot of time to see results
They say when you workout, it will take 1 week for you to see results, 4 weeks for your family to see it and 8 weeks for the world to see the results.
This is true for meditation as well. A regular 5-week practice for 10 mins every day can bring you great results.
If you want to achieve a monk-like bliss, it might take years but if your purpose is to experience more peace and calm in your everyday life then a few weeks it is.
4. Meditation is an esoteric religious practice
This is one of the most widely thrown misconceptions about meditation. Some people consider meditation a religious practice which belongs only to a certain set of people.
Meditation is an age-old practice used by great people from all religions since ancient times to achieve a heightened state of consciousness.
In order to teach them to the masses, every religion included the practice in some or the other way.
However, today it is a totally secular practice and you can choose the type of meditation based on your comfort zone.
No meditation practice focuses on promoting their religion over another. Sitting in silence does not involve any religion nor is it against any.
5. Meditation is for only for calm people
The whole idea is to silence the incessant mind not the other way round. If you have baked this idea in your head that only peaceful people can meditate, you are wrong.
People meditate to become more peaceful instead. And trust us more anxious and stressed people have found respite in meditation than you can count.
6. Meditation is all about being in the present moment
Some people say meditation is about focusing on the present moment. This might not be true for every person.
However, it is the outcome of meditation for sure. Some people believe being in the present moment helps but it might not work for you.
There are so many other things like focus, introspection and being in a restful state. Meditation doesn’t force the idea of staying in the present moment. Meditation allows you to observe what is not allowing you to do so.
7. Meditation is concentration
This is partly true. Though there are some forms of meditation that involve concentration but there is more to it.
Concentration was the easiest type of meditation used by masters to teach their disciples. If you are a beginner, this type of meditation will work for you better.
Meditation then becomes a conscious activity that involves focus, will power and listening to your thoughts.
Understanding what you are thinking and what is bothering you is the first step towards working at the root cause of your troubles.
8. Mindfulness and meditation are the same
Mindfulness is a type of meditation. This is the most common practice and the one that has garnered the most attention in the West.
You can sit and be mindful of your breath or you can simply apply mindfulness to every aspect of your life.
Mindfulness is the act of focusing on the breath or on the task at hand whether it is eating, walking, working, etc.
Focusing fully on one task at a time helps clear your head and maintain sanity throughout the day.
9. I need to chant mantras to do meditation
No, you don’t. Sitting on the floor with eyes closed does not require any mantra.
Chanting mantra is specific to Vedic meditation or transcendental meditation. Sanskrit is the preferred language in Vedic meditation.
In Transcendental Meditation or widely known as TM meditation™, teachers give mantras based on the requirement and is often in their own language. It can be anything like “ I love myself” to “ let go”.
Other forms don’t require any mantra and can be done irrespective of your choice of religion or language. Some require you to create your own fun languages too.
10. Meditation can only be done with a teacher
It is good to start meditation practice with a teacher if you are a beginner and you don’t know how to go about it but not mandatory. The Internet has tonnes of resources for starting the practice.
It is easy to start the practice on your own the only thing is don’t get stuck upon which type of meditation is best for you. Choose the simplest and stick with it.
Advanced practitioners can choose to learn from a teacher to deepen their practice.
It really depends on your goal. If you are dealing with workplace stress, want to bring more focus in your life or simply want some relaxation in life then you don’t necessarily need a teacher.
But if are willing to go deeper and learn more about the subject or are looking for some emotional healing or spiritual growth then maybe working with a teacher is a good idea.
11. Meditation will solve all your problems
No, meditation will not solve any of your problems. It will just make you sane enough to solve them yourself.
When you meditate, you experience more clarity, more mental space, and more calmness. This allows you to prioritize your responsibilities and take better decisions in life.
12. You feel light and see the colors
People hold a lot of misconception about meditation when they start with the practice.
When you started meditating, you read a couple of blogs about what it really means to be meditating.
People talk about out-of-body experiences or some people talk about seeing colors during their meditation.
Most people will have a racing mind and this is normal. We don’t know the truth behind the claims above but we also don’t think this to be a measure of good meditation.
So how do you know you actually meditated? There is no sign at all. You will see the positive changes in your personality and that is a true sign of it working.
13. I don’t need meditation. I can sleep instead.
Your body needs sleep to recover and rejuvenate but your mind needs meditation.
For some people, it is easy to find distraction and not think about the things that are troubling them. For others, it doesn’t work.
How many times have you slept with a negative thought and as soon as you wake up, you find yourself struggling with the same thoughts again?
Sleeping puts the negative issues on hold for some time but it doesn’t deal with them at the deeper level.
Meditation does. When you meditate you realize how long have you been stuck on a particular thought.
14. It is another marketing gimmick
Some people say, just like yoga, West is using meditation as the new marketing gimmick.
Maybe they are but the fact is if it didn’t work, no amount of marketing could make it successful.
People have seen a dramatic transformation in someone they know or have felt it in themselves.
How often do you go to a store you hate to buy something? Never, right. If you are willing to open yourself up to this wonderful practice then you can experience this transformation too.
These were a few of the misconceptions about meditation that most people hold. We hope we have been able to bust a few in this post and this will allow more people to enjoy the benefits.
Can you think of other such misconceptions about meditation you have come across? What is the most common question you have faced when you started meditating?
Comment below and let’s demystify some more misconceptions about meditation.
Chakshu is a US alliance certified yoga teacher, a biotechnologist and an Ayurveda evangelist. Her passion is to help people live a toxic-free life, emotionally and chemically. She loves reading self-help books. When she is not writing, she is busy thinking about life.