3 Meditation Myths that May Slow Your Progress
Goal of meditation is quite clear for everyone – it is the deep and constant feeling of inner peace. Naturally, when we imagine ourselves being able to stay calm regardless of the circumstances, this becomes our desire. But reaching it may not be as easy as we wish, especially when we have the wrong picture of meditation in our mind. Then, we might feel that even though we tried, meditation is not for us, it is not working on us, or perhaps we can’t make it and we give up… I decided to write this post as I believe that there are some meditation myths that may slow your progress and when eliminated you may move closer to your desired goal.
Myth number 1: To stop thinking I need to focus my mind on something
There are actually two myths in this one phrase – firstly: focusing your mind on something is a tool to get your mind into a meditative state, it isn’t a meditation itself. You can focus on your breath, on the object in front of you, on a sound and, although all this is very important, this will only prepare your mind for proper meditation. Secondly: meditation is not about stopping to think, what more, I don’t believe it is possible to stop thinking. I always say – the thoughts are like clouds and you are aiming for a blue clear sky between them. It is only when you sit to meditation you will start noticing that your mind is full of thoughts, that often there is a thinking chaos inside your head that is nearly impossible to control. This realisation will turn to be an important step into your practice. In meditation you want to clear your mind; this can be done by observing your thoughts. Accept them, let them be, do not engage with them, notice them, name them. Most importantly, your meditation does not finish at this point, when you observe your thoughts you will notice the ones that you will need to deal with. Meditation is an inner work, pushing your thoughts or problems away won’t make them disappear. The key is finding the relation between your thoughts, unraveling the subtle regularity of your beliefs, your thinking patterns, seeing why you react in certain ways, it is understanding your mind.
Myth number 2: Meditation means to be in a blissful state
All experienced meditators know that sometimes a few deep conscious breaths can bring us to this joyful and relaxed space; that in a few minutes we can calm our mind and focus our thinking to get out of a very distracting situation, but let’s not forget that meditation is an inner work. The most valuable meditation practices are the difficult ones. When we work out our fear and pain. Real meditation is an honest practice, by saying honest I mean facing the truth; the truth about the world but mostly about ourselves, without faking it, without looking for excuses. These meditations aren’t easy, if you experienced it, you know that sometimes it takes many approaches. In meditation you don’t force yourself, many times I crawled back from the emotions where the pain or fear was too great but finally getting into the source of it, confronting it, means GROWING. This moment when you can face the fear, when you see your real self, bruised, scared, cruel, weak you will learn the most, be gentle with yourself, accept it. Meditation is not about scratching our wounds, but it is about healing and forgiving; it is about letting go, giving yourself love that will guide you later. As said by Pema Chodron ‘Meditation is not a matter of trying to achieve ecstasy, spiritual bliss, or tranquillity… It is simply the creation of a space on which we are able to expose and undo our neurotic games, our self-deceptions, our hidden fears and hopes’
Myth number 3: Meditation is being above and beyond the everyday reality
The realisation that meditation isn’t the escape from reality but actually it is living it was a big step in my practice. Looking at ‘now and here’ like at something temporary, like at the unfortunate necessity that we just happen to live in can be a source of great disappointment. Meditation is a practice of being present in every moment of your life, it is a practise of noticing the little things in our life, of experiencing every action, being in the moment. Alan Watts said: ‘Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel potatoes’ (for more about being present please see: https://www.themeditationbay.com/post/be-present)
It is easy to complain, to see the world as an ugly reality where meditation is an escape to a better, spiritual world but that is not what meditation really is. Meditation changes your perspective; it is like cleaning the window that you use to look at the world. This cleaning isn’t easy, it does not happen effortlessly. It takes courage to break thinking patterns; to stand up against behaviour of majority when it does not feel right; to accept; to trust; to be present; to connect with your real-self and to search for your purpose.
Meditation is a hard work and not because it requires special tools or powers, but because it requires honesty, A REAL SELF-HONEST APPROACH. If you want to find an inner peace and what more if you want to stay in it you may need to unravel your thinking patterns, control your ego, accept the past, find the connection with your heart and act from the place that is rooted deeply within it. We are created through love and we should act lovingly.