Mindfulness is having intimate awareness of the present moment experience without judgment. It is through the lens of stillness that we begin to see the moving currents of our lives.
I’ve laid out your meditation map, teaching you how to cultivate your own meditation practice. And along the journey, we’ve discussed the illusion that our thoughts are reality. So in Part 3 of this 4 part series, we continue the inner journey together. Utter the word “meditation” and streams of images, ideas and feelings conjure up, and you might ask yourself: “is this for me?” Here, 5 common meditation myths are debunked, clearing any confusion you might have about the practice of unlearning your way back to the inner shelter of yourself.
A Quiet Mind Means Meditative Success
I often tell my clients and students, “meditation isn’t about getting rid of thoughts, but rather, it’s about building a different relationship with them.” It’s our unguarded thoughts that fuel stress, anxiety and depression. Let’s be real, we can’t stop our thoughts – our brains are thought generators. It’s the way we’re wired. But what we can do is control how much attention we give to them. By befriending stillness through a sitting meditation practice, we can begin cultivating our external observer – a mind that rides the waves of thoughts and feelings without identifying with them.
Your mind will wander, create stories and make grocery lists – but it’s the gentle, loving attention you bring to this experience that matters most. The lessons come from letting-go of striving for that blissfully quiet mind – noticing all that exists in the here-and-now.
Meditation is a Religious Practice
Meditation is the practice of cultivating awareness of the waves of inner experience (thoughts, feelings and body sensations) through sitting in stillness and silence – getting beyond the daily chatter of our mind. It doesn’t require a specific spiritual belief or religious practice. I’ve taught meditation to individuals with varying religious and spiritual beliefs. It’s truly about reconnecting who it is you are, getting beneath the film of our everyday lives, to relearn who we are at the core of our being. A consistent meditation practice can enhance your overall holistic health and happiness.
You’re too Busy to Meditate
Busyness is the epidemic of our modern society. All the more reason you need to harness those silent spaces in between phone calls, emails, client meetings and making dinner to come back home to yourself. A few minutes of meditation a day is better than none. There are days when I wake up a bit later and can only sit for 10 minutes rather than 30, and that’s okay. Let-go of that negative thought reel and rest in loving acceptance of the time that you do have to sit. Become aware of that story you spin around your perpetual busyness. With gentle attention, shift your narrative around time and you’ll begin to have more of it! Say to yourself, “I have a whole 5 minutes to rest in pure awareness with myself and I’m so grateful.” With our thoughts, we create the moment-to-moment reality of our lives.
Meditation Paraphernalia Required
Guilty! This is where I become attached to my meditation cushion, my favorite incense, my essential oil, my jasmine tea – the ideal meditative environment to reach my highest self. This is when I whisper to myself “let-it-go.” So easily, we become attached to objects and circumstances we believe will bring particular outcomes. Meditation is about being with ourselves and cultivating an inner life. We don’t need anything external for that because, as Jon Kabat-Zinn famously said, “Wherever you go, there you are.” We can’t escape ourselves so why not embrace ourselves? And we can do this sans incense, special cushions and essential oils. All you need is always right where you are.
To Meditate is to Elevate
People become disappointed when they don’t experience levitation or enlightenment when they first hit the cushion. The goal of meditation isn’t to reach some sort of euphoric, altered state. But by being grounded in our body through stillness and silence, we begin to see the ever-shifting inner landscape of our lives – finding glimpses of oneness with self and the universe. The waves of emotionality that flow through our spirit create the vast ocean of our consciousness. We’re not our thoughts or feelings. We’re simply experiencing them. The true benefits of meditation happen when we journey back into our daily lives – when we bring more loving attention to our children, are less reactive with our partners and hold ourselves with compassion in tough moments.
A Loving Namaste,