By Tim Hoopmann
When I was learning to meditate, I felt at times that I was no good at it or that I wasn’t meditating correctly. I had lots of doubt. However, I persevered and found great value in daily meditation.
There are some unhelpful misconceptions about meditation that can make learning to meditate more challenging and frustrating than it needs to be.
Myth #1: “In order to meditate I have to stop thinking”
During meditation your mind will keep doing what it does (think!), but with practise you learn to observe your thoughts. Thoughts start to fade into the background, and you’ll become much less bothered by them. It is natural to become distracted by thoughts during meditation. People tend to assume that when they become distracted by thoughts that they have ‘stopped’ meditating. But losing focus, noticing that you have lost focus and choosing to re-focus is an integral part of meditation.
Myth #2: “Meditation is something I need to master to make it worth doing”
Think of meditation as something that, while certainly requiring patience and persistence, does not require perfection. Making the effort to practise as consistently as you can is extremely beneficial. Meditation sessions, when your mind feels particularly unsettled, will still have the effect of relaxing your body and calming your mind.
Myth #3: “Meditation will automatically make you peaceful”
Meditation will, with practise, lead to a calmer, more peaceful quality of mind. When you are first learning to meditate you may find the nature of your busy mind quite confronting. This is perfectly normal. Stick with it and just like physical exercise gets easier and more enjoyable the more you do it it’s the same with meditation.
Over time, with patience and persistence, it becomes easier to access a state of deep relaxation during meditation. All you need is 10 minutes a day to see real changes.