Meditation’s Big Myths and Little Surprises

meditating at sunriseI discovered meditation when I began yoga classes, and soon after I read David Kundtz’s radical self-help book, Stopping.  The two events made a huge difference for me.  At the heart of it all was Kundtz’s phrase, “How to be still when you need to keep going.”

At the time, I was bouncing back and forth from California to Illinois to help my family, dealing with an intense work situation, and trying to maintain a social life.  Sometimes on the plane, or after a meeting,  I just wanted to shout, “Enough already!”

But regular time on a yoga mat and Kundtz’s wisdom  led me to use brief breathing meditations and thus carried me through a tough time in my life.  Both of those aids continue to assist, amaze, and delight me every day.

What You Should Know About Meditation

Meditation can work anywhere.  It’s simple and inexpensive, and requires no equipment. You can practice meditation wherever you are, out for a walk, on a plane, waiting at the doctor’s office or even in the middle of a difficult business meeting.

Recently, meditation master Deepak Chopra, M.D., pointed out some myths that I often hear when I recommend meditation.

Myths: Meditation is difficult. It requires a quiet mind and takes years of practice to achieve benefits. Meditation is escapism. It takes up a lot of your daily time, requires spiritual or religious beliefs and must create transcendent experiences.

Don’t  let those myths stop you.  Actually, once you try meditation, you might find it puts you more in touch with the reality of your life. It can be as simple as focusing on your breathing, or silently repeating a mantra.

Chopra points out, “Instead of quieting your mind you will find quiet already exists in the space between our thoughts. Meditation lets you relax into those spaces.  The real purpose of meditation isn’t to tune out and get away from it all, but to tune in, and get in touch with your true self.  You can let go of all the stories you’ve been telling yourself about who you are, what is limiting you, and where you fall short — and experience your deepest self infinite and unbounded.”

Ways to meditate:

Guided meditation uses imagery or visualization with smells, sights, sounds and textures.

Mantra meditation requires silently repeating a calming word, thought, or phrase to block distractions.

Mindfulness meditation focuses on what you are experiencing during the meditation, such as the flow of your breath. Your thoughts and emotions are seen but not judged.

Qigong blends meditation, relaxation, physical movement, and breathing exercises to restore and maintain balance. Qigong (CHEE-gung) is part of traditional Chinese medicine.

Tai Chi is a gentle Chinese martial art, available in group classes at community centers. Deep breathing and flowing movements are done slowly and gracefully.

Transcendental meditation uses a word, sound, or phrase repeatedly silently, to channel your conscious awareness and eliminate other thoughts. The goal is perfect stillness and consciousness.

Yoga lets you shed stress and enjoy the moment as you execute postures and controlled breathing exercises. New students often smile as they say, “This was the best part of my day.”  Moving through poses requiring balance and concentration makes the demands of the day disappear as your mind and body become centered.

Whatever meditation choices you make, consider reading more about the process, and speaking with a meditation teacher.

Story Credit

Image Credit:meditating at sunrise by Stress-Relief.  Used under a Creative Commons license.

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