I know. I hear you. You can’t do meditation.
It’s all well and good for everyone else, who has found their way to Planet Peace and Wisdom and you, well your name is not on the list.
If only everyone would stop talking about it like it’s the only way. If it is, you’re well and truly screwed, because it’s not YOUR WAY.
I get it. I’m going to talk about it anyway. You know, just in case you’ve made some stuff up that you could think differently about. In case it is your party after all, you just turned up all determined that it wasn’t, and that made you miss some stuff.
When I share that I have been meditating for almost 9 years, people look a bit surprised.
When I say the benefits of it were so profound for me that I became a monk so I could teach it, there can be an uncomfortable silence.
I’m guessing that’s because I don’t look like a monk. (I have a wardrobe full of lovely clothes, plenty of hair. The only chanting I do is when I’m singing at karaoke).
Or maybe we don’t believe that we’ll find monks in “normal” life. Being, well, normal.
In reality, there are so many myths out there about meditation, I thought it was time to share the ones that I unpacked. You know, so that you don’t have to.
Have a read, write back, ASK QUESTIONS.
Ask questions. Before you walk away and say, no, still not my party. You might just uncover some surprising stuff.
1. Meditation is only for religious people
Meditation is a very old practice. It was created or discovered within religious context.
For most techniques, including mine, there is absolutely no requirement to believe in anything.
A Christian or Muslim can practice meditation without ANY conflict to their own beliefs. I’ve taught many atheists.
Think of it like this; does stretching make you a yogi?
2. I need to wear certain clothes, sit cross legged and burn incense to get the benefits
Oh no, that’s me stumped. Not my routine.
Meditation is a practice. You can sit however you like, and wear whatever you want. The focus is internal.
Confession: I went through a period of lighting candles; because…I LOVE CANDLES.
3. You need a quiet space – my house is not a temple
Neither is mine. Do you know anyone who lives in one? I don’t.
Let’s face it when you first begin anything that requires a bit of attention, it’s often easier with less distractions. We are so used to being busy and jumping up at the first thought of a task we can crack on with.
All you need is a place to sit and close your eyes. That’s it.
I’ve known people go to the loo or sit in their car or simply shut the bedroom door. Easy.
4. My mind is SO busy, it can’t be possible to stop all these thoughts?
Yes probably. That’s why so many meditations these days don’t even try.
Those clever scientists tell us we have over 90000 thoughts. Many of them totally random, short term, and irrelevant.
In fact today with all that t’internet surfing, it’s getting worse. We’re putting more and more rubbish in, so it makes sense that we’re processing on speed.
Meditation is not about emptying your mind of thoughts. It’s creating a distance, an awareness where you can see or hear your thoughts rather than being consumed or driven by them.
I know, you don’t really know what that means. You sure as heck didn’t experience it the first time you tried. Of course you didn’t. Because like all things, it takes practice.
Think of it like this: You didn’t get on a bike and just ride it the first time did you? No, you fell off. You had no idea how it could even be possible to balance on that thing. And then one day, you just did.
5. My head’s full, I can’t switch it off! What’s going on?
Here’s a good metaphor.
Most people live their life like they’re trying to cross a motorway every minute. Dashing in between the traffic, sometimes getting bumped, or flattened. Often exhausted by the sheer effort of it all. Trying to keep up, keep safe.
Traffic shows up without us even knowing where it’s come from. We’re having a great day and then splat. It’s relentless.
If you and I sat on the hard shoulder, we’d see the traffic, we might feel the noise and the intensity. It wouldn’t be half as tiring as being IN IT.
You might see a car you recognised (now think of that car as a thought whooshing by) and before you know it, you’ve grabbed it because you’re drawn to it and you’re getting bounced down the motorway.
And yet if I say, ‘let go’, you’d be back with me and that car/thought would trundle on its way.
Thoughts don’t need us, honestly they don’t.
As humans we have this belief that “thinking” = clever. For the smart people.
There’s a difference between creating, ideating and ruminating – going over and over the same thought hoping to find something different. Living in our minds, in the past, re-running events that can never be changed.
Sometimes we are dreaming away in some never-never land of the Future. A fantasy. Hoping, rehearsing for some moment that may or may not come.
In the meantime, whether you’re past or future focussed, when you’re in either, you’re not here. In your own life. You can’t be. You’re in your head.
Meditation brings you back to this moment. From here you can make choices. You can respond rather than react.
6. No seriously you don’t understand. My head is full. It doesn’t work for me?
Honestly it doesn’t matter how full your head is. Mine is too. Often the Crazy Lady (the voice in our head) is screaming.
Meditation simply moves the focus so you get to turn down the volume. So that you aren’t so interested in the content. You’re not drawn to keep listening to it.
Once you adopt this practice, you get to have this feeling more and more in your every day life, not just in meditation.
7. Don’t I have to have a quiet mind to meditate?
You mean like needing to be fit before you go to the gym? No! In fact the more stressed or restless you feel, the more stepping back could help you.
8. Meditation and mindfulness – what’s the difference?
I could write a whole blog on this; here’s my own perspective.
Mindfulness is a technique that brings you to the present moment. It often includes slowing down and focusing on one thing; your breath, your body, or listening to words of guidance. It can help improve your health and effectiveness in work and personal life.
Meditation brings these benefits and is often practiced for other purposes such as self-discovery, personal growth and spiritual goals (inner freedom/enlightenment). I’m not here to say that either is better.
For me, mindfulness was like a glance into a different world and I wanted to have this as a lasting experience, rather than a band aid tool I could pick up.
Developing a totally different relationship with our thoughts is a game changer whatever practice you choose.
9. I must close my eyes to meditate
Not true. You can meditate with eyes open or closed. Your eyelid is just a piece of skin. Just like a curtain blocking out what you can see (let’s face it sometimes that’s the distraction). It’s not a barrier to you experiencing peace.
10. Meditation is hard
If you have a fixed view of what meditation is then you might find it so. Because you’ll be chasing an outcome. Meditation isn’t a thing. It’s a process. One that you learn to enjoy. It’s not about a destination, it’s about loving the journey.
You learn to let go of self-judgement, comparison, expectations. For some these are like special thoughts. As much as we don’t like them, we’re incredibly attached to them. We treat them like they are “ours”.
If we are open to seeing them from a different perspective or distance they can easily lose their hold. That’s where the techniques come in.
11. I don’t have time to meditate
Oh the big Daddy of excuses. That old chestnut. Try this then; add up all the unproductive time you’re watching the tv or on your phone scrolling. Or on public transport.
Now take even half of that and there’s a lot of time in there. We all have 5 minutes a day. All of us.
This one is simply not true. You know it. Make a new choice.
12. I’ve got an important job, I can’t be floating on a cloud all day
Ha ha, brilliant!
In fact it’s the opposite. Imagine you had so much more energy, you could concentrate without 3 coffees to keep you going (meditation gives as much rest as sleep, if not more). Imagine honing your alertness as a natural by-product and being able to tap into an inner clarity.
Sounds good eh?
That’s why some of the top people in their professions meditate: Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama. Check em out.
13. I’ve tried it once. Nothing happened
Love this one.
We spend years listening to our minds and feeling tortured in the process. Then sit down for a few sessions and wonder why we aren’t levitating.
It takes practice. A commitment to sit down on a nice comfy chair with our eyes closed for a few minutes, ideally every day. What a toughie.
The benefits of Meditation can be instant. For some it’s takes longer. It might just be worth another go.
14. I tried it and the voices in my head got louder. I knew it wouldn’t work for me
Sometimes that can happen. Certainly if you’re not open or innocent to the practice then like anything, you’ve already decided it’s unlikely to work.
And the noise? Think of it like this; imagine you’re working and a really loud song comes on upstairs. The more you get cross about the noise and try to “stop hearing it” the more agitated you get, the louder it gets in your head.
If we make an effort to focus elsewhere, with all of our attention, in a few moments we will forget about it. Thoughts, feelings, sensations pass through our system literally in seconds. It’s because we are so hooked on them they often hang around.
15. It’s too expensive to learn
There are loads of Apps to get you started that provide great guided meditations and teach you the basics. A few of my favourites, Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer. And if you want to know more about my own practice and do a face to face course, drop a comment below and I’ll be in touch.
We include different mindfulness and meditation techniques in all of our teachings. It’s a crucial part of what Somebody Inside does. We even meditate before filming. Sign up to one of our programmes and events and we’ll show you some as part of the many techniques we offer (before you go freaking out that’s all we do).
So there we have it. Meditation isn’t for everyone, I get that. That’s not the point of this blog.
My desire is for everyone to experience more joy, connection, love, contentment and ease in their lives. I found this was the quickest way.
And I wouldn’t want any made up stories to be holding you back now…
P.S. if you want to know whether you are past or future focused, watch out for these emotions. Anxiety, regret = past. Fear = future. Right here, right now = your life. And Space. Usually ?.