We’d like you to imagine that you’ve never heard the word “meditation.” Forget every single thing you’ve ever heard about it. Now, what if we told you there was a way you could reduce the effects of stress, focus better, and improve your emotional well-being, with side effects that may include greater calm, creativity, presence, and patience? And what if all you had to do was find a comfortable place to sit and turn your attention inward?
Well, meditation is both that simple and not that simple at all. It can feel incredibly difficult, encompasses a variety of techniques, and involves a lifetime of practice. Yet, all we have to do to start experiencing the benefits is take a seat for a few minutes at a time (more on this to come). For those of us struggling to start meditating despite our best intentions, it’s often our preconceived notions that get in the way. So let’s take a look at some of the biggest myths that keep us from meditating and debunk them one at a time.
Myth #1: I need to set aside the perfect time to meditate
Most of us know the incredible benefits of meditation, but that doesn’t stop us from thinking that we are too busy, the world is too crazy, or that soon, just around the corner, things will calm down and we will finally make room to meditate. It would be great if all this happened, but chances are—the world won’t stop and life will continue on, busy as ever.
The great thing about meditation is that you get to make your own rules. Start by sitting down for just five minutes if your schedule is packed. Even the busiest people have a few minutes to spare. You’re more likely to stick to a practice if you do it at the same time each day, but it’s also fine to pop in your earbuds and find a little stillness whenever you get a small break.
The perfect time to meditate is ANY TIME and EVERY TIME. When we’re overwhelmed and feel like we can’t handle one more thing? That’s the perfect time to pause and just breathe. When we’re shifting between projects and feeling frazzled? Try meditating instead of scrolling on social media. Waiting in line? Meditate. In conflict with someone? Meditate. We could go on, but we think you get the point—the absolute best time to meditate isn’t tomorrow, it’s today.
Myth #2: I am supposed to feel peaceful after I meditate
We all have a vision of what we think a meditator should look like: seated in the lotus position, wearing flowy clothing, surrounded by crystals, eyes closed, completely still with a serene look of bliss on her face. So it’s no wonder that when we try to meditate and don’t look or feel that way, we think we have failed. We tell ourselves that we’re just “not the relaxed type” and give up trying.
The truth is—very often meditating does not leave you feeling peaceful. There are many points and purposes to meditation, but one of the most valuable is that the goal is to simply become aware of your thoughts and feelings. This can be jarring, unsettling, and frustrating. Many thoughts and feelings don’t feel good as they surface. But part of the journey is learning to be present with what’s happening without changing it. While this can make you think that you’re more stressed or agitated than you were before, it’s also possible that you’re just becoming aware of how stressed and agitated you have been. Becoming aware of your feelings stirs them up, but eventually, with time, it can allow them to clear and settle.
Meditating is possibly the hardest thing in the world to do. No one said it would be easy or that you would get an instant payoff for your efforts. Know that it can take time for the benefits of meditation to take effect. Just as if you were learning an instrument, it might be days, weeks, months before the music you play sounds appealing. With time, a sense of ease will start to build. Remember—you aren’t supposed to transform into a picture-perfect meditator. Meditation should simply lead you back to your truest self.
Myth #3: I need to find a quiet place to meditate
For those of us who live with roommates or family members, it can sometimes feel like our personal space is closing in on us. Finding a quiet place for meditation is a luxury that many of us don’t always have. The good news is—we can meditate anytime, anywhere.
The practice of meditation is a process of learning how to let go of distractions; to harness our scattered thoughts and a feeling of being “all over the place.” No one said that you have to magically arrive at perfect stillness. It’s a practice. And taking time to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and just focus on YOU? You can do it in even the most crowded home. Just let your gang know that you’re taking a “Private 5.” Go into a separate room (or even a corner of a room) and just let them know: “This is my zone for the next 5 minutes. I’ll be the nicest person in the world when I’m done.” Put in your headphones and listen to your favorite music or online meditation class.
For those of you that live alone—circumstances can still make you feel that you don’t have the perfect space to meditate. We’re here to remind you that you don’t need a meditation room, a fancy altar with crystals, or even a meditation cushion or incense. While we love setting up sacred space, the best place to practice meditation is the place where you actually get yourself to meditate. These days, we’re taking it anywhere we can get it.
Now that we’re fresh out of excuses, it’s time to practice. Our Beginner’s Meditation Path is full of guided practices that will help you settle in while learning the essentials.