MYTH #2: You need a lot of free time to meditate.
FACT: There are very busy people all over the world who make time to meditate daily and have done so for many years. Like anything that is important in your life, you make the time. Even just a few minutes of meditation can bring about benefits of calm and perspective. Many who meditate believe the practice actually gives them more time because they are more focused and productive throughout the day.
MYTH #3: It can take many years before experiencing the benefits of meditation.
FACT: Personal experience and research shows that we can experience the benefits of meditation after just one session. We can feel more calm and centered, less reactive and experience a good night’s sleep. Scientists at Harvard University found that in just eight weeks of daily meditation practice study participants experienced decreased anxiety and increased neurological growth in brain areas linked to memory, self-conception, stress, and empathy. Other benefits included a drop in blood pressure, better immune system function, and enhanced focus.
MYTH #4: It takes a long time to learn to meditate, and years to master it.
FACT: Meditation is a simple, even though not always easy, practice. Each time we practice, we create the intention to still our minds and place our awareness on the present moment. Thoughts, feelings and sensations are likely to arise. As they do, we simply bring ourselves back to the sensations of the present moment. While It takes practice, you can master the basics of formal and informal mediation practice fairly quickly.
MYTH #5: Some people just can’t meditate.
FACT: Some people are more prone to distraction, restlessness and meditation may seem more unnatural for them, but that doesn’t mean they’re unable to meditate. With practice, persistence and patience, anyone can meditate.
MYTH #6: You have to maintain an uncomfortable, difficult yoga position to meditate.
FACT: There are 4 formal meditation postures for all of us to use during meditation practice: sitting (in a chair or on the floor), lying down, standing and walking. Each of these postures supports the easy flow of breath in and out of the body. Sitting in a lotus position is not required to cultivate the benefits of meditation - thank goodness!
MYTH #7: Meditation is a religious practice.
FACT: Although meditation is associated with certain religions and cultures, you can be completely secular and still experience its benefits, both physical and spiritual.
Have you ever said to yourself, "I can't possibly meditate. My mind is always running. It just won't stop!" It may surprise you that you're not alone! All of us suffer from some level of running mind syndrome. It's been noted that humans can have between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts per day. That's a lot of thinking! Unfortunately, much of the time our minds are wandering on autopilot. A recent study by Harvard psychologists found that nearly half (46.9%) of our waking time is spent thinking about what's not happening in the present moment. The brain is masterfully designed to learn a task, like drive a car or ride a bike, and switch to autopilot mode where it is free to wander. Have you ever driven somewhere and wondered how you got there? Or forgot where you parked you car? That's your brain in autopilot mode.
The brain is trained to constantly pump out thoughts, thoughts and more thoughts! Thoughts about what we need to do or didn't do. Thoughts about what happened in the past or what might happen in the future. Thoughts about ourselves, our relationships and on and on. These running thoughts can cause stress and anxiety.
The good news is mindfulness meditation can help slow down the constant chatter. Not by clearing the mind, but by helping you notice when your mind has wandered. The goal of meditation is not to completely empty your mind but rather to notice when your mind has wandered, and bring yourself back to the present moment. When you can notice that your mind has wandered, you are able to redirect yourself back to the present moment. Through this noticing, mindfulness practice helps create space between your thoughts, how you feel and, ultimately, how you experience the moments of your life. As you do this, over and over in meditation practice, you build a capacity for sustained attention in the present moment. Mindfulness practice gives us back the gift of the present moment; which, after all, is the only moment we really have to live.
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