It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….no not Tale of Two Cities, I’m talking meditation! We have such a binary relationship with it. How can something supposedly be so helpful and easy but at the same time be so miserable and dreaded? I mean, on the face of it, it seems like the best thing since sliced bread. To receive amazing wellness benefits we don’t have to break a sweat, deny ourselves dessert or even spend any money. Seriously, how is this not a slam dunk?!?!
Well, it turns out a few beliefs that commonly stand in peoples’ ways. Here are 3 1/2 common goaltending mistakes (to keep the basketball reference going) that keep people from creating a regular meditation routine and reaping the benefits of meditation.
Thinking meditation is an attempt to clear the mind. This is a huge misconception and total set up for disaster. Our minds will remain busy while we meditate and that’s ok. There’s even a type of meditation that uses that called ‘open monitoring’. But a more common type of meditation is ‘focused attention’ and that means you gently bring your attention back to a singular focus whenever it wanders. It has nothing to do with clearing the mind, it’s all about bringing it back to one thing.
Underestimating the value of repeatedly realizing when your thoughts are spinning and bringing your attention back to one thing. We tend to go through the majority of our days on autopilot. Some of it is extremely helpful, like not thinking about how to brush our teeth or drive to work. On the other hand, sometimes our autopilot allows our thoughts to spin out of control or fester on negative things. So, it is super important to be able to get out of autopilot when needed. We do this by practicing recognizing your thoughts and turning your attention…aka, meditating.
Not understanding how practicing meditation is like going to a gym for your mind. We don’t doubt or argue with the fact that if you want to get stronger and go to the gym and lift weights, over time you will get stronger. Why are we so baffled by the same line of thinking with meditation? These days we even have the benefit of research to back it up and yet…tough sell…doutbt…argue…
Believing meditation requires a special setting. Nope. Anywhere works, no cushion and temple required.
Am I way off base? Please leave a comment and let me know how these work for you.