Meditation is quite an enigma amongst those who are contemplating dabbling in the practice, and as such, there seem to be quite a few myths around its existence. In addition, people have huge expectations of meditation. I hope to gently break down some of those myths and reveal some of the truths I have discovered about meditation.
‘Yogash citta-vritti-nirodhaha’ = ‘Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind’ (Yoga Sutras 1.1 – 1.4)
The Yoga Sutras tell us that yoga is the stopping of the waves of mental activity in our minds and lists several ways through which this can become possible. One of these is dhyana, or single-pointed focus and is listed by Patanjali as one of the eight parts of the self-discipline of Yoga. Dhyana can be a complicated term – but here, I want to use it as an example of meditation.
The mind experiences an uninterrupted flow that enables it to be still. Imagine that you could sit freely and be without all the mind chatter that keeps us company during the day … Imagine the extra time you might have to do all the things you’ve always wanted to, Meditation can make this happen.
Dispelling the Myths
The meditator will sit down to meditate for the first time and all thoughts will cease – People expect that they will simply. stop. thinking. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work like this, and it may take many sessions, hours, days, weeks, months, years, and yes, lifetimes to still the ‘monkey‘ mind. Sometimes in meditation, there may be a rare glance of stillness, but before you can take hold of it, the mind does, and starts to say ‘oh, hey, check this out, I’m so still, look at this!‘. At this moment the stillness is gone and is likely to not be found again.
Meditation isn’t meditation unless you’re practicing it for several hours a day – Meditation is an extremely personal thing. The way in which we practice and the effects that it can have on an individual are completely different. For some, long periods of meditation can leave them very floaty and up in the air, making it difficult to get back to the daily grind. For such individuals with busy lifestyles, it is most beneficial to make two sittings per day, of about 10 minutes to achieve the desired effects of meditation.
Dispelling the Excuses
The meditator will sit down to meditate for the first time and all thoughts will cease – Meditation is one of those things that you MUST make time for. It won’t just come and happen to you, you have to do the action. It is only you that can sit and take part in your very own meditation session. Some consider sitting a ‘waste of time’, but I have always believed that meditation creates time. Instead of fretting about little things and making stories in your head, you have clarity – a rare gem in the mind that allows you to be focused, which in essence helps you have more time
Meditation is boring, my meditation is sleep – Boring is simply a state of mind, something created by us to compensate for all the ‘other‘ and ‘more important‘ things we have to do than to be with ourselves. Self-discovery can be a very scary thing, it’s a complete mystery – but inside all of us is a beautiful soul waiting to be recognized, valued, and loved. Meditation is not relaxing or sleeping, but accessing a more peaceful part of our consciousness. Sleep and meditation are similar in that they both allow for restoration – but if you consider that meditation will help you sleep better and that you may need slightly less sleep because you have had 10 minutes to recharge, then what a bonus!