Last week, I’ve been teaching the basics of quieting the mind. Maybe you were part of that minicourse, maybe you missed it. A shame if you did, because participants found it really helpful and enjoyable. But no worries, I’ve bundled all the materials (5 high quality videos, 5 pdfs and 2 guided meditations) and you can download them for just €10.00 if you go to this page.
But should you care at all about quieting the mind?
Well, in my opinion, it is the ONE AND ONLY gateway to
• having inner peace
• having more control over the course of your life, your wellbeing and happiness
• hearing the voice of your intuition and inner wisdom
• better health; getting in touch with your body so it can signal to you how to take better care of yourself
• preventing (or healing) burnout and all diseases connected to it
Yes, that’s right, I think there is a lot at stake.
I know, because I’m living proof. I shared a bit of my story in this blog.
But quieting the mind involves some meditative practices, and I know many people have reservations about that.
They think they’re not able to do it, it’s too hard, too time-consuming, too religious or spiritual, too woolly &c &c.
There was a time when I thought all of those things and had all those reservations. I needed some time to grow into my practice. (Yes that’s right, I wasn’t born meditating either 😉
Now that I’ve been practicing for over ten years and teaching for 8 years, I can say it’s changed my life and none of my misconceptions proved true.
What did turn out to be true, was that it did all of those things I list above.
So let me bust 10 common myths for you.
1. You have to stop your thoughts
No. You couldn’t if you tried. Thoughts come and go at will, there’s no stopping that with our will. What we can train is where we direct our attention. So you can decide how much attention you give them and how much truth you attach to them. This is truly liberating, let me tell you!
2. Meditation is difficult, it is only for monks and very spiritual people
You can sit (or lie down, or stand up), you can breathe, you can be silent and you can observe. That is all there is to it. Whatever happens, happens and you are present, observing.
3. You need years of practice before you see any results
You’ll start to see results right in your first meditation. All depending on how you define result, of course. With the proper guidance, you’ll know that each and every meditation is beneficial and every breath is a new start.
4. Meditation is reaching a state of bliss
Meditation is being with what is – no more (and that can be hard enough as it is!). You’ll feel what there is to feel, experience what there is to experience, see what there is to see. That can be very mundane – it usually is. Meditation is not your highway to continuous happiness, although regular practice will certainly increase your capacity for equanimity.
5. I don’t have time for meditation
You don’t have time for anything; you make time. The business is all in our heads; we create these hectic lives. You’re breathing, right? So you can take a few minutes to be aware of that. Perhaps a few of those minutes you were idling on Facebook or watching a talkshow you’re not interested in.
6. Meditation is too religious, spiritual or woowoo for me
Meditation is totally unrelated to religion and dogma, and incense and Buddha statues are completely optional. Yes, meditation is practiced in many Buddhist traditions – but Buddhism is a philosophy rather than a religion, and you’ll find that non-religious people as well as people of all religious backgrounds meditate without it interfering with their beliefs.
Meditation is a practice of the mind – very down to earth in fact. The mind in default will take us off into the past and the future, rather than stay in the present. In meditation you practice staying present.
7. Meditation will bring me into a trance state
See 6: in meditation you practice staying present. In full awareness of your present experience. We’re not trying to reach any kind of special state.
8. Meditation is physically impossible for me
You’ve seen pictures of monks in lotus position – well, that is one way of practicing but you needn’t fold yourself into any particular shape or pose in order to be able to meditate. Many sit on a meditation cushion, but it’s equally possible to sit on a kitchen chair, or even to lie down if you can’t sit.
9. Meditation is concentration
No, if anything meditation is about relaxing the mind, just let it rest on the breath rather than being so tensely involved in thoughts. Relaxing the mind will help you concentrate better though.
10. Meditation is escapism
On the contrary. As I said before: in meditation we attempt to be present for whatever our experience is right now. We’re not trying to make anything feel or appear better, we’re not avoiding suffering (nor wallowing in it).
What I’ve found, is that it is a lot easier to learn and come to understand the workings of meditation and get the full benefits in a course, with a trained teacher.
AND I’m offering just the thing. My first ever online zen course; 10 live classes (and a recording so no worries if you can’t attend all) with my guidance, teaching and support. It starts 13 September and there are some spaces left.