I conduct introductory Meditation sessions and have reached out to over 800 people. While many, especially the youth, appreciate the experience, in a workplace of 350, some 35 people turn up if the session is not mandatory. This makes me wonder about the perception Meditation enjoys.
Presenting it as an ‘Energetic Detox’–like a gym for your Aura to improve one’s energy levels–takes the weight off an intense, a quick-fix or an alien-like Spiritual practice. Not to mention that it alleviates the inability and frustration of not being able to “meditate right.”
The minute I say ‘meditation,’ many squirm. Like other experiences in the health service industry, meditation, too, has a Pandora’s box rattling to open.
And I explain every time, drawing from personal experiences with Vipassana and the Twin Hearts Meditation: There are different types of Meditations, different ones suit different people, etc. At the end of the string of explanations (that to me sounds like a broken record), they feel relieved and open to trying.
Here are some common myths:
Myth 1: Meditation is Tough
Bringing ourselves to a new area of learning calls for a shift and can be tough.
Showing up every day as a routine is tough, no matter your expertise. Meditation is totally my thing, but discipline has not been, until only now.
Perhaps investing in mutual funds is tough for a highly creative dreamer and writer, but when they saw the merit or didn’t have a choice – they showed up.
Perhaps an experience wasn’t suitable. You are the boss.
Or maybe you didn’t give it time. It’s ok.
But a daily practice is secondary; one must first consider being introduced to a Meditation from an experienced/ certified facilitator or an app even.
Treat Meditation as you would treat anything that requires practice and the right trainer. Ask questions. Ensure health eligibility, if at all. Show up.
Myth 2: Meditation is Done by… Focusing or Stilling the Mind
These are two extremes and can be the outcomes or benefits of a Meditation practice. They are not how you do it. One must understand the difference.
Meditation means Mind’s attention. The attention may not be Focused or laser-like-one-pointed upon something. It may just be Aware, a diffused, wider beam of searchlight around your existence.
Focused and Aware are also two mutually exclusive modes of learning of our brain, each with different use and outcome. We can’t be in diffused when we are in Focus mode, and vice versa.
Trying to bring back our focus on something or trying to empty our mind only adds to the struggle. Release the need to achieve stillness or focus. Let them be the outcome of your Meditation, not the process. Allow the thoughts to come and observe that they are travelers in your mind.
I always relate Twin Hearts with a spring cleaning; the more thoughts that come from under that carpet area of your mind that you kept hidden or suppressed, the deeper the flushing out of thoughts in the waterfall of light.
Don’t expect or you will be meditating upon the expectation (which is a byproduct anyway) and stealing yourself away from the real process or the experience.
Myth 3: Meditation is of Only One Single Type. All or No Meditation Suits Me
The beauty of an evolved health practice, solution, service or industry, is that it’s not one-experience-suits-all. Not all Meditations are the same; not all facilitators are either. Neither will you or your experience be the second time.
Broadly, meditation falls into two categories: Dynamic & Passive.
When Robert Fulghum spoke of the peace he enjoyed while ironing his clothes in his book, Maybe, Maybe Not and when Haruki Murakami described running in ‘What I talk about when I talk about running,’ they were both talking about Dynamic Meditation.
When your body moves and you submerge yourself into an experience of doing something wholeheartedly and with complete attention, that engulfing action becomes your meditation. It can be teaching, cooking, running, painting, pottery, etc.
E.g., Twin Hearts Meditation is a dynamic one. Here you are aware of your heart and crown energy centers and bless imagined earth with raised hands.
When you are required to sit still and still your mind or simply lie in bed/ sit and creatively visualize or focus on your breath.
E.g., Vipassana, a residential retreat that requires you to sit still and quiet (no eye contact even) and be aware of your breath. Agreed, this can be very tough.
Learn about the procedure/steps of meditation if you must and decide if you’re up to it. Not every meditation is cut for you. Listen to your body, your mind. Let your experience speak for you.
Myth 4: I Don’t Know How to Meditate or What to Do in a Meditation
Meditation is less doing, more experiencing. In a world that’s constantly telling us to score and accomplish outward goals, it can get difficult and feel empty to think your role is just to sit and relax.
But do let the guided voice do the heavy lifting. Allow it to happen don’t try to make it happen. Just sit there, let go, loosen up your body, breathe out all your ‘can’ts, shoulds and musts’ and relax.
As long as you don’t expect miracles, follow the steps/ voice or expect yourself to be a good meditator (there’s no such thing) you are doing ok. Be kind to yourself.
Myth 5: Meditation is Alien-Like
Meditation is inner work, the work at the ‘behind-the-scenes’ or the foundation level of who we are. It requires and impacts the whole of us, even though we start with the mind which is invisible.
E.g., People have been having sex and reproducing for ages, but only now are we as a collective realizing our ignorance around sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Though the effects of Meditation like feeling relieved of stress, good sleep, healing of chronic headaches, etc. are tangible, Meditation still deals with the inner experience in an intangible way.
No doubt, we look at it with lack of ownership and confusion.
Myth 6: It’s Not My Thing Because Meditation is Not for the Smart, Young, Happy or Successful
While my colleagues were excited about packing for Goa, I was elated about the mail that said my application to Vipassana was accepted. When I chose the retreat instead of the treat, everyone was not only disappointed; they were surprised.
Meditation is boring or for boring people. Why do you need it?
But I’d chosen to retreat, looking within to declutter my mind to make space for the treats to follow. I believe retreat leads to treat.
This sign at ‘The School of Ancient Wisdom’, Bengaluru, India, sums this up. The lightness and liberation I feel after my meditation helps me relate to this fully.