Meditative practices offer a simple, intuitive approach to improving your life and mental well being, yet many who could benefit from meditation are quickly deterred by misinformation. Meditation is not difficult, it has a huge positive impact on the brain, and anyone can make the time to learn and practice it. What’s stopping you from meditating? Probably misinformation. Here are three myths about meditation that I hope you will overcome to make meditative practice a regular part of your plan for better living:
It’s not for me. When you think of people practicing meditation, you might think of millennials in a yoga studio or aging flower children in a field near their commune. You might even think of the original yoga masters from India or the lamas of Tibet. But don’t be fooled by these stereotypes; everyone is capable of practicing meditation techniques, and everyone can stand to benefit. Truly the only requirements are an open mind and patience with yourself; no yoga mat, free love or Indian passport required.
It doesn’t do anything. Some of your well-intentioned friends are bound to suggest you skip meditation in favor of more “productive” practices like journaling or seeing a therapist. Your friend couldn’t be more misguided. Certainly, these other therapies are great, but meditation gives you a different kind of health benefit. Researchers associated with Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital found significant growth in the brain’s grey matter after a group adopted meditative practices over just eight weeks. Specifically, the study participants’ brains showed growth in areas related to learning, memory, compassion, introspection and anxiety. Meditation produces tangible results and is a benefit to your overall mental and physical health and well-being.
I don’t have time. You always have time for the people and things you put first, and frankly if you don’t prioritize your own health, you won’t be able to care for anyone else. No one else can take care of your health for you. Is 30 minutes too much time for your favorite television program? Can you spare 30 minutes to cook a meal? If you are willing to spend time on entertainment and you recognize the need to spend time feeding yourself healthy food, you can certainly find the time to meditate. If you’re having trouble carving out time to meditate, try combining your practice with a habit you already have, like meditating every night before you brush your teeth; you have time for that, right?
Meditation won’t change your life circumstances, but it will change your outlook on those circumstances, perhaps opening you up to possibilities for fulfillment that you may have otherwise overlooked. Far from a waste of time, meditation is an accessible way for you to be a better person to yourself and others. Next time someone you know questions the benefits of meditation, ask them to join you for a week or two; you can’t argue with the improvements you experience in yourself.