Does the title of this post sound familiar? Around 18 months ago this would of sounded pretty familiar to me too. Meditation was something I’d only heard about at school during my religious studies A Level and well, mindfulness didn’t really feature in my vocabulary at all. I’ve since learnt that a lot of my own preconceptions about mindfulness and meditation weren’t accurate, so in this post I’ll try and share a little bit of what I’ve learnt so far.
Myth 1 – there is one correct way to meditate
I used to think that meditation was something that needed to be done a certain way or in certain circumstances. But, the great thing about meditation is that you can tailor it to work for you. It can be done anywhere, night or day and you can sit however feels comfortable for you (sitting in a ‘wakeful’ position is recommended just incase you fall asleep! I learnt this the hard way!). I like to meditate as soon as I wake up so I can’t talk myself out of it, and so that I get to wake up slowly, without instantly thinking “what’s next on my to do list?” It’s nice to start the day at my own pace rather than waking up and being instantly stressed!
Myth 2 – meditation is just about focusing on your breath. How hard can it be?!
When I first tried meditation through the Calm app, I was instructed to focus on my breath. I’ll be honest I thought ….is that it? But I stuck with it and I was actually quite surprised by how many thoughts tried to pop into my head during that ten minutes, and the random places that my mind ended up. All these thoughts made it very difficult to focus on the breath! Meditation for me is simply noticing these thoughts, without getting angry with myself for being distracted and going back to focusing on my breath. Over and over.
Myth 3 – ten minutes of meditation a day won’t make a difference
As someone who has a tendency to worry, the best bit about meditation is being able to just sit and observe my thoughts for a bit without reacting. In the past I’d have one anxious thought and it would lead to another and and another and before I knew it I was convinced that the worst was definetely going to happen. All because I took anxious thoughts as definite fact!
Meditation gives you have a little bit of time, maybe even just a few seconds of the day where you are able to say “I’m going to notice this thought, and then I’m going to consciously decide to go back to focusing on my breath”. It’s just gives you a little bit of space in your mind. (You can always go back to the thought once you finish your meditation if you really need to! I’m not promoting denial).
For me, meditation has allowed me to not be constantly caught up in thoughts. Not worrying as much has definetely been my favourite and the most noticeable change that I’ve observed in my own thinking since starting to meditate.
Myth 4 – being mindful is too much effort
If I’ve learnt anything, since trying to learn more about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation it’s that simple and often small changes to your daily life can make a huge difference. Similar to how meditation is a chance for us to notice and observe our thoughts, mindfulness is the act of paying attention to what’s happening around us “right now”. This can be hard to do, and sometimes it isn’t always appropriate to be completely in the present. But where you can, just savouring the smallest things can really bring a lot of happiness and contentment to your life. Purposefully trying to notice some beauty or detail in the things that you might see everyday, like the view from your bedroom window, can really help to for you to see things in a new light.
For anyone thinking about maybe trying out meditation there are some great guided meditation apps out there like calm or headspace that some people find really useful. Or, in an effort to be more mindful you could try noting down one thing that made you smile today or something you’re grateful for. I find using the notes section on my phone helps me to capture these moments.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about mindfulness and meditation. Have you recently started meditating? Or do you have any doubts about trying it out? Get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!
P.S. To find out more about what led to me to try meditation for the first time, click here.