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Jen's StoryMeditationMeditation Myths & How it Helps Live Your Best Life: Jen Davis: Life Coach

Meditation: How it Helps & 5 Common Myths

I am really sorry I did not try meditation before I was in my 40s.  Honestly, I never thought I could do it. My mind was always racing, so many ideas, projects, things to do, things to remember. If I purposely slowed down, I would lose all that great information.

Plus, I just had this picture of hippies sitting around in tie dye shirts and flowered dresses, chanting, singing Kumbaya and I wanted nothing to do with that.  The other picture was of cult members mindlessly chanting, probably before they drank the Kool-Aid!

It wasn’t until I tried meditation and broke through the myths that I was surprised and excited for this new tool in my toolbox.

Meditation is for anyone

Myth #1: It is for Hippies, the Elite, the Rich

Meditation is not reserved for a certain group of people.  You do not need money, certain status, be spiritual or religious or belong to a certain group.  It is meant for anyone that is willing to try it and practice it.  Everyone can do it, and with regular practice, can really help be a more emotionally aware, less stressed and positive person.

Myth #2: You Have to Sit in an Uncomfortable Cross-Legged Position

Yes, the formal meditation position is sitting upright, cross-legged with your hands on your knees, commonly known as the lotus position. But there are no meditation police that will show up to your house or office and arrest you if that position is not comfortable for you.  You can actually do meditation sitting in a chair, on the floor, standing up or even laying down (note: you may want to practice other positions first, beside laying down, as you become more relaxed, you may fall asleep, which may not be your intention).

My experience is sitting is best.  I actually enjoy sitting cross-legged, but on a cushion so my knees can drop below my hips.  I can maintain this position for about half-an-hour.  After that my back hurts. If I’m wanting to go longer, I usually put my cushion against the wall to rest my back.  My cushion is crescent shaped (but they also come round shaped) and is stuffed with buckwheat which can be removed or added to for height. But remember, you don’t need a cushion. Use a chair, the couch, the floor, any thing that is comfortable for you.

You can meditate in any position
Blank mind

Myth #3: Your Mind Must Be Blank

I really struggled over this myth.  I thought in order to meditate you had to clear out your mind and, basically, not think. Meditation isn’t about trying to stop thoughts or to clear out your mind.  To go into meditation thinking this, will usually result in your mind actively engaged in the thought of trying to clear your mind.  And that leads to a lot of people giving up.

My experience is I cannot stop or control my thoughts; however, I can decide how much attention I will give them at that moment.  And there are many techniques that can help not focus on the thoughts.  For example, as thoughts enter into your mind, stop and say to yourself “thinking” and watch the thought fizzle away in your mind.

Myth #4: I Have to Learn to Meditate to Do It

Someone once told me that the only way to do meditation wrong is to not do it.  It is true. Just sit and turn your thoughts inward, that is the basic method to meditation.  I know that does not answer most people’s questions or help them overcome their fear or anxiety of a new practice.

Here are two items that can help if you need more information.  First, the book Just Sit: A Meditation Guidebook for People Who Know They Should But Don’tIt helped me get some basics, as well as dispel some of the myths. Plus, it was a fast and fun read.

Next, because I am into technology and apps, I purchased Buddhify.  I found the apps pricing reasonable and it comes with a variety of guided meditations, which was a huge help when I first started.  Some are based on formal meditation practices, so it helps expand your knowledge and practice.  There are other apps, but for my needs, Buddhify worked best for me. Try them out and see what makes the most sense for you.

You Don't Have to Study Meditation to Do It
You have time to meditate

Myth #5: I Don't Have Time to Meditate

This goes along with the myth that you have to sit in a cross-legged position to meditate. Think about all the time in your day that you are sitting or standing and not doing anything else.  Commuting on public transportation, standing in line, waiting for a meeting to start.  Or when you are doing something else mindless like watching television, cooking, looking at social media.

There is no hard-and-fast rule that meditation has to take 20 minutes or more.  Or that you have to be alone, or home.  Meditate on the bus on the way to work.  Meditate while you are stirring the noodles for dinner. Turn off the television for five minutes and meditate.  No more excuses.

Meditation: Living Your Best Life

Incorporating meditation into your life is going to have a positive effect. For example, research shows that even 20 minutes of meditation in the morning makes your day go slower. And many people indicate they get more done and feel more productive.  The theory is that meditation helps improve your focus and can lower your stress, overall improving your life.  And as your day slows, and you are more productive, you can actually find even more time to meditate.

I do a series of guided meditations, about 20 minutes’ worth, before I even get out of bed every morning.  Depending on my day I may do an additional 10-20 minutes sitting on the cushion.  If I don’t have time, I will try to do it throughout the day when I can.  I also do a quick 5 minutes before I go to bed. If I am having stressful day, I will take 5-20 minutes in my day to meditate as well.  It really helps reduce my stress and gets me back into a positive mood.

Meditation has long been known to help reduce stress by lowering cortisol, the stress hormone.  However, there are many other benefits including improving focus, lowering blood pressure, boosting immune system, improving sleep, and increasing positivity, happiness and gratitude. Overall, it can improve your physical and emotional health.

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to meditate. Find the practice and the time(s) of day that work for you.  And keep doing it.  It takes over 60 times of doing something to make it a habit, so do not give up.

Share your meditation practice, tips or stories below.

Jen Davis - Life Coach

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