If you haven’t tried meditation but want to know more about it – this article is good for you. Why? Because meditation is a great practice for everyday life, but it is used in some form by every religion and sect, and all those religions and sects create a mystified image of meditation, which has little to do with the real basic practice.
My aim is to demystify it, so everyone who has an allergy to Buddhism, Hinduism or religion could try it without fear to look like an ultra-spiritual freak. Of course – trying to practice it is the best you cand do. But let’s talk about it first.
First of all, what is meditation?
When we imagine meditation, the first thing that comes to mind is either a monk, a plastic orange Buddha you saw everywhere during your trip to Thailand, or a raw-vegan-Ayurveda follower meditating after yoga class. It might seem that meditation is something like sleeping when you become indifferent to the surroundings like you don’t care anymore about anything.
I am practicing meditation more than 5 years, attended courses and guided sessions, and I want to bring some clarity:
Meditation is a training of the mind. It is like a gym for muscle, like a library for knowledge or like a puzzle for intelligence.
Meditation is a training of the mind to be concentrated, to keep calm, to keep equanimity.
We want our body to have strength, endurance, flexibility, so we go to a gym. We want our brain to be able to solve problems, to think logically, to analyze facts, so we go to university, take courses or at least solve puzzles.
Now we have the mind, the attention, and we want it to be able to concentrate, keep calm, control emotions and body. How to train it?
My full article about the practice is here. Now I will just deal with the myths. I will not try to convince you is it good or not, just know what is it and decide yourself. Not everyone is going to the gym and university, right?
1: So, if I meditate will I become a Buddhist?
No, you will not.
One of the best meditators through the history was Siddharta Gautama, who lived in India. Like Pythagoras was in mathematics, Da Vinci in art, Einstein in physics, so was Mr. Gautama for meditation. Too bad, it happened that ignorant people of those times built statues of him everywhere and started worshipping him like a god. And now we think that meditation is a Buddhist practice. Which is far from truth – they don’t meditate, they just go to the temple to burn some incense and that is all (been there, done that).
So, it is perfectly OK to meditate and after that to go to church, to pray to Allah, or to stay an atheist. Religion is not related to this practice, don’t let ignorant masses mislead you.
2: Will I get mysterious experiences?
There is no mystery here.
It happens that meditation is a deep concentration which is not usual for the majority of people. So they feel weird – they might feel lightless, see lights, feel vibrations and so on. This might be interpreted as heavenly light, cosmic vibrations, and a touch of god. I think it is not beneficial approach.
If you want to do some work and your phone is beeping, the roommate is noisy, or the noise from outside keeps disturbing you, then you learn to ignore those distractions and concentrate on your work. You don’t need cosmic vibrations for this. But meditation will help you.
By the way: I saw the light while meditating. That’s cool, but that means nothing.
3: Do I must be spiritual to meditate?
No, you don’t.
By term “spirituality” we call all things we do not understand or cannot explain. Meditation can be explained, so we don’t need to call it spiritual anymore. (gazillion of articles called “scientific this and that” about meditation are waiting for you)
While meditating we are working with our mind – the brain, the nervous system. We are correcting reactions of the brain to incoming impulses. So, how can we call the practice spiritual if we are actually working with the physical body?
4: Do I need to clear my mind for meditation? Or during meditation?
Noooo, that’s what you will learn on the way.
If you concentrate on what is happening in your mind, you will see that it is full of thoughts. They are buzzing like a swarm of insects, distracting you. What we learn during meditation is to concentrate your mind on some object, ignore what is irrelevant and maintain equanimity. Little by little you will learn to concentrate, and the swarm of thoughts will not be able to distract you that easily. They are always there, but you are not paying attention to them.
This myth is very harmful, because those who try, they fail to clear their mind from thoughts (of course they will fail), and presume that they “cannot do meditation”, and stop trying. Will you be able to lift the biggest barbell the first day in the gym? Will you be able to solve a theorem while the first day in calculus class? Draw a realistic portrait the very first day in drawing class?
By the way: sometimes I reach the state of mind without thoughts. But when I notice it, it fades away – because noticing is a thought itself.
5: But how to sit in that lotus pose?
Almost any sitting position is good for meditation.
You can sit on a pillow cross-legged, not cross-legged, sit on a chair, on a sofa and anywhere you want. Justa few things:
- Do not lay on the ground, otherwise, you will just fall asleep.
- Sit with your back straight. If it is not straight – it will hurt.
- Sit in a stable position. So you will not fall down.
- Close your eyes.
- Make sure the air is fresh in the room, otherwise you might feel sleepy.
It is not a yoga practice – use a pillow, sit comfortably.
6: How much pleasure will I have during meditation?
That’s not important. The benefits are experienced later in everyday life.
You might even feel discomfort during meditation – pain in your legs or back, boredom. Sometimes you might feel pleasant vibrations. But our aim is not those feelings, our aim is to be able to concentrate and maintain equanimity in a daily life.
Someone shouts at you? Must you do 20 tasks at once? Learn a 500 pages book? Are clients stupid? These are the moments when you will feel the benefits of meditation.
7: I attended a course, and now I am a master, right?
Well, you will have many benefits if you attended a course. But those benefits will get weaker and weaker, to keep them one must practice every day.
By the way: I have attended the course too, that was great, but the most benefits I get from my 15 minutes daily sessions.
8: Which one is the only true way to meditate?
Which one is the only true way to do sports? Lifting barbells? Jogging? Push-ups? Bicycle?
The same with meditation, there are many ways to make your mind more concentrated and less distracted. Choose the one you like the most. Just a friendly advice: avoid talking to gods or spirits, that might harm your mind.
9: I have no time for this.
If you don’t have 15 minutes a day for meditation – then you must start meditating. If you are able to be concentrated and work without distractions, your productivity will skyrocket and you will be able to do more in a shorter period of time. Martin Luther the great reformer who influenced the history of the of the world once said:
I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.
Are you a busy person? If yes, then meditation is for you.
By the way: I started meditating to deal with my job better. That helped, but I finally quit the job.
That’s all about myths. Try this free e-book, it will uncover the First Step to meditation for beginners in 8 minutes.