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The Top 11 Things Novices Get Wrong About Meditation

Do you know how to get the most out of your meditation practice to enhance your brain and body?

Meditation is an incredible practice that’s been around for thousands of years, and it offers awesome benefits that will help you on your journey to greatness and lasting happiness.

Although numerous people try meditation, many fail to unlock the practice’s full benefits due to misconceptions and errors. If you’re new to meditation or are considering implementing a meditation practice into your routine, you’ll derive more advantages from the activity by recognizing common meditation mistakes and misperceptions.

In this article, you’ll learn about prevalent meditation misconceptions that could hinder your practice.  

Misconception #1: There Are No Proven Benefits of Meditation

Those who don’t practice meditation or are new to it frequently don’t understand its incredible benefits. In fact, many view the practice as a waste of time, and some have even posed the idea that meditation is inherently bad. Before asking yourself, “Is meditation evil?” you should be aware of its proven benefits.

So what is the purpose of meditation? 

Meditation focuses your mind and enables you to experience inner calmness. Implementing this practice into your daily routine has been shown to reduce stress, enhance creativity, strengthen focus, and improve sleep. It’s also an exceptional tool for practicing mindfulness and improving your ability to think positively

The practice can also help those who struggle with ongoing mental and emotional afflictions including depression, anxiety, and chronic stress. Still, it’s important to note that these conditions often require additional treatment besides meditation. 

In addition to offering invaluable mental and emotional benefits, meditation can help you improve your physical health. Meditation can reduce high blood pressure, decrease one’s likelihood of developing heart disease, and alleviate headaches

With these numerous benefits, it’s a mystery why more people don’t practice meditation. Fortunately, if you’re new to meditation or haven’t yet adopted a routine, you can get started today with one of many meditation practices.

Misconception #2: There’s Only One Way to Meditate

When you hear the word “meditate,” what comes to mind? Do you picture someone sitting cross-legged with their eyes closed?

Although this is certainly a common form of meditation, there are many different ways to meditate, and different meditation practices offer unique benefits, many of which we discuss throughout this article. 

If you’re new to meditation or are considering getting started, you may want to begin with a straightforward form such as breathing meditation, mudra meditation, or yoga nidra. 

Breathing is one of the simplest forms of meditation. The practice involves focusing on taking deep breaths and being mindful of your breathing frequency and how it impacts the different areas of your body. 

Utilizing slow breathing techniques such as breathing meditation have been shown to promote sleep, enhance your immune system, improve respiratory function, and reduce stress. 

Mudra meditation involves the use of hand gestures to promote the body’s energy flow. If you’ve seen someone press their forefinger and thumb together during meditation, they’re integrating mudra into their practice, and this specific mudra is called Gyan. The Gyan mudra aims to improve focus during meditation. Other mudra techniques include Buddhi, Shoonya, Dhyana, Surya, Prana, and many more

Finally, yoga nidra is a great way to get started with meditation because it involves a guided practice where you focus on your breath and different areas of your body. Some of the tremendous benefits of yoga nidra include better sleep, feelings of well-being, stress reduction, and it’s especially effective in combating anxiety. You can find many of the practices on YouTube or meditation applications

Misconception #3: Meditation Requires You to Quiet Your Mind

Many forms of meditation involve calming one’s mind by focusing on the third eye center or another area of the body, but as discussed above, there are many different types of meditation, and not all of them require you to engage in this idea of “clearing your mind.” In fact, this phrase can frustrate new meditation practitioners because it’s impossible to clear one’s mind entirely.

Rather than attempting not to think during your meditation practice, focus on bringing more calm and clarity into your mental state. You can also incorporate a physical component into your practice designed to keep your mind from wandering. 

For example, if you find yourself thinking about work, you can gently tap your fingers together to bring more mindfulness to your practice. You can use this physical reminder to regain focus and promote a calm mental state. 

You can also utilize mantra meditation if you’re struggling with overwhelming thoughts during your meditation practice. With mantra meditation, you focus on a particular word or phrase in order to promote mindfulness and focus on your practice.

The word or phrase you use can reference your intentions for the practice, or you can say a word or phrase that brings you inner peace or joy. For example, you might focus on thinking or speaking the word “joy” in order to focus on your inner joy and desire to bring joy to others. 

Don’t force yourself to “clear your mind” to engage in meditation — find a routine that works for you and allows you to experience inner peace.

Misconception #4: I Need to Close My Eyes to Meditate

Contrary to popular belief, you can meditate with your eyes open. In fact, this is a different form of meditation that offers distinct benefits.

When you close your eyes and focus on your internal processes during meditation — your third eye, breath, or heartbeat — you’re utilizing interoceptive meditation, meaning you’re focusing inward. This is a highly effective form of meditation if you feel distracted by the external world, such as a noisy work environment. 

The opposite of interoceptive meditation is exteroceptive meditation, which involves keeping your eyes open and focusing on a point of interest outside your body. This form of meditation allows you to enhance your focus when you’re distracted by your thoughts. 

For example, say you’re attempting to wind down at the end of a long day with a nice book. If you’re struggling to focus on reading because you keep thinking about your stressful day, you can utilize exteroceptive meditation to become more mindful of your current activity. You can focus on a fixed external point, such as a single word within your book, to calm your thinking and bring awareness to what you’re currently doing. 

Misconception #5: Meditation Requires You to Stay Still

Although many enjoy and derive benefits from meditation practices that involve remaining stationary, this form of meditation isn’t necessarily for everyone. Some people find it more personally beneficial to engage in a more active form of meditation including walking meditation and eating meditation. 

Walking meditation is the process of syncing your body and mind while engaging in this low-impact exercise. Practicing walking meditation involves more than merely walking — it incorporates mindfulness.

When practicing walking meditation, don’t engage in some form of distraction, such as taking a phone call or listening to music. Instead, focus on bringing awareness to your body and be mindful of your environment. This offers an effective alternative for those who struggle to meditate while remaining still.

Eating meditation — also known as mindful eating — involves being mindful of your body and incorporating the pleasure of eating. Rather than focusing on your environment, like with walking meditation, you’re focused on being mindful and present while ingesting foods and beverages. As you eat, focus on your different senses and try to experience your food in a whole new way.

As you take a bite out of your lunch, what do you experience? What do you smell? What’s the texture of the food? How does it feel and taste as you chew? 

When you bring mindfulness to a seemingly-mundane experience like eating, you derive more joy, satisfaction, and inner peace from the activity. 

Misconception #6: Meditation Requires Isolation

Let’s be honest — sometimes, finding a quiet moment where you’re completely alone is challenging. If you’re a parent or live with a partner or roommates, you may struggle to isolate yourself from others to engage in a meditation practice.

Fortunately, the idea that you need to be alone to meditate is completely false. The trick to meditating while being around other people is not becoming upset or discouraged if you face an interruption. If you’re a parent with young children, you’ll likely be interrupted at some point if you meditate at home, and that’s okay. As you continue practicing meditation regularly, you’ll enhance your ability to return to your meditative state.

Meditating with other people also offers great benefits because others can motivate you to engage in your practice for longer periods of time. 

Have you ever attended a public yoga or cycling class and found that you could push yourself harder because you were around other people? Practicing meditation around others works in a similar way, but unlike cycling and other exercises, meditation isn’t about pushing yourself harder. Instead, the communal atmosphere will encourage you to continue meditating and may enable you to reach deeper levels of inner peace.

Misconception #7: I Need to Meditate For an Extended Period

Some veteran meditators can engage in their practice for lengthy periods, such as 45 minutes or even over an hour, but that doesn’t mean you need to meditate for that amount of time to experience its incredible benefits. When first starting out, you may want to try to meditate for only a few minutes and increase the duration of your practice over time. 

Additionally, not everyone has much time to devote to meditation, but fortunately, studies indicate that meditating for only a few minutes a day promotes tremendous mental, physical, and emotional benefits. In fact, a 2018 study indicated that practicing meditation for only 13 minutes a day can significantly improve one’s cognitive performance, emotional regulation, and mood within only eight weeks. 

That said, a 2017 study indicated that practicing meditation for longer stretches of time enhances its benefits. Still, it’s critical to recognize that practicing for any amount of time is greatly beneficial for your health and feelings of well-being. 

Misconception #8: I Don’t Need to Be Consistent with My Meditation Practice

Although you don’t need to meditate for long stretches of time in order to experience its benefits, you should try to practice it regularly. It’s better to prioritize consistency than the duration of the practice. For example, it’s better to practice ten minutes every day than 40 minutes twice a week. 

Consistency in your practice is critical because studies indicate that meditation’s transformative benefits rely on regular practice. Even if you’re only able to practice weekly, you’ll still see benefits, but you’ll experience far more significant improvements in your life when you practice daily. 

Another important reason you should implement the practice daily is that it will quickly become a habit. Not only will you develop a consistent meditation routine — you’ll develop a habit of becoming more mindful and grateful. Plus, your meditation practice will improve your mindset so that you can achieve more while also enjoying the process. 

Misconception #9: You Can’t Improve Your Ability to Meditate

Meditation functions like any other skill — it requires practice. One major reason why so many people fail to adopt a meditation practice is because they become discouraged. When starting out, they may struggle with wandering thoughts and may find it difficult to engage in a mindful, calming practice, resulting in them giving up the practice entirely.

Think about the last time you started learning a new skill, such as a sport or instrument. Were you good at the activity immediately? Probably not. You probably continued practicing for an extended period in order to see positive results. 

This is yet another reason why you should implement a daily meditation practice into your routine — the more you practice meditation, the better you will become at entering a meditative state. 

Misconception #10: I Need to Push Myself to Enhance My Meditation Practice

Although meditation requires ongoing practice and is similar to developing other skills, one important distinction is that meditation is about letting go rather than pushing yourself. 

When training for a sport or learning an instrument, it’s common to push beyond your limits to reach new abilities. This may involve practicing an instrument for long, late hours or making yourself run past the point of exhaustion. 

Meditation certainly takes work, but it’s an incredibly different process because it’s about entering a mindful, calm state rather than pushing past your limits. 

Focusing on pushing yourself during a meditation session will only create negativity and hinder your progress. For example, you may become focused on how you’ve failed to reach a meditative state due to wandering thoughts, and this will only make it harder to enter a positive, calm state. 

Rather than focusing on pushing yourself during meditation practice, focus on letting go of any self-criticism and embrace mindfulness and self-love. 

Misconception #11: Morning is the Best Time to Meditate

You’ve likely heard stories of highly successful people waking up and immediately engaging in a meditation practice. For example, Kobe Bryant was famous for meditating every morning for around fifteen minutes before starting his day. 

Although there’s certainly nothing wrong with meditating in the morning, you can meditate at any point during your day and still reap tremendous benefits. 

You may choose a particular time that is convenient for you, or you can pick a time that will offer unique advantages for your day. 

Kobe Bryant chose to meditate in the morning because it helped him remain mentally sharp throughout the rest of his day. Instead, you can meditate when you’re done with work to relieve stress and be more mindful throughout your evening. You could also meditate before bed to reach a calm state that’s ideal for sleeping. 

Regardless of the time of day you choose to meditate, you’ll achieve awesome results with regular practice that will improve your health and enjoyment of life. 

Learn More About Getting the Most Out of Your Meditation Practice

Meditation is truly an unparalleled practice that provides practitioners with immediate and long-lasting benefits. Now that you’re aware of some common misconceptions about meditation, you can develop the right routine for you to enhance your practice and experience even more incredible results. 

If you’re interested in learning more exceptional tools for improving your life, you can check out our many other articles on!

Remember, the most important part of meditation is consistency and practice. As you develop your meditation skills and use them daily, you’ll gain invaluable benefits that will help you on your journey to living with more joy and satisfaction.

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