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Meditation Myth Busting

Learn the truth behind 5 of the most common meditation myths ( & get your free guided meditation!)

January 14, 2022

Let’s address the elephant in the room: meditation. Over the years, I have fielded so many client questions and comments and heard preconceived notions about meditation that I want to clear it all up (since you may also be having these same thoughts too).  I have to say truth be told that I used to previously think a lot of these same things myself!

So let’s get started with my general definition of meditation: meditation is the utilization of a combination of techniques that train you to be attentive and aware and results in mental clarity, a feeling of calm, and improvement in overall well-being.

That said, let’s get to it!

Here are the 5 most common meditation myths that I have heard over the years. We will go through them one at a time and they all start with this phrase:
I can’t meditate because….

 

Myth #1
I can’t meditate because….
I can’t sit still
I would have to sit uncomfortably still for long periods of time, with a straight back with no support, with my legs crossed, and my index fingers and thumbs touching…not moving……may be even saying some weird humming sound….so you get the picture, right? I can even imagine a cartoon (may be Far Side or the New Yorker) portraying someone meditating looking like this because it is a very common image that people have.

 

Myth Buster #1:
You don’t have to sit or be still if you don’t want to. Your meditation position can take many forms and importantly, they all should be comfortable. You can be still or moving. To be still, you can choose a number of positions such as sitting or lying down (supine on your back, side, prone on your belly) and using support as needed (that includes supporting your back, your feet, legs, arms, head, using pillows and blankets). You can also be moving in what is called a “moving meditation” such as during a walk or a hike. Connecting breath to movement such as in yoga, qigong, and tai chi are also examples of moving meditations. You can even meditate while eating called an eating meditation. You can be very creative as really anything you do can be turned into some flavor of meditation. You don’t have to include any sounds if you don’t want to. Some people like to say affirmations or mantras, sing, or hum. From a physiologic standpoint that actually helps to activate the vagus nerve and increase parasympathetic tone so that you feel calm.

 

Myth #2
I can’t meditate because….
My brain is too busy
I can’t possibly stop thinking and empty out my mind of all of my thoughts!

 

Myth Buster #2:
So who can? It is impossible to completely clear your mind of thoughts and the more you try, the more thoughts that come up which causes you to feel even more stressed and brings on negative thought loops about how you can’t clear your thoughts and you end up even worse than when you started!
In meditation, you watch your mind, you don’t control it. When thoughts come up (and they will) you don’t push them away…you just allow and notice them, as if you are watching them float across a movie screen. You invite yourself to be a neutral nonjudgmental observer, curious, just noticing and watching, staying open to what comes up, even saying to yourself “hmmm that is interesting…” recognizing that they are just thoughts…just words your brain is telling you…and nothing more.

 

Myth #3
I can’t meditate because….
I don’t have time
I am already way too busy leading a jam packed life with barely enough time to eat or go to the bathroom! I can’t add one more thing into my day.

 

Myth Buster #3:
So do you have a minute? Seriously….that is all that you need if that is all that you got. The busiest of executives, sports figures, musicians, & politicians do it. Examples include: Paul McCartney & Sting, Oprah, Hugh Jackman, Howard Stern, Jerry Seinfeld, David Letterman, Jennifer Anniston, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Jordan, Carli Lloyd, Derek Jeter & LeBron James….and the list goes on and on… Do you think these people lead busy lives? Yup! So meditation can take as little or as much time as you decide to give it. It could be some time that you set aside for yourself or it is something that you practice while you are doing something else…like I mentioned earlier such as walking, hiking, eating….you can weave it into your day and it becomes a way of life.

 

Myth #4
I can’t meditate because….
It doesn’t do anything
You just sit there…how can that possibly be doing anything?

 

Myth Buster #4:
As I mentioned already, you don’t have to just sit there. Mediation comes in many forms. Know that it may seem like you are doing nothing, but you are actually doing something and we can define that something as improving your overall wellness —here are a few evidence-based benefits:

*Decreases stress & anxiety—feel calmer and less worried all the time
*Increases blood flow throughout your body bringing oxygen & nutrients with it
*Decreases inflammation (which docs as you know this is associated with most of the chronic diseases that you treat in our country)
*Less reactive
*More centered
*Sharpens your focus–organizes your thoughts
*Decreases blood pressure
*Improves immune system function so you can fight off more infections & prevent diseases
*Enhances performance (top sports figures like Michael Jordan)
*Improves digestion with increased blood flow & circulation
*Neuroplasticity—now this is super cool stuff here as I have actually seen fMRI images documenting this: so what changes? 3 main components:
>Thickens your prefrontal cortex—the CEO of your brain — improves attention memory processing of info & decision making)
>Shrinks your amygdala—the trauma center of your brain—decreases stress, anxiety & negative thoughts
>Thickens your hippocampus—creation of new memories – improves emotional regulation, learning, perspective and self-awareness

This is all so amazing, right? So doing nothing IS doing something! A whole lot of something!

 

Myth #5
I can’t meditate because….
It will just make me tired & I am already so exhausted all of the time

 

Myth Buster #5:
Daytime meditation doesn’t make you tired, it creates restful alertness and can actually be energizing! You feel refreshed, more efficient, & totally in the flow—so you can get it all done! It is like pressing the restart button on your computer or cell phone. At night, specific types of evening meditation relax you creating that wonderful transition between wakefulness and sleep so that you can sleep. And your sleep is deeper and more nourishing so that you wake up not tired!

 

Ok! So I have just busted the 5 most common meditation myths for you and as my gift to you, to get you started, I have a free guided meditation to share. I teach many different types of meditation. This one is called iRest® and was originally created for Walter Reed Army Hospital several decades ago to help our military relieve their suffering from PTSD. In addition, it was found so helpful for relieving chronic pain that the Department of Defense declared iRest® a Tier 1 treatment for chronic pain, equivalent to taking pain medications! Ok so I am gifting this to you and all you have to do is listen….find a comfortable position and just listen…that’s it! And I threw in 2 bonuses– 2 additional free short videos, a breathing tool and a neck/shoulder release. So just go get it! Start meditating and getting all the benefits. Check it out on my website, linked below.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. For more information, or to submit your own opinion, please see our submission guidelines or email opmed@doximity.com. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Find out what we’re looking for here and submit your writing, or send us a pitch.

All opinions published on SomeDocs-Mag are the author’s and do not reflect the official position of SoMeDocs, its staff, editors. SoMeDocs is a magazine built with the safety of free expression and diverse perspectives in mind. Do you have a compelling personal story you’d like to see published on SoMeDocs? Submit your own article now here.

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