When it comes to meditation, overcomplicating things can be one of the biggest blocks. Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to hand over your life savings to a new age movement or spend six months in silence to cultivate daily moments of stillness. All you need is yourself, and a willingness to start.
With this in mind, we've put together five of the biggest meditation myths and how to bust through them so you can be OMing like a true zen master in no time.
1. I must sit in the lotus position for hours
If you find yourself getting most of your meditation inspiration from Google Images, you can be forgiven for thinking that perching in lotus on the mountains edge is the only way to meditate. Thankfully, the practice is a lot more fluid than that and you can pretty much meditate wherever and however you want. You can tune in on the bus, in bed, in the shower, on the couch or anywhere else that's comfortable. As for time, whether you OM for five minutes a day or fifty, you'll still feel the benefit.
2. I need to enlist the help of a holy man
Again, total myth! Although some people love to learn from teachers and guides, turning inwards is always going to be an inside job. Meditation is a natural state that everyone has access to, anytime, anywhere and can be as simple as focusing on your breath or repeating a mantra. The only person you need is you.
3. If I'm not chanting to whale sounds, I'm not doing it right
Some people find that chanting helps them to focus, others find it totally cringeworthy. Wherever you stand on the chanting debate, the bottom line is, what you decide to focus on during your practice is completely up to you. Some people prefer to get their OM on to their favourite tunes and others prefer silence and simply focusing on the breath or a mantra. If heavy metal is your jam, rock to that, maybe the smooth sounds of the 80's does it for you or you might prefer total silence with just the hum of the fridge in the background. They all have a place.
4. I must be able to remove my thoughts
Emptying the mind would be a mammoth task for even the most enlightened saint. Thankfully, when we meditate, we are practising being aware of our thoughts as they come and go, not trying to remove them. The trick is to let go of any attachment to thoughts by letting them float by without passing judgement. The only thing you are cultivating is awareness.
5. It takes years of dedication and self-sacrifice
Meditation is like a muscle and you need to exercise it regularly to get the full benefits but even five minutes morning and evening can have an immediate impact on your mood, health and general well-being. Dipping your toe in with small manageable chunks is the best way to get started and once you get comfortable, you can build up to a ten or twenty minute practice. No martyrdom required!
BY?Sinead Van Kampen