I’ve spoken to many people about meditation over the years, during my 1-to-1’s, retreats and workshops, and there seems to be a running meditation myth out there, that’s holding people back from beginning their practice.
We tend to view meditation as this perfect state of no thought, or of monks sitting on mountaintops for hours at a time in total bliss. No mind, no questions, no thoughts, no body.. just their consciousness connected with the All. Ultimate union.
While this may be the experience of some long term practitioners, this is certainly not the experience when we begin.
There are also many styles of meditation.. some where you approach Source with a question and seek inspiration. Others where you may use colors and shapes to move or transmute energy, or even devotional meditations seeking revelation.
It’s not something you can compare to anyone else.. there’s thousands of different techniques to choose from.. and there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to go about it.
However.. there is a myth out there, that I see coming up time and time again.. that stops people in their tracks before they can even begin.
The Big Meditation Myth
This myth is the idea that meditation is about stopping our thoughts. And it is so damaging.
We all know the drill..
We’ve heard all of the benefits of meditation, we know in our bones that it will really help us with our x y and z.. we resist it for days, weeks and months (because let’s face it, sitting alone in silence for 10 mins can be scary!), then when we finally do it..
The thoughts come.
Big thoughts, little thoughts, mean thoughts from a playground 20+ years ago, happy thoughts, sad thoughts, thoughts you try to block out but obviously still simmer there right under the surface.
It can be quite a shock!
All while we sit there, fighting the thoughts that come up, and struggling with all our might to stop the mind, stop the thoughts, stop the flow..
Until we’re so exhausted that our 10 minutes of ‘calming’ meditation becomes an ordeal we never want to revisit, and so we don’t. Some people give up on the spot, deciding meditation isn’t for them, others strive on for a few weeks or months before burning out and feeling more frazzled than ever.
And all because of this pesky myth going around; that meditation is about stopping our thoughts.
Well. Fairy Godmother Meg is here to say.. you don’t have to stop your thoughts AT ALL! This is not what meditation is about, and here’s my take on it..
We are all human beings, and therefore we think. We have a stream of thoughts flowing through us like a river, flowing constantly. There are leaves and rocks floating along in our river, and these are our thoughts.
As we are meditating we’re not trying to stop the flow of the river.. this is near impossible (especially when we’re just starting out). And there’s no need to try and stop the flow of consciousness. This would be like trying to hold back Niagara Falls with an umbrella. All we want to do is try to become aware of our thoughts.
When we see a thought floating by, instead of getting sucked into it, we want to try and look at it with detachment. We may notice how big or small it is, how it makes us feel in our body, what emotions it’s hooked to.. and how much attention it’s trying to get from us.
Then we can make the choice of whether we want to pick it up, or let it keep flowing without getting involved.
It’s hard not to think. But during meditation we allow ourselves to shift into the observer state, and this is the muscle that we want to develop.
When we observe a thought, we’re not at the mercy of it. We’re not ruled by it. Instead we’re at a distance where we can become curious.. we can ask ourselves why this thought or story has come up. We are in an empowered mindset.
When we get this, it means we are no longer controlled by them.
What Meditation Really Is
Meditation is not about attaining a perfectly stilled mind. It’s about becoming so free from our mind, so that we feel still – no matter what thoughts are floating by.
In this way, meditation can be a really powerful tool, even when we have a lot of thoughts. Then slowly, as we practice, the thoughts will get smaller and quieten down because we’re not giving them so much of our attention.
What we feed with our attention grows.. and it takes time to untangle a lifetime of being hooked by our thoughts. This is perfectly normal. Don’t feel the pressure to all of a sudden sit down and shut off your mind.
Remember, meditation is your practice – there are lots of different styles of meditation, and once you learn this fundamental trick you can find which one is right for you.. and flourish at it!
So if you’ve been trying to switch off your thoughts, and have failed – then try again with this river method.
Even after a few sessions you’ll be able to better choose which thoughts you want to associate with in meditation – and throughout your day!! It is a phenomenal experience.
If you could use some extra support on your meditation journey, please feel free to download my guided meditations, or get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer any questions.