What is Meditation (and is Not) – 5 Major Meditation Myths Debunked

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusing information out there on what is meditation, and what it is not. Most of you know (or at least have heard) that there are many reasons why meditation is good for you. But a lot of the information on meditation out there often creates barriers for people trying to learn and practice meditation.

These myths, this misinformation, leads to a lot of confusion. Confusion which ends up resulting in unnecessary struggles and frustrations.

So let’s clear the air a bit, and get some clarity on the reality of what meditation is, and is not.

Note: If you are new to meditation, this guide is a must-read. It can be useful for even veteran meditators. So read on to learn more.

What is meditation, and is not
Learn more on what is meditation, and what it is not

What is Meditation Not

Before getting down to exploring what meditation is, it is important to debunk some of the most common meditation myths. These myths, after all, are the main culprits that confuse a lot of first-time meditation practitioners and people who want to get started with meditation. But not just new practitioners, they even confuse and frustrate many veterans!

These myths are responsible for a lot of unnecessary struggles, struggles which often lead to people throwing in the towel and giving up on meditation. And that’s a problem, because they are missing out on a practice that can have significant positive impact on their lives. At the end of the day, you cannot get the benefits of meditation if you never practice it, so these myths create a big barrier.

So, in order to help prevent you from falling into such traps of confusion and unnecessary struggles, let’s debunk five of the main meditation myths. Along the way, you will learn more about meditation, and get more clarity on what meditation is, and is not.

Let’s get started.


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5 Major Meditation Myths Debunked

Here are the 5 main myths about meditation (details below):

  1. Meditation is about emptying your mind
  2. You need to spend an hour a day meditating to benefit from it
  3. You need to sit in a specific position to meditate effectively
  4. You need to chant Om or something similar to meditate
  5. Meditation is part of a religion

Meditation Myth # 1: Meditation is about emptying your mind

This is one of the most common, one of the biggest myths about meditation out there, that meditation is about emptying your mind. Here is the truth – meditation is NOT about having an empty mind, that is not its key goal. You will learn more about the goals of meditation further on in this guide – for this section we will focus on debunking the myths.

This myth, in particular, is one of the biggest myths perpetuated about meditation, and is one of the major reasons why people struggle to get started with meditation.

Why?

Because a lot of new practitioners give up after a while of trying and failing to achieve the fabled “quiet mind” state, so they never get to enjoy any of the benefits as they believe that they failed to achieve the goal of meditation.

This is also one of the main reasons why (if not the main reason) some people believe that meditation is not for them. I know, because I experienced this very challenge myself.

The most commonly held belief about meditation, unfortunately, is that it’s about achieving an empty mind, and as such when people struggle to empty their minds, they feel like a failure and give up. That makes this concept very important to understand. Once you get clear on this, you will remove a huge barrier to adopting meditation as a regular practice, and enjoying its benefits.

As for what meditation is, I’ll come to that in a bit, after debunking a few of the other major meditation myths.

Meditation Myth # 2: You need to spend an hour a day meditating to benefit from it

One of the other big myths about mediation is that you need to spend a significant amount of time (at least an hour a day) to benefit from meditation.

But that’s actually not true.

Research, in fact, has shown that even ten minutes a day can do you a lot of good.

But I will go further and tell you that you don’t even need to meditate that much. Here’s why:

When you’re just getting started with practicing meditation, even a minute a day is good. That way at the very least you get started with creating your meditation habit as effortlessly as possible. So if you’re short of time, it’s totally ok. Don’t feel obligated to spend a set amount of time just because you heard somewhere that any less is not beneficial. Just spend whatever time you can on meditation, don’t feel forced to spend any length of time that is challenging for you.

Creating the habit will do you more good in the long term, so make it easy for yourself. Also, meditation is about relaxation after all, and forcing and putting pressure on yourself does quite the opposite.

Take it easy, as easy as you need to create the habit. You can always increase the amount of time down the line (in fact, you should, as the more time you spend meditating, the more benefits you will experience).

Meditation Myth # 3: You need to sit in a specific position to meditate effectively

Another big myth about meditation is that you need to sit in a certain way to meditate, namely the lotus position. A lot of people believe that that position is essential to meditate effectively. But that’s not true at all.

You can, in fact, meditate in whatever position you want, whatever position feels comfortable for you is good.

If you want to meditate sitting on a chair, that’s fine. If you want to do it standing up, that’s fine too. The position is not as important as the practice. So don’t worry about it, just meditate in whatever position feels comfortable for you.

On that note, you don’t even need to sit or stand still for that matter – if you feel like fidgeting (or can’t help it), that’s completely ok. Especially during the early days, creating the habit is way more important than the position or posture.

Meditation Myth # 4: You need to chant Om or something similar to meditate

This is yet another common myth about meditation, perpetuated mainly as a result of the rising popularity of yoga and yogic practices. But here’s the reality – you don’t need to chant anything to effectively practice meditation.

Chanting something can help by creating a focal point, but is it compulsory, or a requirement?

Absolutely not.

In fact, if you don’t want to you don’t have to say or chant anything at all.

Most types of meditation do not involve any chanting or mantras whatsoever, so do not let this limit you. If you want to use a chant to meditate, by all means go for it, but do not feel like it is a requirement. Because it is not.

Meditation Myth # 5: Meditation is part of a religion

The fifth and last major meditation myth on my list is one about meditation being part of a religion. A lot of people believe that meditation is part of Buddhism or Hinduism, or some other religion, which can put some people off. Not everyone is religious, or even spiritual, so this can be a bit of an obstacle. But let me clarify this – meditation is not part of a religion.

Practicing meditation does not involve practicing a particular religion, not at all.

Nearly all religions, be it Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and so on have some form of meditative practice built into them. But that’s not because it is a theological aspect of the religion, but more so because of the benefits of meditation.

Meditation, at the end of the day, is more about you than about any particular religion. So if the religion aspect has been an obstacle for you, now you know better.


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What is mediation?

Now that we’ve debunked the main myths about meditation, you have a better understanding of what mediation is not.

But what is it, what is meditation? Especially, if meditation is not about achieving an empty mind, then what is it about?

What is its goal?

Learning about the myths of meditation will have given you a pretty good idea, but in more concrete terms,  the goal of meditation is to train your awareness. In other words, meditation’s goal is to train your attention and focus, so that you can better regulate your thoughts, and achieve mental and emotional clarity. That is what results in the calm state, the meditative state that meditation is so well-known for.

Next steps

So now you know what meditation is, and is not. You have a much better idea about the goals of meditation. You have clarity on the topic, which puts in a great position to adopt meditation as a regular practice, and create a daily meditation habit. If you want to learn more about meditation, check out my latest podcast episode – a beginner’s guide to meditation.

But before I leave you, I want you remember something (especially if you are new to meditation) – getting good at meditation takes work, just like every other skill. So you need to keep at it.

With practice, you will get better at this.

Closing thoughts

We hope you found this guide useful, and insightful, and now have a better understanding of what is meditation (and is not).

What are your thoughts on these meditation myths? Have you personally struggled with any of the myths mentioned above?

Are there any other myths about meditation that you know about which creates barriers for people new to meditation?

Share your thoughts, ideas and tips about meditation myths in the comments section below.

One tiny request

Before you go, a tiny request – if you found this guide useful &/or enjoyable, please share it with others. That is the best way for us to reach others and make a positive impact.

So, share. Pay it forward!

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