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Five Myths about Meditation




Myth 1: Meditation is a waste of time.

          Scientific research says there are many mental and physical health benefits to meditation such as lower blood pressure, less stress, better relaxation, and a calmer way of thinking and feeling. This is true no matter whatever you may–or may not–believe about spirituality. (Under "R" in this dictionary, see "Reality and Meditation" and "Religion and Meditation.")

Myth 2: Meditation is hard to do.

          You can meditate for as much or little time as you choose. You do not have to sit in a cross-legged pose for half an hour or more. Even a minute or two of meditating is enough to help. And you can lie down, sit, stand, or even walk in any way and any place you want to.

          Have your tried meditating, and nothing happened, or maybe you even fell asleep? Try another method, time, or place. There are literally hundreds of meditation techniques and thousands of places where you may meditate. And if you tend to fall asleep when meditating, then try standing or even walking while you do it. However, if you do want to fall asleep, meditation can help with that, too.

          For a variety of starting techniques, see the Short Guide called Starting Stage. And if you want to know what general type of meditation path might work best for you, see "Pathways of Meditation" under "P" in this dictionary.

Myth 3: Meditation is completely safe.

          It is true that meditation can cure or alleviate some physical, psychological, and emotional problems quickly and easily. However, some methods are far safer than others.

          The safest methods are to take classes from a recognized expert who teaches practices in which you focus on positive or neutral energies, especially energies or body locations above your head or in the area of your heart. Would you prefer to meditate alone, without help or a group? You can do this with reasonable safety by focusing on either of these body areas just mentioned. In terms of safety, most yoga exercises, individually or in classes, also can be healing if they are not too extreme.

          However, meditation is like any serious psychological exploration: you may discover negative feelings, memories, or thoughts that will trouble you. "Under "P," see "Problems.") If you are working with an expert, this person can help you through inner difficulties. If you are working alone, then working with positive physical locations and mentioned above can give you a safe haven in which to rest if negative experiences occur. (See "Energy Centers.")

          What can be particularly dangerous is to explore negative energies and forces, or lower meditation "centers" in your body. It also can be dangerous to work with people who pretend to be meditation masters but are not (see "Energy CentersLower" and "Master/Teacher").

Myth 4: To meditate well, you must find a master.

          While many people do prefer to find a master, leader, or facilitator, there are even more people who practice meditation without spending time at a meditation center or with a teacher. (Under "M," see "Master/Teacher.") Many people find meditation easier, quicker, and simpler by practicing it alone.

Myth 5: Meditation is Eastern, not Western.

          Have you heard that meditation is primarily from the East? Or have you heard that it is not healthy in a particular religion to meditate? Both are wrong. Much depends on how the word "meditation" is defined.

          For example, the major Western religions tend to call many forms of meditation "prayer," "faith," "spirit," "soul," or "love." Western psychology calls other forms of meditation by such names as "creative visualization" "focused imagination, or "finding joy." Western philosophers recommend focusing on such  qualities as "psyche," willpower," "feeling," "artistic or aesthetic apprehension," and many others.

          The word "meditation" itself has a long cultural history from Greece and Rome to Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Pagan practices.  (Under "R," see "Religion and Meditation.") As a result, the key to meditating is not to avoid it, but rather to find how it fits into your own cultural history and interests.  (Under "P," see "Pathways of Meditation.")

Most recent revision of this page: 1 Oct. 2019
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Text © 2017-2020 by Richard Jewell

Images © 1994-2018 by Gabriel R. Jewell

First edition: 1 Sept. 2018. Second edition: 1 Sept. 2019. Free Use Policy

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