Misconceptions About Meditation
Meditation is so beneficial for everyone that it is a shame more people are not taught about it. With a consistent meditation practice you can begin to see things for what they really are, and as a result become more peaceful and happy no matter what kind of life you’re living.
If you are reading this blog I hope it is a live of wild adventures, or it is about to be.
Anyway, there are a lot of wrong ideas about what exactly meditation is. By knowing the correct goals of meditation, you can get more out of it.
I want to share with you the major meditation myths so you can have a clearer understanding of it’s purpose, and how to practice. There are eleven common misconceptions about meditation that I will address a little here, however if you want to get into these more I recommend this book.
Meditation Myth #1: Meditation Is Just A Relaxation Technique
Relaxation is a component of meditation, however there is a much loftier goal to achieve through meditation. All meditation styles stress concentration of the mind. Do it strongly and thoroughly enough, and you achieve a deep and blissful relaxation called jhana.
Jhana is a state of such supreme tranquility that it amounts to rapture. Many systems of meditation stop there. Once you achieve it, you simply rinse and repeat for life. Vipassana seeks the awareness that comes after.
Meditation Myth #2: Meditation Is A Means Of Going Into A Trance
With meditation you are not trying to blank out your mind as to become unconscious, or turn yourself into an emotionless vegetable. Actually the opposite is true. You become more and more attuned to your own emotional changes. You will learn to know yourself with greater clarity and precision.
In learning meditation, certain states do occur which may appear trance-like. However, in deep concentration the meditator remains very much in control. The similarity is only superficial.
Meditation Myth #3: Meditation Is A Mysterious Practice Which Cannot Be Understood
It is experienced better than it is explained, and not a mindless formula which gives automatic results. However it can be understood. The results will very from person to person, and if it gets too predictable you’ve gotten off track somewhere.
This understanding comes from continuous practice. I will give simple instructions in a future post, but rest assured that anyone can do it.
Meditation Myth #4: The Purpose Of Meditation Is To Become A Psychic Superman
The goal of meditation is liberation through the development of awareness. there is a relationship between meditation and psychic phenomena, however it is a complex one.
During early stages of meditation psychic phenomena may or may not appear. Some people gain intuitive understanding, and even report the recollection of past lives. These are not regarded as well developed and reliable psychic abilities, and most likely you will not experience them.
If you do, do not give them any importance. It is a dangerous ego trap which can lure you off track from the greater gains of meditation.
Meditation Myth #5: Meditation Is dangerous And To Be Avoided
You might dredge up some nasty memories from your past, and that might be scary. However, this is highly profitable like going to see a therapist.
The best way to deal with danger is to know approximately how much of it there is, where it is likely to be found, and how to deal with it when it arises. Increased awareness is the true safeguard against danger.
Meditation Myth #6: Meditation Is Just For Saints And Holy People
This attitude that meditation is not for regular people is very prevalent in Asia. Monks and holy men are given an enormous amount of ritualized reverence. Much like Americans idealize movie stars and sports celebrities. I have experienced this myself even as a temporary novice monk.
From the moment I shaved my head and put on the robes, Thai people have acted like I am an entirely different person. Thai people in particular seem to think that only monks are capable of understanding meditation. It really is sad; like I couldn’t comprehend it in street clothes. I mean in what way has shaving my head re-wired my brain?
The three integral factors in Buddhist meditation are morality, concentration, and wisdom. These are the virtues of holy people, and meditation is how you get them. It is not the other way around. Being moral before meditating is an un-workable strategy. Morality requires a certain degree of mental control. Meditation is the prerequisite.
Meditation Myth #7: Meditation Is Running Away From Reality
Meditation allows you to delve so deeply into life and all its aspects that you pierce the pain barrier and go beyond suffering. Vipassana meditation is done with the specific intention of facing reality, to fully experience life as it is and cope with exactly what you find.
Meditation Myth #8: Meditation Is A Great Way To Get High
Meditation does produce lovely, blissful feelings sometimes, but they are not the purpose and do not always occur. Often when they are sought it is even more difficult to achieve them.
Meditation Myth #9: Meditation Is Selfish
Meditation purges the mind of anger, prejudice, and ill will. It actively gets rid of greed tension, and insensitivity. As these traits are dissolved, compassion for others develops.
Meditation Myth #10: When You Meditate You Sit Around Thinking Lofty Thoughts
Meditation is awareness of what is there be it supreme truth or asinine ideas. Vipassana is seeing yourself moment to moment without biases. What comes up, comes up.
Meditation Myth #11: A Couple Of Weeks Of Meditation Will Make All Your Troubles Go Away
Nothing worthwhile is achieved overnight. Patience is the key. If you learn nothing else from meditation, you will learn patience. While it is true that the Buddha achieved enlightenment from only one night of vipassana meditation, he spent seven years practicing samatha meditation (concentration or tranquility meditation) first.
Does This Help You Understand Meditation Better?
Have you heard some of these myths about meditation? Are there some crazy ones that I missed?
leave a comment below and share the truths you’ve learned about the insight that comes from meditation.