Think meditation is all about chanting and Oming? Think again! We caught up with Lourda Scott from Yoga Dublin and asked her to bust some common meditation misconceptions. The answers might surprise you…
- You have to be able to sit still for long periods: A simple 5 min meditation twice a day can be massively beneficial. But, if you find the idea of a seated meditation daunting, you can practice Mindfulness informally by simply paying attention to what is going on in your experience as you go about your daily activities. For example as you walk to the bus stop take a minute to notice 5 things you are touching, 5 things you can hear, 5 things you can see…
- Mindfulness will empty your head of thoughts:- Nope! The practice of mindfulness will allow you to be aware of the myriad of thoughts going on inside. Once we are aware of our thought processes we can then choose how we engage with them. It’s a bit like imagining our thoughts to be waves on the ocean; they keep coming but instead of trying to stop them, mindfulness lets us surf on top of them.
- It’s the same as relaxation. A regular practice of Mindfulness can certainly lead to a feeling of increased relaxation, but sometimes our experience won’t be relaxed. Sometimes the present moment is unpleasant. We practice not judging this experience and bringing caring attention to all feelings and emotions that arise. There is no goal.
- It’s easy/difficult: Again sometimes Mindfulness will feel easy, sometimes like the hardest task on earth! Definitely the more you practice the easier it becomes. I like to think that you are building up a mindfulness muscle in your brain so that the more you exercise this muscle the easier it is. Similar to training for 5km run. Sometimes the biggest challenge is in remembering to practice and finding the time.
- I don’t have enough time: In this fast paced, multi tasking life we have become more and more time pressed. But everyone can find an extra 5 minutess in the day. Identify your ‘dead time’, for example waiting for the bus, the daily commute, taking the lift or queuing in a shop. Try turning off your phone and using this time to be mindful, There are LOTS of ways to incorporate mindfulness into the fabric of your life without it becoming another thing on your ‘to – d0’ list.
- You have to be spiritual. Mindfulness is a totally secular practice. You don’t have to be spiritual hippie type or Buddhist or be of any religious persuasion to practice or benefit from it. Mindfulness is for everyone. And if you are religious bringing mindfulness to your practice can enhance this experience.
- I need a special Meditation space: Having a nice space at home with some candles and a comfy seat as your meditation place is wonderful. However, it’s much better to be able to meditate when and where you can rather than restricting yourself to this one space. Try having a mindful shower or a mindful cup of coffee or a mindful walk if that is easier.
- It’s not for me: Maybe it’s not but ask yourself why you are making this judgment. Is it based on some of the misconceptions listed above? Research consistently confirms the physical and emotional benefits of this practice. So although mindfulness may not resonate with everyone, I encourage skeptics to try it for 2 – 3 weeks and see if they notice the benefits for themselves before dismissing it entirely.
- It’s cold and unemotional: A hugely important part of mindfulness is caring compassion. Cultivating kindness towards yourself and others as you exercise your present moment awareness is the heart of mindfulness.
- It’s a cure all: Unfortunately not. Mindfulness is a great tool for seeing that you are not your thoughts and that you don’t have to react to the every changing array of thoughts and emotions in your head. However, the present moment isn’t always the best place to be, particularly if you are going through a period of crisis or have unresolved past trauma. If in doubt always consult your GP to check that this is the right path for you. And if not now, maybe in the future.
Check out Yoga Dublin for a full list of classes across mediation, yoga, Pilates, ballet barre and pole fitness…