Misconceptions about meditation


I believe that one of the biggest obstacles to people meditating are all of the misconceptions about what is supposed to happen when you meditate. Then, easily frustrated, one discontinues this as futile and of little benefit.

So today I thought I might offer some insight into all of the things that meditation is not.

First of all, and probably the biggest mistake is to have any expectation. Do no sit with any expectation of anything. Just sit and breathe.
In addition, sitting will not especially bring you peace. In fact, you may feel more uncomfortable and disturbed after meditating. And this is completely fine. If you think it’s not, then you had an expectation!
I think that many people think meditation is a way to control your mind, which it is not. And any effort to stop your mind from thinking, or discontinuing thoughts, is only an exercise in futility. Just as we have a body, we have a mind. And we can put forth the effort to train both, but we do not control either one. Both are subject to change and extinction. And neither one stops until we are dead.
Another common idea is that one can receive some sort of visions while meditating. Thinking that a message from other realms are being illuminated for us. And these, my friends, are simply delusional mental formations happening in the quiet space we occupy.
On top of all these misconceptions, I think many folks think that their day will be better because they gave time to the cushion. And you could not be more wrong in thinking this. Your day will be whatever it is, and meditation will not make it anything else. Challenges, difficulties, sickness, sadness, disagreements, financial woes, will all come and go just the same as they would without meditation.

Lastly, I would like to mention time and physicality.

There is no minimum or maximum time that one must meditate. If you can only do 5 minutes, then that is wonderful. Do more as you are able to. And always be kind and mindful of your body. There is no need to sit in physical discomfort or pain to meditate. If a cushion is difficult, then use a supportive chair to sit in. And if you are sitting and feeling discomfort, then just adjust your posture or position to be comfortable. But always try and do so gently and mindfully.

So with all of this said, and apparently showing you how many things that meditation is not, one might wonder why even bother to meditate. What’s the purpose?
In brief, the purpose is training and observation. Increasing our skillfulness and acceptance of our minds and this life that we are experiencing. Allowing yourself that 15-30 minutes of your day to simply be. Without a goal, without expectation or desire. A time for the swirling and muddy waters of your mind to settle and allow a tiny bit of clarity.

We all have enough demands on our time and others who may rely on us. But we are not being kind or loving to them or ourselves if we do not take some time to exercise our patience and develop our skills in mindfulness and understanding. This is the benefit of meditation, and one that cultivates a heart of compassion toward yourself and your own BUddha nature. And it is with this development, that the whole World benefits from your loving-kindness and acceptance.

May you be well, happy and peaceful.