These 8 points are a distillation of what I've learned over the past 41 years, to be the essential principles for making meditation easy and enjoyable. I give these points to all my beginning students, but whether you are a beginner or a more experienced meditator, I hope they will in some way enhance your meditation practice.
Misconception 1 ~ Meditation requires much training to get it right.
Not true. Meditation can be easily learned and practiced. Meditation is only difficult if you become too concerned with doing it right. There is, in fact, no such thing as "right" or "wrong" meditation. There is only doing it or not doing it.
Misconception 2 ~ To meditate, you have to turn off your thoughts and make your mind blank.
Not true. Have you ever tried to make your mind blank through sheer will? For most people, it's just not going to happen - at least not for more than a few seconds. That's where the various methods come into play. By going through the steps of a particular method, your mind will begin to quiet down by itself -- some days more, some days less, as your meditation experiences are likely to differ from day to day.
Misconception 3 ~ To meditate, you have to be good at focusing your attention.
Not true. Although staying focused in meditation does become easier with time and practice, it is definitely not a requirement for beginning to meditate. Thinking that you should be good at focusing when first starting out is essentially putting the cart before the horse. What you will discover is that even if you are not good at focusing, you will still begin to notice many benefits in your life from meditating regularly.
Misconception 4 ~ There is one specific "state of meditation" and the aim is to get into that state.
Not true. There are many possible states of awareness you might experience when meditating, and they are all part of the process of meditation.
1. Put your expectations aside.
Forget about everything you may think is "supposed to" happen when you meditate, and completely accept whatever does happen. Regardless of what seems to be happening, if you are following the basic steps of your method, something valuable is occurring each time you meditate. Even if it seems as though nothing is happening, the meditation is catalyzing positive changes on a deep inner level of your being, and before long you will begin noticing these inner changes manifesting in your outer life.
2. Thoughts are not your enemy.
If you are busy fighting with your thoughts how can you experience inner peace? Thoughts are a natural product of the mind, and are actually one of the ways that stored up stress is released in meditation. At times, the thoughts will subside on their own -- the result of simply going through the steps of your method. However, as you continue meditating, you will discover that you can experience deep relaxation and inner peace even when there are thoughts in your mind.
3. Meditate with relaxed effort.
Relaxed effort - or " medium effort" - is somewhere between the two extremes of strenuous concentration and no effort at all -- between trying your brains out and simply spacing out.
4. The less concerned you are about what you experience in your meditation, the easier and more enjoyable it gets.
Over-importantizing anything tends to make it harder to attain.
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