The biggest misconception about Meditation
This is the sentence I get confronted with whenever I start talking about it by 94% of people.
Meditation is no “tabu”-topic anymore! It may not have penetrated the Mainstream, but at least to some degree most people understood that meditation doesn’t equal belonging to a cult. That’s something. But still, in conversations I find myself ever so often confronted with the same statement:
“I can’t meditate, because I can’t (just) shut off my mind!”
It’s a simple reply, really. It’s an understandable one as well. If we think about meditation we probably see monks on our inner eye, with their gracious orange garments, most probably a bald head, sitting crosslegged somewhere under a majestic tree upon a hill. Some might even see this higher being floating a little above the ground, just to put some perspective to it.
What most of us haven’t understood, yet, is this:
In most explanations you get confronted with sentiments, such as that a calm mind is needed to meditate “successfully”. Even I thought so even though I’ve been on and off this topic for the last 20 years. I learned better a couple of years ago, when I stumbled over a certain meditational technique as I dove into the topic of lucid dreaming, but that’s something for another article (or two).
But nevertheless, there it was. A description that meditation is basically training to calm your mind, where the famous silence, “emptiness” or lack of thoughts is supposed to be the goal, not the necessary “starter-kit”. And the benefits are plenty:
- better focus
- better understanding of ones Self
- calmer demeanour
- better resistance to outside influences, meaning not letting the “outer world” play ping-pong with your mood
- and many more
All the capabilities above basically grow as your persistence on training meditation continues by which your mind gets more calm. And it makes sense, absolutely. Just think about the concept. What does really influence your mood? Is it really a person, f. e. telling you that you suck? One might think so, we basically all grew up believing this, right? But in reality it is not so much the person insulting you that screws your mood, it’s your reaction towards it. Let me repeat:
It’s your reaction towards the insult or the behaviour of any person or situation, that creates your mood!
Your inner reaction, to be more specific. The thought-processes that you reply with to any given situation. Let’s stick with the previous example, shall we? You were told, that you suck and your mind goes off like “how dare he say that to me, how dare he speaks to me like that…” and so on and so forth. Or even worse, the inner reply is “he’s right, I do suck, I’m a disaster, a catastrophe on every level…”.
It’s the inner monologue that creates the emotional response, not the dialogue itself. That’s one of the “truths” (if you might call it that, my dear 5 readers a month) that many people don’t believe, but that become obvious if one starts to meditate. And this happens because especially in the beginning (and probably for a long time) we get intensely confronted with the thought processes that are happening within our mind — All. The. Time!
Usually we simply don’t listen. Or we refuse to listen. Or we actively run away from having to listen (yeah, I talk to you, my dear “I come home and put anything at all on my screen or in my ears, anything that I can listen to, so I don’t have to listen to myself”-person; I know that, because I’m one of you).
But that’s also the beautiful irony, that we can find within meditation. We fear the thoughts in our minds, because secretly we know what we think of ourselves. And we think running away from our thoughts (irony 1: as if we could do that) will spare us! But in reality it is that when we start to listen that the voices inside of us become more silent over time, until they eventually disappear and we end up with an empty mind (irony 2: it’s not logical, until it is).