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Meditation...Steeped in Misconceptions

Posted by Tracii H.

Many people who aren’t familiar with meditation believe that it’s an occult practice or that it has something to do with religion.

That's Myth #1. While meditation CAN be used for increased spiritual awareness, it in no way HAS to be used for this purpose. The individual is in charge of deciding what benefits he/she is seeking from meditation.

Myth #2: Meditation has to be performed while sitting in a complicated position. Not so. Meditation can be performed while sitting, lying, or even standing, as in Tai Chi. The purpose of meditation is to RELAX, and you can do that in whichever position is most comfortable for you.

Myth #3: You must attain complete nirvana every time you meditate. Even if this were possible, it wouldn’t be desirable. Why? Because sometimes it’s best to let the mind wander, coming to its own conclusion about our daily problems. Many times people find the best solutions to life problems while in meditation, so just relax and go with the flow.

Comments (11)
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That's very good info Tracii!

Meditation isn't a religious practice, its a method to look inside of you where you analyze the spirit and think beyond the world.

Meditation has been altered in various other forms like Yoga, Tai Chi, etc. according to the geographic locations and religions. But the basis of all is the same.

I don't personally believe meditation to be some kind of religious practice, although it is a part of some religious rituals. With all it's proven mental and physical benefits, I see it as just one more thing I can do to improve my health and well-being. Unfortunately, there's some stigma attached to it by some of the more "fundamental" believers of some religions out there, just like they've done with things like horoscopes, tarot cards, etc...sheesh.
Think about it this way - it's clearing of your mind. How can you do that? By focusing on one thing within your body, for example the breath. However, it could also mean running, gardening - anything that's repetitive and requires attention can be meditative. People need to relax.
My sister-in-law takes a meditation class. I think it would be interesting to try and I am sure I am better at it now than I once would have been, having practiced lying still and remaining relaxed in relaxation time during yoga (I could not relax at first. It took me some time.) It would probably be good for me to take some time for quiet thought and stillness in my day. I very much like taking classes from those who know, so if I hear of one in my area (finding yoga is hard enough), I just might give it a try! It sounds like there are many benefits.
thank you that is some very good advice and information.
This may be a controversial post, but...I know people who I think misuse meditation. Let me start by saying that I am, personally, a huge fan of meditation, and do practice it myself. At the same time, I know people who use it as a form of self-care, which actually exacerbates, rather than curing the original source of stress. For instance, people who are overwhelmed with things that need to get done. Rather than tackling a couple of the tasks to feel less overwhelmed, they go a a multi-day retreat, only to return to more things having piled up, nothing done, and a need to meditate further to avoid feeling stressed. It's a messy cycle of avoidance that actually reminds me somewhat of addiction. Any thoughts?
For me, meditating is a way to quiet the nervous system so that your body gets a break. Unlike sleeping, if you can train your mind to quiet at will - as in meditation - it can be helpful to combat stress. I'm sure it goes deeper, but even that much is a huge health benefit.
I agree with your first two myths. But I am not sure that your third myth fits together. Of course we don't reach nirvana everytime we meditate, in fact even if we meditate everyday for the rest of our life, we probably still won't reach nirvana. Also, while letting the mind go and reaching its own conclusions is essential to being open minded that meditating? I would say that meditation allows you to reach clearer, more profound conclusions.
When you're sitting in the pickup lane waiting for school to get out, it 's a great time to meditate. If you work and have family at home all evening it may be the only time you have the peace and quiet to do so.
Well, to be fair, meditation and yoga ARE huge parts of two major world religions: Buddhism and Hinduism. I don't think that should be a reason to reject the two on the basis of the fact that they comprise huge components of belief systems you may or may not be interested in. What's great about both meditation and yoga is that they are so relevant to our daily lives, no matter what we believe, and can be translated over to any culture or era and can be reconciled with pretty much any belief system. Yoga is about integrating all aspects of yourself, and I also don't understand why some people get worked up and think it's "eastern mysticism hoodoo." To me, that's simple ignorance. And I'm in total agreement with Tracii about meditation; it can have a multitude of purposes and is different for each individual. To me, it's about achieving honesty with yourself and being conscious of everything that's going on, even if it's painful--whereas for others, it may be about attaining enlightenment, which actually to me, seems to be a byproduct of meditation and not the actual purpose. Sunryu Suzuki Roshi has a great book on meditation that I recommend, "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind," which is perfect for the beginner or expert who wants to rid her/himself of misconceptions.
That's so strange to me that people would think that meditation has to be related to religion. We go into a somewhat meditative state when we sleep, don't we? Although, I was talking to someone who was very religious about yoga. They got uncomfortable and mentioned something along the lines of what you're talking about. Unusual. What was it that gave yoga, etc. a bad name?
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