Misconceptions About Meditation and Mindfulness Practices

by Ellie Ballentine

MeditationI was recently interviewing a potential client and during the discovery session she asked me about meditation and mindfulness practices. She was genuinely concerned that she would have to become religious and she was stressed about the effects it might have on her intelligence. I wondered if others felt that way. So today, I wrote an article to clear up some of the misconceptions.

Meditation and mindfulness practices are not religious nor do you have to be religious in order to practice. Religion has nothing to do with it! It’s more of an education.

Meditation and mindfulness is more about training the mind to become more conscious by building awareness. It is also NOT just a relaxation technique, although relaxation is a part of it, which is beneficial. And it is about working with compassion.

One of the biggest myths is most people think meditation is about “turning off” and that you are supposed to clear the mind. The truth is that it is about developing awareness of the mind, not clearing the mind.

When you have a regular practice, you will find a decrease in stress and an increase in feeling at peace. Inner peace does not mean silencing the mind and switching off. It is just the opposite, it’s about waking up!

I mean, think of it… it’s impossible to have no thought! The more you push them away, the more they bounce back. I think so many people meditate under stress and hence feel like they are failing all the time.

What you’re trying to do is have awareness and develop a different relationship with your emotions. You are not blocking emotions, you are just learning to not be controlled by them. You are looking for mental freedom!

You learn to get a bit of space. You focus on breathing. The point is you are putting your attention on the present moment and focusing on your breath. Yes, you’ll think within 5 seconds… that is where the work starts. You bring your attention back. Then you think of that important email… and then you come back again. When you realize you got lost, you’ve been found! That’s success, not failure!

Noticing and returning. It’s just an exercise that will make your mind strong. You give your thoughts less power and your awareness more power. I love the analogy of throwing a dog a stick – he runs after the stick and brings it back. Well, that is like your mind, you go chasing all these sticks. When you throw a lion a stick, he looks at who threw it! You are going for lion awareness – who is throwing all those sticks?!

I have noticed over the years, most people build a house of cards where you are dependent on other people, sensations, things to make you feel good. When your wellbeing is so externalized, you get into a game of “more” – “When this happens, I’ll be ok” or “If ________ then __________.” Our society constantly feeds this mantra. This leads you to a feeling of deprivation. The more you grasp for happiness outside of yourself, the more you feel in lack and deficiency.

Through meditation, you change the wiring of your brain because you are not looking outside, you see within yourself and develop a deep source of love, happiness, and wellbeing. Then you can be of benefit to yourself and others.

I like to look at the result as becoming my own boss 😉

I encourage you not to make this difficult. Start with a 5-minute practice in the morning, then micro moments throughout the day… in the coffee line, at the bank, on the ride home. Wash your hands and brush your teeth with presence and awareness. In this way, you can address your levels of stress throughout the day.

I hope this information and discussion adds to your meditation practice.

To raising your emotional intelligence and well-being!

Mindfully,

Ellie

 

 

If this resonates with you and you’d like to overcome some of your own barriers to living the life you want, then click here and I’ll make sure we connect. And you know I like to share the love, so if you know someone who could benefit from this article then please share it! Imagine, thought by thought and act by act we are creating a more conscious world.

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