Monday, July 8, 2013

Three Common Meditation Myths and How to Overcome Them

There are three common myths or misconceptions about meditation that can block us from realizing the power and benefit of practice. Yet, if we take a moment to expose them, we can easily figure out how to overcome them.
1. Meditation has to be Peaceful (Which Often Doesn’t Happen)

This is one of the biggest obstacles to meditation:the belief that meditation is about cultivating very peaceful state of mind. Sometimes when we meditate, we find our mind is jumping all over the place and we think this means we aren’t meditating and give up. While it is true that many meditators find that the mind becomes peaceful during meditation that is not the goal of the practice.

Sogyal Rinpoche sometimes says that the whole point of meditation is to become spacious. He often made the analogy of being like a great host who accommodates a difficult guest.  When throwing a dinner party, if one of our guests is in a bad mood and starts to act out, will threatening to kick them out of the party likely result in diffusing the situation? Instead, we might ask the guest if they need a special drink or an especially appetizing morsel from the kitchen. Perhaps we might even invite them to relax in a cozy chair while we bring them the finest libation and most succulent food we can offer. In other words a skillful host does not confront a difficult guest but finds a way to accommodate and create space.  In meditation we are not trying to rid ourselves of turbulent thoughts and emotions but to just to bear witness, giving them space to come and to go.

Meditation is about learning to be completely present and aware in the face of whatever thoughts, emotions, sights, smells or sounds arise.