Meditation is a practice that transcends religions, borders, and cultures. Though most commonly associated with the religions of Buddhism and Hinduism, meditation has been practiced by people of various religions and creeds for thousands of years. However, despite its longevity and widespread practice, meditation is also often misunderstood. In particular are the assumptions that meditation must be done in silence, that you can’t have any thoughts while meditating, and that meditation is pointless. Let’s address these misconceptions below
Meditation needs to be done in silence
When you think of someone who is sitting in meditation, you likely picture somebody sitting in silence. While many people do prefer to meditate in silence, and while silent meditative techniques abound all over the world, the truth is that meditation is more than possible without silence.
You probably don’t want to try meditating on a noisy and crowded street because of all of the potential distractions, but you may find it enjoyable to meditate to some sort of spiritual music or chanting. Both can give the mind something to occupy its attention and eventually slow its activity. Whatever level and type of auditory stimulation that assists you to still your mind, know it is perfectly fine for meditation.
Meditation means not having any thoughts
Just as your external world doesn’t need to be completely silent while you meditate, neither does your internal world.
Spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy expressed, “When you meditate, what you actually do is to enter into a calm or still, silent mind. We have to be fully aware of the arrival and attack of thoughts.” Accordingly, meditation is not about stopping your thoughts by wrestling them into submission. It is about letting your thoughts arise, acknowledging and observing them for what they are, and letting them go. The point is to become aware of how your thoughts arise and without any judgment, to come to a better understanding of why your mind works the way it does.
Meditation has no verifiable benefits at all
Some people don’t believe in the meditation hype because they consider it to be a religious practice that has no way to be verified by science.
While science is not very interested in its religious and spiritual aspects, hundreds of studies have been done on the positive physical and mental health benefits of meditation. What has been found is that meditation is incredibly helpful for factors such as stress, anxiety, and depression, and for increasing feelings of overall well-being.
If you want to reap some of the benefits of meditation, then now you know that this is a flexible practice which can be adjusted to your needs. So, why not give it a try?