If you’re a meditation skeptic, take a look at these four meditation myths that could (literally) change your mind.
Meditation myth #1: You have to practice at least 20 minutes every day.
Do you have a minute? Great! Then you have time to meditate. Here's a one-minute mindfulness meditation.
Breathe in for five seconds, then breathe out for five seconds. That’s your warm-up. Then repeat for one minute. It’s that simple, and you can work up from there.
Meditation myth #2: You need to clear your mind.
Can’t get your to-do list out of your head? It’s OK if it keeps coming back.
The goal of meditation is not to clear your mind of all thought. The goal is to return to the breath. Each time you discover your mind has wandered, return it to the breath. That is how your mind learns to benefit from meditation.
When you’re meditating and get distracted by a thought return your attention to your breath. You’ll increase your awareness of the present moment, creating calm and balance.
Meditation myth #3: It doesn’t do anything.
It’s true, meditation doesn’t do one thing for you- it does a lot of good things! Research suggests that meditation appears to boost whole-body wellness.
- Soothe your genes. Mind-body exercises like meditation target the genes related to stress and inflammation, reducing the levels of both in the body. There’s some sound research showing meditation changes how genes are expressed in your body.
- Blood flow. Studies show that blood circulation in the brain and other organs improves during meditation. There are long-term benefits for certain organs, especially the heart and brain. Increased blood circulation gets more oxygen and nutrients to every cell in your body, helping them to perform better. Getting that blood flowing could help you get through some of those stressful moments — whether it’s a tough client call or taking your toddler shoe shopping.
- Cardiac Function. Research shoes that meditation decreases heart rate and blood pressure during the process. Daily meditation can keep both measures lowered.
- Brain function. Several studies suggest meditation affects every part of your brain. Almost all of our thoughts and actions result from different sections of the brain working together, so meditation can really help get your brain humming. Other research indicates that mindfulness practices cause changes in the brain’s attention-related networks, improving your ability to focus on a task.
- Psychological stress. Meditation has been shown to reduce aspects of psychological stress, including anxiety and depression. In our chaotic, fast-paced lives, managing stress is a must for better health.
And you don’t have to stick with one type of meditation. Play around until you find one you like, or use a combination of techniques. You can even use several types of meditation during one session.
You can meditate in your car before leaving for work, while your children nap or even while you’re washing the dishes. Try to find a few minutes during your day to develop your meditation skills.
You’ll be joining the 18 million American adults who use meditation to boost health and focus the mind. And you just may find that meditation gives you a little sanity in a sometimes crazy world.
This is adapted from an article posted by the Cleveland Clinic, February 2019.