The #1 Meditation Myth All Beginners Need To Know

By: Torbjørn Husevåg (May 11. 2021), Time: 5 min, Interesting: Very Tag: Mental Fitness

Despite having downloaded Headspace, Calm, Mindfulness and all other available mediation apps, people still struggle with making meditation into a habit. Why? Because most people have one huge misconception about mediation:

πŸ™πŸ» We think meditation is only supposed to be relaxing.
❌ But it is not.

In this article and YouTube-video I will explain why, and how to actually think about meditation. That way you can finally start gaining all the benefits mediation really has to offer. 

*Yes, I am actually writing an article on a mistake you can do when trying to do nothing.*

What is meditation? Should you do it?

..even though you are not trying to become a munk.
Mediation was for a long time seen as a practice of the far east. But over the past couple of years it has gained massive attention in the west as well. Personally, I stumbled into the field of mediation and mind training at the age of 18. And now, I have been meditating 10 to 20 minutes almost every single morning for the past 13 years. I can tell you first hand that nothing has been more effective for mental clarity, focus and stress reduction. This in turn helps me to make more mindful food choices, stay concentrated while training, become much more effective at work, generally be more positive - a vast range of other benefits.
But if meditation is so great, why is not everyone doing it?

The mediation myth

Let me explain what most people get wrong, making them quit. Meditation in its simplest form revolves around sitting still with closed eyes and focusing on nothing more than your breath. So, how could I possibly say that someone does that wrong? Well, I am not. It is the expectations of mediation that people get wrong, making them ultimately say: "I tried mediation, but is not for me". Here is why.
  • Expectation: We often have a mental image of someone who is "good at meditation". They seem: relaxed, calm, present and focused. Therefore, when you meditate, you assume you should feel relaxed, calm, present and focused. But these are simply the results of meditation, not always the process of meditating.
  • Reality: When beginners start to mediate, they will experience quite the opposite. You begin by focusing on your breath, but two seconds later your mind wanders to: that e-mail you need to send or that stupid thing you said years ago. So, you expected this deep relaxed state, but you only got a mixture of restlessness and boredom in return. So, for the longest time I was thinking "I must be doing it wrong".

Illustration: Trying to stop new thoughts from appearing is like walking into a 4 lane highway trying to stop all the cars. The constant stream cannot and will not stop. The average human thinks 50.000 thoughts per day.

Dont stop your thoughts. Stop focusing on them.

But letting the mind wander is actually an essential part of the process of meditating. As thoughts appear, you ́re not trying to do the impossible task of stopping them from occurring in the first place.
Rather to try not attach your focus to the occurring thoughts. Just let them stroll by and redirect your focus back to your breath. Each time, you get gradually better at focusing on your breath. Your mind is wired to keep wandering off and you need to expect that. The key is: "Do you notice that it wanders?"
Once you notice your mind has wandered off and you bring it back, you’re strengthening your focus and attention. To explain why, consider the process of lifting weights.

The mind is a gym and meditation is a workout.

Just like training hard in the gym, each repetition is somewhat effortful. This is how it's supposed to be. The challenge of lifting the weight is what makes the muscle grow. In time, your body adapts to the challenge placed upon it. The same thing happens in the mind. The mind is a gym and meditation is a light workout. Each time you pull your focus back to your breath from a new thought - you do a new repetition. And it is these effortful mental reps that builds your capacity to be relaxed, calm, present and focused.
1 rep = bringing your focus back the present (ex. your breath or the feeling of your body).

Summary: How to think about mediation

  • Meditation is not about making your mind quiet. That is impossible. It is about entering the quiet space already inside your mind, buried behind the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks per day. Or as they say in the mediation apps; "above a rainy cloud, you will is always find sunshine".
  • Mental reps: With each mental rep, you get gradually better at redirecting your focus back to the present. Just like in the gym, with more reps, your mind builds more strength and can endure for longer. And the more you practice, more mental strength, relaxation and positivity mediation will give in return.
  • 1 Rep = Bringing your focus back to your breath

Start applying this knowledge:

If you liked my article on meditation, you will love my free habit mini course, covering the 4 most important habits to get lean, think clear and supercharge your energy in a hectic workday with minimal equipment. To avoid information overload, I have structured it into a 4 part challenge with bite-sized lessons to apply each day. 

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