Meditation Is a Pathway To Inner Peace
Most people come to meditation once they realise their effort to control things isn't working. Learning to clear your mind is quite the journey, so first, let's clear up some meditation myths
Pause … Take A Breath …
Myth #1 "I can't meditate"
Um, actually, yes you can. One of the most common myths about meditation is that you'll 'get it' the first time you do it. That's a natural response and it makes sense. You know you have the capacity to sit still and you want it to be easy. But like all myths that turns out not to be true. The good news is, meditation is simply a practice so you don't ever need to be perfect at it. Just start. Then start again, and again and again …
Myth #2 Meditation is about clearing the mind
Kind of. But not in the way you probably think. Like Myth #1, the problem with the myth is that you're coming at it from a premature understanding. Attempting to clear your mind is difficult and will come with time. But when we begin our meditation journey what we find is that as soon as we stop what we're doing and try to meditate, here come ALL the thoughts we didn't even know we were having. Rest assured, it's the same for everyone.
You may experience moments of no thinking right from the very first time you sit on the mat. But you might not. In fact, it's far more likely you'll become aware of just how much is going on in your mind. And that's the real beauty of meditation – AWARENESS.
Once we become aware of what we're thinking we begin to discover there are patterns of thought – frustration, anger, irritability, intolerance etc. And rather than the thoughts themselves being the problem and therefore something to be gotten rid of, it's the patterns that will provide us with the ability to be more calm.
Let me explain.
When we meditate, we become the witness to the mind. We begin to see that we find it difficult to sit still (restlessness), we find ourselves bored (addicted to stimulation) or falling asleep (deeply fatigued). We realise that we want the results (to feel more calm), but we're reluctant to put in the effort that's required to get there (a tendency towards instant gratification). These are just examples, but you'll see that once we can identify our patterns (the things in brackets), then we have the ability to start making change through making different choices.
For example, if you find your tendency is towards instant gratification, you can begin to notice when and where you expect things to come quickly or easily. Once you're more adept at noticing that part of yourself, you can adopt some strategies to steer you in the direction of cultivating a little more patience.
But be careful that you don't create a list of ways in which you're 'wrong' or 'bad' (more on that in #5). That's why it's good to have a meditation teacher who can guide you through the ups and downs.
Myth #3 I need to sit in the lotus position
According to Buddhist teachings, meditation can be practiced sitting, standing or lying down. As a beginner it's more important to be comfortable (although, other teachers may have a different approach). Ideally you want to be seated with a straight spine but if you're tired or can't sit for long without feeling discomfort, practice meditation while resting your back against a wall until your core muscles gain strength. Or, just don't worry about it and simply rest.
Myth #4 It's wrong to fall asleep
The Dalai Lama says, "Sleep is the best form of meditation." It's common to feel immense fatigue when you begin to practice meditating and it's not unusual to fall asleep and wake up with no idea where you went. Meditation can wake us up to our deep fatigue so roll with it and let it be part of your practice.
Myth #5 We should all meditate
As a meditation teacher with 20 years of practice under her belt, I believe regular meditation can be life-changing so you might be surprised to hear that I don't think everyone should meditate. Here's why… Life is stressful enough without adding another thing-you-think-you-should-be-doing-in-order-to-be-a-good-person to your list. Truly. That way of being serves nobody, least of all ourselves.
Meditation is simple but not easy. It can undoubtedly reduce stress and has positive effects on heart health, mental health and general wellbeing. But before you jump on the meditation bandwagon, ask yourself this:
Do you want to meditate because:
You feel you need to keep up with the latest health fad. Or …
Because you are truly ready to let go of some stressful habits and put in the work that's required to change
If your answer is #1, then my advice is to let go of the extra pressure that says you should meditate. Give yourself permission to Be Perfect As You Are. Find joy in the moments you already have. Dance around your kitchen, get lost in the gardening, feel the warmth of the bubbles as you wash the dishes, sing a song in the bath. There are numerous ways of accessing inner peace.
Please don't ever worry that if you don't meditate you're missing out on the golden ticket to a better life. Learning to meditate requires discipline, patience and time. And committing to a daily practice is not for everyone.
However, if you answered #2 then get ready to witness parts of yourself that you never knew existed. Be prepared to discover all the things people never told you about meditation. And brace yourself for great change.
Because when we commit to reducing our stress an incredible thing occurs. Learning to meditate is simply the gateway to greater self-awareness. Your journey will be personal and unpredictable.
So if you are ready for that, I'd love to guide you along the way and be with you while you awaken your heart and navigate the stormy seas of the mind.
Cultivating a regular meditation practice has changed my life in so many positive ways, and I know it can change yours too.
If you have any questions about meditation feel 100% free to drop me a line and ask. I love helping people find the right path for them because it's so not what you might think it is.
Whichever path you choose, you are absolutely increasing your ability to Love.
A meditation session with Hannah is a rewarding respite from a busy world. Hannah's soothing assuring voice leads your mind and body to a place of relaxed awareness where you can step back from the challenges of daily life and focus on your breath and energy. Hannah connects with each person in a warm and comforting way, tailoring her meditation sessions to suit the energy of the attendees. Her meditation sessions have been of great benefit to my mental health.
MICHELLE CRAIK / GRAPHIC DESIGNER