As meditation becomes more mainstream and is more widely accepted, it has gained a few misconceptions, claims bestselling author and meditation teacher, Susan Piver. She took an opportunity to debunk these 3 popular misconceptions about meditation for the Huffington Post:
1. Meditation means you have to stop thinking.
No, no, no! This is a crazy hoax. If I had a dollar for everyone who said to me, “I can’t meditate! I can’t turn off my thoughts!” I’d be, well, richer. Many people think that emptying the mind of thought is the point and if you can’t do so, you’ve failed.
Your mind exists to produce thought. That’s what it does. It thinks things. Getting it to stop is akin to opening your eyes and telling them not to see anything.
Go ahead. Try that right now. Look out through your eyes and plead with them not to see anything. Try really hard.
That’s how frustrating it is to think you’re supposed to hop off the 190-mile an hour freight train in your head and onto a meditation cushion where you will somehow have magically stopped dead on the track.
Instead, the idea is to relax with your thoughts exactly as they are. This turns out to be far more relaxing than fighting them off.
Meditation has nothing to do with stopping thought, but everything to do with not going along for the ride. You hop off the train, but you don’t stand it front of it, hands held out insisting it stop, whereupon you get shmushed like a bug on a windshield. Instead, you have a seat on the grass and watch it roll by. Trains keep coming, but eventually each fades from view. They all pass by. You don’t have to do anything to make this happen. So don’t get all hung up on stopping thought. I promise, your mind will slow down on its own.
Read her other two misconceptions here, including the falacy that “Meditation turns you into a peaceful person who is unruffled by anything” and “Meditation is a means of self-improvement and stress reduction.” Now, don’t be alarmed by the third point! Susan says, yes – meditation is a means of self improvement and stress reduction – but it’s much more than that. And you get much greater benefit when you abandon the idea of self improvement and learn to accept yourself through your meditation.