The Big Lie About Meditation and How to Break the Myths

Achieving Bliss During Meditation is not what your think. 

You’ve probably been told a lot about meditation as a source for generating more mindfulness into your life. You probably even have stories you tell yourself about your capability to achieve such “enlightenment” from these practices. 

Most people I talk to about meditation have this feeling that they are doing it wrong, or that it is something only achieved by the super spiritual or highly dedicated. People brush it off after trying it only a couple of times. 

I can easily see why. 

It is incredibly hard to sit still. Our minds our full of chatter about our day, our world, our relationships, and the stories we tell ourselves about who we are in relation to these things. 

Who has time to sit still when all this is going on?

We have been fed a lie about what meditation is and how it’s supposed to be achieved. 

Because I get asked about meditation a lot, I find people are always surprised at my thoughts about it. And, of course, my thoughts are a reflection of my personal experience with it. 

  1. Consistency is the key 

I believe people do give up on meditation too early. Consistency is how we learn to still the mind. Like any practice, it must be practiced! Sitting in meditation takes a lot of willpower. Continually calming the mind and body to be still takes work.

It can be challenging to…

  • not get up and check your phone
  • not lose your mind to stories you play on loop in your head
  • not scratch your itchy nose
  • not adjust how your sitting
  • not start planning dinner 
  • not think of the 108 things you must do right now!

You have been living with a busy mind your whole life. You shouldn’t expect it to change overnight. It’s a practice and one that needs consistency to access those moments of clarity.

My advice: Start small. Set an alarm for 3-minutes, then 5-minutes, then 7-minutes. Build up to a 10 or even 20-minute practice in small increments. 

If you try to do a 30-minute meditation on your first time out the gate, you are setting yourself up for failure. 

Every time you can calm your mind and body down during a meditation practice it’s a win. Every time you can consciously bring your awareness into the present moment you are meditating. Even if it’s just a practice of continually guiding yourself back to the present 50 times in that 3-minute timeframe. You are building your mindfulness muscles. 

  1. Stillness Comes in Many Forms

Sitting in a meditation seat (cross-legged on the floor or on a cushion) doesn’t work for everybody. The last thing you want is for your legs to fall asleep or start giving you trouble a minute into your practice. For some laying down is the way to start, and for others seated in a chair. 

There is no hierarchy of meditation. How you find stillness within your mind and body is your business. 

My advice: Focus on what brings stillness to the mind and the body will follow. 

Your mind and your body are like two peas in a pod, it’s hard for one to not match the other. If the body is relaxed the mind will soften, and if the mind is at ease so too will be the body. 

If the thought of sitting in stillness is overwhelming or causes you to have anxious thoughts, then perhaps a walking meditation is the best place for you to start. 

Yin Yoga is what brought me to meditation. I love it because the poses are slow deep holds that typically range from 3-5 minutes each. An hour of yin yoga gives my mind and body plenty of time to find stillness and focus with the luxury of knowing that every 3-5 minutes I have an opportunity to move, to wiggle out any nervous tension before settling back into the next pose. 

Letting go of expectations of how stillness is found can be a powerful and positive way to bridge the gap in your mind about your ability to meditate. 

  1. Your Breath Is Your Anchor

When you consciously connect to your breath you are anchoring yourself into the present moment. The only moment there truly is. The place where all discovery takes place and the only time change can occur. When you are ready to open your life to a higher awareness your breath is a great place to start. 

My Advice: Quit putting pressure on yourself to think of nothing, and instead think about your breath. Focus on the inhales and exhales. This anchors you into what is happening in the moment. 

Breathwork is Meditation

How many times have you “tried” to meditate and heard yourself saying…

”It’s impossible for me to think about nothing.” 

Well… good news. 

I totally agree with this statement. 

I have been meditating regularly for years and it has never once been my experience to have a completely still mind free from all thoughts. 

Never once. 

In fact, this is the very thing that held me back in my meditation practice for years!

It wasn’t until I realized that breathwork was meditation that I was able to move past this myth. 

Now I’m not saying it isn’t possible. I’m only saying it hasn’t been possible for me. 

Breathwork helped me to see my thoughts as part of my meditation. The trick was to learn to not hook on any one thought or story and instead see them as a leaf on a stream just passing by. Not hooking to anything. This is where my work was; constantly bringing my mind and body into the present. I quit berating myself for having thoughts and allowed them entrance, but nothing more. 

Developing a strong breathing practice is my anchor. It keeps me in the present as I dance in the sensation of each inhalation and melt deeper into myself with every passing exhalation. 

The pause at the top and bottom of the breath become moments of luxury to which I find myself floating endlessly in this stream of breath. Allowing the breath to be my anchor broke down the walls of myth I had attached to meditation. It has allowed me to build new ideas and thoughts about my capability to achieve enlightenment.

Below is a Breathwork practice that consciously brings you into the present. I invite you to try it with this new sense of possibility and let go of old myths about meditation. 

Mindfulness Meditation

Find a comfortable place for you to achieve stillness. Turning off all alarms, phones, or beeping and buzzing computers and screens around you. If just for the next 5 minutes. 

Remember your place of stillness could entail a walk in the park, or getting into your zone by deep stretching or crafting, or whatever. 

If you plan to be more traditional, lay down or take a comfortable seat. Your seat can be cross-legged on the floor or hips to heals, perhaps seated on a cushion for support. If you are in a chair, move to the edge so you can firmly place your feet on the floor, hip-width distance apart and allow your spine to be free from any support so it can grow long.

Once you are set up we begin.

  • Ground into the earth beneath you. Feeling supported
  • Close your eyes or soften your gaze to one focal point in front of you.
  • Settle in by asking yourself…
    • What kind of awareness have I brought into my day?
    • What are the quality of my thoughts?
    • Have I spoken to myself and others in a positive way?
    • Am I aware of the words I’ve choosing to use?
  • Notice how you’re feeling right now, and allow all emotions to be present, knowing they can change at any time and allow them to.
  • Bring your attention to the tip of your nose and begin noticing the cool air as it flows in and the warmer air as it falls out.
  • Bring awareness to all sensations of the breath
    • How does it feel in your body?
    • Where can you feel it vibrate in your throat, lungs, and diaphragm?
    • Does it move with ease? Or does it feel labored?
    • Where does it naturally want to travel?
    • Are there any pockets of tension that restrict your breathing?
  • Pay attention to the expansion each inhale offers and pay attention as stress and anxiety dissolve with every exhale. 
  • Guide your attention to your spine and feel it float tall on an inhale and ground down on an exhale. 
  • Get curious about where your breath is traveling
  • On your next inhale direct your breath deep into your belly allowing it to balloon out nice and round
  • On the exhale actively release any tension around this area. 
  • Next breathe into your ribcage, allowing your side body to naturally widen on the inhale and contract back on the exhale.
  • Staying curious about any emotion or sensations that come up during movement. 
  • Let go of any expectations of what you think should be happening and just experience what is.
  • Now breathe deeply into your heart center. Filling up through the emotional center of your being. 
  • Exhale out any tightness of tension in the area. 
  • Continue to move the breath into your back body. Allowing the inhales to expand into your entire back as the shoulder blades gently and naturally separate and contract. 
  • Notice how each area of your body receives the breath and responds to the exhales. 
  • Moving with curiosity
  • If your mind has wondered, it’s ok, simply guide it back to your breath. Slow and steady.
  • Experience this current inhale and exhale
  • Be receptive to all the subtle movements and sensations you’re feeling
  • Feel your body naturally open and release
  • Let it be loose, unclench your jaw, and release tension from your brow
  • Notice the natural flow of your body. 
    • How does your body move with the breath?
    • Does it feel soothing?
    • Are the places of discomfort and pain dissolving? Lightening? Releasing?
  • Where are your thoughts?
    • Are they passing through with ease?
    • Do they seem anxious?
    • Are you aware of kindness and openness to the moment?
    • Mindfulness is about cultivating awareness to our thoughts not disconnecting to our thoughts.
  • Become aware that you are aware.
  • Notice all sensations and thoughts as an observer. Not reacting. Just becoming aware. Being engaged in the experience of this ever-present moment.
  • Allow kindness to flood in on your next inhale and wash out any residue of stagnation with the exhale
  • Inhale in a vision of what you want from life and exhale out any resistance to this desire.
  • Notice how these new and nurturing thoughts feel in your body
  • Inhale in gratitude for showing up for yourself today
  • Exhale out any lingering expectations
  • Continue to breathe into this new awareness for as long as feels inviting for you and when you are ready you can blink your eyes open and continue on with your day. More mindful, more present, and with more focus. 

When you commit to showing up and consciously breathe for 3-5 minutes per day you are building an awareness that guides you into a deep meditation practice that previously eluded you. 

As your practice develops you will cultivate a deep awareness that gradually changes your perceptions of the world and your place in it. 

You will begin to see more kindness in the way you speak and interact with yourself and others. Mentally, emotionally, and physically you will shift your observations into a life more intune with your true nature. 

It’s time to let go of the meditation lies and open yourself up to the meditation practices that best suite you. Meditation is possible. No matter how busy your day or your mind. Don’t let the myths behind meditation hold you back from experiencing the joy and enlightenment that can come from a deep understanding of self. 

Keep consistent, find your stillness, and anchor into your breath. Sometimes it just takes a perspective shift to open us up to new heights.