Have you ever wondered how many people practice meditation today?
According to a study conducted last 2012 by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 18 million adults in the United States practice meditation – that’s about 8% of the entire American adult population!
What’s even more striking is that the number of people meditating all over the world is estimated to be about 200 million to 500 million.
It is without a doubt that meditation has no boundaries.
As the numbers have proven, practicing meditation goes beyond cultural differences and languages. With that many people meditating regularly, have you also wondered why some people do not?
The benefits of meditation have been circulating around media for a long time. But despite meditation being popular among a lot of people, there are still many who remain withdrawn to its ideas and concepts.
As much as we would also like them to enjoy the advantages of the practice, it is not very easy to convince others to try it.
Perhaps you know someone who could use meditation to improve their lives and would like to share with them why meditation is important.
Or maybe you have a lot of unanswered questions about meditation – no matter what the situation may be, it is essential that we dispel any misconceptions about meditation first before trying to discover its true meaning in our lives.
Common Misconceptions About Meditation
It is not a Religion.
Unsurprisingly, many people tend to link meditation with Hinduism. After all, historical studies show that the earliest records of meditation were found within the Vedas’ teachings in ancient India.
These documents were said to have been created in 1500 BCE. Since then, the idea of meditation has been deeply engraved in Hindi religious culture.
However, it is is good to note that the true origin of meditation is unknown and that other religious cultures have also used it in the past.
Take the Taoist monks as an example – they too have used meditation as a form of spiritual exercise.
Although meditation has been used in various religions, meditation in itself is not a religious practice.
This simply means that even if you are committed to your current religion, you can still meditate.
Most religions just have different ways of practicing meditation while connecting it to their own spiritual belief systems.
It is solely up to you whether or not you want to follow their principles. But you must not mistake meditation practice as a form of worship.
It Is Not Just a Cure
Reduced stress, improved focus, calm and peace. The advantages of meditation are no longer new to us to a point that we have gotten so used to reaping its benefits.
But meditating is not a give-and-take situation; meditating for 2 hours is not a guarantee for a stress-free workday.
Sadly, there are some people who may be too dependent on the benefits of mediation.
It is important to remember that meditation isn’t a cure for all of our problems. Although it is a way of life in which we try to minimize our problems, it is still all about personal spiritual growth.
Why Meditation Is Important
Now that we’ve placed some of our misbeliefs aside, it is time to discover why meditation is important in our daily lives.
You’ve most likely heard about all the good things meditation can bring into your life. But meditating is more than just all the positive benefits you can receive.
Here are some of the reasons why meditation should be a part of your life:
Discovering more about ourselves isn’t something a lot of us look forward to, simply because we are not perfect.
Whether we like to admit it or not, we all have an ugly side which we do not wish to reveal.
But oftentimes, it is through these imperfections that we gain power over ourselves. As they say, we can only learn how to strengthen ourselves if we know our own weaknesses.
Meditation isn’t just about discovering our inner selves – for some people, it is also about digging up their past.
It is said that meditation can also recover long-buried memories. Even though it has happened a long time ago, you can re-discover your old self by meditating as well.
Discovering about oneself is very different from being aware of oneself.
Your discoveries about yourself are totally new and are unknown to you and to the people around you.
On the other hand, the things you aren’t aware of may be very clear and apparent to your family and friends. Ask them about how they perceive you as a person and you’ll be surprised at what you hear.
Meditating is like giving yourself a view of the bigger picture.
You might not notice your bad habits and or how many times you do it in a day. In the same light, you might not be paying enough attention to your body when you really ought to do so.
But through meditation, you can take a closer look at what is happening to you and your surroundings.
It’s so easy to get lost in today’s world. There are too many choices to select from, too many decisions to make and too many distractions grabbing our attention.
If you find yourself constantly chasing one thing after the other without really knowing where you’re headed, it’s time to stop and meditate.
For some people, their lives have become a mindless routine; it’s all about doing the same things that do not have any meaning in our lives.
Meditating can help give you some direction in your life. It also helps you get a clear view of what you should be doing by allowing you to reflect on what you care and love about life.
Some people may think that meditation is about cutting yourself away from the “real world” but rather, it is about reconnecting you to a world that has a lot of meaning and purpose.
Happiness is such a complicated topic. Some people may claim that money makes them happy because they can afford all the things they lack in life.
But we all know that material possession cannot replace the more important but intangible things in life such as love, hope, and peace.
Many people don’t know that meditation is one step closer to finding your happiness.
A lot of people tend to think that happiness is the absence of sadness; it fills a void in our lives. But actually, happiness is contentment – it’s about being grateful for what you already have.
As human beings, we all have our needs but when we constantly think of our needs, we are actually creating a bigger hole in our lives – a bigger void to fill.
Meditation sheds light on the things that we need to be grateful for, allowing us to let go of our feelings of lack.
Drama is the spice of life – we all need to feel in order to be human.
While that may be true, irresponsible management of our emotions can actually turn into something disastrous. After all, too many spices can leave you burned and in tears.
Have you ever said something hurtful to anyone in the heat of anger? Or have you made a bad life-changing decision simply because you let your feelings get carried away?
Meditation is all about managing your emotions. It gives you some headspace to think instead of saying or doing anything that you may come to regret in the future.
View on Life
Once you’ve started meditating, you will begin to have a very different view of life. You will feel more in control of your own thoughts and emotions.
You gain a deeper understanding of the world as you also gain more knowledge of yourself. All of these things may seem like a personal experience but through meditation, you are actually connecting yourself with the world.
They say that in order to love someone else, you need to love yourself first.
In this case, you also need to know more about yourself in order to get to know others. This is how you build compassion towards others; without first understanding pain, you cannot imagine the pain other people may have felt too.
How To Get Started With Meditation
Are you now convinced that meditation is more than just a way to relieve stress?
If you would like to get started on meditating but don’t know where to begin, here are a few tips to help you ease into your practice better:
1. Identify Your Goals
After discussing why meditation is important, you should now be able to understand how vital identifying your goals is.
A lot of people have a genuine interest in meditation, but some lose sight of its true importance in their life. When one becomes blinded by the promise of reward, meditation loses its meaning.
Some people may think that meditating for personal gain isn’t bad at all, and that may be true.
But it all depends on a person’s goal. If the practice is all about winning and receiving benefits, it then becomes a game rather than a growing experience.
No matter if you are a beginner or if you’ve been meditating for years, It is essential that we regularly remind ourselves of why meditation is important in our lives.
This is also so that we do not get lost in our personal interests. Meditation is not meant to be seen as a temporary exercise, but a way of life.
2. Find Your Special Place
Most beginners of meditation find it challenging to focus. In order to ease into practice, try to find a place that helps you get into the mood of meditating.
Start with a private and quiet place; a location where you distance yourself from various forms of distractions. This could be anywhere from a corner of your room or even in your own garden.
What’s important is to stay away from things that may cause you some stress, or a place which is accessible to other people as well.
If there is no available space to keep private, let the people around you know that you will be meditating and as much as possible ask them to not disturb you during this time.
A special place makes meditating a little bit more inviting, especially on days when meditation becomes even more challenging.
3.Start With A Guided Meditation
For those who are new to the practice, it is recommended to follow a guided meditation during your first try.
Look for an audio track that fits your style and your personal needs. Try to stick with it throughout the whole session. Follow instructions actively and pay close attention to your body and mind as you go through the meditation practice.
Starting off alone is difficult for beginners simply because they have no idea how to begin a session.
Most people tend to think that the meditation practice just involves emptying the mind and doing some breathing exercises. By doing a guided meditation, you will also be introduced to the many other exercises involved in meditation.
4. Practice Your Breathing Exercises
Learning how to breathe properly might be one of the bigger challenges a beginner will face when trying meditation for the first time.
One’s breath might fall too short and the counting in a guided meditation may be too slow for some individuals. However, it is important to remember that these breathing exercises actually help you calm down and relax.
Even when not meditating, try to do some breathing exercises especially when you feel overwhelmed with work.
Once you have made it a habit to breathe, it will be a lot easier to take in deeper breaths during a meditation session.
5. Use a Timer
Unlike what some people may perceive it to be, meditation is actually an active exercise.
Although it just looks like someone is sitting with their eyes closed, their mind and spirit are actually doing a full workout.
In order to not doze off to sleep, it is important to keep track of the time spent during meditation practice.
If you would like to try meditating without a guide, try using a timer to take note of the minutes. It is important to stay alert no matter how passive the activity may seem.
Although meditation is about relaxation and calmness, it doesn’t mean that you should succumb to complete rest.
There’s a reason why we refer meditation as a form of spiritual practice. It is meant to be performed regularly, making it a part of our daily lives.
On some days, meditating can be difficult but if you continuously challenge yourself, your spiritual health will become stronger as well.
As you advance in your meditation practice, it is important to look back and think of why meditation is important to you. This will help you move forward and inspire you to try new things in your spiritual journey.
Allen Wei is someone who believes in living his best life, focusing on balance, happiness, and relaxation. He fosters a positive lifestyle in terms of his body, mind, and environment, and he is a huge proponent of learning to be balanced via relaxation techniques integrated into our busy lives.