“What’s the message in Metallica? There is no message, but if there was a message, it really should be look within yourself, don’t listen to me, don’t listen to James, don’t listen to anybody, look within yourself for the answers.” — Lars Ulrich
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Welcome to this week’s edition of The Source – FLASHBACK!!!
Can you believe this video from 2012?!?! Too funny.
As many of you know, the revised edition of the Secrets of Meditation was released last year, and thousands of people new to meditation have since begun their personal journeys toward calm, clarity and peace of mind through a regular meditation practice.
But many haven’t yet dipped their toe into the process, or they’re stalling, resisting or avoiding it because of preconceived notions. So, this week, we’re revisiting the 5 Myths of Meditation from the revised edition of SoM so that you, my spiritual warriors, can share with someone you know! Help me debunk the most common myths of meditation!!!
Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and click the social share buttons.
In the meantime, keep meditating, and I’ll see you in the gap!!! peace. -davidji
Two years later, it became the very first major motion picture produced by Hollywood that featured meditation. In the 1960s, meditation had a huge surge as the Beatles popularized Transcendental Meditation as taught to them by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
But meditation’s big mainstream breakthrough came in 2008 when media mogul Oprah Winfrey (also a practitioner of Transcendental Meditation) discovered a book called A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle and decided to partner with him in the first-ever online meditation series. Her promotion of the event on network TV for 10 solid weeks rallied more than 500,000 people around the globe to log on to the web series, bringing meditation into the mainstream and turning A New Earth into a New York Times #1 bestseller.
Every few years, a TV show, mainstream movie, or best- selling album reinvigorates awareness of meditation and that is sure to continue as the practices embeds itself more deeply into our culture.
Many new meditators get their first experience while lying in savasana at the end of a yoga class; while others sample an online guided meditation and are hooked forever! Wherever you got your original understanding of meditation (and maybe it’s this book), there are five basic myths that we all come across at some point in our journey of developing a practice.
And if this is not your first go-round, then probably embracing one of these myths helped us rationalize that our lives would be better off without meditation. Ultimately, this rests at the core of why we may have stopped or let it slip away. But if you can embrace these myths as just that—myths—then release them, you will more easily give yourself permission to begin or reengage your practice.
Myth #1: The first thing you need to do is to clear the thoughts from your mind or at least still them.
As if! You have approximately one thought every 1.2 seconds. You will not stop them so don’t even try. They are not interruptions in your meditation; they are part of your meditation, so let them come and let them go. Simply drift back to the mantra, or your breath, or whatever object of attention you were using to disconnect you from activity.
So many meditators stop meditating because they have thoughts, but having thoughts flowing in, out, and through your meditation is so perfect. This is your chance to process each day’s activities that otherwise would go buried, unaddressed, and unprocessed.
That doesn’t mean to pay attention to them, and that includes not resisting them either. To resist is to pay attention, and where attention goes, energy flows. Let them drift in, and let them drift away. Don’t engage them. Simply drift back to the object of your attention—the mantra, your breath, the drishti, and so on.
Here’s how much effort to use when you meditate: Like mist rising off a lake at dawn. Stop now, and envision morning mist ever so gently lifting off a field or a lake. There is virtually no movement. Over time, you will find that during meditation you spend more time in mantra land or “follow-your-breath land” than in thought land. And as you meditate each day, the fluctuations of your mind will slow.
Myth #2: Something special or transcendent is supposed to happen during meditation.
Nothing special is supposed to happen during meditation. Blissful, calming, and entertaining experiences can occur during meditation, but that is not a requirement and not our goal. Special moments don’t have to happen for the experience to have its emotional, physical, or spiritual benefits. But if cool things happen during meditation, hang out and enjoy them.
As you immerse more deeply in the experience and drift from the mantra, you will see yourself move from witnessing the experience to thinking about it. As you begin to apply greater meaning to your experience, you will move back into activity from your stillness. At that point, you are essentially back where you started: in activity. That’s okay. It’s all part of the process.
When you realize you have moved back into thought, just gently drift back to the mantra or the object of your attention.
Your meditation session is part of your daily practice. Have you ever been to the gym? Most likely the reason that you go there is to work out. You don’t go to the gym to get magically fit in an hour or necessarily to be entertained. Your hour-long sessions at the gym bring you strength, flexibility, and balance throughout the day and night. That’s where the benefits of the practice come through. And eventually from those regular one-hour workouts, there comes a subtle shift in your body and your emotional state.
The reason you work out is so you are more physically fulfilled in the rest of your life. You’re not that concerned with achieving your peak health in the gym. The gym is your practice. It’s the same thing for yoga classes. And it’s the same for your meditation practice. These 30-minute sessions are the practice for the rest of your day, week, and life.
You aren’t serving the world when you’re sitting and meditating in the dark. It’s when the session is over and you open your eyes and go back with the rest of us that you can be more creative, more intuitive, more compassionate, more fulfilled, and more open to infinite possibilities.
This, of course, is in addition to all the other physical benefits that ripple through your physiology. Cool visions and intense sensations can occur during your meditation. You can experience deep energetic and spiritual connections, and you can witness your astral body and even the gap. But those aren’t the signs of a successful meditation.
A successful meditation is one you do. The magic happens when you open your eyes. So, just show up and don’t judge the experience.
Myth #3: I don’t think I’m doing it right.
So many of us perfectionists out there want to know that we are “doing it right.” How many times have we asked ourselves right before, during, and after meditation, “Am I doing it right?” Or because you didn’t experience the Buddha or nirvana, because you didn’t see colors, or because you had thousands of thoughts, you resigned yourself to the fact that you weren’t doing it right?
Whenever you ask, “Am I doing it right?” the answer is, “Yes, you are doing it right!” Now and forever, know that the pressure here is off.
In meditation, as long as you are doing it, you’re doing it right. The only bad meditation is the one you don’t show up for! Who’s your biggest critic? It’s you. And judging your meditation practice is no different. There’s no need to be so hard on yourself.
Surrender to the unknown. Surrender to the fact that you have only one purpose in meditation, and that is to innocently repeat the mantra or follow your breath, depending on which meditation practice you choose. As long as you do that, you are doing it right. So congratulate yourself for just doing it. After several consecutive days of meditating, you will hear, “Hey, you look more relaxed.”
Or, “Wow, great idea! I didn’t expect that from you.” Or, “Hey did you have some work done?” Or, “I want some of what you’ve got!”
Myth #4: If I meditate long enough, I will achieve enlightenment.
In your very essence—at your very core—you were born enlightened, and enlightened you shall die. But from the time you were born into this world, you have been layered with interpretations, perspectives, and conditioning.
From each moment since your birth, these layers have covered that wholeness, purity, perfection, and pure consciousness from which you were formed.
Will you become enlightened? That is the wrong question. You already are. You simply may not be awake to it. But each time you meditate, you get an opportunity to peel away more layers of that conditioning. Will you awaken yourself to your wholeness? Yes. Meditation by meditation, moment by moment, you will wake up to more of your already enlightened Self.
Myth #5: If I meditate, I am a superior human being, because I am spiritual.
Meditation is a gift, a gift you give yourself each time you practice. It’s also a gift that you give to the world around you.
There is no spiritual hierarchy of humans based on whether they meditate or for how long. This is a spurious claim used by insecure individuals under the guise of spiritual expertise.
This is the same claim that fundamentalists of all religions and belief systems have used for millennia to elevate themselves and distance nonfollowers.
I do not believe meditation embraces a spiritual hierarchy. I believe it embraces the Golden Rule. Having a daily meditation practice doesn’t make someone better than anyone else. Meditation allows you to connect more deeply and more frequently to the stillness and silence that rests within each of us. The more you can tap into your unconditioned Self, the easier it is to experience empathy and see your universality, which is essentially seeing yourself in others and seeing others in yourself.
In that state of one-ness awareness, there is no comparison between you and anyone else.