So you’re thinking of taking up meditation. Makes sense, especially considering the stressful circumstances during COVID-19. And what could be so hard about it, anyway? You sit for a few minutes and listen to your breathing. Easy peasy.
But many who practice meditation find that it isn’t so simple. Thoughts, noises and busy schedules are just some of the things that get in the way of regularly obtaining a meditative state.
Our resident meditation expert Katie Milligan, however, notes that much of what makes meditation so challenging is the misconceptions about things that are necessary to meditate. For example, you don’t actually need to rid your brain of all thoughts for a half-hour every day to reap the benefits.
Milligan started meditating in 2014 as a natural progression from yoga since the two are quite similar in terms of their focus on breath and being present in the moment. Now, along with being a Product Manager with Keep, she’s also a certified yoga instructor with the Yoga Alliance, and is trained in Yoga Nidra, a form of meditation.
National Meditation Day is coming up on Sunday, May 31, but that’s not the only reason we’re delving into this topic right now. Countless studies show that it can relieve symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression, which are among the litany of emotions many of us have felt during COVID-19. Rather than trying to ignore those feelings or stuff them away into a mental compartment, meditation encourages us to be aware of them and process them.
“People are feeling elevated levels of depression and anxiety due to COVID-19, or are feeling all over the place, where one day is a good day, and the next you can’t get anything done,” Milligan says. “Meditation helps to calm our nervous system and can help reduce the feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.”
So, for those of you who are thinking of giving meditation a shot, or who are already building up your practice, we’re here to debunk a few myths that can get in the way:
Myth 1: There is one clear and specific way to meditate
One common misconception about meditate is that there is one specific way to do it.
“Everyone’s different as far as what works for them,” Milligan says. “People often have this idea that meditation is just you sitting and trying to clear your mind, but I think of it as anything that you can do to find presence and connection with your breath and your body.”