With a household to run, a partner to look after, a child (or more) to raise, deadlines to meet, a nagging boss to report to or a business to manage, who has time to meditate? Besides, meditating? Isn’t that just for monks?
Many people have false perceptions of meditation: that it’s a spiritual activity performed meant only for new age folk or tree huggers; that you need to wake up before sunrise to do it; that you have to sit uncomfortably while mosquitoes feast on you; that you need to be highly enlightened to be able to successfully achieve it.
In reality, anyone can do it. And yes, the busier you are, the more you need to do it. Here we bust four meditation misconceptions through testimonies of working women whose lives have been touched by meditation.
Myth #1: You can’t move when you meditate.
Spiritual guru and best-selling author Deepak Chopra says that meditation is the process of quieting the mind and connecting to your source of thought, but such process is not always done in stillness. “Not all people are suited to sitting meditation,” says Victoria Suarez, a lawyer, entrepreneur, and meditation practitioner. “People who paint naturally meditate when they’re painting. That goes for musicians and dancers, too. People who practice Hatha Yoga do a form of moving meditation, too,” says Suarez.
Yoga teacher and entrepreneur Monica Eleazar-Manzano’s meditation practice is that of movement, too. “My teachers have taught me to ‘meet the mind’ at it’s current state before you still it. A dynamic yoga practice ‘busies’ the mind with something so that it can focus on one thing at a time, instead of the usual multi-tasking that we so often do. The shift between physical movement to meditative movement happens when I am in the flow or 'in the zone.’ It's when there is no thinking involved and I am just being. This occurs when my mind has stopped analyzing every little thing and just goes with the movement,” says Eleazar-Manzano, who owns and teaches in I Go Beyond Yoga, a studio that has branches in in Quezon City and The Fort.
Myth #2: You have to allot at least an hour to successfully meditate.
While some people can go for two hours in meditation, some say you don’t need a whole lot of time. Author of The Secrets of Meditation and huffingtonpost.com columnist davidji has developed a technique called 16 Seconds to Bliss, which he uses to train members of the military or highly stressed people to relax. In these 16 seconds he guides people to observe their breath, counting to four for every inhalation and every exhalation. For those few seconds, one is fully present, aware only of one’s breath, and that, davidji says, is meditation.
“As a busy corporate individual, sometimes my mind has no more space for all the things I have to do. Meditation, even just for five minutes, gives me the chance to sit, take a step back, and allow silence to fill me,” says Mj Burgoyne, an advertising practitioner and yoga teacher at Urban Ashram at The Fort.
Myth #3: Something magical has to happen when you meditate.
In his column in huffingtonpost.com, davidji says we wait for a physical sensation or a message from beyond or an “aha! moment” to unfold, but he stresses that the magnificence of meditation happens NOT when you're meditating but when your eyes are open and you're back here with the rest of us interacting with others in the world.
“Meditation balances me internally rather than causes work and everything else to be more balanced externally. I still have the same schedule of stuff to do and accomplish everyday, but the way I perceive all this life stuff I go through changes,” says Christine Wong Yang, owner of Zen Nutrients, a local organic hair and skincare line. “I am a lot quieter inside and am a lot less emotionally invested in particular outcomes. On the outside people maybe hardly notice any change at all, but I do, which is what matters,” says Yang, who just recently opened the sixth branch of Zen Nutrients in Festival Mall, Alabang.
Myth #4: You’re too easily distracted to meditate.
Of course you’re distracted, we all are. The world is constantly churning external noise; you can’t tune such pollution out in one go. “One of the biggest challenges of meditation is the ‘monkey mind,’ and I used to beat myself up about it—that I'm never ever going to get this whole meditation thing because I could never ‘quiet the mind.’ Then I learned that you don't even have to suppress those extraneous thoughts; you just let them be, observe them,” says Owen Santos, a freelance writer, yogi, and meditation practitioner.
Myth #5: The concept of meditation is too abstract to understand.
Lawyer and dancer Cynthia Nuval likens the twist and turns of the courtroom to the pirouettes and pique turns she does when she dances. “Regardless of the type of turn, the principles are the same: keep your leg steady, be centered, focus on your spot. Meditation is centering. It allows a person to gather energies sent to various journeys, back. It's collated. It's solid. It keeps us steady. That's why regardless of how many turns one makes, if the center is solid, even if one's legs or arms are made to do certain movements, one doesn't fall,” says Nuval.
Also read: Top 5 Tips To Clear Your Head