5 Myths about Meditation and Mental Health – Busted.

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Meditation appears to be everywhere these days. You may have heard about it in yoga class or at the gym, or maybe have a friend who recently started practicing. 

Meditation may improve brain function, helping reduce the impact of daily stress and anxiety. By focusing your attention on the present moment, you may be able to better address your worries and fears. When it comes to mental health, meditation is highly regarded by the medical and wellness community. Being mindful may improve your mental health, but there are a few myths around this.

If you are curious about how meditation may help your mental health, it may be easier than you think. In order to practice meditation you don’t need to go on a retreat to Bali or sit still for eight hours a day. Here are five myths about meditation and mental health, busted.

You need a lot of time.

Meditation encourages you to be present. Being conscious of right now allows you to let go of the past and the future. You may feel like you never have enough time to get everything done during the day, and definitely don’t have extra time for meditation.

The best part about meditation is that there is no wrong way to do it. You can make meditation work for you, regardless of how busy your schedule may be. 

Being present in your life can take many forms, and does not require you to set aside two hours a day to meditate. Even taking five minutes during the work day can transform your response to life.

You can’t be distracted.

Some people worry that meditation won’t work for them because they are easily distracted. If you have difficulty focusing your mind, meditation can help. It’s okay if you’re distracted, it’s normal! Most people dart from one thought to another. 

Meditation is all about being aware that this is happening. You may be distracted, but meditation allows you to notice that you are distracted. Recognizing it allows you to learn different relaxation techniques to help focus your mind.

Distraction is a natural part of meditation. If you are anxious or stressed, it is normal to have trouble focusing. You may sit down in meditation and find that your attention is all over the place. And that’s okay! Meditation is not about removing distractions. It’s about how you respond to them. When we struggle mentally we often get lost in our thoughts and let our emotions be our guide. Meditation reminds us that we are not our thoughts, and gives us the space to recognize them and let them go. 

You’ll lose your drive.

Some people fear that meditation could take away their drive or quell their ambitions. But meditation isn’t about ignoring your desires or getting rid of your life goals. Meditation allows you to focus on the process of achievement, rather than the end goal. It may help manifest your goals, providing you with a clear mind.

Mental health is about balance. Stress is a normal part of life. Most of us don’t have control over how busy our lives are or the stressful situations we endure. Meditation helps us respond to these events in a more positive and calm manner. 

Being mindful won’t make you complacent or make you want to quit your job and live on the beach. But it may help you deal with difficult coworkers, long hours in the office or late nights studying for a major exam. 

It makes you sleepy.

Meditation is much more than monotone voices and spa music. Research shows that meditation may actually give you energy, by allowing you to relax and give your mind a break from continuous mental strain. If you are constantly stressed out meditation may make you feel drowsy at first, but in the long run it actually improves your energy.

Stress hormones, like cortisol, can make our body go into overdrive. Adrenaline can keep us going, moving at a hundred miles an hour until we crash from exhaustion. Meditation helps keep us slow and steady, possibly helping sustain energy by balancing the hormones that affect our metabolism.

It can make you feel anxious.

If you have a mental health condition like anxiety or depression, you may worry that sitting with your thoughts will be too difficult. If you are dealing with a traumatic event or struggling with difficult emotions like grief, sitting alone with your mind might sound like the last thing you want to do.

While complicated emotions may arise during meditation, it is very rare that meditation makes people anxious. If you are uncertain about meditation, it may be helpful to work with a trained professional who can help guide your practice. 

Meditation isn’t about facing your fears or fighting difficult emotions. It’s simply about recognizing them and letting go of their control over you. 

Being Friends with Your Mind

Studies show that meditation may help improve mental health. If you are dealing with a stressful situation or have suffered from depression for years, meditation may help you manage everyday emotions. Simply being mindful of your thoughts can help you change how you react to them.

Being friends with your mind isn’t easy. But meditation may help. You can practice meditation anywhere, from doing the laundry to going for a hike. Even if you get distracted or don’t have more than a couple minutes, meditation may have a positive impact on your life.

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