Mindfulness Myths dispelled: could it work for you?
Have you been thinking that a Mindfulness practice could help you feel much more relaxed? Make life’s big and little difficulties a bit easier to cope with?
If you have, that makes me really happy (because you are right!) Perhaps you haven’t got started yet because these mindfulness myths and misconceptions are blocking your way. If so, allow me to shine a little light because:
Mindfulness can help you
- be more comfortable in your body.
- have more energy.
- have less stress on your mind.
and it takes less time than you think. 🙂
Mindfulness Myth 1. Mindfulness: sitting around all day doing nothing…
All day? No.
Doing Nothing? No!
Mindfulness can involve sitting to begin with … but it can also be done standing, walking, kneeling or lying down.
The actual time needed? A regular 10-minute practice is a good target to begin with.
As for “doing nothing” – well it might look to the outside world as though you are doing “nothing”, but you are in fact working:
• You are working internally with your thoughts.
• You are coaching yourself to move away from your ‘Autopilot’ state of mind to your ‘Mindful’ state of mind.
Your autopilot is a vital beast in getting you through your day as it allows you to do so much without even thinking about it. It remembers your actions (both physical and mental), that you repeat on a regular basis and creates shortcuts in your brain to enable them to happen quickly and without much thought. Have you ever driven to work and then realised you don’t remember anything of your journey? That is an example of your autopilot at work.
BUT your autopilot does have one major downside…it can be the guilty party responsible for;
- Your backache
- Your neck and shoulders hurting
- Your headaches or migraines
- Draining your energy
- Feeling angry or irritable
- Feeling ‘flat’, ‘heavy’ or tearful.
These problems all come about because your body mindlessly follows your brain’s instructions; it’s not until it’s too late that you realise that you have hurt yourself!! So by tuning into yourself at regular times during your day you switch yourself into a Mindful Mindset and help your body and mind feel fantastic instead!
Sitting around doing nothing all day?
Mindfulness Myth 2. You have to sit on the floor cross-legged
It is a myth that you have to sit on the floor, cross-legged to be mindful. You can do this if you are flexible enough, but if (like me) it’s just not going to happen, you are a million miles better off choosing a position that is more comfortable!
Here are your other mindfulness position options;
• Sitting in a chair.
• Lying down.
To work out which position(s) are the best for you, my Best Position for Mindfulness (link to my blog) is the best resource to use.
Mindfulness Myth 3. You need to keep muttering “OMMMM”!
No, you don’t have to do this – unless you want to.
Chanting ‘OM’ is just one way of developing a mindful mindset and if chanting isn’t your thing, you don’t have to do it.
Mindfulness Myth 4. It’s just another word for Meditation, isn’t it?
The words ‘Mindfulness’ and ‘Meditation’ are often used interchangeably these days. They are different but closely related features of one idea; finding inner peace.
‘Meditation’ is an umbrella term which includes all manner of practices to help you find inner peace and Mindfulness is one of these practices.
Mindfulness Myth 5. It is selfishly paying attention to yourself
If you were just learning Mindfulness purely for your own pleasure, perhaps. But take a moment to reflect….if your back hurts or your headaches how do you react to your family?
Grumpy? Irritable and then feel guilty afterwards perhaps?
But when you are mindful of how your body feels, just as any aches start to build up, you know it’s time to shift your body into a different position and stop it getting worse.
If you are mindfully aware of when you getting uptight then you know you need to something to relax. When you do just that, handling the rest of your day just becomes instantly easier.
You can react to your partner or to your kids in a much more positive way. One where you feel like you are ‘getting on with each other’ rather than rubbing each other up the wrong way.
The same results can apply to your workplace too, which means you can get your work done and feel much more creative and passionate about the whole process.
Is that selfish? I don’t think so!
Mindfulness Myth 6. Mindfulness involves emptying your mind of thoughts
Emptying your mind of all thought is not a requirement of Mindfulness. Instead, you learn to slow down your thoughts by concentrating your mind on just one thing. An example of this is ‘one thing’ could be the movement of your ribs as you breathe.
When you are a beginner at doing this, within a few seconds of your mind will have wandered off, so don’t about worry this if it has already happened to you. It happens to everyone and it doesn’t mean you can’t be Mindful!
When you notice your mind is elsewhere you bring it back to your one point of focus. Just doing this very simple process is being Mindful.
As you become stronger and more skilful with your Mindfulness you will find it easier to stay with your one pointed focus for longer. Then rather than a non-stop stream of thoughts, you will start to notice brief gaps between them. This is where the ‘emptying’ idea comes from. It is less a process of forcibly stopping all thoughts and more a gentle coaxing to slow down your thoughts to achieve this.
All it takes to do this is regular practice – and a good teacher!
Mindfulness Myth 7. It brings up a lot of painful emotions
Painful emotions can be scary, intimidating and overwhelming when they burst in on you. But painful emotions are something humans all over the world have to cope with so you are by no means, alone! It was out of a need to better deal with this sort of distress, that the practice of Mindfulness was born.
It’s likely that painful emotions are already making themselves known in form of;
• Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
• Comfort eating.
• Back pain.
• Headaches and the like.
Rather than just putting up with these difficulties you can do something about them.
Mindfulness gently and carefully allows you to become aware of your emotions. It helps you dissipate much of their negative energy before you get overwhelmed. If your emotions are happy, uplifting ones, Mindfulness helps you revel in them, enjoy them and really absorb their benefits.
By the way, it was when I recognised the need to grapple with my emotions that I learnt to meditate and to practice mindfulness. Read my blog ‘The Mindfulness Guide to Mum and Dad‘ to find out more.
Mindfulness Myth 8. It makes you emotionless. Joyless….
Actually what you achieve with Mindfulness is the complete opposite. You find more joy, more happiness because Mindfulness enables you to live more easily with your emotions. The negative ones (anger, worry, bitterness, jealousy) no longer drown you or completely take over your life.
Et voila! More space for happy stuff in your life!!
Mindfulness Myth 9. It takes years to benefit from
You feel the peaceful, calm vibe from the very first time you practice Mindfulness. But in order to find that vibe effortlessly you do need to keep practising it.
So you can get great short term results but you get even more benefit if you do it over the long term.
Mindfulness Myth 10. Mainly for serious Yoga practitioners or those of a religious bent, isn’t it?
Yes, serious Yoga practitioners often integrate meditation and mindfulness into their Yoga practice, but you don’t have to be a Yogi to get started.
Students of any religion (or even no religion) can use mindfulness as a process to deepen and develop their understanding of their own spiritual beliefs. But you don’t have to ‘have’ a religion or ‘spiritual beliefs’ to be mindful, calm and peaceful.
So is Mindfulness just another thing to think about?
Yes, initially it will be something else that needs to be thought about in terms of when and how to integrate it into your life, but once you start paradoxically, practising mindfulness can give you MORE time and MORE energy.
Ask yourself this…..how much time do you already spend going over and over the same old stuff in your head?
• Your list of things to do at work.
• Your list of things to do for the home.
• What you should have said or what you could have said to your partner/ child/ boss/ mum etc.
• Endlessly self-analysing….why haven’t I got my life partner, a promotion, a salary raise, freedom to do as I wish?
With your mindfulness practice, you give yourself complete clarity on what you need to do, how important each task is and an action plan to get it done. This frees up your time and your energy. Rather than being yet another drain on you, it can be the most useful and helpful activity you have ever done!
An easy way to find out more about Mindfulness is to just have a go. Follow this link to Three Mindful Steps and a Remedy to get started. It tells you all you need to know and takes you through a short and relaxing mindful practice. Perfect, if you get aches and pains in you back, bum or legs, but pretty good for tiredness too.
Have you got any concerns about Mindfulness or any feedback you want to give on this blog? If so, I would love to hear from you! All you need to do is comment in the box below and I can answer you:-P
Further reading about Mindfulness
Achieve more calm in your day – Try my Nine Breaths for a Calmer Mind download