What meditation can be for you, and what meditation is not

The ancient practice of meditation, rooted in Buddhist traditions, has gained widespread popularity in recent years as a powerful tool for enhancing mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

Indeed, the benefits of meditating are plenty. Meditation is a very learnable technique that one can pick up. You do not need a lot of preparation to start meditation. Most meditation practices are flexible in that you can meditate in different places and at different times (although we would avoid certain times – read on to find out more). As the world become more open to meditation, and more and more meditation is being practiced around the world, the trend of more people taking up meditation (with or without a religious stance) is going to rise.

For life practitioners – what can meditation be for you? Meditation is a great way to calm our minds, to achieve inner peace. Meditation is a stress-buster, a discipline that creates a centre of tranquility and zen around us. And when we beginners can overcome the challenges of restlessness, boredom, frustration, soreness or stiffness, meditation can also be part of our journey of self-discovery, insight, and profound personal transformation in our life as we bring our attention inward into uncovering what we are really like, what kind of thoughts and feelings remain inside us that we do not express or speak of.

So meditation offers us many possibilities in our life, and it is no surprise it is a clear yes to meditation as a life practitioner. However, as meditation becomes increasingly promoted as a cure-all / quick fix treatment for all sorts of issues : from minimizing negative thoughts and feelings like anxiety or depression, chronic pain, sleep problems, etc, we feel there is a necessity to also bring to light about the darker aspects to meditation and draw some boundaries around what meditation can be, and what meditation is not.

1. Meditation is not a one size fit all cure / substitute / replacement for medical / professional treatment

Meditation is not a cure-all, fix all for every ailment under the sun, even though it can boost to have a laundry list of benefits. Meditation can alleviate stress and pain levels but if your physical, mental or emotional requires medical or professional attention and medication, give it the attention it needs.

Meditation will not magically erase all your troubles away. If you wish to consider meditation as a form of treatment, then do your work to find the right meditation practice for the right moment for you. For example, if you have clinical anxiety, depression or psychosis, a professional therapist combined with a group meditation practice (to give you opportunities to voice your thoughts and feelings) is more likely to give you a better outcome. Meditation retreats – especially those with strict rules around silence, limited contact with the outside world and social isolation, can turn out to be more damaging than useful in circumstances that require medical / professional treatment.

2. Meditation is not a monkey-mind-emptying mission

You sit still, cross-legged, with your eyes half-closed, and you are able to focus your attention on your breathing (and counting in our case, for the QZ meditation technique). Inhale. Outhale count. Then… hello monkey mind… the incessant and indefatigable inner dialogue continues : “Where did I leave my wallet?” “Why did she say that to me?” “What is the meaning of my life?” “Why can’t I meditate”? “What am I doing wrong?”

Contrary to popular belief, meditation is not about emptying your mind of your wandering, spontaneous thoughts. It is NOT about ignoring, or suppressing, or avoiding your thoughts and feelings that come up during meditation. Neither is it about acting upon, such as indulging into the interpretation of every image that you might come cross while you are meditating. Rather, meditation can be seen as a mirror to your mind that reflects the kaleidoscope of thoughts, emotions, and sensations swirling within you. So a meditation practice becomes you developing a discipline that allows you to observe what is going on inside you without reaction, judgement or attachment. Do tread with some caution.

3. Meditation is not a quick fix to instant inner peace, let alone enlightenment

It’s been 6 months since you started on a daily meditation, and you are at a point where every time you try to meditate, you end up with little or no improvement

Not that inner peace is not attainable, but more that it is futile task to ask a beginner to focus on something like inner peace that one obviously does not have grasp of. (Side note : hence we have Inner Peace in a Bottle for those who would like a energetic reference point of what inner peace can be like.) Meditation can be a valuable practice for cultivating mindfulness and self-awareness in you, but meditation is definitely not a shortcut or quick fix. It is simply not realistic to assume that meditation alone can lead you to bypass and transcend all the complexities / conflicts / traumas in your life, including your cultural and psychological conditioning. Not to mention the fact that enlightenment is a deeply personal journey, and there can be many different paths and different individuals may require different approaches to achieve enlightenment.

On the subject of a quick fix, do consider what masters say when they refer to meditation as a practice. At a superficial practical level, any person who wants to practice something to attain a certain level of mastery will know that a practice requires repeated consistent effort doing the same thing. Which also means you need to come to terms with repeating the same steps over and over again. So one or a few sessions of meditation is not going to instantly transform you into a zen master or personal transformation expert. It could be the start of a great possibility for you, but it will require a number of factors to get to a certain desired state. Hence it is often said, meditation is more like a journey – sometimes bumpy, often beautiful, but always worth the ride.

4. Mediation is not a trauma eraser

Some of you might be aware that we are founded by Kelvin Lim Kian Meng, who started out his journey in the coaching and personal development industry – Executive Coach International and Live Your Mark – these organisations have worked to transform the lives of thousands over the past two decades. We staff at Exoterica Creations have personally witnessed what it takes to transform a person’s life, and it takes a lot of effort and energy, intention, skill, wisdom, patience and a whole lot of other factors. It is in this context we wish to point out that it is quite scary to hear of claims that does not take much to permanently remove trauma from your life. Truth is, your past traumas and regrets regarding school / family moments are not that easy to deal with – and meditation alone will not wipe your memory clean. Together with other tools and practices, a meditation practice help you make peace with your past and cultivate a sense of acceptance and forgiveness. But truth has to be said : even if you have forgiven someone “in your mind / heart”; it is still a world of difference to actually go and talk to that person and make peace with that person in real life. Just saying, you know.

5. Meditation is not an excuse to nap (though it can lead to better sleep)

This is a common misconception with beginners. Sure, meditation can be as relaxing as a nap on a hammock, but meditation not an excuse to doze off or to be used as a long term technique to help you fall asleep. Rather, meditation is the opposite : it is about staying aware, conscious, alert, and present in the moment and all that is happening around you – even if that moment feels like a battle against the urge to snooze or fall asleep. Confronting your restlessness, your boredom, your soreness, your frustration etc is difficult during meditation… sometimes, we are not actually sleepy but rather, shutting down. Being able to pick out the difference is important.

6. Meditation can be done anytime, anywhere

Meditation is not a free for all, do as you wish, anytime, anywhere. There can be times and places where meditating is… just not suitable or appropriate. Examples of no no : during high risk activities such as operating heavy machinery, driving, or performing tasks that require your full attention. Another example of No meditation would be during intimate moments – meditating in these moments is a recipe for awkwardness and distraction and we strongly recommend not to do so. Another time we would avoid meditating is during times of extreme emotional distress or extreme fatigue in the wee hours of the night.

Want to find out more about meditation? Contact us at +65 8153 1087 to find out more about our guided group meditation sessions. If you are looking for something to enhance your meditation practice – try our Inner Peace or Insight spray.

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