Mindfulness meditation: misconception, illusion, and delusion
Here is a list of the most common deceptive statements promoted by so-called meditation teachers and
by statements coming from students. The list is not exhaustive and not in any specific order.
The main purpose of practicing meditation is to relax & to quiet the mind.
Not true! The main purpose is to tame then control our ego-centered mind source of ongoing
unhappiness and dissatisfaction caused by desire, dislike and other negative feelings.
Only when we achieve a certain level of control of our ego-centered mind that mental relaxation be experienced. Relaxing the mind is only a positive side effect.
The practice of meditation is easy.
Not true! Its practice is demanding since it requires many attributes and skills such as:
- Understanding the rationale, process, and true objectives of mindfulness meditation.
- Requiring time, quiet location, commitment, patience, perseverance, and above all a non-judgmental attitude about the quality and progress of our meditation.
The practice of meditation requires a few minutes per week.
Not true! In order to progress, steadily meditation requires daily practice (unless special
circumstances). Practicing once in a while is a waste of time and a great delusion.
Guided meditation is the most effective way to practice mindfulness meditation.
Not true! Initial coaching (the what, how, why, when) is critical; however ongoing guided meditation can, in fact, be detrimental since meditation is above all a personal exercise without outside teacher and/or audiovisual interferences. Listening to meditative music is not meditation, it is just listening.
Reading a book about meditation is necessary.
Not true! Reading books on quantum physic does not make the reader a physicist.
A teacher is required to practice meditation.
Initially yes, in the long term, probably not.
Solo practice is just as good as group practice.
Not true! Group practice is twice as effective as the solo one. We don’t know why but increased energy
level within the group is a factor. Meditation in-group is also easier.
“After a while, you will be able to shut down your mind”.
Not true! Many teachers will say that. It is non-sense. It is like saying that one day one will be
able to stop breathing or stop her/his kidneys. Zen Masters practicing meditation 6 hours/day for 60 years still have ongoing thoughts during their practice. Shutting down the mind is a marketing trap.
Meditation is simple: just to focus on something.
Not true! Meditation is a physical and mental mindfulness (nonjudgmental awareness) exercise involving 4 interrelated components:
- Mindfulness on body posture and stillness.
- Mindfulness on focusing point (mind anchor) such as breathing.
- Mindfulness on incoming thoughts to let them go.
- Returning mindfully to the focusing point.
Breathing is the only focusing point in meditation.
Not true! Breathing is picked as the initial mind anchor for beginners however for experienced meditators any kind of focus target including feelings can be used as long as the focusing point is not the source of daydreaming preventing the practitioner to be mindful of her/his incoming thoughts.
“You will feel the benefits of meditation very soon”.
Not true! Benefits will come but the timing is unpredictable and based on the practitioner and the quality/quantity of practice including group practice.
To appreciate benefits may require the help of an objective and independent observer.
Looking for benefits is counterproductive since it may produce impatience, frustration, and discouragement. Looking for meditation to make you happy is pure delusion.
Assessing the frequency and quality of my meditation is important in order to progress:
Judging your meditation is a perfect recipe to quit since struggling while meditating is the norm, day after day.
Meditation is fun.
Not true! Meditation is neither fun nor boring. Meditation is what it is. Trying to label your meditation one way or the other is the best approach for quitting.
Sitting is the only way to meditate.
Not true! Any still body posture including the position of the hands together, closing or semi-open eyes are OK as long as the concentration on the focusing point and incoming thoughts are maintained. Having a straight back/neck and breathing by the nose are nevertheless recommended.
Besides sitting (floor/chair) walking meditation is a very good practice.
Controlling the mind is not as difficult as you think.
Not true! Meditation is trying to ” snare the mind ” whereby the mind is forced to focus on something. Meditation creates on the mind a violent reaction like having a wild monkey in a small cage since our mind hates to be told what to do and prefers to make us thinking zombies. Taming the mind is therefore not easy at all and requires a lot of practice.
Meditation is only for gurus, monks, and people with special skills.
Not true! Anyone may benefit from it.
Meditation is esoteric, airy-fairy.
Not true! To meditate is being down-to-earth with oneself, nothing weird about it.
The use of audiovisual supports will enhance the quality of meditation.
Not true! The simplest form of meditation is the most effective one but also the most demanding one.
Meditation will eliminate stress.
Not true! Meditation helps us to become non-emotional and non-judgmental regarding our stressors but does not eliminate them. Stressors may change but will be always with us.
Practicing meditation is physically easy and not demanding.
Not true! Meditation can be physically demanding even on a chair. Occasional back/neck pain, leg numbness can and will occur.
Meditation requires a steady still posture during the whole session.
Not true! There is nothing wrong with modifying the posture once in a while including coughing or scratching!
The practice of meditation is for everyone.
Not true! Candidates suffering from acute stress, very poor self-image, severe emotional past or current issues must be assessed initially by a healthcare provider prior to starting meditation since prolonged sitting may trigger or enhance severe negative emotional reactions.
Meditation is a selfish practice.
Not true! By discovering and appreciating yourself better you will be able to help others more efficiently. Being compassionate with ourselves first is a great way to be compassionate with others.
Meditation is a spiritual exercise.
Not true! Meditation can be spiritual and or can be used as therapy such as stress management.
Meditation does not have any therapeutic values.
Not true! the beneficial therapeutic values of mindfulness meditation has been proven over and over.
Thank you Nov. 29th, 2021