7 of the biggest misconceptions about meditation

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Jessica Pan
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Not convinced meditation is for you? Stylist.co.uk unpicks the so-called cure-all

Feeling tired? You should meditate. Stressed? Meditate. Can’t sleep? There’s a meditation app for that. The m-word has become the go-to solution for everything from depression and anxiety to acne and weight loss. But is it the magic solution?

Stylist.co.uk unpacks some common misconceptions about the practice – with the help of guest editor, Katie Piper. 

Meditation equals guaranteed inner peace

You’ve had a stressful day, so you take a seat, close your eyes and begin your meditation session. Except you can’t concentrate. Or stop worrying about what’s going on at work. Then you start to panic because you are supposed to be meditating but instead you’re getting worked up about that comment your boss made to you earlier today. 

And now your 20 minutes are up, but you feel more agitated than ever – and you’ve just failed at another task. Sound familiar? Seek out the guidance of a professional to help you focus. Or just try to meditate for a more manageable two minutes a day to get into the habit.

It’s the equivalent of counting sheep 

Meditating before you go to bed is in fact not a good idea as you’re more likely to be tired and in a passive state, and you’ll risk associating meditation with sleeping (or you might slip into slumber during your session). The purpose of a meditation session is actually the opposite: you are learning how to be fully aware and awake. 

Experts say that the best time to meditate is first thing but if you’re not a morning person, try meditating after you exercise.

Woman meditating

All together now: Ommmm 

Meditation can fix anything 

In clinical trials, mindfulness meditation has been associated with alleviating depression, chronic pain and reducing anxiety, but there is insufficient evidence for many other claims. More robust data is needed to back the claim that meditation can prevent age-related brain degeneration and findings were inconclusive in studies testing if meditation reduces stress hormone levels.

There’s no such thing as too much meditation

The optimal time for most people is 15-20 minutes, once or twice a day, but there can be too much of a good thing. Meditating might be good for you, but that doesn’t mean tacking on an extra hour or two is beneficial. If you find yourself feeling compelled to meditate multiple times a day, for hours at a time, this could be a symptom of a deeper affliction.

Everyone should meditate

You might never like meditation. If it’s causing you stress, don’t worry. You can still reduce anxiety and gain more focus by spending time in nature, swimming, talking to a friend or escaping into the latest Marian Keyes. The alternative options are endless – meditation isn’t mandatory.

You can even meditate underwater, if you like

Meditation will help you make the Forbes list

Traditionally, meditation was used to explore our existential awareness and ruminate on the meaning and purpose in life. What we’re taught via most meditation apps and in modern classes bears little resemblance to ancient texts that were more “path to enlightenment” and less “how meditating can help you smash your work day”. What meditation can do is quiet your mind and strengthen your attention muscle.

Meditation is best practised solo

Not so. A group can help you focus and prevent your mind from wandering. Try meditation classes at Re:Mind or Triyoga. Practising with others will also help with discipline and accountability, so consider joining a class if you really want to commit.

For one day only on Thursday 15 November, Katie Piper has taken over stylist.co.uk as part of The Kindfulness Project, packing the site with articles on what she’s learned about empathy and the importance of self-care..

For similarly inspiring and uplifting content, check out Katie Piper’s Extraordinary People, available on Apple Podcasts now.

Images: Unsplash