To many, meditation has become a subconscious means to control our emotions and ‘feel better.’
Muddled by the deeply rooted belief that there is something innately wrong to fix about ourselves, we have robbed the ancient practice of its ability to know ourselves, accept ourselves, meet our personal needs and achieve our goals.
Although the collective desire to fix and control how we feel is a reasonable means to protect ourselves from pain, it disconnects us from the treasure of information our emotions are communicating–disconnecting us from the truth of who we are.
Common Misconceptions About Meditation
The three most common misconceptions we hear about meditation are that you must:
- Silence your thoughts
- Control your emotions
- Feel calm and peaceful
Though meditation often results in feeling peaceful, it is only through experiencing, accepting and integrating our emotions that this natural evolution will take place.
Presence, Observation and Understanding
We can think of meditation as the practice of presence and observation: relaxing the body, focusing on the breath, and observing our thoughts and emotions without judgment.
It is a time to objectively view our fears, limiting beliefs and conditioning in order to disidentify with these limits and embrace who we are with compassion.
In doing so, we better understand the root causes of our stress, pain, and insecurity in order to address them and create safety and security moving forward.
Meditation allows us to gain clarity of our unique needs, preferences, and goals enabling us to take practical steps to achieve them and create new beliefs that will support our success and wellbeing.
Emotions as Messengers
During meditation, rather than viewing negative emotion as something to overcome, consider negative emotion to be your most important messenger, indicating that greater alignment can be found in some areas.
Negative emotions are vital for us to feel polarity so that we clarify what we want based on what we do not wish to.
Validating Our Emotions
Society tends to shame and discourage negative emotions, and thus it is entirely natural that we suppress our feelings or feel shame around them. For example, anger is usually an indication that our boundary has been crossed or a need has not been met. Anger is a healthy, empowering emotion.
When we do not allow ourselves to feel our anger and rage and do not validate these emotions, we are subconsciously telling ourselves it’s ok for our boundaries to be crossed or that other people’s boundaries are more important than our own–leading to a state of powerlessness.
We can use meditation to have compassion for ourselves and our past choices. By listening to, fully allowing and embracing our anger, we can authentically move in the direction of safety, get our needs met, and feel the feelings of joy, freedom, and empowerment we would instead feel.
Rewriting Limiting Beliefs
We gain perspective on the limiting beliefs and subconscious programming that stand between us and our desires through meditation. Beliefs are thoughts we have repeated so many times that they feel like truth. Beliefs are not the truth, and we have the power at any moment to choose ideas that are more beneficial to our success and happiness.
It is important to objectively review our beliefs as many of them are subconscious–meaning we have adopted views from others rather than consciously choosing what we want to believe. If we have a goal or desire but subconsciously feel unworthy of or incapable of that desire—we will never achieve it no matter our actions.
To succeed, our subconscious beliefs about ourselves and the world must align with the life and goals we are choosing.
By consciously choosing an empowered belief such as ‘I am worthy of success’ or ‘I am capable,’ we can use meditation as a time to build proof for this new belief.
10 Steps to Begin Your Meditation Practice
1. Start with an accessible 5-10 minute practice each day.
- Practice at the same time of day (such as when you wake up or before bed) as it signals your mind that it is time to be present.
- Choose the same space for your meditation when possible, or create a dedicated meditation space.
2. Begin by focusing on the sound of your breath and your physical sensations.
- Use even patterned breathing without space between breaths as you begin to stay present. (Inhale for 3-4 counts, exhale for 3-4 counts).
3. Notice your thoughts and emotions, labeling them when possible. Pay special attention to patterns and themes within your thoughts.
- For example, you could label each thought as negative, judgmental, or positive.
4. Notice what emotion you are currently experiencing most strongly.
- Even feelings such as numbness or apathy are emotions we can tune into.
5. Release all resistance to this emotion, allowing it completely.
- Allow the physical sensations that this emotion evokes (such as a tightness in your chest, a constriction in your throat).
6. Authentically validate this emotion, embracing it without trying to change how you feel.
- For example, let yourself know, “Anyone in my position would feel the same way. I have every right to feel the way I feel.”
7. What is this emotion revealing to you about your beliefs?
- What is this emotion revealing about your fears, beliefs about yourself, or the world?
- Ex. “I am a bad person. I am a failure. I am powerless. Things will always be this way.”
8. Ask yourself, is there something I would rather believe instead?
- Ex. I am worthy of love. My best is enough. My work brings value to the world.
9. How would you be feeling, acting and being if you knew this was true?
- Can you feel and embody these emotions right now?
10. Ask yourself, is there anything else that needs my attention right now?
Meditation – A Practiced Skill
Meditation is a practice. Like any other skill, with more training, the easier and more comfortable it will become, ultimately allowing us to use the mind’s unlimited power to our advantage.
Rather than using meditation as another means to fix ourselves, we can use it to empower ourselves to become the most authentic version of ourselves possible, rendering our desires, goals, and success inevitable.