I’m not going to sit and do nothing for 30 minutes
Dispelling 4 myths about mindfulness
Those of you who regularly get your meditation on, this isn’t for you. If yoga is your thing, this isn’t for you. But, if you’re a busy person thinking mindfulness is a waste of time, this is for you. If you think 30 minutes of quiet time is an eternity, this is for you. If you, like me, have ADHD and think there is no way you can make your brain stop zipping around long enough to get anything out of it, this is for you. Or if you have managed to get this far without really understanding what mindfulness is, this is for you.
Myth 1: It’s a waste of time.
Let’s start here. I can’t say "nope" on this one enough. Mindfulness has so many proven benefits. Spend a little time with Google and you will find articles touting mindfulness for reducing anxiety, lowering blood pressure, managing difficult emotions, increasing tolerance for other races and beliefs (for real!), improving the quality of sleep, learning better focus, lessening symptoms for irritable bowel syndrome, and the list goes on and on. Seriously, I can’t stress this enough, mindfulness makes a difference. It’s science, people!
Myth 2: It’s time consuming.
Guess what? There are no rules! You don’t have to set aside a chunk of your day to reap the benefits. If you are able to, good for you! Do it! Specific periods of time set aside just for you is always the ultimate goal. If you can’t, you’re probably not looking hard enough. We all have a few minutes here and there between this and that. If you ever encounter me sitting in my car in the corner of the Target parking lot with my eyes closed, I’m not napping. I probably have a few minutes between places to be and am making the most of it. And if you can’t find any blocks of time, one minute is beneficial. One minute. Take one minute of time and breathe. A lot of watches these days have reminders and timers specifically for this purpose. My watch tells me to breathe for a minute every hour. Sometimes I jump on it, other times I ignore it and go about my day. If your watch doesn’t do this, any timer works. Or, just take a few deep breaths until you feel like it’s a good time to stop. No rules!
Myth 3: I can’t focus/too many distractions.
This one is a tough one. I’m not going to lie, it can feel weird at first. You’re sure you spent too much time reminding yourself to stop thinking. But the thing is, even when it’s hard, it still feels good. You still reap the benefits of the pause in your day, the awareness of your body and world around you. And it gets easier. Just like any other thing in life, the more you practice, the easier and more natural it feels. You probably won’t be able to focus for the entire time, but that’s okay.
Myth 4: Mindfulness means sitting with crossed legs and incense and a Buddha statue.
Well, it can be all of those things, but for most of us, it isn’t. The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of mindfulness is “a mental state achieved by focusing awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.” It doesn’t say anything about rules. (Back to the no rules thing!) It’s taking a break from the hamster wheel of thoughts in your brain. Sometimes it might mean just taking the time to notice how many shades of green there are while looking at trees, sometimes it may be just sitting with your thoughts. Sometimes it might be using one of the zillions of mindfulness apps out there for a guided meditation. These apps will often have guides for learning the basics for beginners, specific topics and time frames to choose from, among other offerings. Some popular ones are Headspace, Calm and My Space Meditation. There are many, many more. If one doesn’t feel like a fit, don’t give up! Another one may offer exactly what you’re looking for.
Give it a shot! What do you have to lose but a little stress?