Do you feel like you’re seeing the word “mindfulness” pop up all over the place? It’s a pretty hot topic right now, and for good reason. Mindfulness has a ton of benefits, including decreased anxiety, stress, and depression, as well as increased calm, happiness, and attention. Pretty awesome, right?
But with increased popularity, comes increased misconception. So it’s time to set the record straight. It’s time to debunk a few, common mindfulness myths.
1. Mindfulness means you have to be calm. This is one of the most common mindfulness myths. It’s true that feeling calm is often an outcome or side effect of mindfulness, but it’s not the goal. Remember, mindfulness is about bringing your attention to the present moment. That’s all. If that brings you a sense of calm, awesome. If it doesn’t, that’s totally okay.
2. Mindfulness requires that you sit cross-legged on the floor. Nope. You can practice mindfulness almost anywhere, at any time. On a bus, on a train, at work, or at home. Standing, sitting, laying, walking, or while drinking your coffee. No need to sit cross-legged on the floor.
3. Mindfulness is a cure. Mindfulness doesn’t eliminate your stress. It doesn’t give you the perfect life. (Bummer, right?) What mindfulness does, however, is give you a tool for your mental and emotional health. Just about everything is easier to handle when you practice mindfulness. So while it’s not a cure, it’s an awesome place to start.
4. Mindfulness means never getting distracted. You’re a human; of course you’re going to get distracted. The key is to bring your attention back to the present moment, each and every time you get distracted. I would rather you get distracted ten times during a meditation, coming back to the present moment each time, then not get distracted at all. Getting distracted and coming back to the moment is what strengthens your mindfulness “muscle.”
5. Mindfulness is easy. Don’t you wish this were true? Sadly, it’s not. Like anything else healthy, mindfulness takes practice, energy, and work. Of course it’s easier to rush around frantically, letting your attention go where it wants. But mindfulness prompts you to slow down and pay attention, which takes some extra effort.
6. Mindfulness is a finished product. Lots of people think that once they get to a certain level, they will have mastered mindfulness. And then “poof,” they’re done, and they don’t need to practice any longer! Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Mindfulness is a muscle, meaning you have to continue to work it out if you want it to be strong.
7. Mindfulness is a religious thing. Focusing your attention on the here and now has nothing to do with religion or spirituality. It has to do with focusing your attention. That’s it. And while some religions integrate mindfulness into their teachings, they don’t have the corner market on it. Lots of religions encourage kindness, but we don’t call kindness a “religious thing” do we?
8. Mindfulness is meant to be practiced all of the time. If this were true, you’d still be sitting on the edge of your bed, feeling your body and setting your intention for the day. And who has time for that? Mindfulness isn’t meant to be practiced all day. Rather, it’s meant to be practiced several times throughout the day, building that “muscle” I mentioned earlier.
9. Mindfulness is weird. Mindfulness is new for most people, which can make it uncomfortable at first. Sure, it may feel different, but try not to translate that to “weird.”
10. Mindfulness is enough for emotional health. As much as you hear about mindfulness these days, you might think it’s all you need for emotional health. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. You still need additional skills and tools. Gratitude, self-talk, and courage are a few of my favorites.
Hopefully you’re convinced of about the benefits of mindfulness. It truly is amazing. However, there’s still a lot of misinformation out there. So tell me, what mindfulness myths have kept you from practicing?