Meditation is something that everyone can do, and in fact you could do it right here, right now if you wanted to. Unfortunately people get bogged down with the complexities of it all, so here we dispell the myths that surround it.
1. It's bad to be having thoughts
Drop that idea right now! Your brain is going to have thoughts - lots and lots. It's what it does. You can't directly stop them (though we've all tried) but you can indirectly, by putting a distance between you and them. This automatically happens the deeper you move into meditation. One classic method is to see your thoughts passing through your mind like clouds, coming and going.
2. I don't need to do it often to get results
Maybe. But unlikely. For the biggest benefits, the more often - and more regularly - you can do it, the better.
3. It takes at least an hour
It can. But it doesn't have to. Minutes, hours, days - how long you meditate is up to up to you. Some find ten minutes a day is enough, others choose to 'go in' for two hours or more. Make up your own meditation length; trust your intuition.
4. I need a teacher before I can start
It certainly makes a difference to have an experienced meditator to guide you at the start, but there's no reason once you've got the hang of it that you become your own teacher/support. Or simply start off with guided meditations on a CD. If you have the discipline, go ahead. And the end of the day, meditation is you hanging out with yourself.
5. I'll have to meditate hundreds of times before seeing big changes in me
This isn't my experience. I had one client - new to meditation - who within a few weeks started to look younger, have more energy, be kinder to her children - to the point where friends were asking her what moisturiser she was using. If you ask me, there's no beauty product on earth that produces the transformations meditation is capable of. Because it touches all of you - inside and out.
6. If I have a bad experience once, I will always have one
Every time you meditate - even if it's the same one you do for a lifetime - it's different to the time before. Why? Because you're hanging out with yourself, and you change - thoughts, cells, movement, breathing - every second.
This reality is perhaps what I love most about meditation; no two sessions are the same. Ever. The secret is to simply watch what happens to you each time you meditate. (I know a good joke about this*).
Meditation - like life - is about the little things. Look out for them. They're each a sign that you're on the right path.
* A student went to his meditation teacher and said: "My meditation is horrible! I feel so distracted. Or my legs ache. Or I'm constantly falling asleep. It's just horrible!"
"It will pass" the teacher said, matter of factly.
A week later, the student came back to his teacher. "My meditation is wonderful! I feel so aware, so peaceful, so alive! It's just wonderful!"
"It will pass" the teacher replied, matter of factly.