When it comes to meditation, there are a lot of misconceptions out there. Does it mean just switching off your thinking? Does it make you happy all the time? Can you just start meditation immediately? What exactly is meditation, and is it the same as mindfulness? In this podcast (episode #224) and blog, I speak with mindfulness and meditation expert Emily Fletcher about common mistakes people make while meditating, the difference between mindfulness and meditation, meditation myths that are holding us back, how meditation can improve your mental and physical health, how to make meditation a daily habit, how to go beyond mindfulness, and more!
Emily developed the Ziva technique, which is focused on (1) mindfulness, (2) meditation and (3) manifesting. Mindfulness is very good at dealing with stress in the now moment, as it directs your focus and helps bring about a different state of mind. Meditation, on the other hand, helps you surrender and let go, allowing the body to rest and heal from past and present stresses (including trauma). Manifesting, however, means consciously creating the life you want. It is not a magic trick; it means getting intentional about what you want your life to look like. It uses the sacred time at the end of a meditation session when the brain is in a state of coherence to ask, “what would I love right now?” This essentially redirects your mental energy from your past trauma to your hope for the future.
Emily uses mantras to guide her meditations. These are different to positive affirmations; they are “mind vehicles” designed to help you go from actively thinking to settling down and de-exciting the nervous system, which creates order in the brain and body and allows past traumas and issues to come to the surface, so you can face and deal with them.
This kind of meditation has many positive effects on the brain and body. It creates healthy, physical changes in the brain and body that help build up your mental resilience and help you heal, from the inside out. It does this by helping with stress-related sleeping issues, which, in turn, can strengthen and heal the mind and body. It can also increase your intelligence by helping you focus and think creatively, improve your biological age, increase your sex drive and the quality of your sexual intimacy, improve the gut-brain connection, heal gastro-intestinal issues, and reduce anxiety and depression, which are symptoms of underlying issues in your life.
However, as Emily points out, it is important to remember that meditation can be challenging if you don’t have any training. Meditation is a skill—it doesn’t just happen. In fact, it can be very stressful if you do not have any training or support (like that offered by Emily in her Ziva meditation course), as there can be a difficult purging process associated with the recollection of past stresses and traumas. This is why therapy and specific mind management techniques can be a very helpful addition to any kind of meditation practice, especially if you are dealing with a lot or going through a very challenging time.
Other common misconceptions about the meditation process are:
1. Thinking it means clearing the mind.
The point of meditation is not to clear the mind. This is impossible, and, if we believe this, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Meditation is about getting good at life, not good at meditation. It helps you be the best version of yourself!
2. Thinking you are too busy to meditate.
When you deal with your past, it makes you smarter and more productive in the future. Meditation doesn’t hold you back; it makes you more productive and helps you manage your mind and time better. It is an investment, not a drawback.
3. Being afraid of facing your feelings.
Meditation will not numb you; it is not a pain pill. It will force you to move through your pain, which will make you more resilient and your healing more sustainable.
How? Surrendering during meditation helps you access more subtle states of consciousness. It does not clear the mind; rather, it harnesses the thoughts you think and helps you move towards a greater sense of fulfillment by allowing the mind to fall into momentary silence, which releases your past and present stresses, so you can deal with them by tapping into your inner wisdom. (This is the meditation cycle.)
For more on mindfulness, meditation and mental health, listen to my podcast with Emily (episode #224), and check out her website. Interested in doing Emily's course? Go to https://zivameditation.com/preview/, which will give you the first 3 days of zivaONLINE for free!
If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing! And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media (don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).
For more self-care tips to improve your mental health, pre-order my new book 101 Ways to be Less Stressed, which is now on sale at 20% off!
You can also check out my app SWITCH, which is a great tool for helping you learn how to manage your mind and go beyond mindfulness by dealing with the roots of your choices, and overcoming thought patterns and behaviors that hold you back through the mental process of reconceptualization.
To learn more about mindfulness and mental health, register for my Virtual Mental Health Summit this December 3-6! For more see drleafconference.com. CME and CEU credits are available for PAs, NPs, RNs, MDs, DOs, and other medical professionals, and certificates of attendance will be given for physical therapists, occupational therapists and social workers!
3:45 What is meditation and how it can help you?
12:07 How meditation can improve your mental & physical health
18:00 Common meditation myths & misconceptions
27:00 Why we need to go beyond mindfulness
29:47 Common mistakes people make when meditating
37:28 What are the different types of meditation?
42:25 What it means to surrender during meditation
46:30 What is emotional clearing and how can it help you?
49:30 The difference between the mind and brain
51:11 Why we should be concerned about the wellness industry
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