When you hear the word ‘wellness’, the first thing that usually comes to mind is meditation. The ancient practice has been around for thousands of years, and although it was first conducted for religious reasons, it has now been adapted by the mainstream as a therapeutic tool for better overall health. It is still met with skepticism, mainly by those who’ve tried it once and gave up after a few minutes of not being able to clear their minds, but these misunderstandings and incorrect assumptions are only preventing people from experiencing the scientifically-proven benefits of the wellness practice.
To debunk some of the common myths about meditation, we turned to meditation expert, Michael Teh. The registered yoga teacher was a young and successful investor and entrepreneur whose life changed after embarking on daily meditation. Other than reaping the rewards of good health, joy and positivity, meditation has also helped enhance his business performance – resulting in ease and abundance when it comes to investments, stock trading and other business. He now has a healthy outlet to relieve stress, along with other negative emotions, and has built more positive relationships with his family and friends.
Teh shares, “As a result [of meditation], you become more intuitive and often find the wisdom to overcome challenges. At the same time, you will find yourself being more patient, more positive and loving when faced with problems and challenges – where in the past, such challenges may have triggered you to become angry, sad, hateful, and other negative emotions”. Read on to learn more and transform your mindset.
The Most Common Misconceptions About Meditation
- Meditation is a religious practice and for those who are lost.
I would like to debunk the notion that meditation is a religious practice, and only for those who are lost. The underlying and ultimate purpose of meditation is to seek the understanding and realization of Who You Truly Are – which I termed as Self-Realization. Self-Realization is crucial in the evolution of Humanity, leading one to understand and live a life of purpose, fulfilment, contentment and joy. Knowing and realizing Who You Truly Are sets the foundation towards actualizing your fullest potential in this lifetime. The first step towards Self-Realization is to develop awareness through mindful breathing, and meditation is the tool used to develop mindfulness and awareness.
- Meditation is just for relaxation.
While relaxation is the fundamental principle for meditation, meditation practice is not just a relaxation technique. I always share with my students that meditation is not something that you need to do or perform, but rather create the right condition for meditation to happen naturally.
- Meditation is selfish.
It may at times seem that a meditator is selfish – by sitting down on a cushion for long moments, and not seen as working or engaging with the family. However, finding time for yourself and taking care of your own mental wellbeing is crucial towards being a happier person for your family and community. Meditation is a form of self-care and self-love that leads to a healthier and happier life in the long run. It aids in removing negative thoughts and emotions from your body-mind-soul, leading to positivity, joy and happiness. When you are happy, you will naturally emanate loving kindness towards not just yourself, but all other sentient beings as well – including your family and friends. As a result, you will nurture and develop more positive relationships with the people around you.
The Health Benefits Of Meditation
One must seek to understand that our body, mind and soul are one unit that makes us a Human Being. If we are not able to balance the wellbeing of the body, mind and soul, we will not be able to live a life of positivity and lasting happiness. For example, if you are constantly living under stress and pressure, this will result in unhappiness, and also cause harm to your body by breeding diseases or mental sickness. Meditation cultivates inner peace, calm and balance. It can also be used to conduct inner-healing to remove the negative emotions that have been hidden or stored inside your body and mind – this inner healing brings forth lightness and positive mental health.
Before I embarked on a journey of meditation practice, I was not aware that there were a lot of hidden negative emotions inside our system. These negative emotions arise from our day-to-day lives, be it through our eating habits, conversations with people around us, the information we receive from social media, the conditioning of our minds due to environmental and societal factors, or the pressure and stress from work – these all contribute to the deterioration of our mental and physical health. What’s worse is that we are not even aware of it. Through meditation, you will be able to develop the necessary state of mind where you are mindful and aware of these negative conditions in you, and thus also giving you the inner power to shift from negative to positive. As a result, it heals and aids in developing a positive mental and physical wellbeing.
How To Start Meditating
Depending on the fluctuations of your mind (which is highly dependent on your state of mind – thoughts and emotions), one can start meditating daily in a short time span of 5 minutes, and slowly and gradually increase the time of meditation to 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes or even up to an hour. The aim is to not be distracted by your own thoughts and emotions, and seek to cultivate emptying your thoughts and emotions through meditation.
The goal of meditation is to develop awareness and mindfulness. Once mindfulness is developed, meditation can then be used to develop concentration. It is a mind exercise – like how we go to the gym and carry weights to build muscle, meditation can be used to train the mind by cultivating mindfulness and concentration. One should cultivate a daily meditation practice, and seek to realize the benefits of it and thus make it a way of life.
Michael’s Daily Meditation Routine
I wake up every morning to perform yoga Surya Namaska (Sun Salutation), Qi Gong movements, and meditation leading to stillness and a positive mind. I spend an hour every morning doing this prior to leaving the house – it sets the right tone and mood for the day before I start my busy schedule.
At night, prior to sleep, I will sit for a short 10-15 minute meditation to calm my mind – emptying all thoughts and emotions, leading to a very good, deep sleep. These simple yet powerful practices have indeed helped me to develop a positive and healthy state of mind, resulting in positive physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
If you are interested in attaining self-realization, visit Teh’s website for more information on his signature program “The Essence of Life Workshop Series” and weekly Yoga and Qigong classes. You can also follow him on Instagram for more mindfulness tips!
At times, our busy lifestyles can be too overbearing for our mental health – leaving us feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Instead of indulging in unhealthy habits, a safer way to cope with stress is by meditating.
Popular for its therapeutic purposes, studies have shown that meditation is effective when it comes to reducing stress, lowering anxiety levels and improving overall mental health.
But what exactly is meditation?
The word ‘meditation’ derives from the Latin term meditari, which means “to ponder or reflect”. This makes the act of meditation as simple as being present and coming into awareness with your thoughts.
Do I have to sit cross-legged with my eyes closed?
It’s not the only way to meditate. Plus, let’s face it, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, so here are a few meditation techniques you can try instead:
- Take a meditative walk
No, it’s not aimlessly walking around and bumping into things with your eyes closed – it’s the opposite really. Find a pace that suits you and pay attention to your surroundings (with your eyes wide open). Start observing how your body feels and become more aware of your thoughts – don’t forget your posture. For even more therapeutic relief, head outdoors and enjoy the beauty of nature!
- Use writing as a meditation tool
It’s not easy to consciously focus on the present and be aware of your thoughts, some might even find it overwhelming to do so. By writing, you’ll be able to clear your mind and write down any thoughts circulating in your head. It’s similar to journaling, but the key here is to write without any form of judgement. It can also be helpful when you need to self-reflect.
- Meditative breathing exercises
Many meditation techniques use the breath as a focal point. When you inhale and exhale through your nose, notice how your diaphragm moves with each breath. Continue focusing on your breath and shift your awareness to how your body feels, and before you know it – you’re in a meditative space! The best part of it all is that you can literally do it anywhere at any time – be it during a morning shower, waiting for the LRT or even at your office desk.
- Lying down guided meditations
If the conventional meditation style feels too restricted, or you just don’t have the energy to be concerned about your posture, try lying down! Lie back flat on the floor, hands rested to your side (or on your stomach) and gaze towards the ceiling. Then, gently close your eyes and focus on your breath. If this feels too comfortable, and you feel like you’re about to dose off, put on your earphones and listen to any guided meditation audio.
If you’re still unsure and don’t know where to start, check out these short and simple guided meditations and incorporate them into your day. A little goes a long way, and before you know it, you’ll be a meditation guru!