With more than seven billion minds active every moment, there are endless streams of thoughts in these minds on every aspect of creation. Some thoughts perceive reality the way it is, some are imagination, and some are simply misconceptions. While there are misconceptions and myths about many topics, one of the most popular topics is meditation. Say the word, “meditation” and all kinds of images and notions come up. Is this for me? I can’t sit for long hours. Who wants to meditate anyway?

Here are some of the most common myths about meditation:

Myth #1: Meditation is concentration
Meditation is actually deconcentration. Concentration is a result of meditation. Concentration requires effort, while meditation is absolute relaxation of the mind. Meditation is letting go, and when that happens, you are in a state of deep rest. When the mind is relaxed, we can concentrate better.

Myth #2: Meditation is a religious practice
Yoga and meditation are ancient practices that transcend all religions. In fact, meditation has the ability to bring people of different religions and nations together. Just like the sun shines for everyone, and the wind blows for everyone, meditation benefits everyone. Global humanitarian and peace ambassador Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “We encourage people from all backgrounds, religions and cultural traditions to come together and meditate in a spirit of celebration.”

Myth #3: Sit in the lotus posture to meditate
The Patanjali Yoga Sutras are perhaps one of the most scientific and detailed study that man has produced dealing with the nature of the mind. “Sthira sukham asanam,” a yoga sutra by the venerable sage Patanjali, explains that while meditating it is more important to be comfortable and steady. This helps us to have a deeper experience in meditation. You can sit cross-legged, on a chair or on a couch. Any of these are fine. What’s important is that when you start your meditation, you maintain a posture where the spine is erect and head, neck and shoulders are relaxed.

Myth #4: Meditation is only for old people
Many young people seem to think this way, however, meditation is essential for all youngsters. A majority of our learning happens during our youth, and we also gain skills to live a happy life. Regular practice of meditation instills such life skills in young minds. One important skill is learning to be emotionally stable and strong, and meditation can help develop this ability. Just like a shower keeps the body clean, meditation is like the shower for the mind.