Meditation has a wealth of well-documented physical and emotional benefits, from helping to relieve stress and anxiety to managing pain and chronic illness. It's for these reasons that many people try mediating for the first time, willing and eager to gain a newfound clarity and peace of mind.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, who has studied mindfulness and meditation for more than 35 years, says the reality of meditation is often much different than people expect. In the above clip from his upcoming "Super Soul Sunday" interview, Kabat-Zinn and Oprah discuss this common misbelief about meditation.
When someone tries mediating for the first time, Oprah says their reaction is often, I'm not doing it right, she says. "People think something's supposed to happen." When in fact, she says, whatever that person is feeling is what's supposed to be happening.
"Exactly," Kabat-Zinn says. It's the biggest problem he sees with beginners. "And I know it's not happening because I'm just sitting here miserable and bored. And the breath is so stupid. And why do I have to pay attention to that? Or my mind is so inflamed. And they think, Oh, if I were really meditating, my mind would be blank. My breath would be easy. I'd feel so wonderful."
Though it may be frustrating to have these thoughts run through your mind, Kabat-Zinn explains that the important thing to understand is that mindfulness is a form of meditation. "The easiest thing for people to think about mindfulness is it equals awareness," he says.
He calls mindfulness the "glide path" to meditation, and you can be mindful anywhere, anytime. "So in that sense, you and I sitting here having a conversation. The thought might cross one of our minds, Well, when are we going to get down to meditating? The fact is, we are," he says.
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