The 80s and 90s saw the rise of yoga and meditation in America as a mystical and exotic offering. Spiritual gurus from the east flooded the country and tried to kill with their bizarre, expensive, and jumbled-up spiritual products. And it resulted in those who sought or practiced meditation to be marked and defined by unique and often strange or eccentric habits, viewpoints, and lifestyles. For example, they have automatically been associated with organic food, green living activism, veganism or vegetarianism and naturopathy.
But even more annoying were some literal stereotypes that were mistakenly associated with meditation. They were people in yoga pants and on yoga mats, cross-legged and with their forefingers curled up, sitting on the beach and staring at the sky and the sea with an artificial look of serenity. They waved their hands madly for some kind of energy emanating from their “shakras” (as they were mispronounced by them) and following a hideous “path to enlightenment”. Pooh.
This is when I think of the character of Dharma from the famous sitcom “Dharma and Greg”. The sitcom subtly made fun of these stereotypical behaviors. And such people were often ridiculed by the majority of the population who found it difficult to embrace something exotic and strange like meditation.
It is only since the new millennium that meditation has become real and serious. Several medical researches and scientific studies have shown the real benefits of meditation. The acceptance of meditation is increasing rapidly, and its benefits have been proven to go beyond pure stress relief.
But many of the oddities and stereotypical behaviors are still found in those who practice meditation.
The good news is that Sahaja meditation is the most anti-stereotypical form of meditation you can find, despite being deeply engaging with meditation and spirituality. It is not for mystics, monks, or necessarily for the believers of the green movement. Nor does it obsessively promote vegetarianism or naturopathy.
It is for the common people who live with families, have a career, enjoy watching movies, enjoy reading and listening to music, watch science fiction, and maybe even enjoy a little bit of fashion and supercars.
And for those of us who aren’t exactly lean or muscular but are trying to lose weight. And you don’t need to worry as you enjoy our sumptuous meatloaf, pizza and cakes. For some reason, the image of a skinny person suffering in life without any enjoyment or enjoyment seems to coincide with that of a meditator.
However, the practice of Sahaja is also powerful and makes people focus on what is really important in life – spiritual self-improvement and personal development from within.
Let’s break the myths and typical stereotypes associated with meditation.
Meditation is not an Eastern thing; it’s global.
Let’s get rid of the overbearing namastes, saffron robes, minimalist living, and weird hillbilly behavior. Professionals in every field practice meditation. You no longer have to travel to the Himalayas or hunt the Indian “Gurujis”.
In fact, some of our trainers and longtime practitioners at Sahaja Online are architects and medical professionals.
Knowledge of Kundalini and chakras is no longer exotic.
Much scientific research and studies show the benefits of meditation. And as Sahaja Online shows, we are on the cusp of a bridge between science and spirituality. Deeply spiritual meditation offerings like Sahaja prove that MRI scans of meditators’ brains can reveal interesting facts.
For example, a 2016 Sahaja meditation study using MRI brain structure imaging techniques and voxel-based morphometry (Hernández et al., 2016) found that long-term Sahaja practitioners (versus non-meditators) not only had a significantly larger volume of gray matter in the entire brain, but also specifically in the left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and the left islet. These are regions that are partially associated with emotional intelligence. The same was found in the right hemisphere regions associated with aspects of socio-emotional intelligence such as self-awareness, empathy, compassion, and altruism, among others.
Sahaja Online is the largest one-stop shop for anyone trying to connect the dots between science and spirituality. While the direct existence and properties of the Kundalini and Chakras have yet to be proven through scientific studies, it is only a matter of time before we get there.
You don’t have to have a slim and flexible body to meditate.
All of the images we see of people practicing meditation are so unreal that we feel guilty about our bodies. They show people in yoga poses and completely lean and fit, as if that alone is a measure of how successful their meditation is. It is not. Yoga is now only associated with physical exercise and some experienced yoga practitioners can be and look very fit. This is not necessarily the case with meditation and spirituality.
You could be slim, handsome, or pretty and you don’t know the difference between your Kundalini and Kindle devices. What is more important is your inner spirit. The focus is on something deeper and higher, not your physical characteristics or your clothes.
It is good to take care of nature and the environment, but we don’t have to go crazy about it.
Some unnecessary assumptions are made that people who meditate are environmental activists or obsessed with green living. While those who meditate certainly respect nature and mother earth, they do not go overboard with these things.
You don’t have to eat organic foods.
But you can if you want – the point is that it is a personal choice and it doesn’t affect whether someone is a meditator or not. Conversely, believing or eating organic or even non-GMO foods doesn’t necessarily mean you can meditate well.
Traditional medicine, pharmaceuticals, and alternative remedies and therapies are all good and indispensable.
The other stereotype associated with meditation is that these are people who hate the big pharma and are even anti-vaxxers. While these are personal viewpoints, they do not correlate with whether or not someone is a meditator. The balanced meditator will apply the correct medical care and treatment according to the particular situation.
Meditation does not make you lose your common sense or scientific temperament.
Unfortunately, in the 80s and 90s, meditators were viewed as kind of weird and not inclined to do what normal people would. Some were even viewed as part of followers and cults who rebelled against scientific aspects or persons in the scientific community. Of course, such people began to define what a meditator could be and what they believed.
The true meditator, on the other hand, is perhaps the most scientific person and one with a lot of common sense. Such people use their intellect in making daily decisions, and the fact that they also pursue spirituality and energy-based meditation does not mean that they combine and bring them together.
Meditation shouldn’t make you feel superior, on the contrary.
Another problem with the typically seen meditator is the idea that he sees himself as a superior or special being. This is yet another misconception that meditators have drawn into society. Real meditation makes you humble and easy, without any feeling of superiority or bias.
Meditation shouldn’t make you live in a cocoon, in a world of your own.
There is a tendency to distinguish meditators as people who are in a world of their own, indifferent or detached from what is happening around them. You seem to be in a heavenly state of bliss in a nature resort, breathing fresh air as the pollution of the world increases global warming at an alarming rate.
This is because for centuries people had to find hermits in caves in order to reach spiritual heights, away from civilization. That is no longer true today.
The truth is that the true meditator is very involved and attuned to what is happening in the world and also focused on how to make things better.
Meditation is not intended to isolate or disconnect from society, but rather it turns you into an instrument for gradual societal reform.
Meditation does not make you lose your independent thinking.
Many people seen meditating are seen as followers of an imaginative new way of life that sticks to their protocols. Instead, those who meditate are those of healthy, independent thinking and law abiding citizens. They question everything and try to understand problems and solutions on a deeper level. Blind acceptance is never part of their character. While practicing something else, it does not happen without proper understanding or approval.
Meditation doesn’t make you lethargic, complacent, or aloof.
People who are calm and collected at all times may be confused with those who are lethargic and unable to show the urgency and drive necessary, but the opposite is true for meditators. With amazing clarity and high productivity, those who meditate solve more problems much faster.
Meditation does not mean that you cannot be financially savvy or successful.
A natural assumption is that those who meditate believe in some kind of world peace that eschews competitiveness, ambition, and the talent to succeed with career and money. The fact is, meditation has nothing to do with how smart or successful one can be in any aspect of life, nor does it teach any connection with socialism, communism, or capitalism. Meditation teaches you to recognize yourself, to discover your potential and to realize it in your life.
Meditation doesn’t mean you can’t be out of comfort. You just shouldn’t get attached to them.
Another common misconception about meditation is that it teaches you to forego all the luxuries or good things in life. The association may come from Buddhist meditation practices. But even these practices preached a higher truth that attachment to anything should be avoided, not the use of the object or the comfort itself. For example, you could live a comfortable and luxurious life, or a simple one without comfort, as long as you are not attached to both . You just shouldn’t care or be in your attention.