How to Get Over Your Hangups and Start Meditating

By Jane Mountain | December 22, 2015

how to start meditating

Years after I began practicing yoga regularly, I still resisted the idea of meditating. While the benefits of yoga were apparent after my first class, meditation seemed a little… out there. I couldn’t see any reason to start meditating.

Meditation just wasn’t for me (I decided, in my infinite wisdom).

Despite all the compelling science supporting meditation as a way to improve nearly every aspect of our lives, most of us don’t do it.

Why do we see meditation as something for “other people”?

To answer that question, we interviewed a diverse group of meditators (athletes, musicians, entrepreneurs, artists, and yoga pros) to see if we could dispel some of the myths that discourage people from meditating.

Here’s what we found out.

Get Over the Myths and Start Meditating

Click the links to jump straight to a section, or scroll to read every precious word.

Myth 1: You have to be ultra-spiritual to meditate.
Myth 2: You don’t have enough time to meditate.
Myth 3: You have to sit in lotus to meditate.
Myth 4: It’s hard to “do it right”.
Myth 5: Meditation is “just sitting there”.
Myth 6: You’re no good at meditating.
Myth 7: Meditation is anti-God.
Myth 8: It’s hard to start meditating.
Myth 9: You have to learn by yourself.

Don’t miss our unabridged meditation interviews, full of great advice and tips →

Despite all the compelling science and the body of testimonials supporting meditation as a way to improve nearly every aspect of our lives, most of us don't do it. <strong>Why is that? Why do we see meditation as something for "other people"?

Myth 1: You have to be ultra-spiritual to meditate.

Many of us picture meditation as we often see it on TV: a group of hippies sits in a circle swaying and chanting while incense smoke curls around them. As a confirmed atheist and fan of sciencey stuff, this kumbaya image of meditation turns me right off. The whole idea of getting in tune with my chakras seems… just silly.

That’s the beauty of meditation. If you want to focus on your chakras, you can. If you want to focus on activating your anterior insula, that’s also fine. If you just want to sit quietly and breathe, that’s great too.

how to start meditatingIvana & Gianna, Travel Writers

“We like meditating in the morning before work. Usually, it’s 3-4 times per week but during travel days it might be less. We sit either on a yoga mat that we travel with or in a Buddhist temple. Meditation helps us to focus better on work and to prioritize the tasks we need to do daily. It also creates space where we can stay alone with our thoughts and observe our body, mind and soul changes.”

Ivana & Gianni run a stunning travel blog Nomad Is Beautiful, where they blog about responsible, mindful, and eco-travel.

Myth 2: You don’t have enough time to meditate.

take time to meditate

You don’t have to spend 60 minutes a day sitting on your butt to get the benefits of meditation. When you’re just starting out, 5 to 10 minutes is enough. Even experienced meditators find that a few minutes can make a difference in their day.

Try a 2-minute guided meditation right now to see how it feels →

Studies show that just a few days of short meditations can produce benefits. So, if you have time to scan Facebook for hilarious cat videos, you have time to meditate.

how to start meditatingStephanie Simbari, Comedian & Actress

“I would love to say I do it every day and I have had spurts of time when that is the case, however right now I’m only that disciplined like three times a week. But I don’t beat myself up about it I just try to have an awareness of what’s going on with me. I think a consciousness and healthy self-check in is sometimes just as important as having a specific discipline.”

Join Stephanie in finding her best self on That’s So Retrograde, a weekly podcast. Follow her on Twitter.

Myth 3: You have to sit in lotus to meditate.

Most people meditate sitting in a quiet spot at home. That doesn’t mean you have to be twisted up like a pretzel on the floor. You can sit in a chair, in your garden, or even lie down. Your comfort is key.

You can also meditate while you’re on the move: on a train, while you’re out for a walk, or riding your bike.

Just don’t do it while you’re sitting in traffic on the freeway!

athletes who meditateLeon Taylor, Mentor, Speaker, Olympic Silver Medallist

“My meditation practice has evolved over the years. To build the skill I was meditating (10-20 mins using the Headspace app) every morning for over a year, sitting in a quiet spot like my front room or the end of bed if in hotel! Today I meditate more on the move – on the train, in the park, etc.”

Leon Taylor holds an Olympic Silver Medal in diving and is a public speaker and motivational coach, BBC commentator and mentor to young athletes.

Myth 4: It’s hard to “do it right”.

Meditation isn’t a rigid practice that must be done in a certain way or for a certain length of time. It varies widely between different people and also changes for each individual over time. Plus, there are many types of meditation.

Meditation is as unique as you are; every person who meditates experiences something slightly different than the guy next to him. So if you’re worried you’re not doing it right, stop worrying and just start practicing.

people who meditateJaclyn Mishal, Pink Pangea Co-Founder

“I stay away from rules when it comes to my practice (in terms of how often and where). Some days, I meditate once for 5 minutes in the morning and others I meditate multiple times throughout the day anywhere from 5 minutes to three hours. As for where, I meditate in my apartment, outdoors, and in yoga studios.”

Jaclyn leads writing and Fearless Living retreats around the world. Like Pink Pangea on Facebook.

Myth 5: Meditation is “just sitting there”.

While I admit that “sitting there” is a big part of meditation, it is also much more. In our culture, “just sitting there” implies a waste of time, something only lazy people do. We have a bias for action. If we’re not doing something, whether that be working, working out, or just checking Facebook, we feel like we’re wasting time.

“A lot of people have this idea that meditation means sitting down and doing nothing. But that’s not true,” says Madhav Goyal of Johns Hopkins University. “Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness.”

Yes, it’s true. Meditation is a workout for the mind.

meditation quotes scienceBernd Windhofer, Travelling Yoga Teacher

“My meditation practice has a certain degree of flexibility to it, as my schedule is very changeable. I tend to start with 20-30 mins lying down practice first, to connect to my body and the earth under me (brings a feeling of being settled and grounded), then sit up and spend half an hour with an open, present moment awareness, staying with the body as much as I can, allowing conceptual thinking to dissolve into body awareness.”

For the past several years, Bernd has been teaching yoga around the world and is currently on staff at Desa Seni in Bali. Follow Bernd on Twitter.

Myth 6: You’re no good at meditating.

At first, even five minutes of sitting in meditation can seem hard. We’re not used to sitting still and we’re definitely not used to focussing our attention on ourselves. Depending on who you are, your first cracks at meditation may even be painful or upsetting, exposing thoughts and feelings that you don’t want to acknowledge.

Don’t expect to hit nirvana on your first try. Your mind and body need to get used to meditation. Difficulty meditating doesn’t mean “you’re no good at it”, it just means you should keep trying.

how to start meditatingStephanie LH Calahan, Mentor & Coach

“I had a health scare a number of years ago. At that time I was told it was critical to slow down. I had no clue how to do that! I tried and failed at meditation a few times until I found a combination that worked for me. Starting with guided meditations really helped me. I could listen to the words on the recording and focus where I wanted my mind to go.”

Stephanie LH Calahan helps you turn ideas into reality, get your message out, confidently sell and exponentially up level your profits with power, ease, and joy! Follow Stephanie on Instagram.

Myth 7: Meditation is anti-God.

People often assume that meditation is a religious practice, and is, therefore, incompatible with their own religion (or their own atheism). The truth is, most forms of meditation (at least in the West) are not about religion and can be practiced alongside whatever other spiritual practices and beliefs you hold.

I didn’t ask him personally, but I’m confident that, since meditation makes you happier and kinder, God doesn’t mind if you meditate.

meditation quotes scienceAssya Barrette, Green Living Blogger

“I aim to meditate once a day for at least 20 minutes, but in practice it ends up being around 3 times a week. I either sit on the ground against a wall, on my couch or on my bed.

I’m also a Muslim, and the religion instructs believers to pray 5 times a day. I count this in my spiritual and meditative practice.”

Assya Barrette is a freelance content marketer and a green living blogger. Visit her blog at Green High Five.

Myth 8: It’s hard to start meditating.

You don’t need any special equipment to meditate. Do you have a chair or a floor? Then you can meditate. Do you have a butt to sit on? Then you can meditate. It’s super easy to start. Just a few deep breaths will get you going. With all the potential benefits of meditation, it seems almost silly not to give it a try.

people who meditateJennifyre, Entrepreneur

“My first advice to people who ask me about meditation is always ‘take 3 deep breaths with me right now’. Boom! Meditation lesson 1.”

Jennifyre is a rowdy, blessed universe traveler who writes, sings, dreams and dances through the daze.

Myth 9: It’s hard to keep meditating.

Once you’ve got the basics of meditation down, there’s plenty of help out there to keep you motivated. The Headspace app is popular as are online guided meditations from people such as Susan Piver or Tara Brach. You could also try the Stop Breathe Think or Calm app.

We’d love to help you get started in your meditation practice.

That’s why we made the 7-day meditation kick-start, where Stephen will lead you through 7 days of your new meditation practice. It’s perfect if you’re a meditation novice or you just want to add some vitality back into your practice.

Through videos and guided meditations, you’ll learn the basics of meditation (from sitting comfortably to figuring out what your brain should be doing) and a solid foundation that could lead into a life-long meditation practice.

Have you always wanted to try meditation, but something is holding you back? What is it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.  

Happy (inner) adventures, Stephen & Jane


  1. Comment by Beatrice

    Beatrice January 4, 2016 at 5:48 am

    Great post! I loved how you basically demythified the whole meditation issue, and you are absolutely right with every single point! Meditating is supposed to feel right, so there are no real rules about how it should or shoudln’t be done… after all, everyone is different.

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane January 4, 2016 at 9:50 am

      Thanks Beatrice. We have more than 100 meditators in our 7-Day Kick Start right now and their most common question is “Am I doing it right?” Our answer: “If you’re doing it, you’re doing it right.”

  2. Comment by Tonya

    Tonya December 29, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Thank you for reminding me there is time to meditate.

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane December 29, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      You’re welcome Tonya – and thanks so much for commenting!

      I love the famous proverb that goes something like this:

      “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”

      Happy new year! J

  3. Comment by Jane Travis

    Jane Travis December 24, 2015 at 2:56 am

    I love this post so much! I love to meditate but have never got into a daily routine, despite knowing how much better, more focused and less tired and stressed I feel after. Totally signing up for your 7 day kick start!

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane December 24, 2015 at 8:16 am

      Yay! Thank you!! We can’t wait to meditate with you in the new year.

  4. Comment by Rob

    Rob December 22, 2015 at 7:01 am

    My family members have been meditating for quite some time, I ‘ve just begun taking baby steps, but finding it very relaxing! A great motivational article!

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane December 22, 2015 at 7:56 am

      Thanks Rob. It’s always good to have people around you who won’t look at you like you’re crazy when you want to just sit silently for a few minutes! Glad you’re liking the meditation so far. Is it easy for you, or have you been experiencing any roadbumps along the way?

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