Developing a meditation practice is a helpful way to combine your spiritual life and mental well-being. Some people may avoid trying it because they think you must have a 100% quiet mind, but that isn’t accurate. Here’s the truth behind this common meditation myth and tips to make the most of your sessions.
By Beth Rush
Managing Editor, BodyMind.com
What Is the 100% Quiet Mind Meditation Myth?
The 100% quiet mind meditation myth is well-meaning but inaccurate. It’s the idea that you must quiet your mind and stop any stream-of-consciousness thoughts to meditate successfully.
While quieting your mind is essential, meditation isn’t just sitting in silence. You only need to focus on your tools, like breathwork or guided awareness.
Ways to Know You’re Successfully Meditating
Since your thoughts will still flow through your mind during meditation sessions, you might wonder how you’ll know if your meditation is working or not. Use these tips to understand when you’re in a meditative state and feel confident about your practice.
1. You’re Aware of Your Breathing
Slowly inhale and exhale as you begin meditating. Focus on each breath and how your body feels as your heart rate slows. Meditation does require silence to accomplish this kind of focus. When you’re more aware of your breathing than the events or challenges happening in your life, you’ve begun to meditate successfully.
Focus is a primary component of any mediation practice. Research shows that focusing on elements like breathwork improves your attentional processes if meditation is a long-term habit. You should feel confident in your ability to focus on tasks or conversations if your meditation routine is working.
NOTE: As always, seek the advice of your healing professionals. Buddha Weekly offers no therapeutic advice. You should consider these ideas as you decide what’s best for your well-being alongside your doctor or therapist.
2. You’re in Touch With Your Emotions
Center your thoughts on your feelings during meditation. Ask your mind and body what they’re feeling and what those emotions are trying to tell you. Listening with your entire sense of focus enables you to process your feelings more effectively than if you set them aside for later.
This meditation benefit is significant if you’re one of the 16.2 million U.S. adults with depression.  Accepting negative thoughts and feelings with gentle curiosity and compassion is a healthy way to unpack heavy emotions.
If your depression is too overwhelming, combining meditation with cognitive behavior therapy from a licensed therapist could be more helpful. It’s a recommended way to avoid sinking into dark thoughts because the therapist would guide you through each reflective session. 
However, always seek the advice of your healing professionals. Buddha Weekly offers no therapeutic advice — only ideas to consider along your life journey.
3. You Feel More Compassion for Yourself
Meditation helps you gain a healthy distance from yourself by disconnecting from your stream of consciousness and considering your feelings like a curious observer. That distance will make you feel inner peace and a sense of clarity. 
Maintaining compassion is an excellent way to support yourself as you face life’s challenges. You’ll look at mistakes as learning opportunities and become your biggest cheerleader, which everyone deserves.
Enjoy Your Meditation Sessions
Meditation isn’t just sitting in silence for the sake of a quiet environment. It’s a practice that requires you to focus on your emotions, physical sensations and self-compassion. A soothing space can strengthen that focus, but it’s not the most important part of inner reflection.
As long as you can garner compassion for yourself and process emotions or physical sensations through breathwork, you’ll have successful meditation sessions whenever you quiet your mind.
Disclaimer: Always seek the advice of your health care practitioners when experiencing pain or other medical issues.
- Sumantry, D., & Stewart, K. E. (2021a, February 2). Meditation, Mindfulness, and Attention: A Meta-Analysis – Mindfulness. SpringerLink. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12671-021-01593-w
- Advpsychiatry. (2022, November 10). Healthy Ways to Cope With Depression: Advanced Psychiatry. Advanced Psychiatry Associates. https://advancedpsychiatryassociates.com/resources/blog/healthy-ways-to-cope-with-depression/
- The Role of Meditation in Mental Health, Depression, Cognitive Decline, Delusional Behavior and Trauma: Also, What To Do When Teachers Fail in Issues of Ethics: Interview With Teacher Theodore Tsaousidis. Buddha Weekly: Buddhist Practices, Mindfulness, Meditation – Spread the Dharma. (2018, October 25). https://buddhaweekly.com/role-meditation-mental-health-depression-cognitive-decline-delusional-behavior-trauma-also-teachers-fail-issues-ethics-interview-teacher-theodore-tsaousi/
- Rush, B. (2023, June 20). How Do You Know When You’ve Entered a “Proper” Meditative State? Buddha Weekly: Buddhist Practices, Mindfulness, Meditation – Spread the Dharma. https://buddhaweekly.com/how-do-you-know-when-youve-entered-a-proper-meditative-state/