top of page

Discussing 10 of the most common myths and misconceptions surrounding the field of mindfulness

As with any industry there are going to be myths and rumours about this and that. It is par for the course. Unsurprisingly there are several about mindfulness, so I decided to discuss them. There is always some level of truth in everything.

Photo of the founder looking at pink-purple rhododendrons. She is wearing read dress with white flowers and has long brown hair.

Mindfulness is the practice of living in the moment and cultivating awareness and presence. Mindfulness is not a new concept at all although it is only now gaining major traction, particularly in the Western world. It was founded upon the practice of ‘sati’ which originated from Buddhist and Hindu traditions as well as ‘zen’, ‘vipassana’ and Tibetan meditation practices. Therefore, it has been a practice for thousands of years although its modern format has only been around since the mid-twentieth century.


The evolution of mindfulness has brought about many misunderstandings, a few of which can cause people to shy away from it due to the lack of proper information in circulation. This piece aims to help you learn more about mindfulness as an overall lifestyle and practice as well as answer any questions you may have about how it is conducted and what practice should look like, even whether it is something for you.



Myth No.1: Mindfulness is just meditation right?


Mindfulness includes meditation but it is only one way of being mindful. In actuality, mindfulness is made up of many different practices and methods, of which meditation is just one small slice of the mindfulness pie.


This misconception is probably the most popular one. Many people who are not familiar with mindfulness tend to think that all it is, is meditating. And they get put off trying it out because they are not interested in (or think they can) meditation. This is no fault of those people. The issue lies with the many apps and practitioners out there who only use meditation as a mindfulness practice. I have gone onto a couple of these apps and the only content available is meditation after meditation after meditation. If you are lucky, they will throw in the occasional visualization but often it is still marketed as meditation.


Not only is that extremely boring (at least for me) but it is also super limited, and thus prevents people who are not keen on meditation from trying out mindfulness. Please don’t get me wrong: meditation is a wonderful tool, and it is great to see that there is so much content available for it, BUT it is sorrowful to know that none of the other mindfulness practices get any showtime, especially when they create inclusivity and can be highly beneficial to so many people.


I should point out that the same goes for yoga too. Meditation and yoga are the most well-known mindfulness practices but to the point where hardly anyone knows what mindfulness is beyond that. If neither of these are your things, then you will feel as though mindfulness is not an option for you.


Exhibition sculpture forming a hexagonal formation that frames the sky and a neoclassical building.

Myth No.2: You have to empty your mind to be mindful


Whilst clearing your mind is super beneficial, it is not so much the thoughts we want gone but the fog those thoughts can bring. This is mainly for intrusive, anxiety-inducing thoughts: we want to be as free as one can be of them and the best way to lessen these thoughts and feelings is by practicing mindfulness.


Trying to clear your head prior to practice simply will not work. Even during your practice, you will likely never be totally void of intrusive thoughts. In truth, you are not seeking to remove them, but to work around them. The aim is to decrease their grip on you and make them less controlling. Practicing mindfulness is to notice these thoughts, acknowledge and understand their existence, honour them (usually intrusive thoughts etc are just your brain trying to help you), accept them then rewiring your brain by introducing new thoughts to balance them out. A bit of an art, but it is a skill that is acquired over time. Regularly practicing mindfulness will help you in harnessing and finetuning this skill.



Myth No.3: Mindfulness is all about the mind


I mean the word ‘mind’ is literally the first part of the name so, it makes a lot of sense why people would think it is only about the mind. What’s more, is that historically, the mind was the primary focus with mindfulness, meaning it is not entirely a myth.


However, it is becoming a myth as we are realizing that we can be mindful in many ways and that includes our bodies and our souls as well as our minds. Some mindfulness practices are physical and emotional rather than mental and whilst it all goes hand in hand, are not specifically for the mind, it does come into play a lot as the mind, body and soul are all interconnected and working on any one of them, will help the others as well as themselves. I.e. doing embodiment helps your body but it is also good for the mind and the soul. Nowadays, modern mindfulness is about mind, body and soul, not just the mind.



Myth No.4: If you practice mindfulness you are following a specific religion


Whilst mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism and Hinduism, it does not mean that by practicing mindfulness you must follow these belief systems. You can follow any religion and still practice mindfulness. Likewise practicing mindfulness does not mean you have to be religious. You can follow whatever ideology you prefer and still be mindful because mindfulness is not a religious practice. It is the practice of being present, of living in the now. No religion has ownership over that, neither does anything non-religious.


If are religious, you can bring mindfulness into your practices and prayers if you like but this is entirely your choice. I mean monks from many religions practice meditation and it does not make them any less holy or less religious. If anything, in the eyes of those who are devout, it actually makes them more religious as it is often seen as a sign of their devotion to their religion.


There is more than one way to practice mindfulness, so if it is of interest to you, then find a practice that best aligns with you and partake in it.



Sketchbook open to a page where there are mint green with lilac and royal purple flowers forming a pattern, disproving a mindfulness myth.

Myth No.5: Mindfulness is hippy-dippy “woo-woo”


Opposing Myth 4, some people think mindfulness is nothing but hokum. Largely this stems from two things: the first is the lack of scientific research surrounding mindfulness so those more scientifically minded did not trust it (fair), and the second is that the term ‘mindfulness’ was highly appropriated by the spiritual community. Inherently, mindfulness is not a spiritual thing. Presence cannot be co-opted by any one belief system. It is its own thing. And should be left as such.


Finding presence in/through your spiritual practice is fantastic and I highly recommend it, however I stand by the fact that mindfulness is not a spiritual practice. It can be made spiritual depending on what one does with it, but at its own thing – it is not spiritual by nature.


Spirituality is found in religion and works in conjunction with science rather than opposition of it and religion (at least it is meant to…whether people actually adhere to that or not is another question). But where this myth is concerned, mindfulness is not some wishy-washy mystic practice that one can only do if they are a hippy/witchy person who loves crystals and reads tarot and so on. You can make it mindful, but mindfulness is not mystical by nature. Now that more scientific research is being done on mindfulness overall, there is a better understanding and acceptance of it, especially as it is proving to be quite beneficial for many people.



Myth No.6: You will be totally zen 24/7


Right, this one is logical theory but utter bonkers in application.


There is no way one can be zen all of the time; life is far too full of ups and downs for that to happen. And in my opinion, you should not seek to use mindfulness to be constantly zen. It defeats the purpose of zen (you would not appreciate it enough if you had it all the time).


Zen or peace or chill vibes – however you wish to phrase it – will only work if you have its opposite to deal with and handle every once in a while. The reason for this is that to be peaceful is actually an extreme emotion (a good one, but extreme nonetheless). Its opposite is conflict, another extreme. To be in either of these states will unbalance you after a while, meaning you will need to correct it eventually. And the longer you are in one state, the more intensely you will need to correct it.


What mindfulness helps with is maintaining this balance, helping you rebalance more quickly and ensuring you do not go to the extremes (as often). Remember, you are human, you have been gifted a full range of humanity (thoughts/feelings/emotions) that you are meant to experience, so allow yourself to be human (within reason – don’t harm yourself or others). Practicing mindfulness helps you find your equilibrium, your contentedness. It does not – and is not meant to – only make you behave in one way. Yes, mindfulness can help you create a sense of peace, but it is not meant to fully induce you into a state of peace forever. It just helps you navigate your humanity with a bit more control on the reins.



Myth No.7: Mindfulness is all about stillness


This one stems from the idea that mindfulness is just meditation, and the popularity of being utterly still when meditating. First off, mindfulness includes both stillness and movement. Being and doing; we need both and we can find presence in both. Mindfulness is presence, remember? And mindfulness is more than meditation. In fact, you can meditate whilst moving.


Honestly, I am one of those people who find more presence when I move than when I am still. I am big into dancing, and it is one of the spaces where I find myself fully immersed in the presence. I am not one for much stillness – my body needs a lot of movement in order to be happy and healthy, so a lot of my mindfulness practice incorporates movement. For those who have ADHD (and so on), please know that you can still be mindful even if you are moving. Focus on bringing awareness and intention into your movements.

Myth No.8: Mindfulness can only be practiced in solitude


Practice alone or with other people. Sometimes I am most mindful when I am with other people because we are interacting and being present: we are living. When I am at a concert, I am more mindful than when I am sitting at home trying to meditate because I am so in the moment of enjoying the performers rather than seeking quietude and trying to defog my brain as an anecdotal example).


Practice by yourself if you want. Practice with a close friend or two. Practice in a big group. Do whatever makes you comfortable. Mix it up too if you like. Some practices are better done alone (like journaling) and others are best done in groups (like sound bathing or dancing).



Myth No.9: You have to be silent


Make all the noise you want to make. This myth perpetuates mostly due to the big emphasis on the common perception of needing to be zen and soft. This comes from many retreats focusing on silence and being still and soft and thinking that this is how you must be zen and present. Sure, there are practices where silence is needed or at least preferred (like sound bathing, otherwise how will you hear the music? Or a silent retreat where the point is to be quiet) but not every form of mindfulness needs to be like this. Make noise, take up space, jump up and down, sing and dance. If that is how you prefer being present and in the moment then do it.


I believe a lot of this misconception comes from the spiritual understanding of energy (yin yang) and how we live in such a busy, bustling world that we need more stillness. Whilst we do need stillness and less frantic rushing, the way we negate business does unfortunately push the idea that all mindfulness has to be still. But look at the symbol for yin yang and you will notice that each form has a dot of the opposite colour right in the centre. It shows that sometimes we can place ourselves in a ‘being’ state by ‘doing’ and vice versa. Action does not always mean movement just as inaction does not always mean stillness.



Myth No.10: Mindfulness is a “one size fits all” practice


This is a very limiting mindset. We humans are all unique that we need our own ways of practicing mindfulness. Yes, some of us may like the same things but I guarantee you that we will not like all of the same things. Go with what resonates with you.


This does mean that you will probably need to test different practices out for a while in order to find what works but that is half the fun. It also does not mean that you should only limit yourself to what you like or what works for you either. The best thing is to stay open and try new practices and so on, but only as long as you are happy to do so. Ensure your growth along your journey.


A double rainbow set against a cloudy sky, peeking out from behind some houses.


I hope this has cleared up any confusions you may have had. If you are new here, then click here to find out more about what we do. Have a wonderful day!


Until next time,



Please share your thoughts and takeaways with us below – we’d love to hear from you! If you enjoyed this read, then click here for more blog posts or share it on social media!


Follow us on Instagram @myeirenehub. To stay updated on our posts, subscribe below!


Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter

Thanks for subscribing!

bottom of page