Do you meditate?
I do. And meditation is like an heirloom to me.
And one day I got a little worried.
I didn’t feel much difference. I didn’t feel calm and peaceful like I was supposed to feel.
In fact, I didn’t feel anything.
Nothing has changed. I was still the irritable, depressed person that I was. Meditation felt like a waste of time.
Later, I was shocked to discover how many mistakes I was making.
I want you to avoid these mistakes so that you can meditate efficiently without wasting your time as well.
- For Beginners.Opt to meditate when you are calm and feel at ease. It’s not a good idea for a novice meditator to practice immediately after a busy day at work, which makes it more difficult to concentrate.If you want to meditate after a stressful day, take a short nap beforehand.For intermediate and experienced meditators on the other hand, it’s essential to learn as much as possible about the mind. Then, it’s worthwhile to occasionally meditate for example while tired, angry or under stress. This is to familiarize oneself with various mental states.
- You don’t embrace distractions. I used to hate distraction. I’d use earplugs, lock my door, and yell at everybody to shut up before I meditated. By all means, minimize distraction. But realize no matter what you do, something’s going to bother you.If you’re like me, you become more irritated each time you get distracted or interrupted. This is counterproductive. The whole point of meditation is to observe distractions as they occur, and not to be carried away by them.Embracing distraction is part of the practice. When you do, you’ll feel much more laid back, and everything else will fall into place.
- You seek escape in meditation. I used to abuse meditation to suppress my strong negative feelings. As long as I concentrated only on my breath, I could stop myself from thinking about my problems.But then I learned that focus isn’t a hammer of suppression; it’s a ray of light. The light of your meditative awareness will bring up your problems in the form of thoughts.It’s your job to face and neutralize them in the process. When strong feelings emerge, put your awareness on those feelings before returning to your focus.Otherwise, you would be suppressing your emotions to the detriment of your mental health. Observe the feeling, let it grow, and it’ll naturally dissolve.
- Grading your meditations. “This morning’s meditation was amazing.” “Yesterday’s meditation sucked.” “The meditations from last week were OK.”Stop labeling your meditations and comparing them to one another! Five years from now, there will be no one meditation that stands out for being incredible—or horrible.But the feeling you will have as a whole from meditating for that long will be noticeably and positively different from the one you have right now.
- Duration of Meditation. Don’t push yourself to meditate for hours on end. It’s better to take short breaks and stretch your legs every so often.For those of you who have the time and motivation, practice for a while in the morning, afternoon and evening. If you really want to progress in your practice, opt for quality not quantity.
- Looking for perfection. You are afraid to miss a meditation. Or the environment has to be perfectly quiet, or dark, or distraction-free in order for you to meditate successfully.To liberate yourself from the burden of perfection, try purposefully meditating in noisy and distracting places.Eventually, you’ll make yourself resilient to most noises and distractions.
- You don’t stick with one meditation technique for long enough. While you should explore different techniques, avoid switching around all the time. If you do, you wouldn’t be familiar enough with a technique, and there won’t be enough time for its benefits to come to fruition.Practice a technique until you know it inside out before you determine whether you should move on or not. The exception here is that if a meditation clearly makes you physically or mentally uncomfortable, you should stop right away.
- You have unrealistic goals. Many times, people who are new to meditating go into it with a great deal of expectations.They hear the amazing success stories of yogis who have found their form of nirvana or people who’ve cured themselves of various psychological ailments. Going in with a lot of expectations runs parallel to what meditation is all about.
- Treating it like an emergency room. Do you only meditate on the dramatic days? If so, you’re giving the power of meditation too much credit.It can still be effective, but understand that meditation is less emergency medicine and more preventive maintenance.By waiting until you really need it, the last thing you’re going to feel like doing is meditating and, ironically, it won’t seem to work fast enough or be effective enough in the midst of all the drama.
- Having an agenda. You enter into your meditations with a to-do list: “I need to figure out the solution to this problem,” or “I want to feel this particular way afterward.”These expectations actually work against your interests, because they keep your mind in judgmental mode, particularly if what you want to happen doesn’t end up happening.What’s really happening is your body’s intelligence is in charge, and you’re merely the facilitator of the experience. Let your intelligence do it’s job, and just sit back and enjoy the ride.
- Notice These “Mistakes” And Keep Going. If you find yourself getting lost in response to any of these meditation mistakes, don’t worry about it.Simply observe them and come back home to your chosen practice. It’s really that simple.