Raise your hand if you’ve asked yourself: am I meditating wrong?
One of the biggest concerns we hear time and time again when people begin meditating, is they feel like they aren’t doing it right.
You sit down to meditate. Your legs are crossed. Your back is straight. You’re just starting to follow your breath. And damn, a thought. And another one. And another one. Soon enough you’re drowning in your thoughts, and chalk up today’s meditation session as a loss.
There has to be something I’m missing? This can’t be the holy grail that everyone is talking about. I must have missed the point.
Feeling this way is all too common.
Below we dive into a few of the most common meditation mistakes that trip up most beginner meditators.
1. You’re Wrapped Up in the “Shoulds”
A lot of times our beliefs about what meditation actually is can end up ruining our meditation practices. For instance, you might think that meditation means you should instantly drop into a deep place of bliss, silence, and inner awareness.
Anything else must mean you’re doing it wrong.
Now, this simply isn’t the case.
One way to avoid this is to view meditation as a “practice”. Over time you will get better. But, the only thing you should worry about in the beginning is showing up.
If you haven’t meditated before, then your mind is going to be incredibly cloudy. As you meditate you might think that things are getting worse, but if you’re showing up, and following your breathe for 20 minutes or so, and bringing your attention back to your breath when you lose it, then you are making progress.
Over time, the dust will settle. You will get better.
2. You’re Attached to the End Result
Are you meditating only for the benefits alone? All you want is to be less stressed out, or maybe you want to become enlightened?
Whatever your ultimate reason for starting to meditate, it can be easy to attach ourselves to the end result. Then, when we don’t experience those benefits, or feel like we’re moving backwards, then we lose ourselves to frustration.
Meditation is all about the present moment. The results will come, and maybe when they do come you won’t care so much about them.
Dedicate yourself to your practice, and the results will come. But, if you take your goal-oriented approach into meditation you’re only going to feel like you’re not getting there fast enough.
3. You Get Angry at Noise and “Distractions”
Are you incredibly nitpicky about the environment you meditate in? Yes, it’s important to establish a routine, but intrusions do occur. For instance, you sit down to meditate and when you’re finally in the zone, your roommate knocks on the door asking about rent.
How do you handle the situation? Do you snap at him, and tell him you’re meditating? Or, do you laugh at the intrusion, answer the question and resume your practice?
Meditation is the art of attention. If you’re practicing mindfulness meditation, then these distractions and noises can actually be a blessing. They aren’t interruptions, but simply things you can pay attention to and watch pass, just like your thoughts.
4. My Brain Isn’t Clear or Empty
I’ll let you in on a little secret. It will never be clear or empty. If you meditate on a regular basis you will develop a deeper understanding of your mind.
But, it’s very rare that you’ll simply drop into a deep nothingness. States like these do come, and they also leave, just like the rest.
Meditation will help you to build a new awareness to all of your internal states and be able to witness them, without letting them dictate your life.
5. Thinking Is Not the Problem
“I can’t meditate, because I can’t stop thinking, meditation just isn’t for me.” Thinking is never the problem. Your brain will continue to think and create problems forever. That’s what it does.
Meditation will change your relationship to your thoughts. Instead of being so closely identified with your thoughts, you’ll begin to realize they are just thoughts, they aren’t true or false. And they’ll generally go away once you stop getting so wrapped up in them.
Over time, you’ll start to become a witness to your thoughts, and you’ll be able to laugh at how ridiculous some of them actually are.
If you commit to meditation on a regular basis, and avoid the mistakes above you are meditating. Don’t worry so much. The effects of meditation are subtle. Stick with it and you will reap the rewards.
Image: Miriam Espacio