I’ve made plenty of meditation mistakes over the years, and I wouldn’t dare suggest I have perfected the practice.
My journey towards meditation has been a long and winding road.
I started out seeking solace from my Dad’s passing, first through the Law of Attraction, which also uses meditative techniques, before settling on mindfulness.
I love meditating because it has helped me develop a calmer outlook on life. At the very least, I have come to appreciate living in the present moment and recognising my mind’s activity.
In realisation of the mind’s constant working, it is easy for me to appreciate just how my thoughts are busy trying to work something out, when there is nothing to work out. And just like thoughts that come and go, my attitudes and opinions are also transient in nature.
One of the reasons I enjoy publishing my opinions on this blog is to see how my views on life and this world change over time. However, I will need to ensure I keep writing long enough to record the changes.
At the risk of sounding metaphysical, I often find my mind sorts itself out when I meditate. For example, if I have forgotten something important, my mind gives me a nudge about it. Or, if I’m struggling to think of something to write, ideas arrive from somewhere.
Okay, I’ll hazard a guess. Thoughts and ideas might come from the universal consciousness.
For years I felt embarrassed to admit to the practice, sneaking up to the study in secret to achieve my 20 minutes.
It wasn’t long until I realised how popular meditation had become. From the plethora of books, apps and YouTube videos, there’s no shortage of advice.
During the past twelve years, I’ve made plenty of meditation mistakes that could have jeopardised my practice. But I’m grateful to have maintained a commitment; perhaps not every day, but most days.
Here are some meditation mistakes I’ve learned to avoid, helping me to get the most from the practice.
Meditation needs to be a habit, or it goes from a once a day practice to once a week before fizzling out. Meditate every day when possible, including on vacations, whenever we can travel again. I found the two week holiday killed my practice and it took weeks to get back into the routine.
But at the risk of contradicting myself, don’t obsess about meditating everyday. If you miss a day or two, then fine. No worries. The last thing you want to do is stress yourself about another must do in your busy schedule.
The media portray meditation as a cure-all for stress and health problems but keep an open mind. You’ll learn more about how you think, your thoughts and emotions. I find meditation more beneficial when I practice without any expectations.
Trying to achieve mental high or some other state is self-defeating. Meditation should be effortless.
Erasing Your Thoughts
A popular misconception people have is that meditation aims to silence your thoughts. Instead, meditation is about watching your thoughts, at least the Mindfulness approach follows such a path.
Don’t try to block out thinking during a session. Let your ideas come and go. I’ve always appreciated the illustrative example provided by Andy Puddicombe of Headspace.com. Andy explains how thoughts are like cars passing on a motorway. Instead of trying to stop the traffic, watch the cars drive by.
Same Time, Same Place
A regular place for meditation is helpful (mine’s the comfy chair in the study), but a change of scene can keep your practice enjoyable. You can meditate anywhere from the car park, garden or on your favourite walk. Nor does meditation need to be seated with eyes closed. You can develop your appreciation of living in the moment through activities like eating, running or walking.
Meditation is free.
I want to emphasise that statement again.
Meditation is free.
While I agree with supporting developers, authors or other content creators to help you learn, the need to pay for an ongoing app subscription is getting beyond a joke in these modern times.
You can avoid many meditation mistakes if you learn from the experts, and those experienced in the practice.
Certainly pay to get started, but after a time when you feel confident, break away and mediate alone. Continued reliance on guided meditations will defeat the overall purpose and empty your wallet.
Ditch expensive apps. Many iOS apps today need to keep their investors happy.
Don’t be embarrassed about meditation. If you keep your practice hidden from others, you could prevent someone else from discovering the benefits meditation has to offer.
Meditation is not hippy-drippy or metaphysical. Meditation is a practice that has lasted for thousands of years. Humans meditate for a reason – we need to.
One habit that interupts my consistency is to leave mediation until late in the evening. That’s when I find staying awake a challenge.
Thanks to the COVID pandemic and the shift to home-working, I can meditate during the day when, contrary to what some colleagues believe, I am awake.
There is no such thing as a good or bad meditation session. Variation is a fact, and while meditating every day is ideal, it’s not essential. Try to be regular but most important, relax and enjoy it.
Don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad or interupted session. And don’t judge yourself harshly if you still exhibit bad behaviours. Mediation won’t turn you into a saint.
You don’t need to cross your legs and pinch your fingers in the lotus position. I could meditate for about one minute if that were a rule.
You can sit up straight in a chair with your hands on your lap, sit behind the wheel of your car but not when you’re driving, or stand in a queue. All you need to do is keep it simple and comfortable.
I can’t say I have meditation down to a fine art. I’ll be learning until the day I die; on this and just about every aspect of life.