Meditation doesn’t have to be perfect to be beneficial. Yet there are times when we make some common mistakes while meditating that can hold us back from the full potential each session has to offer. You can make these mistakes and still find meditating to be peaceful, relaxing, and invigorating, but imagine what it would feel like if you could limit or eliminate them? Here are the 5 most common mistakes we all make from time to time while meditation.
#1. Trying to create your own mood.
You sit down. You breathe deeply and begin to focus on the rhythms of your breath. Then you begin to expect that you should feel a certain way simply because you’re meditating. The truth is that some meditation sessions can make you feel tired. Coping with emotions, difficult thoughts, and other issues takes a mental toll, which can result in physical symptoms. Instead of trying to create your own mood, let the energies around you create the mood for you.
#2. Attempting to stop all thought.
This is admittedly a mistake that is often promoted as something that should be attempted by other meditation advice columnists and bloggers. “Blank out your mind,” they’ll say. “Focus on one clear point.” Thoughts come at random, which means you can’t blank out your mind 100%. Don’t try to stop all thought because that will remove the observational components of meditation. Label the thoughts you experience instead, file them into an appropriate section for further review, and repeat.
#3. Allowing distractions to interrupt your meditation.
People meditate in many different ways. There’s no one “set” of rules that must be followed. Some people meditate with music. Others use nature sounds. There’s people who turn on the shower in their bathroom to meditate because the sound of the water acts as white noise for them. Distractions will pull you out of a meditation session, but what is a distraction for one person could be what is needed to meditate for another.
You should make sure your phone is turned off or set on silent. Don’t leave your email notifications up. Turn off any notifications you might receive on your tablet. Then just experiment with ways to limit other distractions so you can get the most out of your meditation time.
#4. Skipping meditation for a day or two.
Meditation has to become a priority for it to be helpful. If you feel like its ok to skip meditation for a couple of days, then what you’re really doing is establishing a new routine that doesn’t include meditating. It’s better to meditate for 5 minutes if you can fit in a 20-30 minute session rather than skip it completely. If you skip meditation enough, you might find it difficult to re-establish your routines when you do feel like you’ve got time.
#5. There is no support or accountability.
Having a trusted mentor support your efforts at meditation can really keep you on point. If you know that you’ll have to tell this mentor that you missed meditation, it can be the prompt needed to start meditating. Mentors can also answer personal questions you may have, encourage new ways to meditate, or help you avoid the common mistakes that everyone tends to make from time to time when they try to meditate regularly.
These common mistakes happen. Don’t judge yourself harshly simply because you made one. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back into your routines. When you do, you will find that it is much easier to avoid future mistakes.