8 Common Meditation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them, Part 2

In the first half of 8 Common Meditation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them, we explored 4 of the most common mistakes people feel they make in their meditation practice. In this second half, we’ll look at 5 more common mistakes and how to fix them or avoid them all together.

Be sure to read to the end to discover the secret bonus mistake that’s super common yet can be fixed in less than 30 seconds. Yeah, 30 seconds! 

 

5. Meditating at the Wrong Time

Finding time to meditate, let alone the best time, is a major challenge for a lot of newbies. We tell ourselves, “If I can just get it in at some point today, that’ll be great.” Except…it’s not. In fact, getting started by having a haphazard meditation schedule teaches the mind to develop a haphazard habit. If you want to get the most of our your meditation practice, a set schedule is absolutely the way to go.

But amidst all the obligations of the day, the week, the month, how can you do that?

First, start by asking yourself to honestly assess if you could find 20 minutes, just 3 times a week, in the morning. Before work. Even before anyone else is up and needing your attention. If you think you can do that, try it. Give it one full week, just 3 times that week at the same time every morning. And then – this is key – at the end of the week, assess how you feel. Did you like your meditation time? Did you feel that it was productive (at least somewhat)? Did it feel like meditating in the morning set you up for a good day?

After listening to your own answers to these questions and thinking about the benefits you received, do you think you’d like to stick with morning time? Or did it make your morning feel cramped and stressful, as though you were running late those days. Or didn’t get enough sleep because you had to rise extra early to fit in your 20 minutes.  

Then consider the option of trying an evening meditation routine. Do you think you could find 20 minutes, just 3 times a week, in the evening? If so, give it a try. At the end of the week, again assess how you feel. Did evening work as well, better, or less well for you? Did you find that it was harder to get to a calm inner state, or was it perhaps easier? Did you enjoy the relaxing vibe of your 3 practice sessions, or did you fall asleep before they concluded? Just assess how well evenings work for you.

Then there’s the third option: mid-day. Mid-day isn’t something that most people consider because, well, it’s the middle of the day. There’s work, for one thing, and your focus might be very keen on that. Also, it might be challenging to find a comfortable place to try 20 minutes 3 times for the week – your car, a nearby park, a quiet pew in a local church –  to see how mid-day works. But if you’re drawn to the idea, perhaps giving up half of your lunch break to devote to meditation might be food for the soul.  And again, assess how the week made you feel. Is mid-day meditation right for you?

Here’s a bonus tip about when to meditate. Try to avoid developing your meditation practice around stress. Seeking out meditation when we’re stressed is a difficult habit to build. For one thing, we come to associate meditation with stress (rather than the release from stress). That can be very hard to undo later, as your practice becomes increasingly mature. Even more fundamental, a stressed mind is an uncooperative mind. It can take the full 20 minutes to just even out the breath and stay focused long enough to follow single inhale and exhale. Meditation isn’t first-aid, it’s a practice to help you weather life’s sunshine and rain with equal parts tranquility and wonder.

 

6. Falling Into a Rut

After practicing meditation consistently, it can be easy to fall into a rut. The main reason that people experience this is that they no longer know why they meditate. They seem to either lose sight of why they started meditating in the first place or else they’ve not let their reasons to meditate change as they grow and develop internally. Practice sessions begins to feel less like a mental oasis in your day or more like a chore to conquer and move on from.

If you begin to feel like you have to meditate simply because it is a habit you’re “supposed” to have, you will begin to dread the practice. To avoid this pitfall, check in with yourself often. 

You might establish a “Monday Check-In” – any day of the week will work – wherein you ask yourself how you feel about your practice. And then listen for the answer. Does it feel fulfilling? Has it become work, rather than a beneficial habit? If the answers seem negative, not to worry. There are plenty of steps you can take to turn things around.

For example, if you’re feeling bored with meditation, perhaps consider if you could reduce the length of your sessions. In this way, rather than focusing on where your practice fails to keep you engaged, you can renew your enthusiasm for meditation and how it has helped you improve the quality of your life.

Or, consider mixing it up a bit! Say you’ve been engaging a mindfulness meditation practice for many months and feel like you’ve lost your initial enthusiasm, perhaps you could try substituting (or just adding) a mantra for one week, to test the waters. You could use a Sanskrit mantra – something as simple as “Sat Nam” is quite powerful – or just plain English mantas are good, too. You could try, “I inhale love, I exhale compassion”. Or even send out a query such as, “Divine Universe, show me the path.” 

You might also consider trying a completely different style of meditation. There is no right or wrong meditation style; there is only what works for you. From the simplest counting of breaths, to the most exalted Unity Consciousness meditation, there is literally something for everyone, at every stage in their practice.

 

7. Losing Focus

Similar to falling into a rut, losing focus is a common struggle many people mention when they first begin meditating – or even down the road, after they’ve developed a practice. 

Is this happening to you? Here are some suggestions.

Greatly reduce the amount of time you spend in meditation. If you’ve worked your way up to an hour of daily meditation, consider reducing that to 30 minutes, or even 20. Or are you new to meditation and making it all the way to 20 minutes is a struggle? Be kind, do less time! Even just 5 minutes a day, engaged regularly and with focus, can bring enormous benefits. And if reducing the number of minutes per session leaves you feeling unsatisfied, you could try reducing the number of days per week in which you meditate. The point is this: always, give yourself the gift of looking forward to your practice sessions. After all, they’re gifts you give yourself – you deserve to enjoy them. 

Try guided meditation. This can mean any number of things. There is guided mindfulness meditation, guided imagery, guided visualization, guided techniques, and more. The support that high-quality guided meditation offers is great way to develop focus on your meditation because you are guided through an entire process. Many companies even offer free subscription programs that you can use to learn deep focus techniques.. Find what one that works best for you and your objectives in meditation.

Lastly, a “quick fix” for a meditation practice that’s going off the focus rails is to use a visual device. A small candle flame is popular among many meditators for this. So is a small crystal, a flower, a leaf, etc. Choose something that feels natural to you and let your eye feed info to the brain. The mind will soon find a restful place inside you.

8. Being Too Critical

This is a super common problem encountered by many meditators – experienced and newbie alike. To overcome this issue, let’s look at its root.

Being critical is a collection of comparisons and judgements. This is better than that, these are better than those, and so forth.

Meditation, on the other hand, is the absence of comparisons and judgements.

The pursuit of a meditation practice thrives on open-mindedness, non-judgement and ease of being.

Of course, it can be easy to get disappointed in yourself or your practice for not being able to focus or if you are not reaching the goals you have set. But the problem isn’t you. The problem is the having of the goals in the first place. 

Try to remember that meditation isn’t a competition – even with yourself. Rather, it’s a practice. Not a practice of doing things, but a practice of allowing yourself to consciously sit inside reality with honesty. Really consider that for a moment and let it seep into your awareness. In being, there are no judgements, no goals, no doing, no having. There is only what is: truth.

Criticism, on the other hand,  is overflowing with the doing of judgements and goals, the having of fixed ideas and intolerance of At their very essences, criticism and meditation are opposites of one another. 

So, if you’re facing criticism of yourself in your practice, or you feel that your practice isn’t progressing quickly enough or isn’t interesting enough or isn’t in some other way good enough, drop that illusion like it’s hot.  

At its most fundamental, meditation is about being. Let yourself be.

9. Bonus Mistake: Viewing Meditation As Having Mistakes

You’ve just read through a 2-part article detailing 8 mistakes. And all the suggestions for how to avoid or overcome them are valid and useful. We hope, in fact, that you call on these suggestions as often as needed.

But here’s the thing: there actually are no real meditation mistakes.

Say what, now?

Again: there are no real mistakes in meditation. 

You can instantly overcome all of these so-called mistakes by simply embracing the reality that everything that happens in meditation is part of your practice. Every satisfying practice session, every disappointing session, every session in which you achieve stillness, every session in which you do not, every 20 minutes of not being able to quiet the chattering mind for even a second, every guided image that leaves you feeling renewed, every new technique that you just don’t connect with… ALL OF IT. It’s all part of your practice. Anything that doesn’t “work” for you is part of the experience. If you can embrace that reality, you’re well on your way to a lifetime practice of meditation.

Whenever you feel that your practice is going off the rails, take a moment and say to yourself, “There are no mistakes, there is only practice. And my practice is beautiful.”

Stick with it, and the rewards are inevitable.

Conclusion

Always keep in mind: no meditation practice is ever “perfect”, simply because all meditation is a practice. And practice is always a process of constant discovery and strengthening. This is true for all meditation, but especially so for meditation that is overtly spiritual.

Allow yourself to be creative and willing to try new things in meditation, and you’ll literally never run out of new things to try. Some will feel right to you, others will not. Just keep trying and you’ll build a practice that works for you.

Still feel like you could use some assistance with your meditation practice? QuietSelf can help! We offer cosmic meditation solutions for modern old souls. Our free membership gives you two guided meditations and one meditation music track from our current library. You don’t need a credit card or anything like that to sign up. It’s 100% free.

Contact our team today to learn more about our meditation services and to get help connecting your mind and body to your soul’s purpose and self-expression.

Did you miss Part 1 of this series? Click here to read it now.

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