Everyone knows that meditation can decrease anxiety and stress, but did you know it may also decrease the amount of sleep you need? Meditation is more efficient than both naps and caffeine at increasing focus and well-being.
These improvements are especially important in today’s fast-paced and work-heavy culture. You might be skeptical – if it’s such a beneficial habit, why aren’t more people meditating? The fact is, it’s not exactly easy. If you don’t do it correctly, you won’t reap the benefits of meditation.
To make meditation a successful part of your self-improvement, you need to be aware of the six most common meditation mistakes, and how to avoid them.
1. Trying to Clear Your Mind
When you sit down to meditate, you might start by trying to shut out your thoughts. While mental stillness is valuable, it’s not the ultimate goal. When you actively try to suppress your thoughts and worries, that attempt becomes a worry itself.
Instead of trying to block out your thoughts completely, notice them. If a stressful thought keeps recurring, acknowledge it, and then try to focus back on your breathing.
The goal is not to force your thoughts out, but to prevent them from racing.
2. Becoming Too Relaxed
Relaxation is key to meditation, but remember, it’s not a nap. If you start feeling tired or sleepy, you need to change your posture and breathing.
Make sure your posture is relaxed but also engaged. Try to be aware of your breath. Notice the muscles involved in breathing, and the sound of the air that leaves your mouth.
There are different meditation types to help you fall asleep, but it’s not about going limp. Notice your physical tensions and focus on relaxing them.
3. Having Expectations
A lot of people have an expectation of what meditation will be like, how long it’ll take, and how they’ll feel afterward.
It’s good to meditate with a goal in mind, but don’t make it too specific. Allocate a specific time to meditate, and set a simple goal, such as “I’m going to calm my thoughts” or “reduce my tension.”
4. Focusing on Technique
It’s common for people starting meditation to think about their sitting position, their mantra, their location, or their breathing. They might even switch techniques in the middle of meditating.
Look into the different types of meditation, pick what’s best for you, and stick with it.
Take time to position yourself correctly and prepare to meditate. Once you begin, you should only focus on one thing (i.e. breathing). Eventually, you won’t even be thinking about breathing; it will come naturally.
5. Shutting Out Negative/Strong Emotions
People often seek to only think positively when meditating, and they try to force out worries or fears.
Meditation should make you more close to yourself. Treat all of your feelings as important, and embrace them. Steady your thoughts by returning to your breath.
6. Falling Into a Rut
It’s important to set aside time to meditate. Sometimes you might end up not meditating when planned. Next thing you know, you forget to meditate the next day too, or you stop putting time aside.
If you forget to meditate, plan on setting aside time later that same day. Set reminders. Try to meditate every day, even if it’s for only three minutes in the morning.
Avoiding Common Meditation Mistakes
Now that you know how to avoid common meditation mistakes, set up a space to meditate and dedicate time to it. Find what’s right for you by practicing meditation techniques.
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