7 Meditation Mistakes People Make
7 Mistakes High Performers Make When Trying to Meditate
Meditation is a beautiful and easy practice – really. It´s as easy and natural as breathing but for some reason, as high performers, we are so used to trying really hard at stuff that we think the same when it comes to meditation. We make it hard.
In my work as a coach and meditation teacher, I find that people assume meditation is this really difficult, even mystical thing, and something, which they have to ´figure out´. That´s the wrong way to look at it though.
So it does take practice.
It does take time to get into ´your zone´.
But also, it´s not that hard.
Below I outline the 7 common mistakes people make when trying to meditate and ways to overcome each of these blocks.
1. Assuming that having any thoughts during meditation means that you’ve failed
When I run meditation sessions, I often hear people say afterwards that they couldn’t switch off the thoughts and that it was really hard to quiet the mind – there is an assumption that that means they’ve failed to meditate.
What I say to my students is that this is, in fact, the first step in meditation. When you stop and the mind chatter hits you and become loud, the fact that you are noticing and looking at what is going on in your mind is the start of meditation.
This noticing all the craziness and activity of the mind a necessary first step you have to go through before you access the deeper levels of meditation. By just becoming aware that you are having lots of thoughts, you can congratulate yourself that you have started meditating.
This will happen a lot and it’s uncomfortable to listen to your own mind. Sometimes you want to run away from what it is telling you. You wish it would stay quiet. Maybe the mind says unkind things, or maybe when you get quiet, it reminds you of all the things you had buried.
Breathe and just observe what’s going on. It’s like taking a magnifying glass and putting it to the mind, to look inside.
This is where it starts…
The thing is, usually, those thoughts will run around in your mind subconsciously, those thoughts will then generate feelings and then those feelings will turn to action, often at a subconscious level and often this process happens so quickly we aren’t even aware of it. When you stop.
Slow down and start to tune into what’s going on inside you, it’s the first necessary step you have to take before the chatter starts to slow down.
You haven’t failed at meditation, this is exactly where meditation starts.
2. Not preparing for meditation
Sometimes you sit down to meditate and the body just wants to move. Sometimes you’re in an environment that’s noisy or you’ve got this huge thing on your mind and you just need to get it out of your head and write it down.
My advice is, make it easy.
If your body wants to move, move it first and get that desire to move out of your system. Do some yoga, go for a run or get the excess energy out of your system before you then sit down to meditate.
Yoga was designed purely as something that was done to prepare for meditation and clear blocked energy, which distracts us during meditation. If you have something on your mind, write it down, get it out of your brain and onto a piece of paper first, then put the paper away and start to meditate.
If you’re new to meditation and you find that outside sounds disturb you easily, either find somewhere quieter to mediate, or tell yourself that outside sounds will only help you go deeper inside yourself and you’ll use them to support your practice.
It won’t be easy at first, but over time, those noises will start to distract you less.
3. Not creating a regular place for meditation or turning it a habit
I’ve kept up my regular meditation practice up purely because I’ve turned it into a habit and a part of my daily routine.
I meditate for 20 minutes in the morning and evening and it really helps me to stick to the same time and place every day.
My brain and body know when I’m in my usual place at the usual time, that it’s time to meditate, and over time, it has become easier to go into a state of relaxation as that time of day approaches.
It took time but I stuck with it.
The first few weeks, it was a new habit for me and I had to get used to it but now, I almost start to relax before I formally sit down.
So, make it easy for yourself and meditate at the same time and in the same place and turn it into a habit to stimulate your own mind and body’s Pavlovian response, thereby helping build meditation into a part of your day.
4. Thinking meditation happens only when you’re ‘sitting down to meditate’
I’m big on ‘active meditation’. I find a lot of people assume that meditation can only happen when they are sitting cross-legged on the floor, or when they have decided it’s now time to meditate. I point clients to making meditation an active part of day-to-day life.
Active meditation means consciously slowing down during the day, appreciating that view, slowing down the pace of your lunchtime walk and becoming aware of our thoughts, reactions, emotions and feelings as much as possible throughout the day.
Active meditation means slowing down before you respond to another person, breathing right throughout the day, checking in with yourself and how you’re feeling a few times a day. Active meditation connects us to a deep sense of personal power and takes us from a reactive state to an intentional and responsive state
When you’re next taking a walk anywhere, even inside your home, you can bring the act of meditation into that walk. Slow down your pace, even if it’s a little bit. Allow yourself to slow down, take a breath and take your attention to your feet. Focus on how each foot feels as it makes contact with the ground and then lifts off the ground again with each step you take. Notice what happens to your breathing when you do this. It will immediately start to slow down as you slow the body down. Your focus will shift immediately from the buzz of the activity around you to a quiet internal focus on the feeling beneath your feet. This is active meditation; a kind of turning inward in the day to day experience of life.
5. Trying too hard to maintain a certain posture
When people meditate, I see them straining to sit bolt upright, stiffly holding a position and straining the body.
Physical discomfort and strain actually promote the body’s stress response rather than the relaxation response, which is the opposite of what we want, so be comfortable. You can become so focused on straining to hold a certain posture, that that posture ends up taking away your focus and energy. It’s much better to sit in a relaxed but comfortable manner, or even meditate lying down if you’re not too sleepy. The main thing to do when you meditate is to be comfortable because if the body is comfortable, you will be less distracted by your body and can then start to go within and check out what’s going on.
6. Not being in the right heart-set for meditation
If you’re new to meditation, like anything you try, it can be hard to figure out and understand if you’re doing it right. However, this is the time to let go of being obsessed with doing everything right, trying hard, striving, and achieving. We do that everywhere else and people often take this same obsession with getting it right and perfect when ‘doing’ meditation.
This is the wrong place from which to meditate. In fact, it’s the very opposite place.
The heart-set for meditation is the opposite. If meditation could talk, here’s what it would say to you:
“Don’t try too hard. Let go. I’m an opportunity for you to just chill out and hang with yourself and check out what’s going on.
You might like what you find, you might not, but how about we take a moment together to just be together and you can just put the spotlight inside for a bit and take the focus inward?”
The whole point of meditation is to access this ‘being’ part of ourselves, the part that doesn’t strive and try and make something happen. In Chinese philosophy, this being part is called the yin energy.
It’s the part of ourselves that holds the emotion, that feels into things, that trusts, it’s where intuition lives and where trust lives.
For some, it can seem like a waste of time because they want to ‘do’ stuff but have you ever taken a moment before you responded to someone over email, or in a conversation?
Have you ever sat in quiet solitude before delivering a presentation, or have you ever had an intuition in a quiet moment before you acted on anything?
That’s the yin part of you that you’re accessing and then using, and if you’ve ever accessed the part of yourself, you will know how powerful it is to tune in there, and strategise before you act.
7. Not assuming it’s simple
The mindset and the intention we set for anything that we do is really key. If we assume something will be difficult, we will find that thing to be hard or at least hard-er as our focus will be on the hard-ness of the thing. We will focus and hone in on all the difficulty we are experiencing when doing that thing, which is distracting because we build up all this negative energy around doing it and then don’t want to do it again.
Remember, from an energetic and vibratory point of view, what you focus on expands, so if we focus on the difficult, it might start to feel even more difficult than it really is.
It can really help ease the process of learning to mediate, like with anything, if you assume it’s not that hard. Go into it assuming it’s do-able and that you will get it eventually and that it’s not that difficult.
It’s a shift of perspective around the difficulty, which might arise. Then, when you hit a tough spot, you’re more likely to say to yourself, ok this is a bump, but this isn’t inherently a hard thing for me to do and I will get it eventually because meditation is the most natural thing in the world for me.
Try the above and let me know in the comments below how you get on!
Pooja is a qualified solicitor, meditation teacher and life coach. She works with successful people to help them take control of their direction, access the deeper levels of themselves and obtain fulfilment and live their life purpose.
For a 30 minute strategy call to see if Pooja can help you, book yourself in via this link and book yourself in.