“Mindfulness meditation practices are effective interventions, and sometimes for mild to moderate conditions—depression and anxiety—super-effective as front lines.” – Saundra Jain, PsyD, LPC.
Meditation can be an amazing tool if it is used properly. However, there are plenty of mistakes that beginners make that prevent them from getting the most out of their meditation sessions. If you are new to meditation and you feel as though you are not getting the benefits of meditation that you should be, take a look at some of the common meditation mistakes below.
- Lack of Consistency
Meditation only works if you practice it daily or at least more than a couple of times each week. You can’t expect to feel less stressed or more grounded if you refuse to actually sit down and meditate frequently enough to experience the benefits. For example, if you want to lose weight but you choose to diet for only two days out of the week, do you think that you will lose weight? You probably won’t see the desired results, no matter what your intentions are. The same thing applies to meditation.
- Not Concentrating Hard Enough
Focus and concentration are two important aspects of meditation. When you let your mind wander or allow yourself to doze off during the course of the session, you are not truly meditating. You are only sitting down and pretending to meditate which is a waste of your time. Focus on your breath and concentrate on letting your thoughts drift in and out of your mind while you are meditating.
Psychologist Grace Bullock says that paying attention to your breath is not just nonsense. “It’s not merely commonsense advice,” she says. “It also reflects what meditation, yoga, and other stress-reducing therapies teach: that focusing on the timing and pace of our breath can have positive effects on our body and mind.”
- Spending Money on Meditation Products
While meditation guides and audio files can be beneficial to your meditation journey and there are legitimate tools out there that are not scams, spending money on products that you don’t need will end up hurting your budget. The only things that are required for a meditation session are your mind, your body, and silence. Anything more than a pillow or a mat is completely unnecessary.
- Expecting Too Much From Meditation
Meditation cannot take you to another universe. It cannot magically rid you of cancer. It cannot bring back anyone who died. Meditation is often advertised as a magical experience that has the ability to perform miracles. If you are meditating for this reason, I am sorry to tell you that it will never happen. However, if you want to be able to think clearer, be at peace, and focus better, then you should take up meditation.
- Giving Up Too Easily
There are some days where your meditation session is going to feel otherworldly. There are also going to be some days where you feel as though nothing is happening at all during your session. Both of these situations are things that you should expect to happen. Not every meditation session is going to go smoothly and you shouldn’t get discouraged when this happens. Keep pushing through it and it will be worth it.
Christen Engel, LMFT, encourages her clients by saying, “Cut yourself some slack! Set realistic goals and don’t be too rigid. The mantra “some is better than none” could apply here. Doing some meditation is more beneficial than doing none at all. If you fall off, get back on the horse and keep going.”
- Following Rules That Aren’t Working
Meditation can be practiced successfully in many different forms. If sitting in a lotus position and repeating a mantra causes you physical harm or is simply not working for you, don’t feel pressured to stick with that specific type of meditation method. You are allowed to explore different meditation exercises until you find what works for you. If you don’t find one that resonates with you, come up with your own method. After all, the goal of all meditation methods is to find peace and be present.
- You Expect Everything to Be Perfect
No matter what you do, you cannot control the environment in which you meditate. Some days the cushions might seem lumpy or the noise level might not be ideal. Let go of these things and continue with your meditation. You will be able to overlook these things with time.