Learn from guest author Axel Gjertsen how to avoid the most common meditation mistakes. You can get more great meditation tips, help and advise from his wonderful website, Axel G.
If you would like to be a guest author on Mastery of Meditation and Yoga, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
10 Common Meditation Mistakes
It’s good to make mistakes as long as we learn from them. In this post we’ll take a look at 10 of the most common mistakes beginners and intermediate meditators make. As always, focus on the pointers that inspire and make the most sense to you.
1) For Beginners:
Opt to meditate when you are calm and feel at ease. It’s not a good idea for a novice meditator to practice immediately after a busy day at work, which makes it more difficult to concentrate. If you want to meditate after a stressful day, take a short nap beforehand.
For intermediate and experienced meditators on the other hand, it’s essential to learn as much as possible about the mind. Then, it’s worthwhile to occasionally meditate for example while tired, angry or under stress. This is to familiarize oneself with various mental states.
Always keep distractions to a minimum. Again, that makes it easier to concentrate. Common distractions include voices, music and noise. Avoid meditating in rooms that are too warm or too cold. Good air circulation also supports wakefulness. Regarding meals, it’s better to eat after the meditation session. That way you won’t get sleepy digesting the food.
Make yourself as comfortable as possible every time you meditate. You can sit on a stool. chair, sofa, the floor or lie down on your back. Use as many pillows and blankets as it takes to be really comfortable. A relaxed body makes for a relaxed mind and the other way around. And don’t worry about the way you look when you meditate; instead, focus on supporting your practice.
Intermediate and advanced meditators benefit from exploring physical discomfort and pain, from time to time. This is for the purpose of becoming familiar with different mental states and our reactions to them. All you have to do is mindfully observe the pain for a few minutes, that’s all. In addition, it’s helpful for meditators to learn to accept a certain degree of physical discomfort.
4) Duration of Meditation:
Don’t push yourself to meditate for hours on end. It’s better to take short breaks and stretch your legs every so often. For those of you who have the time and motivation, practice for a while in the morning, afternoon and evening. If you really want to progress in your practice, opt for quality not quantity.
Don’t try too hard when you meditate. Relax you body & mind and give relaxed attention to your meditation object. Trying too hard only results in physical and mental tension. To my surprise, a chiropractor once told me that a lot of meditators have tense shoulders.
Relax and let the meditation flow naturally.
6) Meditation Posture:
Many meditators only practice sitting meditation. But there are several advantages to alternating between sitting, standing, walking and lying meditation. For most of us it’s not comfortable to sit down for more than 30-60 minutes at the time. It’s wonderful to stretch the legs every 15-30 minutes. Moreover, walking meditation generates a lot of mental energy that supports concentration.
7) Meditation Teachers:
It’s a good idea to have a meditation teacher that can give you support and answer your questions. Once you clearly understand the basics and have a few years of experience, there is no longer any need for a teacher. Make sure you build a solid foundation to stand upon!
8 ) Support:
In order to become a versatile meditator practice alone, in groups, at meditation centers, monasteries, in bed, by the kitchen table, in the forest, in city centers and at your friend’s house. Don’t limit your practice to any one place or setting.
The benefits of meditating alone and in groups are great. Add to that the skill of transcending the distractions, while doing casual walking meditation, in busy city streets.
Refrain from reacting with anger and irritation whenever you catch yourself thinking during meditation practice. Since anger and irritation lead to physical and mental tension, they should be avoided at any cost.
I suggest you embrace your frustration. Be patient with yourself and do your very best to accept that it’s normal to get caught up in thinking every now and then. Once you realize that you are thinking, gently bring your attention back to your meditation object.
Keep in mind that catching yourself thinking is a sign of mindfulness. So, instead of getting frustrated over it you can actually celebrate those moments.
Too many meditators separate between meditation and other activities. Once they get up from the meditation cushion, they stop meditating altogether. If you truly want to benefit from your meditation practice, you should strive to be mindful all the time. From the moment you wake up in the morning until you fall asleep at night.
The beauty of continuous mindfulness practice is the soothing and calming mental state. Even better, the peace and joy benefit everyone around you.
Mindfulness connects you with the divine…
Axel Gjertsen is a former Buddhist monk and lives in Thailand. He runs axel g which is a personal development site with a focus on meditation. Visit his meditation website to learn more about meditation and spirituality.