4 Common Meditation Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)
Amanda Carrozza is a freelance writer and editor in New Jersey.
Before you give up on making meditation part of your routine, consider some of these common mistakes that may hinder you from enjoying the benefits.
Meditation has proven to have myriad benefits, especially for veterinary professionals who are prone to burnout, compassion fatigue, and depression. If you’ve tried meditating in the past but abandoned your efforts because you became too distracted or you weren’t noticing any results, you may have been going about it all wrong.
These are 4 of the common mistakes people make when meditating that may lead to giving up the practice altogether.
You think meditating is easy.
On paper, meditation sounds simple: Sit with your eyes closed. However, once you get into position it’s likely not long before thoughts from your day start to creep into your mind. Did you submit the prescription for Fluffy? Did reception charge for the nail clipping you did on Mrs. Smith’s Chihuahua?
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One of the major tenets of meditation is accepting that you’ve become distracted but working to guide yourself back to focusing on your breath. At first, you may last only 30 seconds before a new thought distracts you, but that’s all part of the process. Reset your mind, focus on your breath, and begin again.
You’re too particular about where you meditate.
The benefits of meditation don’t come from where you are located—it’s all about your state of mind. Whether you’re on the couch, in a chair, or on the floor, the pillars of meditation dictate that you close your eyes and focus on your breath. Similarly, you don’t need to meditate in a dark, quiet place. Trying to find the “perfect” location likely won’t be feasible every day given your busy schedule. Instead, look for opportune moments to sneak in a few minutes of meditation, be it in your bedroom, office, or even your car.
You expect immediate results.
If you’ve anticipated that when you opened your eyes after your first meditation you’d feel enlightened, on par with spiritual guru Eckhart Tolle, then it’s no wonder you felt disappointed. Meditation is an ongoing process centered around being in the moment and observing what is happening. Although you will likely reduce stress or achieve better peace of mind from repeated meditation sessions, these results shouldn’t be your only motives. Meditating won’t change the fact that you’re about to see your third case of ear mites for the day, but after a while it may change how you react to the situation.
You judge yourself.
One of the biggest meditation mistakes is also one of the most common: You’re too judgmental about yourself and your practice. This is particularly true for novice meditators. Even if you become distracted more today than yesterday or only find 5 minutes to meditate rather than the 20 minutes you had intended on, applaud yourself for meditating at all.