Watch Your Step! (Meditation Series Part IV) Wed, Aug 19, 2015
I'd just like to go over a few common pitfalls that meditation practitioners (including myself) often stumble across. Nobody is immune to making mistakes; even experienced instructors will occasionally make a simple blunder. Learn from them and move on.
- Choosing an unsuitable pose: Many people believe that to meditate "correctly" you must sit in a full lotus pose with your legs crossed. Full lotus is an excellent sitting position, but it is not the be-all and end-all for postures. Your meditation practice is unique, so find what works for you! I've found success with half-lotus, sitting straight in a chair, laying down, and even standing/walking.
- Getting Frustrated: Meditation can be hard. Even super-experienced practitioners can get distracted or lose focus. Don't freak out about it! If you start focusing on what you're doing "wrong," you'll fall into a spiral of self-criticism, which will hurt your practice more than your passing thoughts ever would. Everyone who has meditated has felt that moment of "Argh, why can I not focus my stupid mind?!" Just acknowledge your distraction and let it go.
- Sleepiness: When you sit down, relax, and close your eyes, this can often be a signal to your brain that it's nap time. If you find yourself dozing off, focus on a physical sensation to stay centered. If that's not enough, keep your eyes partially open.
- Waiting for an "AHA!" Moment: I often hear a question to the effect of "When will I reach a state where I start getting amazing breakthroughs and wisdom?" Unfortunately, at least for the vast majority of people I know, there's not a single "breaking point" where you become a mystical ascendant yogi. Meditation is a subtle, incremental process that requires patience. If you're just trying to "hack it" until you reach enlightenment, you'll probably burn out and quit.
- Procrastinating: I am a horrific procrastinator. If I leave the timing of tasks up to my own discretion, I'll often put them off indefinitely. If you're anything like me, you may need to set a specific time for meditation each day and force yourself to do it at that time for several weeks. Make it a habit, and it becomes infinitely easier to maintain.
Good Luck with your practice. Feel free to talk to me about your experiences/difficulties with meditation; discussion often helps!