Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.
– Jon Kabat-Zinn
In the modern competitive world, we are usually in the mode where we have to achieve, reach, gain, measure something or compare our results or work with others. By being aware of all of this, giving time for ourselves is vital for finding balance in life. The mindfulness practice of breath awareness is a simple yet profound way of knowing ourselves better and inviting more peace, energy, calmness and harmony into our lives.
By committing ourselves to the regular practice, we will develop our “meditation muscle”. So, here are the smart solutions to overcome 5 common mindfulness meditation mistakes.
If we are tired, exhausted or feeling sleepy, meditating can be tricky. We may stay awake in that kind of state, but we will certainly lack the concentration and focus. In that case, the best solution is to go to bed and get some restful sleep. As Dalai Lama said: “Sleep is the best meditation.”
Focusing on the object of our meditation, a breath, will be easier when we respect our need to sleep first. Mindfulness meditation is effective when we are fully awake and alert.
For the beginners there can be many questions or concerns playing on repeat in the mind:
Will this practice help me get rid of stress? Will this practice do this or that? Am I getting better at it? How can I know the results? I don’t feel what others experienced during the meditation…Why don’t I experience the relaxation, right away?…
Those are all expectations. Some of them come from others or the outside world; the rest of them come from ourselves, our inner world. In this way, we are attached to an outcome. We are waiting for something to happen and thinking about the way things are supposed to be. All of them can mislead us. When we let go of expectations, we allow the things to unfold in the present moment as they are. We allow ourselves to experience the unique moments. In other words, we allow ourselves to simply be and uniquely experience or respond to anything that reveals itself to us.
The only thing we can do before starting with the practice is to set an intention to be kind and gentle to ourselves. By speaking it out loud or in our mind: May I be kind to myself. May I be gentle to myself. After we set the intention, it is important to let it go and focus on breathing.
At the beginning, it can be very difficult to pay attention to the breath. Mind may wander at different stages of our mindful journey. Various thoughts, emotions, images, feelings or sensations may appear and that’s all right. They can be experienced as unpleasant, pleasant or neutral. When we stop fighting them and embrace them as they are, we become a witness to their transient nature. They all come and go. Each time we notice that our mind starts wandering, we recognise it as it is and, gently bring our attention back to our breath and its path. We become friends with our wandering minds. We become friends with ourselves.
Since the early childhood, many of us have been taught to seek the answers by relying on the knowledge and systems that came from our teachers, family members and society. Now, we may ask ourselves: How much have we explored ourselves? Where can we find the true answers? Well, we find the true answers when we close our eyes and look deep within. When we meditate, we usually turn our attention inwards, not outwards. In this way, we are not disconnected from the outside world, but more connected to ourselves and the world around us. By paying attention to our natural breath path, the subtle changes in our body, we become more aware of our own energy.
Meditation helps us reduce our own mind chatter and “the external noise” that distracts us from getting in touch with our wisdom and gaining new insights. It is about connecting with ourselves first and be compassionate to ourselves and others. Mindfulness teaches us to really listen to and give our friends, loved ones, children, co-workers and others our undivided attention.
When we first start to meditate, we may wonder whether we do it right or wrong and so on. Keeping on practicing while thinking about these kinds of questions is the opposite to what the mindfulness meditation is. By bringing back our attention to our breathing, we are in the present moment, mindful and open to learn about ourselves. The moment thoughts come to us, we notice them as they are and let them fade away in their own way with no judgement. By doing it for a few minutes per day or gradually longer we will experience its benefits. Making it as our daily practice will impact our lives on multiple levels:
Also, if we include it, for example, in our gym exercises or as the part of other activities, we can boost the mentioned and experience them on a much deeper level as well.
Being aware of the inner and outer expectations, the state we’re in, our mind wandering, judgements is the important step in overcoming the common mistakes. In this way, we consistently develop our mindfulness meditation practice on a daily basis. By regularly attuning ourselves to our breathing we will balance our body, mind and the overall well-being.
Published in MinfulDevMag issue #2 – Download full issue