If you are having difficulties with your mindfulness meditation practice, it’s possible that this may be due to certain misconceptions. By better understanding the essence and aim of mindfulness, you can make more progress in your practice sessions. Here are some of the most common misconceptions about mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness Meditation Is About Clearing the Mind
One of the most common misconceptions about meditation, in general, is that it’s all about emptying your mind of thoughts. But this is not what mindfulness involves or what it aims to do. Mindfulness is the quality of noticing – noticing thoughts, feelings, and sensations – without any judgments. It means being aware of present experiences without being attached to them or resistant toward them. The point is not to eliminate thoughts and have a clear mind but to have a less reactive mind.
Think of your progress with meditation in terms of how often you simply let thoughts arise and pass instead of in terms of how many distracting thoughts you have.
Mindfulness Meditation Will Fix Your Problems
If you think meditation is a way to fix all your problems, then you will surely be disappointed, and may feel the practice isn’t worth continuing. The truth is that long-term practitioners run into the same life struggles that we all go through. Don’t expect a regular meditation practice to get rid of suffering and make you feel happy all the time. Realistically, a regular practice can lead to improvements in many areas of your life and can potentially be life-changing.
One of the misconceptions about mindfulness is that it’s all you need to deal with struggles such as stress, relationship problems, and mental health issues. Often, it’s one skill among many that contributes to enhanced well-being. If you don’t hold onto the notion that meditation will make you an enlightened being, you can better appreciate the positive changes offered by meditation.
Mindfulness Meditation Should Be Easy
Shouldn’t it be easy to just close your eyes and watch your thoughts? Ideally, it would be, but in reality, it can be extremely difficult. When you just sit with your thoughts, you will find yourself becoming distracted constantly and by many different topics. You will end up entangled in worries and regrets without even realizing it. Breaking this pattern essentially means retraining your mind. This takes consistent practice – not just during meditation but in daily life as well.
If you believe that mindfulness meditation will be easy, you may give yourself a hard time when encountering difficulties, thinking that it’s a sign of personal weakness or laziness. This self-criticism can get in the way of progress and may make you want to abandon the practice, despite positive changes being made.
Big Improvements Should Be Immediate
A productive meditation practice is something that takes patience. You may want immediate effects, such as big reductions in stress and significant increases in mental calm, but achieving these goals can take time. Changes will likely be incremental, but over time, and with conscious effort, you can expect to see a significant improvement to your life compared to before you started meditating. Without this patience, however, you may feel like meditation is not worth the time commitment and effort (although most long-term practitioners would disagree).
By being aware of the realities of mindfulness meditation, you can be more understanding toward yourself when encountering struggles and will also know that your struggles are a normal experience that every meditator will go through at some point. This will put you in a better position mentally to continue the practice in the long term. If you’re ready to give it a go, check out these free meditation apps that will help you clear your mind.