Updated: Apr 6
This article will teach you:
What you’re doing wrong in your meditation practice
How to fix it
...the only thing you’re doing wrong is thinking you are doing it wrong.
Seriously. It’s that simple.
But since the big search engines (a.k.a. Google’s algorithms) won’t allow such a small word-count to show up on any reputable search pages for you, the reader, to find, we’ll continue to expand on this.
Read on if you wish, but you really can improve your meditation practice if you stop telling yourself you’re doing it wrong and just let your practice take on a natural rhythm and flow.
You found yourself in the situation where you’re sitting with a quiet mind, meditating maybe for the first time in a while, maybe for the first time ever;then there’s the chance you’re a meditation veteran.
Either way, you’re meditating when you realize your mind has wandered off again. Doesn’t matter what comes up... the bills that are due tomorrow, that big project at work, what time you need to pick up the kids... hell, maybe you’re just picturing what weird and majestic creatures narwhals are.
Either way, there you are with your mind not focusing on your breath, bouncing back and forth over something or other... we’ve all been there. The problem is what most people do next. They think to themselves, “Crap. I did it again. Why can’t I focus?” Or even worse, "I’m not good at meditating. I should just stop.”
For many people, this is the end of their meditation practice. Frustrated, discouraged, their mala beads become another accessory and their $100 meditation cushion finds itself in the back of a closet.
In the words of British 80s band The Blow Monkeys, “it doesn’t have to be this way.”
Let’s back up just a little and remember what brought you to meditate in the first place . . .
Instead of getting mad at yourself for having your mind wander, remind yourself that this is part of the meditation process. We want to stay as centered as possible while sitting; we want to stay as centered as possible through most life, right?
We strive to keep our cool when the Universe hands us both the things we want and things that present contrast to that. But as humans, we can’t help but think about what’s been going on in our day or what duties we’ve yet to check off our to-do list — most of us have been conditioned to do this all our lives.
Whether it’s the exciting things to come we think about or the contrast we create in our lives that keeps poking at us, we have to come to terms with the fact that our mind will wander here and there.
Think of your mind wandering as the other contrast in your life. While the idea is to keep the contrast you create in your life to a minimum, you’ll never eliminate all the contrast because it too is important. Contrasting and wandering thoughts while meditating can tell us where our vibration currently is.
Are you repeating that work presentation over and over during your practice? This means there’s too much angst bringing down your vibration.
Is both your body and mind fidgeting to the point where all your focus is going instead clearing your thoughts? This is an overload of energy; time for more mindful movement like walking meditations or gentle yoga.
When we know what’s pulling at our minds and identify it, we can adjust our practice accordingly.
Not so much a trick, but the key to a thriving meditation practice is not chastising yourself for creating the contrast and to move on. So if we apply that thinking to your meditation practice — that our mind wandering is just a piece of contrast, we recognize it, acknowledge, re-adjust and center ourselves, then get back to it.
That’s it. Doesn’t that sound better than getting mad at yourself or quitting your practice all together?
Real quick, let’s recap.
The next time you sit to meditate, follow these steps when your mind wanders:
1. Your mind wanders
2. You notice the wandering
3. Recognize and acknowledge the wandering
4. Adjust by re-centering yourself with a deep breath or mantra
6. Repeat as needed
Now that you know what's going wrong in your meditation practice, put this IDEA to the test. The next time you meditate remind yourself that there is no doing it wrong. Thoughts of self-doubt or insecurity may happen, it's normal so why wouldn't it? But with this information in your mind arsenal, you can calmly tell yourself that this is part of a thriving meditation practice.
Take a breath and move on. And when you come out of your meditation, you can do your happy dance knowing that you're doing just fine.