According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, nearly 18 million Americans practice meditation each year. Meditation’s roots are found in Eastern religious or spiritual traditions, but it’s become more widely practiced throughout the world for its therapeutic benefits. Evidence has shown that meditation can reduce stress, control anxiety, promote emotional health, enhance self-awareness, and more. If you’ve just recently begun, you may have practiced meditation a few times on your own or with a group. If you’ve felt your attention wandering off or felt antsy/sleepy during meditation, you may be thinking to yourself, “I’m doing this all wrong!” There are several ways that you may be sabotaging meditation without even realizing it:
- Not practicing enough. Meditation can be considered a lifelong practice, and it takes many weeks or months of practicing to truly feel a difference. If you’ve been more sporadic in your meditation, you may not be giving yourself adequate time to learn the practice.
- Holding expectations. Setting a goal for meditation is quite the opposite of what meditation is all about! We’re supposed to watch our thoughts with curiosity rather than attempt to push them away. Next time you practice, accept whatever comes your way.
- Practicing at the wrong time of day. Sometimes meditating too early or too late in the day can have an impact on the quality of our meditation, especially if we’re still lethargic.
- Eating highly processed and sugary foods. A 2015 study published in the International Journal of Yoga emphasized that the benefits of holistic therapies stem from a variety of factors, including healthy foods ranging from fresh vegetables to whole grains and soy-based products. Eating too much processed food can cause hyperactivity, making it more difficult for you to meditate.
- Not having enough faith in the practice. As the self-fulfilling prophecy states, “If you believe you can, you can. If you believe you can’t, you’re right.” Perception plays a vital role in the outcome of meditation, making it necessary for you to have faith.
Don’t place stress on yourself regarding meditation – it’s meant to be the opposite. Relax, breathe, and close your eyes. Tune in to all your senses and take a perception of curiosity and wonder to all that comes up during meditation – thoughts, feelings, sounds, sensations, and all.
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