How to Tackle Unhelpful Attitudes for Your Mindfulness Practice - dummies

How to Tackle Unhelpful Attitudes for Your Mindfulness Practice

Just as you have helpful attitudes to cultivate in your mindfulness practice, you also have unhelpful attitudes that you’d be better off staying away from. For example, if you’re a bit of a perfectionist and are worried you’re going to fall asleep in your meditation, you don’t need to start panicking, or worrying when you start struggling to stay awake.

You just need to become aware of the perfectionist mindset and, as best you can, let the unhelpful approach go.

The most unhelpful thing you can do with mindfulness is not to practice. Once you begin practicing regularly, in no matter how small a way, you may begin to discover which attitudes to nurture in your meditation and which are unhelpful.

Avoid ‘quick-fix’ solutions in mindfulness

If you want a quick fix for all your problems, you’ve come to the wrong place. Mindfulness is simple but not easy. Mindfulness is a powerful process that takes time, and a certain type of effort, energy and discipline.

You find quick fixes in the domain of TV advertising, billboards, and the Internet. Unfortunately, instant happiness, is just that – instantly present and instantly gone. Temptations are great, and marketing companies spend billions to work out how to convince you to part with your hard-earned cash.

However, you can integrate meditation practices into your life in short bursts. You don’t have to sit for hours and hours in the lotus posture. One minute of fully focused attention on your breath on a daily basis can begin to shift something within you. The more you put in, the more you get out.

Five minutes is better than one minute. Thirty minutes is better than five. You need to decide what’s right for you – trust in yourself to make a decision and stick to that choice for a period of time.

Overcome perfectionism for mindfulness

‘I’ll meditate as soon as I’ve sorted my life out,’ ‘I’ll practice mindfulness when I have no more problems in my life’. These excuses are common, and on the whole, unconstructive. Sometimes you do need to allow major events in your life to settle before you work on a new skill like mindfulness. However, you can’t wait for life to become perfect. You don’t have time to waste.

If you’ve found a way to systematically and thoroughly create a meaningful way of producing further health and wellbeing in your life, why not take the first step? Yes, you may get it wrong, and make mistakes, but imperfection, mistakes and stumbles are an integrated part of the process of finding out about anything. No child ever began to walk without falling. Take the first step today.

Find out from failure with mindfulness

There’s no such thing as a bad meditation. There’s no failure in meditation. Here are some experiences that people think made them fail at meditation, and reasons why they aren’t ‘failures’:

  • ‘I couldn’t concentrate. My mind was all over the place.’ You can’t concentrate continuously. Sooner or later your mind goes into thoughts, dreams, ideas or problems. The nature of the mind is to wander off. Lack of concentration is an integral part of meditation.

  • ‘I couldn’t sit still.’ Your body is designed to move. However, through training, slowly but surely, you’re able to sit still for longer. If sitting really isn’t for you, remember you can do mindfulness while you move. Try walking meditation, exercises that integrate awareness, like yoga or tai chi, or any other action you choose in a mindful and therefore meditative way.

  • ‘I felt bored/tired/frustrated/angry/annoyed/jealous/excited/empty.’ You’re going to feel a variety of emotions in your meditation, just as you do in your everyday life. The difference is, instead of reacting to them automatically, you’ve got the valuable opportunity to watch them rise and fall. In the long run, these emotions will probably calm down a bit, but in the meantime you need simply to be aware of them.

  • ‘I had the experience of X, which I didn’t like.’ People have both pleasant and unpleasant experiences in meditation. The experience may be anything from deep sadness to feeling you’re disappearing, or your arms may feel as if they’re floating up. Your mind is releasing knots within your psyche out into your conscious mind, and freeing you from your own conditioning.

If you find yourself becoming very concerned or frightened in your meditation, and if the feelings are ongoing, you may need professional support for what’s coming up for you. Get in touch with your doctor or suitable therapist.