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We’ve made a list of 5 pitfalls that beginner meditators and sometimes more experienced ones will find themselves falling for.

It seems obvious to say that meditation is not something to be stressed out by! This list is not of things to worry about or fixate on, just to be mindful of when entering into the process of meditation.

It’s also important to remember that it is a process. It isn’t like flipping a switch turning a tap. Where your starting point is, is unique to you. Comparison is the thief of joy so don’t even consider what other people are doing, just focus on yourself, 2 minutes a day is all it takes for most of us to begin the process.

1. It’s not about positive thoughts

Whilst meditation should leave in a clear state, ready to accept and think positive thoughts, the act of meditating really doesn’t have anything to do with positive thoughts.

Nor negative ones, in fact it’s an exercise in removing all thoughts from your mind whether good or bad so that you might be able to start whatever you’re going to do that day with a clear state of mind.

2. It’s not a hobby, like playing tennis or stamp collecting

Viewing meditation in this way is not a helpful starting point, it’s more like an adjustment to your lifestyle. A way of centring yourself amidst the chaos of your life rather than another thing that you’re adding to it.

It is similar in that you have to set aside time for it but it’s so very different in the way you do it and progress over time. If you’re a goal-oriented person then try to keep that aspect of yourself out of the equation when you begin.

There are not necessarily any clear goals to achieve and you might just find yourself disappointed.

3. It isn’t a way of relaxing

Having a drink and a laugh with your friends is relaxing, having a Sunday afternoon nap during antiques roadshow is relaxing.

Having a drink and a laugh with your friends is relaxing, having a Sunday afternoon nap during antiques roadshow is relaxing.

4. It isn’t a way of breaking through to the other side

Psychedelic visions, great bounds in understanding, knowledge of self or even communing with the spirit world, meditation will get you no closer to any of these things than your morning coffee.

If any of that is what you’re looking for then you’ve come to the wrong place.

It’s more of an exercise in decluttering for your brain than an exercise in expansion of consciousness. It isn’t that expanding your consciousness is a bad thing, it just isn’t what meditation is all about.

5. It isn’t a Panacea for Mental Health

Meditating is not a way for you to fix all of your problems, you’re not suddenly going to find yourself the most zen and enlightened person on earth.

Try and think of meditating as a way of priming yourself for dealing with your problems in a pragmatic way rather than an actual solution for them.

The true value of meditation is the attempt to give yourself a blank canvas to work on every day. It’s about trying to wipe your slate clean so that what you put on it next is clear and concise and not muddled with other less useful smudges.

There is also no real substitute for actually seeking help when you need it. Meditation can be a really great tool for helping you attack life’s problems, but we can’t rely on it for everything.

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