Table of Contents

14 mistakes that can prevent you from achieving an actual meditative state

Below are the possible mistakes many meditators make which prevents them from speeding up their meditation journey.

A girl meditation

Source: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

Many beginners and intermediate meditation practitioners find that they aren’t progressing spiritually and are still struggling with improvements at mental and emotional levels. They often feel discouraged and are unable to even acknowledge the true benefits of meditation. As a result, they are deprived of the actual meditative state and hence keep switching among different techniques and many even give up the practice.

Meditation expands your awareness and helps you connect with your soul potential. Activating the energy and functions of your soul must be the goal. Striving to develop our IQ, EQ and SQ without realizing that they are the manifestations of the soul energy, will lead us nowhere. You might want to know the spiritual anatomy and physiology of the human body.

During meditation, you actually take bath in the cosmic energy which is physically experienced in the form of strong magnetic pull in the head region and the base of the spine. You can actually feel the flow of energy from your sahasrara chakra on top of your head penetrating the sushumna nadi and chakras at different locations along the subtle body.

Not everyone is able to experience the actual state of meditation due to various physiological and psychological limitations. Many aspirants explain that they are in the state of pratyahara and concentration (dharana) for 99 percent of the time. Although mindfulness meditation has numerous benefits, it doesn’t take you to deeper levels of meditation. 

When you are intentionally aware as in mindfulness meditation, the deeper meditative state is difficult to achieve. Also, the experience might vary depending on the position of your body. The exeprience achieved during meditation while in padmasana, siddhasana or sukhasana will differ from the experience while lying on the back such as in yoga nidra guided meditation.

In mindfulness, you keep yourself aware and try to detach yourself from external stimuli. Internally you keep observing the various thoughts and breathing patterns without any judgement. The meditation mentioned here in the title of this article is concerned with the beginning stages of samadhi. But one should accept the fact that mindfulness meditation can serve as the solid foundation for higher stages of meditation.

The right way of meditation requires some initial preparations which are inevitable if we wish to develop our quality of consciousness. Meditation should not only be practised to get rid of psychological illnesses but should upgrade your cognitive functions. It should be intended towards bringing out the power of your soul and a transformed personality out of you. 

There should be significant improvement in level of contentment in life, relationships, feelings of happiness and wellbeing, social relationships. There are some physical and mental preparations to be observed if we are serious about manifesting the benefits of meditation to benefit both personally and professionally.   

Mistake no. 1: Not preparing your physical body

Well in the beginning you should be able to sit in padmasana or sukhasana or siddhasana for at least 15 mins with your spine straight and without moving your body. You can practice some rounds of warm-up series of asanas with some leg stretching to achieve some level of flexibility, proper blood circulation, bio-electricity in the legs and entire body to be able to sit in any one of the above mentioned meditative postures comfortably.

Achieving proper alignment in all our seven chakras is the target here and if that is not achieved, the progress is bound to be slow.

Mistake no. 2: Not preparing your mind

You can’t calm your mind just with the help of your mind if you are a beginner. Just being ready to meditate doesn’t help much. You might be aware that you are going to meditate but your mind might still not be ready which can be acknowledged by distractions pouring in within seconds after sitting for meditation.

Our subtle body has three nadis; the ida (subtle energy channel representing the left nostril), the pingla (subtle energy channel representing the right nostril) and sushumna (the central energy channel).

The sushumna nadi gets activated only when a balance and activation of the ida and pingla nadi has been achieved. Until then no matter how much time you sit for, it doesn’t matter. You cannot get into the meditative state if only one of the nadi is dominant.

No matter which meditation technique you follow the sushumna energy channel must be activated successfully for actual meditative state. Also the functions of the sympathetic and para sympathetic nervous system has to be balanced by breathing techniques first.

For that one has to practice the kapalbhati cleansing kriya followed by pranayama (alternative nostril breathing) and concentration.

Prepare your mind using these three techniques

Practicing kapal bhati cleansing kriya

In this practice we inhale through both our nostrils and exhale forcefully 10-15 times without making any conscious effort for inhalation. Exhale every 0.5 second to maintain the rhythm of exhalation. After 10-15 times when the lungs are completely empty, inhale through both nostrils and relax by breathing normally.

The correct practice would have instant soothing impact on the prefrontal area (forehead region) and the respiration would feel more eased and comfortable without an urge to breathe. One can practice for 3 to 5 rounds with 10-15 or more times of exhalation in each round for better impact.

Note: Kapalbhati should not be practiced by those suffering from heart disease, high blood pressure, vertigo, epilepsy, stroke, hernia, or gastric ulcer.

Practicing pranayama (breathing technique)

The alternate nostril breathing technique is must in order to balance the functions of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.

Inhale through left nostril and exhale from the right nostril. Again inhale from the right nostril and exhale from the left nostril. The duration for inhalation and exhalation should be identical for better benefit (i.e. x seconds for inhalation and x seconds for exhalation) and can vary from idividual to individual as per their comfort. Increasing the duration could have greater benefits.

Note: The urge to breathe more frequently indicates shallow breathing and also our physical system consuming more vital force (prana). The more pranic movement in the body indicates instability of mind as well.

[{Inhale (Left)-Exhale (Right)-Inhale (Right)-Exhale (Left)}-one round]

Another variant of the alternate breathing technique would involve breath retention after inhalation and exhalation. Inhale through the left nostril for say x seconds, hold your breath for x seconds, exhale from the right nostril for x seconds and again hold your breath for x seconds. Now, again inhale from your right nostril for x seconds, hold your breath for x seconds, exhale from the left nostril for x seconds and again hold your breath for x seconds. This makes one round. You should continue to practice it until you feel stimulation in the forehead region. The counting can be kept mental and the duration can vary anywhere from 3-10 secs or even more seconds for inhalation, exhalation and retention.

[{(Inhale (Left)-Retain-Exhale (Right)-Retain-Inhale (Right)-Retain-Exhale (Left)-Retain)}-one round]

Both techniques can be practiced for 5-15 rounds for better preparation. Retention is easier if you’ve practiced kapalbhati technique correctly.

Why alternate nostril breathing pranayama?

The alternate breathing process helps achieve a balance between the functions of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Moreover, it enhances parasympathetic dominance which is helpful for meditation. It reduces stress and enxiety associated feelings and emotions and is associated with greater calmness.

Practicing concentration techniques

The practice of concentration has very basic objective of developing a habit to fix our awareness to a place with a new idea, thought or object which is visible or imaginative, logical or acceptable by our mind. This involves training our mind by our mind consciously.

You can practice concentration while practicing pranayama by being aware of the inhalation, exhalation and retention process. It is easier, integrated into the mediation technique and also has some amazing benefit because of not having to concentrate on some outward object by using our sense organ (eye).

Mistake no. 3: Changing place of meditation frequently

Practicing meditation at different places and changing the place of meditation frequently would distract the beginners to great extent.

Any kind of emotional stimulation experienced because of change in physical location will serve as source of distraction. Our energetic body tends to connect with the energy of the people and place without our conscious experience which ‘will’ distract us.

Our human body and mind inclusively develop an ideosphere of its own. The ideosphere consists of the thoughts, creative ideas, habits, sentiments and emotions of the individual being. By continuous practice of meditation at the same place, one develops an ambience (ideosphere) for meditation and it helps facilitate one to achieve the meditative state easily. Therefore, in ancient time yoga sadhakas had a personal sadhana place, where they would privately prictice japa, meditation and other sadhana. They would not allow other people to enter their sadhana room.

Mistake no. 4: Not sticking to a single meditation technique

Well in the beginning it is good to jump from techniques to techniques until you find out what suits best for you and you find easier considering the time, energy, value constraints. But if you always have an eye on different techniques you’ll feel a lack in progress. Changing your techniques quite often will keep your logical mind active in distinguishing experiences among different techniques and prevent you from progressing into the higher stages of meditation.

Mistake no. 5: Getting entangled into experiences during the process of meditation

When you gradually begin diving deeper and deeper into meditation you’ll go through lots of experiences. You may not be able to experience the same state of mind every day. So, you shouldn’t crave for those experiences.

Next, many experiences are pleasant when you are beyond the cloud of thoughts and it’s the universal energy pouring into your energetic system. You might experience activation/tingling sensations in chakras and a lot more different range of experiences which might vary from practitioner to practitioner.

The point is when your ego begins to feel pleasant you will have to ascend that too as it might keep you stuck. So, you will have to be very vigilant about it.

Mistake no. 6: Not chanting any Vedic mantra at all

If you have a wrestling mind you must choose a mantra to facilitate you meditation journey. Chanting will cleanse the negative impressions in the mind stuff (chitta) and will help eliminate thought-emotion stimulations from your sub-conscious and unconscious mind.

Chanting mantra sets one’s mind free from the background thought processes while inducing positive vibrational mental process and establishes harmony among the components of the mind. The vibrations created by the repetition of mantra helps establish an ideal ambience for meditation.

One might choose chanting Om, Om Namah Shivay, Gayatri Mantra e.t.c..  5-15 minutes of chanting after pranayama could help stabilize the mind of the practitioner and prepare them for meditation.

But if one has greater impurities in their chitta, they might require chanting mantras 30 mins or more daily for several months or years.

Mistake no. 7: Expecting to see something

Expecting to see something during closed eyes by conscious visualization or imagination. This creates unwanted chaos in mind and thought process and doesn’t allow the practitioner enter into the state of smooth flow of meditation. Further visualizing an object/situation/person during meditation will magnify the properties of them and would become an obstacle during meditation.

Mistake no. 8: Consuming foods based on animal sources

Consuming another creature involves transfer of their cell, tissues and charges associated with them. Those charges have thoughts, intentions, emotions and instincts which hold potential to develop and manifest their state into the humans even after they are consumed dead and cooked. It basically alters your gene expression. 

Scientific studies claim that the DNA of plant or animal based food is destroyed and does not interfere with human body’s gene expression. But there are other studies that confirm gene expression could be regulated by the food we consume.

Animals possess emotions and sentiments. Hence, it would be very difficult to combat with the negative influences and tendencies of the animals if they are physically induced within us. Achieving a perfect meditative state would take a great deal of time. 

Mistake no. 9: Obsession with the practice of meditation.

Many practitioners are obsessed with the practice of meditation and they think that more they practice, more they would benefit from it. Well if meditation is the only thing for your whole life, you may continue with it. But if not, practicing for long duration of hours by refraining from day to day life activities, duties, responsibilities, profession and practical life would clearly depict an imbalance in your psychological system. When you have a life you must be able to establish a balance. Further feeling superior than other practitioners could mark ego imbalances as well.

Mistake no. 10: Over expectation of results very soon

Many beginners expect certain experiences after a year or two. One should keep in mind that the practice of meditation is to have a tranquil mind and lead a happier fulfilling life along with the involvement in our everyday life activities.

When your soul potential begin to manifest due to meditation, you’ll experience it in the form of control over ego, heightened awareness, developed conscience, tranquil mind, developed emotional intelligence, ability to persevere, greater threshold for stress and patience, optimistic attitude, you’ll be able to execute yourself at your full potential, feel more contented and peace at heart and mind.

Mistake no. 11: Comparing their progress with others

There is no doubt that people tend to share their experiences with other fellow practitioners and the most unexpected mistake they make most of the time is by comparing their experiences with others.

It should be clear that every individual human being possess different quality and volume of contents in their mind stuff and the amount of time to bring forth the positive experiences and nullify the impact of negative ones take a definite amount of time.

So be yourself. The journey of every practitioner varies but every practitioner must experience the changes as mentioned in the mistake number 8.

Mistake 12: Not channelizing your sexual energy into creative energy

Anyone willing to progress well in meditational journey should preserve their sexual energy. Semen has miraculous benefit when preserved in the human body. The swadhisthana chakra is strengthened which in return strengthens the third eye chakra. Also the energy of the manipur chakra is preserved which is responsible for stimulating the kundalini energy when one preserves their sexual energy.

The hormones in the body do arouse sexual thought. But one should be determined to preserve the vital fluid. You should learn to channelize your sexual energy by involving in your passion or hobby in which you connect emotionally.

It may be anything from arts like music, dance, painting, or sports or photography. But remember you should be productive with your hobbies too. Being so would signify the actual sublimation of your sexual energy. There’s a psychology of engaging in a hobby emotionally and purposefully.

Not doing anything might not help. You can’t trust your mind because it has impressions from previous births and the only weapon you have is your conscious mind.

Mistake 13: Feeding your brain with too much digital information

Internet and materialism have dominated every brain on this planet. Be aware you don’t keep feeding your brain by exposing your sense organs to unnecessary information in the form of images, posts and audio-visual contents as well. Digital information is capable of altering your brain and behavior by reducing it’s functional capacity.

Mistake 14: Sitting for meditation while starving or immediately after meal

It is very important to maintain certain gap between your meal and meditation. A gap of 1.5-2 hours must be favorable. Similarly, if you sit for meditation when you are starving, it is much likely that you won’t get into the meditative experience. Your body consumes certain amount of energy during the practice as well and requires  blood glucose level to be favorable in order to help you establish in the practice. Too much and too little both can affect the quality of your meditation.

Sources:

Inbaraj, G., Rao, R. M., Ram, A., Bayari, S. K., Belur, S., Prathyusha, P. V., Sathyaprabha, T. N., & Udupa, K. (2022). Immediate Effects of OM Chanting on Heart Rate Variability Measures Compared Between Experienced and Inexperienced Yoga Practitioners. International journal of yoga15(1), 52–58. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijoy.ijoy_141_21

Korte M. (2020). The impact of the digital revolution on human brain and behavior: where do we stand?. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience22(2), 101–111. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2020.22.2/mkorte

Gao, J., Leung, H. K., Wu, B., Skouras, S., & Sik, H. H. (2019). The neurophysiological correlates of religious chanting. Scientific reports9(1), 4262. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-40200-w

About the Author

Picture of Sanjeev Yadav, M.A. Yoga, P.G. Psych., DNHE
Sanjeev Yadav, M.A. Yoga, P.G. Psych., DNHE

Mr. Sanjeev is a yoga professional specializing in applied yoga, psychology, and human excellence with over more than 8 years of experience as a health and life coach, well-being trainer, and psycho-yogic counselor. He is completing his Ph.D. dissertation in Yoga.

Now receive the latest articles straight into your inbox