Insight Meditation

How to Avoid Common Pitfalls and Get Results:
Lower Stress, Attain Balance and Find Peace of Mind

Monk in white wrap on top of a mountain, overlooking the clouds.

Insight meditation can be a powerful tool for lowering your stress level, deepening your spiritual connection, solving problems, and developing strategic insights into one's life. Insight meditation offers a popular way to illicit changes in awareness and self-understanding while lowering stress and enhancing a sense of happiness and joy. It can help you to blaze a path to success and happiness, especially if you learn to avoid the common pitfalls.

Research shows that about all schools or forms of meditation work equally well. Many of my clients have found, in time, they will develop their own form of meditation; however, when you are beginning to learn how to meditate, it's best to follow a good guide or to work with a teacher.

The key is to jump in and do it...just get started.

Research in mental health shows meditation helps with trauma and can actually assist one's brain in recovering from bad experiences and restructuring itself. If you learn meditation you will have a new, powerful tool for helping you to solve problems and achieve great success in your life.

Insight meditation: Pitfalls and How to Fix Them

Desire. When we sit down to meditate, we often have an overwhelming need or problem to solve. We want an answer so badly we can hardly stand it! A strong desire is one of the greatest barriers to successful meditation. We try to relax, but we're tense inside. Thus, nothing seems to come. Our emotions are so strong we end up trying too hard. Nothing stops insight meditation in its tracks faster than trying too hard or being too eager to find a solution to our presenting problem. It's critical to come into a time of meditation with a calm heart, to put your burdens aside. 

The trick to successful meditation is to let go of desire, detach yourself from the problem, and wait patiently for the information you seek. A helpful hint is to do a progressive relaxation technique first. Once you are feeling relaxed enough to achieve a distance from the problem at hand, transition into a meditative state.

Another technique is to sit quietly in repose and repeat your favorite mantra until you feel as if you are liberated from the problem. After you are feeling deeply relaxed, focus your attention on the problem or question at hand.

Playing soothing music quietly in the background often helps me to meditate. Another trick I use is to stretch and exercise just a bit before meditating. If you have a breathing technique that helps you to get calm and relaxed, you can always use it to prepare yourself for insight meditation and calm your heart.

African American man in leggings and shorts stretching before a workout.Stretch and exercise a bit before meditating.

Personal Tip: If I find myself having trouble relaxing, I concentrate on my breathing, which helps me to get over the hump and enter a  tranquil state -- a more profound state of mind and body.

After you become relaxed, it will be easy enough to let your thoughts go. If distracting thoughts come to you, simply brush them away. If more distracting thoughts come, simply sweep them away as well. Stay centered with your breathing. Soon enough, you will feel deeply relaxed and you can focus on the joyful aspects of your rich inner experience.

Once you have put your mind on the problem and identified it as an avenue for exploration, it's time to wait for possible insight to pop into awareness. It may come in the form of images, words, gut impressions and so forth, so you must remain in  composed and mindful state of readiness without hurrying. The trance state should keep you at peace.

Avoid getting anxious, pushing, or rushing the process. The information you're seeking will come to you as your inner mind sees fit - and there is no way to hurry. You must wait as long as it takes. Simply sit in the silence, remaining open and receptive to any information that may eventually emerge from the depths, and enjoying the moment, keeping your mind free.

Lack of Time. People often feel they don't have enough time to meditate or to learn how; they try when they are mentally or physically tired, and it doesn't work. It is best not to meditate when you don't feel like it or when in a rush. Wait for the right time, or, better yet, make time. I build time for meditation in my schedule. Otherwise, it wouldn't happen!

Most people, no matter how busy they may be, can find time to meditate. Just 30 or 40 minutes of relaxed bliss can make a huge difference in your stress level. You'll end up feeling terrific.

Insight meditation is valuable in so many ways that it deserves to find a way into our busy lives. You can always give up a shopping trip or a night out to dinner to make time to meditate, or simply knock off an hour early one or two nights. 

Once you get started, you won't be able to give up meditating because it makes you feel so good and does so many wonderful things for you. 

Digital clock displaying "07:09" in red print hanging from the ceiling in a white subway station.Meditation deserves your time. Leave a space for it in your busy schedule.

Misreading or Misinterpreting Information. The most common mistake here lies in taking information received from meditation literally, or attempting to understand it in a linear fashion. Insight meditation results in symbolic information or intuitive glimmers. It works like a dream.

For example, a dream about seeing a long-lost friend doesn't necessarily mean this person is going to appear in your life. But it may suggest you'd like to see this person or need to reconnect with them, and it's time to call this person or try to find them.

Meditation may give you glimmers of insight about your life, but they must be interpreted carefully. When you are seeking to learn how to meditate, it is really critical to listen for the interior or core message. Symbols and images should be evaluated, after the meditation experience, on their representational merit. We can often "feel" a meaning, too, by letting the images speak to us.

How can you tell if you receive valuable information? You may want to simply remember the symbolic information that comes to you during meditation. You can analyze it afterwards. Remember, it is usually best not to take it literally, but to look for the symbolic message. You'll often solve a problem by paying attention to a picture, idea, or a phrase that bubbles up from the inner mind.

Hand holding a sign in front of a green tree that reads, "it is well."Don't take information from meditation too literally; look for the interior message.

Benefits of Insight meditation

There are many good reasons to develop your meditation skill. Insight meditation will help you manage stress, improve your spiritual life, enjoy better relationships, and increase your success in countless ways. Meditation gives your body a well-deserved rest, and provides your mind an avenue through which to share information with you. It often leads to powerful insights that no amount of analytic decision making can accomplish. Many of my clients have found meditation leads to powerful self-understanding and greater spiritual power.

Over the years, I have taught basic meditation to some of my therapy and coaching clients, and they have reported it is one of the single most influential techniques they've ever tried!

Some years ago, I offered a meditation group to seven and eight year old children, all of whom proved to be great meditators and learners. And each client grew in some important way as a result of meditating. Everyone can benefit from the simple and natural practice of insight meditation.

So why not get started now? 

If you want to improve the effectiveness of your insight meditation practice, remember:

  1. Overcome desire
  2. Make time on a regular basis
  3. Avoid a literal interpretation

Whether you practice insight meditation or not, you'll increase your meditation success by working with meditation on a regular basis. Develop a skill for meditation. It pays! Just doing it will help you to solve problems and reach a new level of expertise. The regular practice of meditation can drastically boost spiritual growth.

Plus, meditating feels wonderful! Meditation is a rewarding experience, and makes you feel so good! If you want to learn how to meditate or get more mileage from your current meditation practice, find a little more time for listening to the SILENCE. You'll soon be solving your problems, reaping amazing rewards, and enjoying a rich and satisfying interior life.

In Sum

Insight meditation can help you to find answers to your most perplexing questions and put you on the road to health, awareness and prosperity. With a little practice, you can develop the skills you need to reap great results. 

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