Making Meditation Enjoyable When You're a Perfectionist

happiness stress Nov 15, 2023

As someone who reads self help books voraciously, I constantly hear about how powerful meditation is. And there is a lot of research backing the practice. So I felt like I needed to try meditating to reap all the benefits of less negative self-talk and a calmer nervous system.

Yet as a (recovering) perfectionist, it was important that I do it "right." For so many perfectionists just starting with meditation, it's something that feels like it should be easy. That we should be successful at it. But when we're met with the challenges that meditation presents, we get annoyed and often don't continue the practice. If we can't be perfect at it, we'll find something else to excel at.

Though my practice is off and on, I have been meditating for 2 years now.  So I want to share some tips that have helped me make meditation enjoyable.

It's easy to think that the only form of meditation is zoning out in silence. But that's not true. There is guided meditation! This is where there is a voice talking you through the meditation telling you what to focus on. It removes the stress of having to completely clear your mind and provides direction on your thoughts. Here's one by Vishen Lakhiani that I really enjoy. I'm not aware of the time passing as I listen. And meditating longer means more benefits!

Pro tip: Don't try to squeeze meditation in between appointments. It's not an item to be checked off your to-do list! Plan some space when you can actually relax and do it. That may be before bed.

I've done guided meditation enough that I can now quiet my mind and do music-only meditation for about 10 minutes. Meditation isn't about having zero thoughts. I often start my meditation by thinking of things I'm grateful for. Then after that, I ask the universe a question and listen for an answer. Sometimes I get one, sometimes I don't.

And that brings me to the most important aspect of meditating as a perfectionist -- your mindset.

Reframe Your Mindset

Managing expectations is the best way to make meditating more enjoyable.

If you're a beginner, expect your mind to go in a million directions. Remember that meditation is a practice and it takes time and practice to perfect a new skill. The ability to quiet your thoughts is a skill you will develop with consistency.

Set your intention before you begin. Are you meditating simply to reinforce the behavior that you're trying to make a habit? Yes? Then it doesn't matter how well it went. You win because you did it.

Is your intention to feel calmer afterwards? You're much more likely to feel relaxed if you don't criticize yourself. Instead, congratulate yourself for trying something outside your comfort zone.

Is your intention to get an answer from the Divine? This is where you need to let go. You can't control an outcome.

As a perfectionist, you'll likely want to measure or judge if the practice was successful.  Let go of judgement. Stop saying "why can't I focus on my breath?" Consider the meditation a success if you are able to get through it without criticizing yourself.

The real benefit of consistent meditation practice is training your inner voice to speak kindly to yourself.

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