Insight Meditation – How to Avoid Common Pitfalls and Get Results

Insight meditation can be a powerful tool for deepening spirituality, 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. They’ll do it their way. But when you are setting about to learn meditation, it’s best to follow a good guide or to work with a good teacher. They key is to jump in and do it.

New research in mental health shows meditation helps with trauma and can actually assist one’s brain in recovering from bad experiences, and in 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.

Common Pitfalls And Anecdotes

1. 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! Well, strong desire is one of the greatest barriers to successful meditation. We try to relax, but we’re tense inside. And nothing seems to come. Our emotions are so strong we end up trying too hard. And nothing stops insight meditation in its tracks faster than trying too hard or being too eager to find a solution to our presenting problem.

How To Fix It?

It’s critical to come into a time of meditation with a calm heart. This can be difficult when you feel unsettled or frightened, and problems weighing heavily upon the mind. The trick to successful meditation is to let go of desire, detach yourself from the problem and to wait patiently for the information you seek. A helpful hint is to do a progressive relaxation technique first and, once you are feeling relaxed enough to achieve a distance from the problem at hand, then transition into a meditative state.

Another technique is to sit quietly in repose and say your favorite mantra over and over until you feel relaxed and at peace, and liberated from the problem. Then, after you are feeling deeply relaxed, you can focus your attention on the problem or question at hand.

Playing a little soothing music quietly in the background often helps me to meditate. Another trick I use is to stretch and exercise just a bit before sitting 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.

Personal Tip

If I find myself having trouble becoming relaxed, I concentrate on my breathing, which will help me to get over the hump and enter a more profound and blissful 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 with an imaginary broom. If more distracting thoughts come, simply sweep them away. Soon 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 a tranquil state of readiness… without hurrying. The trance state should keep you profoundly relaxed and 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.

2. Lack of Time

This brings me to the second common pitfall or barrier to insight meditation, time. This one is certainly related to the first.

People often don’t feel they have enough time to meditate, or to learn meditation. They try when they are mentally or physically tired. It is usually best not to force yourself to meditate when you don’t feel like meditating or you are in a rush. Wait for the right time or, better yet, make time for meditation. I build time for meditation in my schedule… or it won’t happen!

Most people, no matter how busy they may be, can find time to meditate. And we all need to solve problems at times!

Insight meditation is so valuable in so many ways, so wonderful and important that it deserved 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.


There are many good reasons to learn meditation. 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 profound insights and greater spirituality.

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 children, all of whom proved to be great 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.

3. 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. Inisght 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 him/her, and it’s time to call this person or try to find him/her.

Meditation may give you glimmers of insight about your life, but they must be interpreted carefully. When you are seeking to learn meditation, 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. Often you’ll solve a problem by paying attention to a picture, idea or a phrase that bubbles up from the inner mind.

In Sum

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

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. Learn 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 really boost spirituality. Plus, meditating feels wonderful! Meditation is a rewarding experience, and makes you feel so good! If you want to learn meditation or get more mileage from your current meditation practice, find a little more time for meditation and soon… you’ll be solving your problems, reaping amazing rewards and enjoying a rich and satisfying interior life.