Why Meditation May Not Be For You

The mind is like water. When it's turbulent it's difficult to see. When it's calm, everything becomes clear.

Based on the statistics, millennial are experiencing more anxiety and depression than generations past. It’s one of the reasons why tools like Yoga and Meditation have become so important to our generation.

Yoga, if done under the instruction of a good teacher, can massively improve your health. The same can be said for Meditation, but not everyone agrees.

It’s highly recommended for a better balanced mental and emotional health, no matter whether you’re depressed or not; but there is a whole group that believes that meditation could actually make depression and anxiety worse.

Related: 11 Warning Signs Of A Mental Illness

The mindful nature of the exercise leads to a person suspending all active thought process and dragging his attention to the here and now.

As you meditate, it may result in -

  1. Amplification of the current negative situation (The Amplification Hypothesis)
  2. Resurfacing of issues buried in the subconscious (Ego-Rattling Hypothesis)

Depression and Anxiety don’t just happen. There is a set of events leading up to the issue – it could be over a short period of time and it could be events leading to the very start of your life – and mindfulness will actually drag your attention to all of these issues. As these issues come to surface, if you’re unaware of them or deliberately ignoring, you will experience a major shock to your system. A lot of people suffer from depression because of trauma and abuse suffered in their childhood.

Mindful meditation may even amplify the suffering by making you aware of every subtle nuance of the issues overwhelming your mental and emotional balance. Again, if you don’t have help in your life, it will leave you exposed to a lot of unhealthy ideas and emotions.

The decision to commit suicide isn’t made overnight. It is usually something that a person plans in great detail, and it’s a result of a steadily worsening mental condition and once the person completely loses grip, suicide becomes a very attractive option. I have been practicing meditation for 3 years but for the first two years, it didn’t work at all. The time spent meditating always resulted in a lot of frustration because I never experienced the promised relief. It was usually followed by episodes of self-harm, verbal self-abuse, or hours of crying.

Then somewhere in-between, I gave up on Meditation. I never connected the dots, but it was the period when I started journaling about my childhood. I examined every painful episode in great detail. Suddenly, I was this objective observer of my own life, and only after I had processed the past issues did I see a positive change.

The past year has been great for me!

Meditation and Yoga have become a part of my daily routine. I meditate twice, sometimes thrice a day and now, it always results in mental clarity. If your mind is a battleground where memories and emotions, negative and positive, are constantly vying for supremacy – mental clarity is the shield standing between you and, almost certain, insanity. Some days, I press pause on everything and process the really bad stuff even if it means I spend several hours crying and get nothing else done. No matter the loss in productivity, it is something I have to do. Meditation always helps me reach such decisions.

On certain days, I know that I don’t yet have the strength to deal with difficult issues and it’s ok to sweep some of that stuff under the rug.

Basically, I have struggled with meditation. It caused me so much pain in the beginning but now, it is one of my most loved activities of the day.

There is a warning attached. It is definitely not for you-

  • If you experience an increase in pain and/or confusion after practicing mindful meditation
  • If you feel that there are issues trying to push their way to the surface
  • If you are experiencing an identity crisis

The best thing to do in this case -

1. Deal with the problem issues first

I highly recommend Journaling.

Put down on paper every issue rattling your emotional cage. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s silly. Usually, it’s not the incident itself, but what it represents that you need to analyse.

Discuss it with a friend or family member. Just find someone to talk to!

Saying things out loud can really help. When you share what you’re hugging to yourself, it reduces the impact of whatever you’re sharing. If it’s something scary and painful as soon as you share it, it loses a little bit of its power.

A conversation may actually help you see things clearly. The other person may even help you process and attain closure.

Seek Professional Help

It’s always the best thing to do!

A professional can help you process things in a healthier way. It’s done in a controlled environment reducing the possibility of self-harm.

People struggling with depression and anxiety carry a lot of shame due to which, despite its many benefits, they actively avoid going to a professional.

2. Find alternate ways to practice mindfulness

Meditation leaves the mind free to wander so, you need to find alternate ways that allow you to be mindful without leaving you exposed to destructive overthinking.

You can try physically engaging activities like swimming, cycling, cooking, yoga – anything that requires complete and total attention. Such activities necessitate complete focus. This allows you to be mindful in the best way possible.

It’s also a good way to seek relief from obsessive anxiety, but be careful not to develop a dependence on any activity. It may be healthy but escapist behaviour always hurts us in the end.

3. Group Activities

Join a group engaged in similar activities.

Mostly, group activities are light-hearted and fun. It will allow you to find others going through similar issues. Also, such groups usually have an instructor which minimizes the possibility of a negative experience.

If you still experience pain and trauma, you have an entire group of people who can share your experience.

Now, if meditation in itself isn’t working for you, here’s something you can do if you wish to reap its benefit-
1. Don’t build unrealistic expectations

It takes time to reach a place of calm.

The power of meditation relies on halting disruptive thoughts which is no small feat.

Instead of piling on the pressure with unrealistic expectations of reaching nirvana with a couple sessions, just start with simple goals. It could be something as easy as going 5 minutes without letting your mind wander.

Trust me, it’s harder than it sounds. Most of us live a very fast-paced life and we rarely stop to allow for a cleansing of any kind.

2. Change your lifestyle

As I said, we live a fast-paced life. Social Media is a massive part of it. Most of you start and end your day with social media. The first and last hour of the day is when your mind is at its most vulnerable. Whatever you consume goes straight into your subconscious. It is recommended that you protect your mind by consuming only what you would want to have power over your life.

Meditation can be a powerful tool but only if that small period of mindfulness doesn’t get overwhelmed by several hours of toxic consumption. A lot of people believe that meditation can change their lifestyle. It can give you a taste for a different life but it can’t make your decisions for you.

3. Be Consistent

Don’t give up! Do it consistently to see results. More Importantly, do it at the same time every day. Eventually, your mind will be programmed to go into a relaxed state at a particular hour every day making it easier to focus all that vibrant energy.

Also, don’t give up too soon. You have to sit in one position for a while before there can be a shift towards a more restful mental pace.

It’s better if you meditate early in the morning and/or right before bed.

4. Try Creative Visualisation

Initially, when I was new to the whole thing, creative visualisation helped me focus and increase the period of mindfulness. It is such a fun way to meditate and it is a lot like self-hypnosis. It allows you to feed your subconscious healthier ideas. To explore the subject further, read the post on creative visualisation.

5. Use Guided meditation Or Music

Try guided meditation and stick with it for a while. You can also try to meditate with light music – whatever you prefer.

Related: The Best Guided Meditations Available On YouTube

Conclusion

Contrary to popular belief, Meditation is not for everyone. It can and does have ill-effects if done without a proper understanding of what it means to meditate. It’s not easy. Having said that, it is not supposed to be as hard as some people make it. The most necessary ingredient is a relaxed mind which means you can’t treat it like a battle. Truly commit to not just the benefits but the work as well. Do it every day at the same hour. Be consistent and pay attention to what your body, mind, and soul is telling you.

The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.

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10 Responses

  1. I understand your warnings and perspective… yet still I feel like without meditation one would not be aware of the issues, therefore he couldn’t follow any of the following steps… meditation DOES bring things on the surface so we can actually deal wth them… and yes, at first it’s not nice, but that’s the healing process. If you don’t know what’s ‘wrong’ you can’t ‘presccribe the right medication’.
    Interesting, thought-provoking post though!

    1. True! The post was intended to caution, not to discourage 🙂 I personally meditate several times a day. It’s just that those of us who suffer from mental health issues may not find meditation so pleasant if we haven’t had any active intervention. There have been cases where meditation has driven people to self-harm. Anything (even if it is advertised as a panacea), if it causes you pain need not be blindly pursued.
      I am glad to know that for you meditation is a source of comfort. I hope it continues to bring you peace! 🙂

  2. This is such a helpful perspective. I struggle with meditation, especially when my life is chaotic, then, as you said, I get more stressed because it’s not working for me! Yoga and running/walking intervals are my go-tos at that point.

    1. You should do what works for you. Meditation seems so attractive but it’s not the only thing that can help with mental health. If you do Yoga, I think you’re already on a good path. Yoga helps a great deal.

  3. What an interesting take on meditation. I’ve almost never heard of any negative side effects. But it totally makes sense that trauma could be heightened if you’re spending your meditation focusing on those negatives. I really like journalling as a way to work through problems – awesome suggestion!

    1. Journaling helps A LOT with emotional balance. The results take a little time to show up but they will for sure. You just have to be consistent with it. I am glad you found the post useful.

  4. I’ve been wanting to get up earlier than my kids to meditate for months, but I haven’t made it happen or committed to it. This may have just given me the motivation to do it. Thank you! Super helpful info on meditation.

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