Why Meditation Could Be Bad For Your Mental Health
You heard me. Meditation. Bad for your mental health…By ‘meditation’, I mean the ‘seated, silent’ version.
Take a step back to the time when I first started exploring meditation. I signed up to a transcendental meditation course, which I continue to practice today. I was warned and read about the dangers of going down the ‘rabbit hole’, getting lost in psychosis, paranoia and all that terrifying stuff. Why on earth would I want to go down that ‘path’. I still did, and I managed to find a different path, one filled with bliss, freedom and a new sense of presence. On one level, I got my life back again (and I performed better at work too). All this ‘rabbit has me’ stuff was in my opinion an attempt by some to discredit the practice.
But still, this meditation being ‘bad for your mental health’ thing… Curious? Me too. This new introspection was inspired by a recent post where scientists who have created a method to induce the long term effects of meditation, also expected to see more people experience the ‘negative side effects’ of meditation. Miguel Farias at Coventry University said:
‘If larger stimulation studies do indeed show increases in mindfulness, we’d also expect an increase in negative effects too….Meditation and mindfulness is not for everyone – that’s the important message.’
I was genuinely surprised to read this. But it made me think more about the topic.
Meditation can sometimes force you to look at your shit. Maybe you don’t want to look at it. Suppression of our thoughts in the unconscious mind where everything is stored is an entirely normal human experience.
Watching stuff come up and observing your thoughts pass by maintaining a single point of attention is one aspect of meditation. Going back in and taking a ‘second look’ may not be what you want. Everyone is different and may react or behave differently, as they say.
Maybe your mind flies around at a 1000 miles per hour and it’s just not possible. Maybe you’ve got ADHD or something similar?
It’s even acknowledged in the practices of mindfulness meditation that initially symptoms may get worse as you become more conscious or mindful. I’m not sure this fact is understood as people embark on a course of mindfulness, expecting it to be the panacea to their mental health problems immediately.
In short, meditation may not be for everyone. It’s bloody hard work actually: The dedication, the time and the consistency of practice to actually make it work.
If it’s not for you, there are plenty of other modalities out there for healing. Maybe it’s sound healing, maybe it’s conscious breathing? Maybe it’s a different form of meditation like yoga nidra, walking or something else all together? Who knows? The world is your oyster these days when it comes to alternative and complementary practices.
I meditate regularly, I believe it is good for me and I know it’s good for others too. On the whole, we know it is good, but maybe it’s just not for you. Maybe your mental health requires a different approach.
Has anyone else struggled with or had a bad experience with meditation?