With the rise in the popularity of meditation, many people are beginning to wonder if there is a downside to meditation. Some people have heard stories or read articles about people having side effects like panic attacks. Other people have heard stories about people withdrawing from their lives. Rumors of people becoming addicted to meditation have even been reported.
So, I would like to once and for all address each one of these as someone who has worked with thousands of meditators and seen all kinds of different reactions people have to meditation.
Why Some People Don’t Want You to Meditate?
First of all, there are many financial interests that do not want people meditating. People don’t consume or buy things when they meditate. Meditators are less susceptible to the advertising of giant corporations because once people feel fulfilled and whole from within, products no longer have the seductive allure they once did.
And some people in the mental health industry see happy people who no longer need therapy as a threat to their existence. These massive financial interests have massive PR machines putting out all sorts of scary stories about anything that threatens their bottom line.
How Not To Learn Meditation?
Most of the stories in the press, if not all, are about people who learned meditation from a book or a friend or a social media influencer who did not fully understand what they were talking about. Equating this to someone who learned meditation from an expert is called a false equivalency.
How Best To Learn Meditation?
The absolute best way to learn meditation is from a highly experienced instructor who can give you personal attention and help make sure you’re doing it correctly and how to adapt if any unpleasant experiences come up (you can find a highly trained instructor www.EastWesticism.org).
The fact is, every single person on the planet can meditate. It is our birthright and our natural state of being. Even people with disabilities can do it! With a proper instructor, any concerns or negative experiences can be addressed and solved.
Moderation With Meditation
Many in the west are choosing to learn meditation as a technique to achieve more success and material possessions—a life hack. They are forgoing any spiritual teaching that has usually accompanied the technique. While this is fine and there are benefits, they are only getting half the benefits.
Meditation is about gaining wisdom and insight, learning moderation, and taking the middle path—not too rigid, not too lazy.
Anything in life can be done to an extreme. So, if meditation takes over your entire life, you withdraw from your family and you begin to shirk your responsibilities, this is not wisdom.
However, with proper meditation from a proper instructor, you will be sure that you will maintain balance in your life.
It is possible that after doing meditation for some time, you will realize that certain relationships are not healthy and you may wish to remove yourself from a relationship. Not only this, but you may discover that a job is not right for you any longer and you wish to do something different.
Moreover, you may find that certain activities you were doing weren’t serving your highest good and you may make a change. These are all some of the beautiful benefits that come from meditation as we become wiser, happier, and healthier. If you withdraw from all people and all labor, this is not an example of wisdom and presence but rather an ignorance and avoidance.
So How Much Meditation Is Too Much Meditation?
This is a question that will be different for each person. Some people, like Jack Dorsey, the CEO of two multi-billion-dollar companies, meditate for two hours every day. Other people may sneak in a couple of minutes three or four times throughout the day.
Everyone is different and how much you choose to do will be determined by your schedule, your goals, and how it is affecting you and your loved ones.
Some people may feel like they don’t have even 40 minutes a day to meditate, but time and time again I have seen the busiest people (think the single mother of four working three jobs) tell me that when they do a 20-minute morning and evening meditation, they feel they have more time in a day, not less. That’s because of the greater focus and energy they have throughout their day.
What To Watch Out For When Meditating?
During my time as an instructor, I’ve seen and worked with people who experienced all kinds of things during meditation. Some people became depressed or anxious. Others became restless. Some people told me that all of their senses felt uncomfortably heightened.
All of these people though were not experiencing issues from meditating too much. It was from not meditating enough. They had spent all of their lives lost in constant thought, always doing, never being.
They had decades and decades of repressed emotions they had not yet processed. Thinking and doing became so habitually ingrained in them, as does nearly all of us, that when we first start meditating we find it difficult or that it makes us uneasy. In fact, it is the easiest, most natural thing in the world.
It can take a little while for some people to become used to peace and accustomed to stillness. The trick is to be gentle with yourself. Don’t force it. Go slowly. Undoing decades of habitual unconscious thinking don’t happen right away. But just like going to the gym, with consistent training, you will notice a difference.
Meditation For ADD/ADHD
These days, with screens absolutely everywhere, a lot of people find that their shortened attention span is their greatest impediment to meditation. The average attention span of a human is shorter than ever. If you’re having difficulty focusing or sitting still, check out our audiobook, How I Cure My ADHD with Meditation at Audible.com.