When starting with meditation, we hear about how great the practice can be and how it can change our lives for the better.
But there is always another side to the coin, something that’s not often talked about. How your meditation experience is gonna be, depends on various factors like who you are as a person and the type of meditation you do.
For those who can, more meditation only makes them feel a deep sense of tranquility, whereas, for some, it’s something to do in moderation. There is a dark side to meditation.
The fact that it expands our scope of reality and makes us question things can backfire because not everyone is prepared.
Having too much knowledge than you know what to do with it can bring a feeling of despair.
While everyone can do meditation, doesn’t mean everyone should or continue pursuing it for that matter, even if it’s recommended for most. Most don’t quit because of the adverse psychological effects, but because of consistency and short-term gratification or lack thereof.
If you meditate on your own and face yourself and your thoughts, you will many times be presented with disturbing experiences.
These can pertain to an unpleasant memory you have that you want to get out of your mind, in which case, just letting that thought flow isn’t always ideal, as it can become overwhelmingly debilitating to the meditation practice, making the experience achieve the opposite effects than what it intended to.
If you don’t have any documented psychological issues that you’re aware of, meditation will generally be safe for you, assuming you don’t have some type of condition in the mind that would make it worse. Meditation can be as simple as feeling your breath and being mindful of it.
There’s no need to go deep into it or practice it for longer periods, especially if you face disturbing experiences in your mind or through shadow work. In that case, to be fair, meditation may not be for you, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
But there’s another side to meditation that can be helpful – meditation can be therapeutic. I compared hypnosis and meditation and outlined many of the similarities, the availability of meditation is always there.
Meditation can also be a way to conquer your mind and thus, become less affected by said disturbing experiences. However, most, if not all the meditation gurus we look up to today went through challenges when meditating.
It’s part of the journey and brings the notion to light that there’s nothing to gain if we don’t experience some difficulties.
It’s a price we pay to live a life that’s free of stress and hurdles. Meditation makes life easier in the sense that a lot of obstacles we face are mental, and conquering that part is already conquering a major part of the battle.
But it’s important to emphasize that there is a sizable amount of individuals where meditation will not work for them, either because they haven’t made it work for them or because meditation isn’t for them.
We tend to imagine meditation is gonna be this perfect straight path to our goal, without understanding that there are different phases of meditation and not every meditation practice will feel equally pleasant, some sessions will be more disturbing than others, and because it’s a lot to take in for a new mind, some have reported adverse effects by going to meditation retreats.
With meditation, you tap into deep territory inside you. This often results in more knowledge about yourself and your identity.
But knowing too much, as well as expanding your consciousness can be overwhelming because you open your mind to a new reality it wasn’t used to. It’s a new paradigm that breaks the old one.
If you feel too “enlightened” by what you learn and you start to question your reality, you may reach a point where you ask yourself whether there’s a point to anything, tapping into Nihilist territory.
There’s a direct correlation between having an expanded knowledge of something and being more pessimistic about said thing.
Without meditation, one could say an individual lives in ignorance, even if meditation isn’t the only means for knowledge by any means, but rather portraying how the lack of meditation and lack of awareness in our day to day defaults the mind to either something pleasant that was on the past or perhaps the future holds while ignoring what we have right in front of us.
It helps to have a goal with meditation rather than meditating for the sake of meditating, the more explicitly said goal is, the more mindful you are along the way, rather than letting the mind gravitate to what the meditation makes the mind gravitate towards.
Knowing more is a double edge sword, meditation isn’t this straightforward journey where we will be free of challenges.
While stress will be significantly reduced to the point where it becomes nearly obsolete, one can be introduced to a new way of life that often leads us to abandon old belief systems. Just because stress will be absent, doesn’t mean that some won’t experience something that may even be worse.
Facing The Shadow
Sometimes, we just can’t accept that something is a part of us, and it needs to be changed. This is especially true if we apply it to shadow work. If you encounter a part of your thoughts that you don’t associate yourself with, you can either dive deeper into it or live in denial.
It’s hard to admit to ourselves if we have a problem that we’ve repressed. With meditation, when done properly, there’s nothing to repress and everything to let out.
However, as hard as it may seem, having an accepting approach to this helps you no longer be bothered by it.
It can help you grow as a person and make you free, otherwise, there’s a risk of running away from our problems, that stays there and grows into something worse.
The sooner this shadow is addressed, the less potential it has to hurt you. However, I should emphasize that this doesn’t apply to everyone.
Some are worse off facing their shadow, and some are only worse off for the short term, only to resume their life later where the outcome is more peace.
Despite The Dark Side of Mediation, Is It Still Worth It?
Yes, as long as it’s not having any adverse effects on you and you don’t have any documented psychological challenges, you should for the most part be fine with meditating.
But it doesn’t hurt to consult a physician, but even they many times recommend meditation for their patients.
For the average individual, meditation is a safe practice, the challenges it presents are often manifested when it comes to consistency and discipline.
Just like with eating healthy foods, there’s always a risk for food poisoning but that doesn’t mean we should abandon eating healthy.
If you know yourself and what you’re comfortable with, meditation should work fine for you, but don’t push yourself over the limit if the meditation becomes too much, this is especially true at the start when building the routine is the hardest part.