There are many things that can happen once the meditation session is over. Some of them are signs indicating that the meditation is working for you and that you are doing it properly.
So if you’re having nightmares, consider it as part of your growth, you might not be used to the level of awareness you get with meditation and thus, the mind responds a certain way.
Now, nightmares can happen independently of whether you are meditating or not, since just because something correlates, doesn’t mean it’s direct causation.
I’ll dive into how meditation can help you deal with these nightmares and what you can do if you encounter the nightmare.
Nightmares Can Be a Form of Undealt Trauma
Meditation taps into our subconscious, and for some, that can be a double-edged sword because, at times, we can see the negative thoughts we carry play out in the form of a nightmare.
And because it’s so personal, it’s gonna have an effect. But the effect will only be there if we show that we care, if we approach the nightmare with indifference, it will just coexist, without disturbing us in any way.
This is easier said than done but for those that have practiced meditation for a while, this becomes second nature, and we can never eradicate all fear since we need it to a degree.
After all, one of the beautiful qualities of meditation is that it helps us become fearless. The sooner you address that trauma, the higher the chance that the nightmares will stop sooner.
Sometimes, these nightmares don’t necessarily stem from fear or trauma but can just happen arbitrarily from the mind as a way to push back from our meditation. For starters, the mind hates meditation or pretty much anything that doesn’t revolve around quick dopamine hits.
We can’t always be happy, and many enter meditation thinking it’s a blissful experience with no adversities but in reality, when we start to live in the present as a result of meditation, we’ll always experience both sides, with the less desirable side affecting us less and less the more we move up the meditation food chain stages.
Similarly, nightmares will always be there, regardless of if we face the shadow within. However, some miraculously report that they haven’t had a nightmare in years.
Observing The Nightmares
The more you approach the nightmare you are having from a place of observation or curiosity, as opposed to fear, the less likely that nightmare is gonna affect you.
And this might seem like common sense but it takes time for the subconscious to adapt and one of the ways to rewire our brain on a subconscious level is through meditation.
So, you could say that meditation does help with nightmares indirectly, since it changes your approach to things, both in and out of the meditation. Once you start observing the nightmares and approaching them with curiosity, you’ll often find that the fear of these nightmares is ungrounded.
Now, that’s based on the idea that we are conscious that we are having a nightmare in the first place, as opposed to conflating the nightmare with day-to-day life, thinking it’s actually happening.
But keep in mind that meditation raises your level of awareness in your everyday life, and the habits you carry in your day-to-day life often follow when you go to sleep and start dreaming.
Fear is normal, and part of the process. Meditation isn’t the silver bullet to get rid of fear right away without going through a rigorous process of subconscious programming.
Nightmares affect us all differently, for some, it takes them longer to learn to be unaffected by their nightmares and meditation is one way to achieve that quality of indifference.
However, it’s never guaranteed, because they are prone to happen whether you meditate or not.
But at the very least, with a higher level of awareness, it becomes easier to observe these nightmares just like you observe thoughts flowing around your mind when you meditate, without attaching a label to them.
Walking Towards Nightmares
This might not seem like the most appealing idea, but keep in mind, if you are in a conscious state while dreaming, you can always abandon the dream, so it provides some sense of security when approaching the nightmare.
I personally always walk towards the nightmare when I’m conscious that it’s happening, and try to understand my fears, sometimes, even trying to deliberately seek more of that fear, which ironically makes the nightmare diminish.
It’s one way to test our limits and break past them when it comes to the fear we experience. Fear is a mental process more than anything, and if we can overcome fear in our minds, it usually gets projected externally.
The same can be said for anything we overcome internally. I find that walking towards nightmares when in a lucid state is fun and challenging, but you’re more likely to have these conscious dreams in the first place by meditating.
Nightmares Are Temporary
When you’re starting out in your meditation journey, it’s normal to face nightmares. Considering that the mind doesn’t like meditation, it’s a perfect opportunity to test all the roadblocks it throws at us and overcome them.
That way, we end up creating this power shift between our true selves and what we feel at the time that decides the course of our day-to-day and by extension, our life.
However, since nightmares are common and a part of the journey, sometimes even a stepping stone to get to know ourselves better, and more prominent at the start of the journey, it’s a good idea to treat these nightmares as temporary. Meditation in itself isn’t what causes the nightmares necessarily, since it’s just meant to put us in a present state.
But meditation can indirectly evoke nightmares considering how it taps into our subconscious, and almost anything we experience during the transitioning state from non-meditator to meditator is mostly just temporal.
Sometimes, nightmares show us what we are afraid to do in our day-to-day life and that’s an excellent environment to overcome that fear, which will often be reflected outside the dream world.
Even so, considering that nightmares are a temporal part of the process might give some relief to those with the urgency to get out of the nightmare as soon as they face it.
Overcoming Nightmares With Meditation
Some, I imagine, would attribute their nightmare to the meditation and use that as a sole reason to quit the practice, at which point, the mind has gotten the best of you and will continue to until you choose to push back and take steps out of your range of comfort that the mind doesn’t want you to leave.
Meditation might not be a direct way to overcome nightmares but it’s definitely an indirect way to overcome them since being present always comes in handy to start living life and having greater control of our day-to-day as opposed to operating on autopilot and accepting whatever life throws at us.