Looking To Meditation For Relaxation And Tranquility? Watch Out!
Meditation has many benefits like gaining control over what is termed “alpha rhythms” which are brainwaves that relate to focus and managing pain as well as calming both the body and the mind and reducing stress markers in case of anxiety. With that said — and even considering the mass of evidence that supports the benefits of meditation — there happens to be another side of the coin, a darker side this technique which is less spoken about yet imperative to know before you embark on a journey of meditation (most especially if you’re doing it for relaxation purposes!).
The Dark Side Of Meditation
Meditation turns out to be not only about peace, love, calm, and relaxation. It is not only a dreamy state of mind that you relate to blissful glimpses of an unreal world that is absent of stress. It has been increasingly found that many people who diligently practice meditation, most often in an effort to escape the stresses of the world, find themselves instead unexpectedly thrown in an encounter of unpleasant and vivid emotions, mental disturbance, and even physical ailments.
In Zen Buddhism, there is actually a term that has been devised to describe the horrible encounters you could experience when meditating, and it is called makyo. The word, makyo, is a combination of ‘devil’ and ‘objective world’ in Japanese. It is believed that the release of deep stress and trauma from the mind is expected as a cleansing process when you practice meditation.
So, if you happen to have taken up meditation as a means of managing your already stressful life or if you are somehow on the brink and trying to tilt yourself away from a nervous breakdown, it is best to consider the consequences of taking up meditation and to seriously consider whether or not you would be able to physically, emotionally, and mentally handle a release of years of pent up stresses, trauma, anger, or repressed memories. It will probably not be pretty if it happens, and you will likely need to be a very strong person with plenty of support to wade through it. The experience can be demanding and intense, strenuous, and distressing in ways that will possibly make the rest of the issues that led you to meditation look like child’s play!
So Is Meditation Bad?
It is worth mentioning at this point that these side effects of meditation do not cancel out its immense positive benefits. Meditation is very much a beneficial method of relaxation or refocusing. A research was conducted over a group of 60 meditation practitioners who were highly experienced in meditation. And from those 60 people, researchers actually identified 59 different types of unwanted experiences which were later classified into 7 categories. Feeling of fear, anxiety, a sense of detachment, and a general feeling of doom were reported, among issues of insomnia, hypersensitivity to sound or light, hallucinations, nausea, and irritability. People reported these feelings and experiences in a range from mild to severe and ongoing.
What To Do If You Still Want To Practice Meditation?
In light of the facts that are coming forth concerning the side effects of meditation, it is probably in your best interest to embark on your journey in meditation with a teacher who can support you through whatever unexpected experiences or emotions may arise in your time of practice. Having the support of a person experienced in the field is invaluable and can help you avoid falling into other issues in case you cannot handle yourself.
What we can all say about this new information that is coming to light is that a lot more research and study has to be performed in the field of meditation to answer any questions. We need to understand why such things occur and if there is some way of knowing whether you are likely to encounter these issues or not. Are they more prevalent with a certain type of person? Are there other factors involved? Is there a way of avoiding such experiences or emotions being uncovered during meditation? The questions can go on and on, and it is worthwhile to do plenty of research before you take on the art of meditation.
The bottom line is that meditation does not have a bad name. Occasionally, it can simply go wrong or just deliver results you were not intending. There is very little known about these adverse experiences, and the best thing you can do is be careful and be prepared!
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