While we know various types of meditation can promote better mental and physical health, it’s easy to neglect the fact that just about anything can be dangerous if you don’t know how to do it right or aren’t prepared for it. But can meditation be dangerous?
In some cases, yes. But mostly for beginners who quit too early.
How can meditation be dangerous?
Dangerous is a loaded work, however, there are certainly some potential downsides to meditation. For those who are in a dark place or have multiple stressors that they have been repressing, harmful thoughts can sometimes arise during meditation. And if you aren’t skilled at pushing those thoughts away, it can cause you to ruminate on them even more.
According to Psychology Today (cited below), “The most profound interaction you experience in meditation is the interaction with yourself. As part of that, you would get in touch with buried and suppressed emotions. Meditation could trigger waves of anger, fear or jealousy, which had been sitting deep within you, and that would make you feel uncomfortable.”
Of course, having these emotions surface is likely good in the long term if it helps you deal with them and get past them. But if you stop meditating due to discomfort with those feelings, it can leave you worse off. (This is similar to starting and stopping therapy too soon – it can be uncomfortable at first, but that’s usually part of the process.)
The danger of being a beginner
If you’ve ever had a hard time meditating or found that you feel worse afterward, you’re not alone. But we tend to downplay the potential side effects for beginnings since there are so many potential benefits. And typically, the more you keep meditating, the better you get at it.
However, for those who have been through traumatic experiences, being left to meditate on their own with no other emotional support can be very challenging and can lead to poor mental health outcomes. You may need more than just meditation if you’re dealing with trauma.
Meditation beginners also sometimes misunderstand the idea of non-attachment and of letting their feelings go. Most techniques allow troublesome thoughts to come up and encourage you to acknowledge them and then push them away. But sometimes that can lead us to avoid truly dealing with these emotions in a way that will be productive in the long run.
While meditation seems to benefit many people, it’s not as easy as the internet makes it sound. Those dealing with trauma will probably want more personalized guidance and a support system as part of their meditation practice. — WTF fun facts