The Very Real Side Effects of Meditation

The following is based on my own practice and experience with over 30 years of meditation. 


I had recently read a study where a variety of inexperienced to expert meditators were asked if they had gained over time or in the moment any negative effects while meditating. It was somehow clear to me before I started a meditation practice back some 30 + years ago that getting in touch with and processing in any format all that was going on with myself at the time may bring on some emotional reaction or trauma. I also had concluded from studying that while “clearing” from meditation that certain physiological, psychological, and metaphysical occurrences can happen to a person over the course of consistent practice and sometimes directly within a meditation. This can be anything from crying to experiencing anger, physiological effects noting a higher heart rate or feelings of fatigue, and even an upswing in psychic aptitudes (this can be scary) have been reported.

Meditation is all about intention. Cultivating an intention before a meditation to clear the mind, body, and spirit cannot have neutral effects as practicing anything with intention plants the seed to an outcome…there likely will be amazing results as your practice expands but neutrality is not one of them. If you are stuck anywhere in your life …Mindfulness and Meditation are about shining a light on those stuck parts of yourself.

I had been asked recently about ideas concerning the “imaginary white or empty room” and “nothingness” in meditation practices. “Meditation is about finding the place of emptiness, right, like seeing an empty room?” “Not exactly,” I said,… “Mindfulness and Meditation practice is not about escape or even emptiness as we imagine it. In my own practice, it is about allowing any thoughts to come in…acknowledging them and then sending them off. Meditation helps me to cultivate a strategy to not giving negative and persistent thoughts any energy to manifest." Many negative thoughts especially about oneself are simply repetitive thoughts that have you convinced of a convoluted story. 

You can never really turn off your thoughts…the idea is to never let them gain ground. Ideas of emptiness are formulated in your practice — like when looking into the flame of a candle and all else fades, no judgments, no incoming thoughts — some find this to be the “emptiness” and yet it is far from the term I understand as empty. There are many ideas and descriptive words I might want to attach to Meditation but I’m not sure they would do justice to the practice. 

white room    

So Mindfulness Meditation practices, in the beginning, may force you to get closer to the unpleasantness that holds you back. I find that negative thought patterns are the first to arrive leading us inward further to perhaps unravel past uncomfortable experiences. When we avoid the mirror or the reflections of ourselves we do not like it can create a lot of anxiety. If we have an intention when we Meditate we have a chance to open up meaningfully with ourselves and create the perfect conditions to deal with these unwanted aspects with grace, confidence, and compassion. 


It is so important to cultivate your practice "where you are"...taking baby steps.  When starting out try just a few minutes at a time and build your practice. These small increments allow for smaller shifts in consciousness and mindfulness that gives you, the practitioner, time to evolve. It may just give you the manageable space needed to unravel anything that holds you back. Small manageable pieces, always.

In closing, yes... you can experience side effects from meditation. Take a little at a time and before you know it clarity presents itself and your practice unfolds, is forever shifting and growing. The amazing effects of meditation far outweigh anything deemed as "bad" and lasts so much longer! So get set up by getting yourself a Comfy Bolster, a Yoga Blanket, and a good Candle and start your practice today! Nothing to lose - everything to gain! 



Thank you.


Mary Rhodomoyer @ The Yama Yoga Store

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