One of the many questions I get asked is, “Is meditation harmful?”
Well, the simple answer is No, the practice of meditation isn’t harmful…. although, one of the concepts of meditation is to let thoughts come, then to just observe them without judgement and let them pass.
Emotions can be painful
One of the major benefits of meditation, is that it allows you to build an interaction with yourself. And, as a part of that experience, you may find that some uncomfortable, or previously suppressed emotions come up.
It’s possible that feelings including jealousy, fear, or even anger could come to the surface, making you quite uncomfortable.
But, it’s important to remember that these feelings and emotions are healthy and completely natural and with practice, needn’t cause you any distress.
When thoughts occur, and they will because you’re Human, simply acknowledge them. For example:
“The emotion of anger has just shown up”
You can do this with any thought, good, or bad. Acknowledge what the emotion, or feeling is – label it, then let it pass. If you’re finding this process difficult, you could try this guided meditation from the Mindful website.
Beginners seem to feel the effects of these uncomfortable emotions more often. This is because the better you get at acknowledging and labeling it, before you get drawn into the actual ‘feeling‘ of the emotion, the less you’re effected by them.
Unfortunately, some of these thoughts may be disturbing to you.
It’s a bit like when you exercise. Sometimes your muscles can ache, or even be painful for a while after. But, we don’t see this as the exercise being ‘harmful‘. It’s just that the occasional aches and pains are a consequence of the exercise process.
It’s the same with meditation. Generally, meditation brings a feeling of calm and peace. But sometimes, a thought can make you a bit uncomfortable while you sit with it.
If you begin to get caught up in the emotion while you’re meditating, you can stop. Take a break for a while and then start again when you feel ready.
If you’re in a meditation class, or group, it’s certainly worth speaking to the teacher about any adverse emotions you’re feeling during the practice.
Above all else, learning to sit with uncomfortable emotions is an incredibly cleansing thing to do. Once you can observe emotions, without experiencing their effect, you’ll be much better able to deal with difficult, or unpleasant situations in your life.
Let me know if you’ve had any uncomfortable emotions come up during your meditation practice, in the comments.
ps. If you’re completely new to meditation, check out this article for some tips.