When it comes to meditating, it is often described as a cure-all quick fix. Diving in headfirst, thinking of all the amazing benefits that you could gain from it, only to find out it’s not working is frustrating, to say the least. But for some, this is reality. You’ve sat in silence, listening to a guide walking you through, but you end up feeling more agitated. Why is meditation not working for you?
The adverse working of meditation
The benefits of meditation are praised regularly, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that more and more people are interested. Our modern lives can be stressed and rushed, so it seems like everyone is looking for some fast tension relief.
It is however possible you feel more agitated after meditating than you did before, the exact opposite of what you were hoping for.
There are multiple ways why meditation may feel like it is not working for you. Everyone is unique, after all. Let’s take a look at some common reasons why meditation has an adverse effect for some, and what the reason behind this could be.
First things first, let’s look at what we’re actually doing while meditating. We’re sitting in silence, hoping for a moment of relaxation. If you have never actually sat in silence before, this sounds easy enough. Sure, meditating is accessible to everyone and in most cases free. But don’t let that deceive you. Sitting in complete silence is hard.
If you’ve experienced first-hand that your mind races and you’re unable to concentrate during your meditation, perhaps you’ll find our article for those who cannot sit still interesting.
Sometimes, this expectation that we create beforehand, can be the trigger leading to agitation and frustration. When something happens differently than we had expected, we tend to judge our experience on that.
Going through various reasons why meditation isn’t working, may help you create a more realistic image of meditation and how it can be practiced.
Reasons meditation doesn’t work for you
- You’re not practicing regularly – This can be best explained by comparing meditation to drawing. The first time you’re going to draw, you are perfectly capable of holding a pencil and drawing shapes with it. But the more you practice drawing, the more you’ll gain certain techniques, find which ones work for you, and better your skill overall. With meditation, the process is similar. Everyone can close their eyes and sit down. It takes time to practice certain techniques before meditation starts working for you.
- Your expectations are too high – Let’s have another look at the example above. When it comes to drawing, the first time you pick up a pencil, you don’t expect your drawing to be a perfect masterpiece, right? When it comes to meditating, people often expect to feel relaxed instantly. Although this may be the case for some, for others it takes more sessions in order to train the brain to relax.
- You’re practicing a certain type of meditation that doesn’t feel comfortable – There are countless ways to practice meditation. Sitting in a cross-legged seat with closed eyes may be one of the most well-known ways to practice, so it’s not surprising this is the first type you give a try. But that doesn’t mean it is the best type for you personally. Maybe you prefer to lay down and focus on a certain breathing pattern. Or perhaps chanting a mantra will be calming to you. Everyone is unique, and so should be your practice.
- You’re only using meditation to release tension – Our human bodies have natural instincts that we have developed over time. Some of them are not that important anymore as our way of living has changed. But looking at our hunter-gatherer ancestors is actually very helpful. Imagine this: you walk in a forest, and a predator approaches you. This is when your body will react with stress. Your instinct is probably to run, which is no coincident at all. Your body is actually signaling you to fight or flight. But in our modern-day, when we encounter a stressful situation, we often don’t get to literally run away from it. Meditation is an excellent way to reduce stress, but on its own, it’s not a sustainable solution. With our busy schedules, we try to jump from stressful situations into instant relaxation, which, sadly, is just not how our bodies work. If you recognize having a racing mind during meditation and feeling frustrated by that, it is a good idea to take a look at accompanying ways to reduce stress to complement your meditation practice.
How to make meditation work for you
Did any of the above situations sound familiar? If so, it is actually wonderful that you recognize this, and admit to it. It takes a lot of self-knowledge and courage, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
There are various ways you can make meditation work for you and reap its benefits. We’ll go over them in the same order as the scenarios above.
…don’t practice regularly
Did you know it only takes three weeks to form a new habit? Pick a time that works for you, preferably one where you know no one else will bother you. A quiet time for you alone. Also, don’t think this has to be hours of time. Even a 10-minute squeezed in session can work miracles.
…have high expectations
Think of all of your expectations for meditating as guidelines, rather than rules. You can sit in a lotus pose, but you can definitely also lay down on your back. Be aware that any session is different. You may have a very calming, soothing practice one day, and a more restlessness one the next.
It’s important to see meditation as a process, and not as a quick fix that will instantly wash away your worries. Reading into meditation, as well as having guided sessions, may help with this.
…are practicing a type of meditation that doesn’t feel comfortable
If anything, meditation should be comforting to you, and you only. If you felt embarrassed chanting than there is no reason to go through with that. Cannot sit comfortably upright? Then your mind will probably be uncomfortable too.
Do a little research, and see if you can find a meditation that instantly sparks your interest. In the end, your way of practicing should be one you actually want to go back to, each and every time.
…only use meditation to release tension
Creating movement in your body is an amazing way to release tension. Get your heart rate up by working out before you practice meditation. Another way is to simply combine the two by practicing yoga. Look into a more powerful type of yoga, such as vinyasa.
Things to be mindful of
As with anything in life, it takes time to develop a solid meditation practice that will lead to the benefits. It is such a powerful tool, but without being realistic and consistent it can lead to more frustration.
If you have never practiced guided meditation before, it’s strongly recommended to give this a try before you give up on meditation. There are many teachers out there who can help you feel more at ease in your practice.
Give meditation a try for at least one full month if you’re practicing daily.
Feeling agitated after a meditation session is most likely the complete opposite of what you expected. This adversity can lead to a feeling of frustration and agitation.
Acknowledging something isn’t sitting right with you is a great first step. Going through the various reasons that could lead to a not so calming session, and taking the steps you can take into consideration, will hopefully help you the next time you’re meditating. Don’t give up!
Our app Deep Meditate is a complete solution when it comes to helping you build a solid meditation practice. With our packs, we’ve lined up daily meditations for you, taking your practice to the next level, day by day.