If you are struggling with meditation practice or suffering from any unpleasant effects that you think are related to your meditation, know that you are not alone. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 4 meditators has negative or unwanted effects. These effects may even impair your ability to function. Mindfulness-based interventions such as Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction can also generate these effects. The frequency depends on many factors, most of which are not yet clear.
Unpleasant effects can be physical, mental or a combination. Common physical effects are back, neck, or knee pain. Common mental meditation-related adverse effects are anxiety, feelings of frustration with the practice, or intensification of difficult emotions. There are many other types of experiences that can arise with meditation, and they vary a lot from person to person.
Research offers no evidence that meditation practices are better for mental health than other practices in terms of improving wellbeing. So, if you are struggling with meditation practice, it may be beneficial to try other activities that can boost your wellbeing, such as sports or volunteering.
You can also discuss your difficulties with the relevant health professionals. You can find professional mental health support specialising in meditation-related difficulties at Cheetah House.