Cool, calm, collected and in the lotus position - while that may be the case for people who meditate regularly, it’s not all sunshine and roses for those who are just starting out.
Like any skill, meditation requires practice, and you can’t expect to master it overnight. You’ll face many challenges along the way, some of which may be extremely uncomfortable, potentially turning you away from meditation itself. And if that happens, it’d be a great tragedy as there are so many benefits that you can derive from it if you are willing to stick it out.
So that you’re ready once you begin your meditation journey, here are three uncomfortable side effects that you may encounter along the way. If they come about, observe them and keep on going!
1. Your mind gets even more busy
A common complaint from people who have just started meditating is that their mind is like a tornado of thoughts swirling viciously inside their head. The more they try to meditate, the more their thoughts seem to grow in intensity.
If you experience this, take it as your first challenge to overcome. There’s an old saying that goes, “what you focus on, grows,” and the same is true about meditation. When you begin to meditate, the goal is not to stop thinking (as this will only make you think more), but to shift your focus to the breath, your body or a physical meditation object.
2. You suffer from your body’s aches and pains
As meditation shifts your focus from your mind to your body, you will feel more vital and aware than ever before. However, this may also make you aware of any latent aches and pains in your body.
These aches and pains have always been there (you may have a very tense body or suffered from a physical injury that you never properly healed from), but you simply didn’t notice them because you were always thinking, rather than feeling into your body. This also goes for emotional pain that may have manifested in your body (take note of how your body reacts the next time you get angry!).
While this may feel painful and confronting, it is for the good of your long-term health. It is only when you are aware of where the tension in your body is that you can take action to heal it.
3. You notice how unpredictable and unreasonable your thoughts can be
Once you’ve moved past the whirlwind of thoughts in your mind and found the silence that lies in between each thought, you’ll notice that they constantly arise and dissipate without any of your doing. While some thoughts may be positive, others are sure to be negative, and you may not be proud of what your mind is saying.
A good way to test this out is to head to a public area like a shopping centre and look at the people around you. What thoughts come up in your head? Are they positive or negative?
If you’re like most people, you’ll end up making negative judgments about people solely based on how they look. But are these thoughts a true representation of who those people are? Of course not. But for some reason, our minds are willing to judge all that is around us based on little or no information.
Now imagine what kind of effect this can have on how we perceive the rest of the situations that we encounter in our lives?
These are just three things that you may face when you begin your meditation journey. The most important thing is to stick with your meditation practice and find a good meditation teacher who can guide you through it.