I can count on one hand how many times I’ve gotten into a debate (or you know, low-volume argument) about how meditation simply doesn’t work for me. Look, I get it. Meditation, when used prolonged and practiced accordingly, has fantastic long-term health benefits. What most meditative enthusiasts usually don’t realize, is that the practice of silent mindfulness doesn’t necessarily work for everyone – take me, for example.
I struggle with social anxiety and happened to be way too connected to my mind and body for the majority of my long days. It’s how I’m built and that’s okay. Before I continue any further, it’s important for me to note that I have given meditation an honest try in the past and the result was what is commonly referred to as the “dark side” of meditation. There are 3, very important key reasons that popular practice just doesn’t do it for me and once explain them to you, I think you’ll understand why I explore other outlets to de-cloud my mind and get in touch with my heart.
It Only Heightens My Anxiety
My mental stream is already a heavy weight on my subconscious. Succumbing to the practice of meditation, in the past, has only triggered the symptoms that come along with my anxiety. It’s actually been scientifically proven that individuals who struggle with mental illness are at high-risk when they meditate – as they continue to access the recesses of their mind through the practice of meditation, memories of prior trauma, psychosis, and hallucinations or delusions can transmit into a state of manic behavior or thoughts.
In fact, the only time meditation is recommended for anyone diagnosed with a mental disorder is when it is being authorized and assisted by a medical professional. For individuals like myself who need to engage in consistent therapy, with a mental health professional, meditation is the last kind of medicine that should be prescribed.
It Disassociates Me From My Passions
A common, adverse side effect that happens to many people who attempt to meditate is the dissociation from their thoughts, their passions, and ultimately, their lives – even if it is only temporary. Dissociating from the elements that make me feel whole on a daily basis does the opposite of granting me perspective and a break from my thought process; it makes me feel distant from the individual I’ve created myself to be and the interests I find sublimity in. One of the primal aspects that best describes meditation is allowing one’s self to surrender to the moment and achieve a sense of humility. While this is something I respect, it is not a component of mindfulness that makes a positive contribution to my consciousness. Which brings me to my next point…
I’m A Kinesthetic Learner
I need to experience to feel. I need to touch in order to connect. Most importantly, my cognitive process is already executed through emotions and in return, this keeps me in close contact with the present moment without having to close my eyes and focus on my breathing. For me, walking or running is just as effective as meditation is for other people. Movement being able to connect with visual matter just happens to sit better with me because of my learning style. It’s how I interpret the world and apply it to my own thoughts, feelings, and actions. Sitting still and silent for 30 minutes have the reverse effect on what my body and mind simultaneously need.
So, what do I do to relax my mind and surrender myself to any given moment that allows me to connect and feel with dissociating myself from my physical surroundings? Personally, I love adult coloring books (or any sort of arts & crafts, really). Also, when I’m not feeling lazy on a Friday morning, I hit the gym or go for a run. The adult coloring books, for example, act as an art therapy and promote focus and relaxation – which are 2 things my general and social anxiety deprive me of.
With running, I achieve a runner’s high that can also be achieved by dance mediation, which believe it or not, is a popular meditation technique for people who choose to get their move on. Everyone is different and processes their own thoughts and emotions in different ways; when you endure a mental illness on a daily basis and happen to soak in the abstract portions of life through sensory experience, mediation isn’t something that will necessarily work for you. And that’s okay.