Leave it to the mainstream medical press to take something good and use it to instill fear in readers.
After all, fear sells.
Now if they’d only use that tactic on the truly harmful stuff — like deadly prescription drugs — I could get behind it. But those drugs are their bread and butter, so they leave them alone.
Instead, they turn their sights on natural health. We’ve seen it time and again with attacks on safe and effective herbs, vitamins, and foods. But the example I just came across is about as absurd as you can imagine.
The target of their fearmongering this time?
That’s right, I said meditation. Not medication.
You’d have to twist yourself into some serious knots to distort the facts enough to make meditation sound scary. But that’s exactly what they did in an article I just read.
Let me back up for a minute to say I am a big fan of meditation. And I love that Transcendental Meditation is making such a comeback and more people are learning about its benefits.
But a new study is claiming that people who meditate may have “unexpected, challenging, distressing, and even functionally impairing experiences.”
Now, if you were new to meditation, that warning might be enough to turn you away. At the very least, it would likely discourage you. And it might even make it harder for you to develop your practice.
So what motivated the researchers to try to poke holes in meditation? I guess they wanted people to know that there are challenging aspects to this practice. That it’s not all good vibes and happiness.
Shocker? No, not at all. Not if you know anything at all about how the mind works. Or about spiritual growth. Or psychology, psychiatry, self-actualization, self-awareness, etc.…
Growth is a process, and it doesn’t come easy. If you choose to become a better person, it’s going to take work. And discomfort. And challenging feelings. What’s surprising about that?
Of course, there’s always the alternative: Remaining stagnant. Not examining yourself too deeply, lest you see something that’s easier to ignore.
I think we are all aware that not growing is the simpler choice. That if you choose to take up what I will call here “spiritual work,” you’re going to have to work.
And that’s exactly what the researchers found in the interviews they conducted with nearly 100 meditators. Respondents reported all sorts of challenging experiences. Including some they didn’t expect — like fear, anxiety, hypersensitivity, or insomnia.
Some of the people who went on meditation retreats reported coming home and having a hard time returning to normal life.
And you know what? This is completely normal. All of it. Ant it’s not unique to meditation.
How many of you have ever had a difficult reentry after a vacation? You’re away from the daily grind for a few days or a week or more. You relax and let go. You feel amazing.
And then — BAM — it’s back to your regular life. To the work and bills and responsibilities. It’s not surprising that it’s challenging.
The point is that people practice meditation for their own (very different) reasons. Some people are working through some hard stuff. But they’re willing to take the challenges that come with it, because those challenges mean they’re growing.
And, if I had to choose between the side effects of meditation and any prescription medication, I would choose mediation any day.