According to latest statistics, there are somewhere between 200 and 500 million people practicing meditation worldwide. In the United States, almost 40% of all adults have reported meditating at least once a week. Given everything we know about meditation science and its broader sibling “mindfulness”, this is nothing but fantastic news. After all, points of study has shown that the practice of calming your mind, concentrating and focusing on the present can reduce your anxiety, your blood pressure and your risk of depression, while increasing your productivity, your attention and your overall sense of well-being.
But for all the inherent benefits of making meditation a cornerstone of a healthier life, there is a flip side to remarkable and lesser known negative side effects that health experts warn some people about.
“Previous research has shown that very few, if any, psychological or physiological processes are universally beneficial,” writes Willoughby Britton, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University, in an essay entitled “Can mindfulness be for much of a good thing ?, ”which was published in Current opinion in psychology. “Instead, positive phenomena tend to follow an inverted U-shaped path where their typically positive effects eventually become negative.”
In other words, meditation is not just not works for some people, but it can also backfire. One author recently reported on his own experience in one new report for the BBC. “For about 20 years, I have struggled with periods of anxiety and turned to mindfulness meditation as a way to alleviate these emotions,” writes David Robson. “But all too often, I would end the session feeling much worse than when I started. Instead of relaxing, my heart would start to accelerate, or my inner monologue would take a nasty turn, as unpleasant memories and feelings of failure and hopelessness flooded me. These events became so frequent that I now only use mindfulness sometimes. ”
While Robson assumed that he was “uniquely bad” at meditating, the truth is that he is far from alone. According to a survey of 1,232 meditators published in the journal PLOS One, more than a quarter of them reported “having had particularly unpleasant meditation-related experiences, which they thought may have been caused by their meditation experience.”
Read on for some of the negative side effects that health experts say may be the result of meditation. And for more news from the health frontline, make sure you are aware of the major side effects of walking every day, according to health experts.
In the previously mentioned study of 1,232 meditators published in PLOS One315 of them reported “unpleasant experiences” which included panic attacks, otherwise known sudden and intense fears which according to Mayo Clinic“Triggers physical symptoms when there is no real danger or obvious cause … When panic attacks occur, you may think you are losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.” In a study from 2017, which was also published in PLOS One, 14% of meditators reported having panic attacks as a result of meditation.
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According to a study published by American Psychosomatic Society, researchers studied the effects of a two-month course of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on multiple participants, and the researchers found that people who meditated a lot – half an hour a day, five days a week – actually experienced lower sleep quality than those who did not meditate as much.
“Like attention-enhancing drugs such as coffee, ritalin and cocaine, meditation can increase focus and alertness,” Brown’s Britton explained to Robson in the BBC article. “But when taken too far, it can lead to anxiety, panic and insomnia, as there are both neuroanatomical and neurochemical overlaps between attention and arousal systems in the brain. You can just turn up your attention dial so far before you start to feel anxious or stop sleeping. ”
“Meditation can increase the activity of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which in turn regulates the limbic system and the amygdala, another region where emotional salience is processed,” Robson explains. In the right amount, prefrontal control over the limbic system can result in better focus and less emotional reactivity. But when taken beyond optimal levels, it can blunt all emotions, both negative and positive, so that they no longer feel extreme joy or happiness. In extreme cases, this can lead to the disturbing feeling of “dissociation” from their lives – which affected about 8% of the meditators in [one] study.”
According to the 2017 study in PLOS One, 66.3% of the meditators surveyed reported that they experienced a “lack of interest in people’s conversations”, 62.9% said that they experienced “the feeling of being superior to them / better than them”, 61.7 said that they experienced ” feelings of boredom cause people, “and 71.6% reported that” feel that only people who meditate are valuable. ” For more news that can help you live a healthier life, make sure you are aware of the major side effects of sitting on the couch too much, according to a new study.