When Meditation Is NOT the Answer
by Kelly Lydick
There is no denying the benefits of meditation. Ancient peoples knew what modern science has proved to be true with recent studies: that meditation has the ability to aid in stress reduction, increase the ability to focus, help regulate emotions, and even increase gray matter in the brain, which, in turn, increases the capacity for creative thought.
But have you ever sat down to meditate, only to find that you can’t sit still? And that the quiet and stillness that occur with meditation make you anxious or even agitated? Many people believe that meditation is the answer to helping quiet racing thoughts, or easing anxiety or depression, only to find that when they sit down and try to get quiet, their thoughts begin to race even more, their heart rate increases, and they feel like they could jump out of their own skin.
They try to stick it out, thinking, “If I just wait a few more minutes, this will pass.” Or worse, they say to themselves: “What’s wrong with me that I feel more anxious? Am I doing it wrong?”
Sometimes the initial feelings of discomfort pass after a few minutes. But sometimes these feelings worsen, and then ideas of judgment and shame around the practice creep into the mind. The larger truth is that meditation is not always the answer.
The body is not just home to emotions and thoughts, it’s also home to an energetic field that only functions well when it is consistently flowing, moving and evenly distributed. Sometimes a person can experience a slowing-type movement or even a blockage, which can result in the energy being diverted to other areas of the body. Outward examples of this include physical illness and recurring, unconscious behavioral patterns.
Imagine a garden hose with a kink in it. When the water tries to flow, it can’t move beyond the kink, and the hose starts to pressurize. The water wants to move beyond the kink, but it physically can’t. Something similar happens in the body when the energy is circulating mainly in the upper areas from the chest to the head. This can produce anxiety, recurring or racing thoughts, depression, a stuck type of feeling, or an all-around jittery feeling. This is because the energy is not circulating to the lower areas of the body and into the legs and feet, similar to the water that can’t move past the hose’s kink.
When this type of energetic pattern and lack of movement occur, meditation is typically not the answer or best solution because meditation may further push energy into the upper areas, thus the reason for the uncomfortable feelings. When this happens, the best thing is to get energy moving again to the lower areas of the body through some kind of physical movement.
A brisk walk will help get the feet in contact with the earth, moving energy there. Jogging or running will move energy into the legs. Squats or jumping jacks are also good, quick ways to immediately move energy to the lower areas of the body and get the energy flowing again to all areas. A long soak in Epsom salts or sea salts can also help to rebalance the energy and redistribute it more evenly throughout the entire body.
So, how do you tell when physical movement is a better answer than meditation? Give yourself a five-minute test. If within the first five minutes of meditation you begin to feel more relaxed, stick with it and see what insights become available to you. If you begin to feel more agitated, get up and get moving instead.
Kelly Lydick holds a Master of Arts in writing and consciousness and professional certifications in meditation, optimal healing environments, and music therapy and sound healing. She’s a certified Gateway Dreaming coach, life coach, and reiki master. She’s appeared on iHeart Radio, Align Radio, and others. In 2016, Lydick was honored by the internationally renowned OMEGA Institute, of Rhinebeck, NY, with a Juno Award for her consulting business, Waking the Dream. She teaches creative writing and personal growth workshops, and offers private sessions via KellyLydick.com.