Meditation can do no wrong these days. We’re told six ways to Sunday it’s the best thing since sliced bread: it’s beneficial, it’s worth your time, it’s amazing, it’s totally worth it, and it’ll like, help. But unless you see the need or want for it, it won’t go anywhere. There’s a ton of info out there as to the benefits of meditation, and you should totally listen to them. But with all the good comes the bad…and there are potential disadvantages of meditation.
People commonly fall into two categories with meditation: those who have tried it and given up relatively quickly, and those who just haven’t given it a shot because they assume they’re burnt to a crisp before they even go into the oven. If you’re looking to pick it up and avoid being one of those two categories, read on to know what you’re getting into ahead of time, including the major disadvantages of meditation.
You’ll Be Labeled a Hippie Or Spiritual Nut
Ask someone who doesn’t meditate to describe the first image that pops into their mind. Chances are you’ll get a pretty spot on recreation of a stock photo from Woodstock ’69. A hippie, by definition, is apparently someone who “rejects the mores of established society and advocates a nonviolent ethic”. Since meditation still isn’t considered mainstream and it definitely advocates nonviolence, you’re automatically labeled.
And if someone’s description of a meditator isn’t a character from Woodstock ’69, the next best description is a monk with a shaven head living somewhere in the Himalayan valley.
Luckily, you don’t need to smoke weed, don bell bottom jeans, or shave your head in Southeast Asia to practice meditation. Today’s version of meditation is meant for average people like yourself to find a little bit more happiness and mental flexibility. That’s all.
Get Frustrated With No Progress
At first, meditation is awesome. There’s really nowhere to go but up. When you start out, even five minutes in silence is a game changer and carries with you throughout the day.
You start noticing differences quickly, and it’s pumping you up. It’s kind of like when you first start weight lifting. Results can be pretty dramatic in the first few months. You’re rockin’ & rollin’. But then you plateau as your body finally figures out what you’re doing.
In a way, meditation has the same effect. You’ll likely hit a point where you feel things aren’t improving, even though they’ve already vastly improved. This is a good time to really see how far you’ve come, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in the lack of progress and feel like you’ve hit one of the big disadvantages of meditation.
Your mind keeps going at 200 MPH every time you sit, no matter how long. It feels like nothing’s getting done. But it is.
You’ll Formulate The Wrong End Goal
In talking to a lot of people about meditation, most people assume one thing: the end goal is to sit for 20 to 30 minutes without having your mind wander at all. As if you only know you’ve succeeded in meditation when you can confidently accomplish “blacking out”.
When you first pick up meditation, that isn’t really the goal. You just want to make it through and feel like you were able to find little pockets of when your mind wasn’t racing. But as you do it more and more, you want to experience those moments constantly, and you think that’s the end goal of meditation. To reach a point where you can block your mind out the whole time.
So naturally, when you sit down and take a crack at pure bliss, it goes a little something like this: focusing on everything but nothing. And this continues for the entire duration of the sitting. Not very cool. You dust off, give the idea up, and assume the gurus inherited a talent for sitting still. A talent you’ll never have.
But that’s not what meditation is. Meditation is the act of being aware your mind is going off the deep end and immediately bringing it back in. Yes, to have 50,000 thoughts in the span of a 20-minute meditation is normal. It’s about catching it more quickly every time.
Everyone Will Think You’re Vegan
Because apparently diving into meditation means a lack of meat, or a lack of any animal products, in your diet. If you are vegan, this isn’t really a disadvantage of meditation, because you’re proud of where you stand. But you know how it goes when someone is the complete opposite and throws some judgement your way.
And not like there’s anything wrong with veganism — it’s picked up a lot of steam in the last few years for good reason. The animal product industry can be vile, and ignorance isn’t bliss. But when you’re around a ton of meat eaters still, they judge vegans just as hard as vegans judge meat lovers.
No love lost.
Forced To Shine a Light On Uncomfortable Things
As much as meditation is about sitting in silence and thinking about absolutely nothing, it also means you’re supposed to use the time your brain isn’t thinking about what to cook for dinner to dive inwards and listen to your emotions.
When you strip out the daily mindless chatter your brain constantly kicks into overdrive, you’re left with what’s called raw emotions. These raw emotions are usually the result of some sort of trauma in your life: death, violence, sexual assault, and many more. And usually, these are the emotions you’ve suppressed over time because really, it’s hard to deal with and it’s easier to push them away and let your brain think about everything else but that.
When you force yourself to stop thinking about the useless crap, things start bubbling up you probably didn’t want. But in order to heal, you have to face these raw emotions head on. Oh, the twisted irony.
You’ll Probably Slow Down
There’s no longer such a rush to get things done, which will feel really weird; and hence why it’s a disadvantage (at first).
Take a look around you; you live in a hyper active society. It’s not about what you enjoy, it’s about what you can accomplish. Your daily task list never ends because the second you cross something off, it finds its way to the bottom of the list looking for a repeat. Think about paying bills: you cross it off, but its back at the bottom because it’s due again every month.
When you start meditating, you’re forced to slow down, especially your mind. When you leave the mat, it ideally carries with you throughout the day. You quickly realize there really isn’t such a rush to get all that shit done after all. It’s not going anywhere, and it doesn’t have to be done, like, now.
You’re Likely To Judge Others Who Aren’t Meditating
There’s a good chance once you really dive into meditation and see its benefits you’ll want to spread the love. After all, everyone could use a little “slow down” in their life. You see it first-hand with some people you know — the really hyper active ones who can’t ever seem to relax and get restless 24/7.
They probably would benefit from some meditation, just like all the people across the world who act out in unsavory ways to deal with their inability to confront themselves. But you can’t force anyone to sit down and shut up. You can sure as hell judge them a bit, though. Isn’t that a little counter intuitive? You bet. Whoops.
Meditation by itself won’t radically change your life. In fact, you probably won’t notice much change after months of consistency, and you’ll likely start questioning yourself. One piece of advice: keep it. You will improve. It won’t make you become some guru, but what meditation can do for you is improve the quality of your life in a measurable way.
While the disadvantages of meditation are somewhat measurable (and a couple of them are just light-hearted), they’re minor. Compared to the benefits you’ll get, it’s a no brainer to pick up the habit.