There are plenty of reasons why meditation is recommended to everyone. It has a number of health benefits. For example, it reduces stress. Therefore, it reduces symptoms of a wide-range of stress-induced health ailments from depression to headaches.
However, meditation is not the only way to reduce stress. Furthermore, even though everyone around you seems to be suggesting this as a cure-all, it might not actually be right for you. If it’s not right for you at this time in your life, then don’t force yourself to do it.
The Pressure to Meditate Regularly
Meditation has become something that a lot of people feel that they have to do. They’ve heard so many times that it’s important. Therefore, they’ve added it to the already-long lists of things that they should be doing. If you have convinced yourself that you “should” meditate every day, then you might beat yourself up for not doing it.
In other words, you might feel a lot of pressure to meditate. You want to do it because it’s “good for you.” However, if you constantly strive to meditate when it doesn’t work for you, you end up just feeling bad.
Reasons Why Meditation Might Not Be Right for You
Relax. Be gentle with yourself. There are many reasons why meditation might not be right for you right now.
1. Your Mind is Being Mean
If you are dealing with the ruminating mind of depression or anxiety, then this practice might be too challenging for you right now. On one hand, meditation can certainly help people with these conditions. On the other hand, it can give the mind free rein to obsess, fantasize, and stir up stress. Just because the world is on trend with meditating doesn’t mean that it’s the best thing for your own current mental health.
2. Sitting Still isn’t Helpful for You
Of course, there are different types of meditation, including walking forms of the practice. However, most meditation involves sitting still. You may discover that doesn’t work for you, even for 5 or 10 minutes. If it’s simply a physical challenge, and you truly want to meditate, then you can overcome that with some adaptations. However, it’s okay to listen to your body. It may need to walk, run, or dance in order to feel best right now.
3. You Have a History of Trauma
Research has found that meditation can re-trigger trauma. You might experience thoughts, flashbacks, and unpleasant situations. If so, then it makes more sense to put meditation on hold and seek out trauma treatment first.
4. You are a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)
Studies have also found that meditation can cause a variety of sensations. For example, people sometimes experience visual or auditory signs that aren’t really there. After meditating, all of your senses might be heightened. As a result, if you are particularly sensitive to stimuli, then meditating could be more uncomfortable than it is helpful.
5. Isolation is an Issue for You
Do you tend to isolate yourself from others? Maybe you are shy. Perhaps you struggle with social anxiety. Whatever the cause, meditating might exacerbate the issue. Of course, you can find a local meditation group and make this a social thing. Nevertheless, meditating is a highly personal process. It is about your relationship with you. While in some cases it might enhance a feeling of oneness with the world, in other instances, it just gives you more reason and means to self-isolate.
6. It’s Against Your Core Values
Meditation is currently considered a secular practice. However, it has religious roots. Depending on where you learn it, meditation can emphasize certain values. For example, meditation is often associated with the practice of non-attachment. If your own religious, ethical, or core values aren’t in line with the type of meditation you’re learning, then it might not be the right practice for you.
7. You Don’t Really Want To
Be honest with yourself. Why meditation? In other words, do you really want to meditate? Do you believe in and think it’s right for you if you just overcome the initial hurdles? Or are you doing it just because you feel that you should? If it’s the latter, it’s perfectly okay to accept that you don’t actually want this in your life. And just because it’s not right for you, doesn’t mean you don’t believe in it and it’s usefulness to others.
Alternatives to Meditating
Of course, there are good reasons why people think that they “should” meditate. However, you can obtain the same benefits in other ways. Here are some alternatives to try:
- Mindfulness. This variation on meditating just means that you stay as present as possible to what is happening as you do it. Notice the taste of food as you eat it. Pay attention to the warmth of a morning shower.
- Gratitude Lists. You can make short daily lists of all that you are thankful for in order to boost your mood and focus on the positive.
- Journaling. Many people find it more helpful to put their thoughts into writing than to “watch their thoughts.”
- Exercise. Your body may feel best when it gets moving.
- 1-Minute Meditation. If you really do like the idea of meditating, but you don’t want to commit to long daily practice, then this could be your solution.
Therapy can also be a helpful alternative to meditation. Learn more about my approach to counseling here.