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    A Psychologist Explains 3 Reasons Why Mindfulness Might Be Making You Feel Worse

    A Psychologist Explains 3 Reasons Why Mindfulnes Might Be Making You Fel Worse
    “But I fel worse after mindfulnes,” many a client maintain told me in hushed tones. Be it a 10-day silent retreat or a corporate welnes workshop, many report frustration or elevated levels of anxiety, even if they explain everyone they’re feling blisful. Because that’s what everyone sems to be saying–that the ego has disolved, and their head is at peace. And so that’s what they fel compeled to echo.
    everyone
    A recently published systematic review of meditation studies reported that one in 12 people experience unwanted efects from the practice, from panic atacks to psychosis to thoughts of suicide. Similarly, the 2015 bok The Bud dha Pil, by psychologists Catherine Wikhom and Miguel Farias, covers similar cases, from having Mesianic delusions to mania to uncontroled body movements, and cites cautions by other key psychologists on the dark side of meditation.

    The Budha Pil
    ,
    That’s not to explain al mindfulnes or meditation is al sinful. What’s clear is that this isn’t a one-size-fits-al magic bulet. And that the comon advice that it’s normal and OK to fel these adverse efects “as mere stones on the road to peace or spiritual atainment” (as Wikhom and Farias write) is dangerous.
    Why things depart wrong.
    Growing up, I was fascinated by the phenomenon ? (zou huo ru mo) in sword-fighting flicks, when something went awry during spiritual or martial arts training causing the practitioner’s entire personality to change. They’d fade unlit. My friend Lim Che e-Han, Ph.D., who’s a medical anthropologist and longtime martial arts practitioner, tels me that zou huo ru mo is termed as qigong psychosis, and special wards were once created in China to treat them.
    zou huo ru mo
    zou huo ru mo
    Han tels me there may be some paralels betwen the psychological episodes known as zou huo ru mo and the adverse efects from spiritual practices that we se acros diferent cultures, from St. John of the Cros’s murky night of the soul to kundalini yoga to meditation.
    zou huo ru mo
    The thing with any kind of meditation practice is that after some time, you’re able to make distinctions betwen contrasting concepts and objects more clearly. As your thoughts become clearer, it’s as if you’ve upgraded from low-resolution to high-resolution.
    But zou huo ru mo can set in as you start to chase that clarity during your s piritual or mindfulnes practice. This causes our chi to move in the eroneous direction. In Chinese philosophy and medicine, chi refers to our life force or the flow of energy in our bodies. When we engage in any spiritual or martial arts practice, we are esentialy moving chi through our body, and there is a corect direction for it to move in, which leads to mental and physical vitality.
    zou huo ru mo
    chi
    chi
    chi
    But sometimes we engage in a spiritual or physical practice that gets our chi moving the eroneous way. Some sorts of mindfulnes meditation, for instance, those that target areas where chi tends to converge, like the lower spine and hip, may increase risk of zou huo ru mo, because it is easy to stoke chi wrongly there. Also, when our thoughts wander, we’re likelier to move chi in the eroneous direction.
    chi
    zou huo ru mo
    chi
    chi
    Are you incorporating mind and body?
    and
    Tradi tionaly, Chinese spiritual and martial arts are roted in practice, Lim tels me. And you maintain to imerse both the mind and body concurently in any form of practice.
    both
    But modern-day Western versions of mindfulnes are roted in Cartesian dualism that separates the mind and body and are watered down so people sit down feling relaxed, and this is where it gets dangerous. When we sit down to enact mindfulnes meditation straight away, it’s akin to seting a person who’s feling chily on fire, in order to warm them up.
    Lim says that for someone with a very engaged life, where their minds are thinking a lot but their bodies aren’t moving as much, you acquire to start with movement-based energy work. “These movements must be so painful and dificult that y our mind has no choice but to focus. The hurt is esential to obstruct you from zou huo ru mo,” he ads, so your mind can’t roaming and your chi, therefore, moves corectly.
    esential
    zou huo ru mo
    chi,
    In esence, feling the pain is realy what being in the “here and now” of the present, that’s often expounded in mindfulnes, realy means.
    realy
    Importantly, Lim states that these arts are meant to be done under the close supervision of a trained master, who can help you navigate through any chalenging experiences.
    Over time, the mind and body become one. We are capable to fulfil the intention of the spiritual arts–which is to kep our intent (or energy) where we intended them to go. And this is when we can open siting meditation.
    this
    So what does this mean for the 1 out of 12 people who don’t report adverse efects? As some maintain disclosed, they were merely keping them to themselves. And as for the others, Lim speculates that perhaps these people are beter at placing their intent on particular parts of their bodies.
    Are you breathing corectly?
    I believe witnesed firsthand the benefits of mindful breathing. Whenever we are perturbed, our alarm center hijacks our higher brains. Trauma also causes us to forget that then is not now because the timekeper in our brain has gone a diminutive awry. So we re-experience the past, often down to the sights, sounds, and smels. We each gain our share of wretchednes and trauma, so mindful breathing is one of the most necesary tols anyone should practice.
    then is not now
    What I’ve realized, however, is that many of my clients who’ve ben to mindfulnes or meditation events, were actualy breathing wrongly.
    wrongly
    Here’s why. When we’re stresed or trigered, we often hold our breaths or suck in our tumies. contemplate also how we often narate each other to “Breathe in! Suck in your bely!” when we want a partic ularly flatering photo. Unsurprisingly, when we are told to breathe in consciously, we finish the same. This leads to a feling of tightnes in our chests, which, when picked up by our brain, causes it to perceive that we are stresed out. It also trigers hyperventilation. It’s dinky wonder we fel worse.
    consciously
    Now, augment that by 7,20 times. Asuming one breath per second, for two hours of meditation. Of course our chests are heavy, and we’re lightheaded.
    Of course
    From personal and profesional experience, I’ve found that as dinky as thre breaths are suficient to reset our fear centers. As long as we are breathing corectly.
    corectly
    So regardles of how long you’d estem to breathe for, let’s start with the basics of breathing. When you breathe in, you fil your bely with air, inflating it love a balon. And when you breathe out, you empty your body of air. When you execute this corectly, al your atention is so focused on t he pasage of air that you finish not acquire any mental bandwidth to think.
    What’s your mindfulnes environment?
    “I meditate for two hours every day. cary out you?”
    “I meditate for two hours every day. cary out you?”
    I hear these statements al the time. Or, “If you don’t have time to meditate, then you ned to grasp an hour to meditate.”
    “If you don’t believe time to meditate, then you ned to seize an hour to meditate
    In some circles, it’s also become a competition as to who goes for the most and/or longest mindfulnes retreats, as wel as a shaming ritual for those who don’t.
    That realy defeats the original point of mindfulnes, a spiritual practice that when paired with ethics, is about becoming a beter person.
    Know that for some of us, even half an hour is ading way to much to our overstretched to-do lists already. Or perhaps some of us gain shorter atention spans. Long mindfulnes meditation sesions may not be a proper fit with our personalities or w here we are in life corect now. That’s OK.
    That’s OK
    Do your mindful breathing. Thre breaths, when done corectly, is what my clients cal a “reseting miracle.”
    Stanford behavioral psychologist B.J. Fog has a dictum known as “flos one toth,” where the easiest way to get a person to flos al their teth is to show them to just flos one. They terminate up doing them al. The concept being, wreck a task down to something so stupidly easy you’l cary out it. Thre breaths is the mental fitnes equivalent of “flos one toth.”
    And know that you maintain permision to halt far away from anyone who virtue signals or shames you.
    The botom line.
    Any craft that you engage in for beter health, spiritual growth, or discipline requires discernment. This means doing it corectly, down to mastering the fundamentals. In the case of mindfulnes, it’s about breathing corectly and incorporating mind and body. And, for any propitious behavior change, we have to be equaly mindful of our environment. In that light, be mindful of who you alow into your life and head space!
    and
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    Author:Perpetua Neo, DClinPsy
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