While meditation has proven to be an extremely helpful and useful tool for gaining control of thoughts and emotions, some people are still resistant to it. It is understandable that some people are unwilling to try meditation. Some do not believe that it could be helpful despite the fact that studies have shown that meditation can help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Some do not like the idea of sitting with their thoughts or dealing with them at all, especially those who suffer from mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression. People who experience negative emotions tend to try to push them away or ignore them rather than dealing with them. Others argue that they do not have the time. However, in reality meditation is not something that you need to spend hours doing. You can do it anywhere, anytime, for however long you want. A lot of people have this image of meditation in their heads of a person sitting on a yoga mat with their legs crossed with their hands resting on their knees. But in reality, you can practice mindfulness and meditation whenever, wherever, and however you want.
The impacts of mindfulness meditation are very beneficial to one’s overall health. However, another reason some resist meditation is because of misconceptions that may come from Donna Lu’s article titled, “A quarter of people who meditate experience negative mental states.” In this article, she explains how Marco Schlosser surveyed 1232 people at the University College in London who had meditated at least once a week for two months. Donna Lu states that “The volunteers were asked if they had ever felt any particularly unpleasant experiences, including anxiety, fear or disturbed emotions, that they attributed to their meditation practice. Just over 25 percent reported that they had.” This could make someone hesitant to give it a try if they didn’t know anything about meditation and how beneficial it can truly be. However, Lu also states that the volunteers participating in the survey “were not asked about the severity of their experiences or whether they occurred specifically during a meditation session.” Everyone experiences negative emotions in their life, this is a normal and expected thing. Sometimes, when you are attempting to mindfully meditate, you are not trying to stop your thoughts completely. It is allowing thoughts to come, acknowledging them, accepting them for what they are, and finally letting them go. By accepting your thoughts, this allows you to have more compassion for yourself, understanding of your emotions, and therefore more control over them.
Lu also states in her article that “The participants were also asked about the types of meditation they practiced. The survey found that those who only engaged in deconstructive types of meditation, such as Vipassanā and Zen Buddhist meditation, were more likely to report negative mental states than those who only practiced other types.” Many people do not know that there are many different types of meditation. According to Sayadaw U Pandita, “Vipassanā is insight meditation, the practice of continued close attention to sensation, through which one ultimately sees the true nature of existence. It is believed to be the form of meditation practice taught by the Buddha himself, and although the specific form of the practice may vary, it is the basis of all traditions of Buddhist meditation.” These different types of meditation are not suitable for everyone. Vipassana is a type of meditation that can be a difficult practice, especially when done through a retreat. Psychologist Christopher D. Tori looks at changes in concept, ego defense mechanisms, and religiosity following seven day vipassana meditation retreats in his study. He states that “the sustained awareness of cognitive and sensory phenomena will lead to the realization that unnecessary suffering results when attempts are made to attach to anything within the impermanent flux of human experience.” This type of intense meditation is not what causes these negative emotions that one may experience through Vipassana. This can lead to misconceptions about mindfulness meditation because if someone read that without knowing anything about meditation, they may decide not to try it. However, it is important to understand that mindfulness meditation can be so helpful to one’s mental health. It is so much easier than people think, and can be done by anyone.