More threads by Daniel E.

Daniel E.

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

By Perpetua Neo, DClinPsy
August 26, 2020

...A recently published systematic review of meditation studies reported that one in 12 people experience unwanted effects from the practice, from panic attacks to psychosis to thoughts of suicide. Similarly, the 2015 book The Buddha Pill, by psychologists Catherine Wikhom and Miguel Farias, covers similar cases, from having Messianic delusions to mania to uncontrolled body movements, and cites cautions by other key psychologists on the dark side of meditation...

Traditionally, Chinese spiritual and martial arts are rooted in practice, Lim tells me. And you have to involve both the mind and body concurrently in any form of practice.

But modern-day Western versions of mindfulness are rooted in Cartesian dualism that separates the mind and body and are watered down so people sit down feeling relaxed, and this is where it gets dangerous. When we sit down to do mindfulness meditation straight away, it's akin to setting a person who's feeling cold on fire, in order to warm them up.

Lim says that for someone with a very busy life, where their minds are thinking a lot but their bodies aren't moving as much, you have to start with movement-based energy work. "These movements must be so painful and difficult that your mind has no choice but to focus. The pain is essential to prevent you from zou huo ru mo," he adds, so your mind can't wander and your chi, therefore, moves correctly.

In essence, feeling the pain is really what being in the "here and now" of the present, that's often expounded in mindfulness, really means.

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 difficult experiences.

Over time, the mind and body become one. We are able to fulfill the intention of the spiritual arts—which is to place our intent (or energy) where we intended them to go. And this is when we can start sitting meditation.

So what does this mean for the 11 out of 12 people who don't report adverse effects? As some have disclosed, they were merely keeping them to themselves. And as for the others, Lim speculates that perhaps these people are better at placing their intent on particular parts of their bodies...
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