I have recently begun meditating, i can manage around 25 minutes before my thoughts return so persistently i stop. It is not a novel concept to me, and the post-meditation sense of calm I experience is what i expected, however I also have a feeling of.. emptiness. Its the only way to describe it, I wouldn’t say it puts me on edge, but it concerns me. I have a feeling i’m gonna be told its some inner egoic conflict or whatever, but it got me thinking, and in the grand scheme of things comment on meditation is always overwhelmingly positive; surely there are recorded negative effects too?
A famous Zen Koan:
A Cup of Tea
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”
@splashartist, if i’m thirsty, I would probably rather have a cup filled with water than empty.. if we are trading analogies
but I do understand what you mean.
out of curiosity, are you saying you don’t know of any undesirable/negative effects of meditation?
@smashtheclocks, negative/positive are just different perceptions of the same thing. meditation itself isn’t positive or negative. It doesn’t have any positive or negative effects. Meditation if practiced regularly makes you realize (or to be more correct, experience) that this is all one in the same.
Talking on a mind based level though, sure it can have negative effects but these are all self created. Meaning that if you have locked away negative emotions/experiences meditation may force you to deal with unresolved things so that you can empty your cup.
People have noted that from practicing meditation or walking the spiritual path comes a common obstacle that needs to be overcome.
It’s addressed a lot in Eckhart Tolle’s writings. It’s when beginners meditate and remove themselves from emotion, or suppress themselves in a way. I am currently in the process of overcoming this obstacle. When I experience anger, hate, irritability, etc. I sort of suppress it with the intention that these emotions are bad and that I shouldn’t be having them. In an unnatural manner, we are forcing these emotions out of the way on a conscious brain level, and not authentically from our subconscious habit level. A good analogy is that it is like you are trying to create art by using formulas and logic, rather than getting into state and letting it flow out naturally. My naturopathic doctor who is buddhist suggested that I try to authentically feel the emotions first and accept them, but don’t feed them and hold on to them. Then naturally they subside.
@smashtheclocks, Your post is kind of vague so the emptiness could be your ego trying to convince you that you are empty and that it’s bad and feels bad, which isn’t really emptiness at all. Or you could actually be experiencing the no mind awareness state and losing your usual sense of who you are (or who you think you are), which takes some time getting used to. You just have to go with the flow of it. It could be temporary or it might not be. The one pointless thing to do is to worry about it. A lot of times the only way out is to allow yourself to feel that way and not turn away from it or start thinking all those negative thoughts about it
In the Power of Now, there is a Q&A section where Tolle explains it beautifully, let me try to find it and I’ll post it in here. So yeah there are potential negatives to meditation, but over time you overcome them. The emptiness you are feeling is numbness.
@smashtheclocks, Right, some of the other posts brought me to think of something that is important. To be mindful is not to favor anything over anything else. Your mind is now judging this emptiness as a negative thing and that there should be a reason why its there. Just watch it, dont judge it. Just be aware of the feeling of emptiness. To detach ourselves we must fully engage ourselves in the experience of life. This is the ultimate paradox.
Thanks for the comments.
It was more curiosity rather than fear/worry that motivated this post.. i think my mind is so consistently active normally that it is a bit of a shock when i meditate, but i guess you are right by saying that its not negative or positive. just how it is