There are many reasons why people turn to meditation practices; to calm stress levels, to help balance their lives and to find peace being just some of these reasons. However, while meditating is a positive experience, on the whole, there are some things that people experience that may not be as pleasant.
One of these things is feeling sick, and this is not an uncommon side effect. While meditation sickness is a genuine thing, it may not be the meditation practice itself that is causing the zen sickness.
In this article, we are going to be looking at whether meditation sickness is a problem, how you can avoid it and how you should feel when you have finished a meditation practice.
What Is Meditation Sickness?
When we talk about feeling sick, we often think about nausea and an urge to vomit. Still, when we refer to meditation sickness, we are not talking about nausea but rather a state of mental health that is negative rather than positive.
The idea of meditation sickness comes from the Eastern Buddhist traditions and certainly demonstrates the negative side of your meditation practice. Experts and Buddhist masters have talked about this zen sickness as being a state of detachment and losing interest in the things and experiences that once brought you joy. This can come from immersing yourself too fully in mindfulness meditation.
Where this type of activity is meant to have a positive effect, when you do it too much, it can be devastating. There is some suggestion that the people who will experience this are those who link meditation with inner stillness, but this is not something that is attainable since people cannot get totally clear their head of thoughts. Trying to achieve this through guided meditations or otherwise will leave you feeling deflated.
There have been some people who have compared this sickness to being zoned out, but it is far more serious, and one of the things that are noted is that people struggling with it experience psychotic effects.
It is difficult to put a one size fits all definition on the condition since your background and where you are from might affect how you experience meditation. In some cultures, the unpleasant side effects of doing frequent meditations are seen as signs of progress and are sought after, almost. In other cultures, these side effects may be seen as a hindrance to the practice.
Meditation is a vastly different experience from one person to the next and how much you can safely do will depend on certain factors.
What Is Lung?
Lung is what the Buddhists call this meditation disease, and it has been diagnosed my several meditation teachers around the world. There was one case of a woman who attended a meditation retreat for three weeks, and while there developed a mantra that she would repeat throughout her stay.
Everything seemed fine at first, but as time went on, she began to notice that she didn’t feel herself. She struggled to sleep and has crippling anxiety. Later that same day, she was experiencing something close to what you would see in those who suffer from panic attacks; unable to breathe. Furthermore, this lady experienced short-term memory loss and extremely volatile emotions; going from incredibly happy to the complete opposite in seconds.
It would seem that she isn’t the only person to have gone through these experiences with several other people reporting similar things.
But what causes this? It is believed that when people are promised to reach enlightenment and experience joy and bliss like never before; they are far more easily able to put their mind to the challenge of frequently meditating. There is the age-old image of the ancient yogi, living in the mountains spending all day in a deep meditation state and from this, we are taught that meditation can be nothing but positive.
In many religions and cultures, the path to enlightenment can be achieved only through meditation; even in a secular sense, we are taught that meditation will set us on the right path. For this reason, there are a lot of people who are willing to go through the process with minimal regard for other aspects of their life, and this can cause them to become lost.
One way to prevent or cure meditation disease is to stop meditating altogether or to drastically cut down on the time you spend on the practice.
Can You Feel Nauseous While Meditating?
There are some people who have reported that they feel nauseous during their meditation session, but this is not usually as a direct result of the practice. More likely that this physical effect comes from the way you are meditating and when you practice.
Many a mindfulness teacher will have given similar advice, and if you do notice a feeling of sickness during your practice, you may want to think about the causes. In some cases, it could be the meditation technique that you are using. Some people might try meditation practices that they are not yet experienced enough to engage in, and this can cause something unwanted like sickness. It is advised that if you begin to get a heavy head, dizziness or nausea, you should try new techniques such as yoga Nidra or a less intense practice from a meditation app, perhaps.
There is also some suggestion that intense practices that are designed to help the body get rid of toxins may result in nausea. It has also been discussed that deep meditation experiences can cause you to notice the body far more and what is going on inside of it. In our day to day lives, we don’t sense these sensations as our awareness is not placed on them but during meditation, your awareness shifts and you become far more aware of your body and mind.
In a more physical sense, the way that you sit could result in sickness while meditating. It could be that there is something being pinched or squashed inside the body that results in these physical side effects. Furthermore, if you have not eaten and then try to sit and ‘be’, this may make you feel like you are going to vomit; try meditating after some food.
You could also keep returning your awareness to the breathing, which will keep you in the present moment and on the path to achieving what you set out rather than focusing on your discomfort.
What Are The Side Effects Of Meditation?
We are led to believe that mindfulness and meditation can do nothing but good in our life and for the most part, this is true, but there are some effects of these practices that may not be as desirable. However, it is important to keep in mind that these effects are not experienced by the majority of people who meditate; if they were, there wouldn’t be such a huge call for a meditation teacher-led groups that we are now seeing nor would there have been such a surge in interest in meditation practices.
One of the most important thoughts to keep in mind when taking part in mindfulness and meditation is that too much of a good thing isn’t always positive; it is vital that you find a way to include meditation in your life without overdoing it. When people develop an addiction to meditation or spend too much time in a meditation state, this is where they may notice the negative part of the practice.
Many studies have been done on the effects of meditation. Still, the most prominent reported that 60 individuals who took part in the research experienced signs such as anxiety, fear and social withdrawal. All of these are very real and related to meditation. But provided that you practice in moderation, you shouldn’t experience these.
Symptoms and effects of meditations might be:
- Back or body pain
- Digestive problems
- Damaged sense of self
- Trouble socialising as normal
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Lack of motivation and fatigue
- Revisiting traumatic events in your mind
- Sensory effects such as altered taste of smell
- Negative thoughts
Can Meditation Make You Feel Worse?
There have been many studies that have shown the positive effects of a regular meditation practice so it is little wonder that many doctors and health professionals are starting to recommend these mindfulness practices to their patients as a ‘lifestyle adjustment.’ In the main, the process can have some very positive outcomes such as increased energy levels, lower stress and an improvement in common mental health disorders like depression and anxiety.
However, much like anything, meditation won’t work in the same way for all people, and some may find that these techniques only serve to make them feel worse. If you have been practising meditation to try to improve a condition and you feel like it is exacerbating it, you should stop immediately.
It is believed that around one in twelve will experience something negative when beginning or maintaining meditation practice but what is even more incredible is that these people may not initially link their worsening state and their meditation techniques. That is certainly something to think about.
Meditation has been done for centuries and involves nothing more than closing the eyes and allowing all of the negative energy to flow away and become more at one with yourself; sounds simple, right?
For many, it is, but some people struggle so much with meditation that it can cause both physical and mental effects that are far from pleasant. One of the most commonly reported is a feeling of sickness during practice. There is some suggestion that an inexperienced meditator trying out an intense practice might find themselves feeling as though they might vomit, dizzy and with a heavy head.
Furthermore, there are multiple reports of those who have spent too much time meditating, and this has resulted in something that is commonly known as meditation sickness. While this is not yet diagnosed in western medicine, many Buddhist teachers are making a link between the practice and this psychotic condition.
It is important to make sure that when you meditate, you are comfortable; this means being well-fed, hydrated and in a comfortable position but also to ensure that you do not let meditation take over and get in the way of other parts of your life – find a balance.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is meditation sickness?
Meditation sickness is a term used to describe a range of physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms that some people experience during or after meditation. These symptoms can include nausea, dizziness, headaches, anxiety, and even panic attacks.
What are the symptoms of meditation sickness?
The symptoms of meditation sickness can vary from person to person, but some common ones include:
- Nausea or stomach discomfort
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Headaches or migraines
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Fatigue or weakness
- Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
What causes meditation sickness?
The exact causes of meditation sickness are not fully understood, but some factors that may contribute to it include:
- Inadequate preparation or guidance
- Overexertion or pushing too hard
- Emotional or psychological issues
- Physical health problems
- Sensitivity to energy or spiritual experiences
Is meditation sickness a common side effect of meditation?
Meditation sickness is not a common side effect of meditation, but it can happen to some people. It is more likely to occur in beginners who are not used to the practice or who are not properly prepared or guided.
How can I avoid getting sick while meditating?
To avoid getting sick while meditating, it is important to:
- Start slowly and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your practice
- Practice in a quiet, comfortable, and safe environment
- Follow proper breathing techniques and posture
- Seek guidance from a qualified teacher or mentor
- Take breaks as needed and listen to your body
What should I do if I feel sick during meditation?
If you feel sick during meditation, you should:
- Stop meditating immediately and take a break
- Drink some water or eat a light snack if needed
- Rest and relax until you feel better
- Seek medical attention if necessary
- Consider talking to a meditation teacher or mental health professional for guidance and support
Is it safe to continue meditating if I feel sick?
It depends on the severity and nature of your symptoms. In general, it is best to take a break and rest until you feel better. If your symptoms persist or worsen, it may be best to seek medical attention and avoid meditating until you are fully recovered.
Can meditation have any negative effects on my health?
Meditation is generally considered safe and beneficial for most people. However, like any practice, it can have some negative effects if not done properly or if the person has underlying health issues. Some potential negative effects of meditation include:
- Meditation sickness or other physical symptoms
- Emotional or psychological distress
- Confusion or disorientation
- Increased anxiety or depression
- Changes in sleep patterns or appetite
- Interference with other medical treatments or medications
It is important to note that these negative effects are rare and usually mild. Most people who practice meditation regularly report significant improvements in their physical, emotional, and psychological health.
How long does meditation sickness usually last?
The duration of meditation sickness can vary depending on the person and the severity of their symptoms. In most cases, the symptoms will subside within a few hours or days. However, in some cases, they may persist for longer periods of time.
Should I stop meditating if I experience meditation sickness?
If you experience meditation sickness, it is generally best to take a break from meditation until your symptoms subside. Once you feel better, you can slowly resume your practice, starting with shorter sessions and gradually increasing the duration and intensity as you feel comfortable. It may also be helpful to seek guidance from a qualified meditation teacher or mental health professional to help you understand the causes of your symptoms and how to prevent them in the future.