But it has been reported that meditation can lead to negative side effects.
I’m happy to report that this is only true for serious meditators who seek mastery, and not just relaxation.
Many people only meditate superficially. They think putting in the 10 or 20 minutes is what meditation is all about and it makes them feel good---good enough to continue their stressful lives without changing anything. All beneficial effects, right? They can have their cake and eat it, too.
But take a serious meditator who wants to truly grow, to evolve, to gain mastery. Well, it’s a different story for this meditator. If no so-called “bad” effects ever appear, she or he must have already been close to mastery to begin with. Most of us have some trauma hiding beneath our surface thoughts, and until we deal with this trauma, we can’t go any further in our development. As one of my teachers said, “Growth is not about comfort.”
Before you get to abiding bliss, as a serious meditator, you might experience anything from depression to irritation to insomnia to outright anger. All from practicing meditation!
Because when we stop to relax and calm our mind, rising above the turmoil of thought, what’s underneath the surface of our mind will become visible.
Think of a bucket of water with some objects on the bottom. There might even be some mud in it. Now stir the water with a stick. Look into the bucket and notice that you can’t see a thing but reflections of the outer world. This is equivalent to the typical everyday mental state of most “normal” people.
But let the water settle down, and look again. When the water is calm, and the mud has settled, you can see straight to the bottom of the bucket. You can see what is there. The objects on the bottom of the bucket are visible to you.
When we stop the world in meditation, we begin to see the contents of our mind more and more clearly, and we become aware of whatever is in the way of our evolution to higher states. We learn to welcome these revelations in the same way we would be grateful for traffic sign letting us know the condition of the road ahead: Drive slow here in winter, there may be patches of ice; watch out for falling rocks; beware of deer crossing the road at this point.
Whatever we need to know to go further in our mastery will present itself as we grow. Maybe we will have to face how we deal with disappointment or betrayal, how we go about certain things in deceitful ways because we had to do that in childhood to get our needs met, or how we learned to please others by watching a parent tell white lies.
To expand consciousness and experience the extraordinary, we have to become conscious of the prison bars keeping us from expanding.
A meditator seeking to build consciousness, grow, and become all he or she can be, will unearth rainbows of anxiety, depression, disillusionment, and anger that lead to the pots of gold we call freedom, abiding bliss, and creative joy.
It stands to reason that to accomplish this, we must be able to see, and be willing to resolve, the things within us that stand in our way. The serious meditator seeking mastery will respond to the "bad" effects of meditation with excitement and gratitude, knowing that a few more prison bars are about to fall away.