If you’re sitting down and focusing on your breath for a few minutes, it’s probably not scary. But sometimes, during deep contemplation, people begin to have strange experiences. And they feel scared during meditation, which makes them abruptly stop their practice altogether.
But can meditation be scary? Yes.
For a long time, I kept wondering how something so sacred can make you uncomfortable. Is it normal to get scared or anxious during meditation? And why is it even happening?
I stay hush about this because it’s something unexplainable. And solid scientific backing for it is yet to be found, which I typically like to quote while writing about other metaphysical topics.
Even then, I would finally like to address this fear, having gone through it myself over the past few years.
Me, along with countless other people experience fear during meditation at some point or the other, and it’s helpful to know what’s happening. And I’m fortunate now, to have some respite and answers for you. Let’s take a look.
WHY We Feel Scared During Meditation
There are actually a couple of reasons why deep meditation can become scary. Here are some of the experiences that might scare you.
#1 – You begin to ‘see’ or ‘hear’ things.
It doesn’t have to be a ‘ghost’ as such, to scare us.
It’s actually common to hear stories from people who start getting insight from Angels and Masters.
But if you’re like me, knowing that that’s also a possibility starts making me nervous. People recount seeing flashes of divine lights, or automatic writing to reveal some profound truths from the ‘other side’. I don’t want that kind of intervention.
No matter how good a spirit, I’m not ready to see you or talk to you. Nope! No thank you.
On another note, I should share that I was never scared of the dark. In fact, I lived alone for many years, and managed well. But there was a period when I went deep into meditation, when I kept feeling like there’s ‘something’ in the dark, or that I’m being watched.
I remember another distinct period when I started experiencing night terrors and had to sleep with the lights on.
I couldn’t sleep until 4 AM, because the energy would feel heavy and frightening around me. At that point, I had been trying many different meditation techniques over the years, but for some reason, something felt wrong. Very wrong.
I came out of that period through some of the tips which I share in the next section.
#2 – Your body behaves in weird ways.
I know that my ear would ring quite often, when I meditated regularly. I’ve been told that I had tinnitus, but it seems to be a common point of confusion in the spiritual community.
I no longer hear the ringing, and can confirm that it wasn’t because of any ear problems. It was just a consequence of meditation activating something in the higher chakras.
At other times, I’ve also experienced a lot of heat releasing from just one specific part of my body, like my palms or back. Or in contrast, feel chills run down my spine.
I would wonder if everything was okay and when I googled reasons, I’d see suggestions like my “kundalini energy is rising”, or my chakra system becoming balanced.
Looking at meditation and energy from that perspective is complicated for most of us, so I’d like to be a bit more simplistic.
Meditation can make your body temperature change. It’s normal, even if it doesn’t feel to be.
For instance, heating up is typically associated with lots of old energy being released and healing energy entering your system.
This is also why you find yourself breaking into a sweat from a really good massage or chiropractic session. The blocks are getting released in the form of heat!
#3 – Your subconscious acts crazy.
Maybe you have glimpses of a terrible past life, or a trauma from your childhood and are triggered. In meditation, there’s no knowing what pops up from the subconscious mind to be healed.
People that start meditating seriously often recount crying a lot, feeling a rush of different emotions, and being drained of energy. This is because along with the aforementioned energy blocks, emotional blockages are also released.
This means that sometimes, you will feel worse before you feel better!
One day, you might feel angry at your parents, and though to them, it’ll seem like it’s for no reason, you’ll be learning how to handle something that angers your inner child.
Meditating can be like opening up the pandora box in your head.
For some people, this can be terrifying because they don’t want to deal with all that. So they tend to shut down their meditation practice, because they’re just not ready to heal those shadow emotions.
#4 – You feel more lost.
This is one of the problems that makes people think meditation will lead them into renouncing their entire lifestyle, and going to the Himalayas to live a monk’s life.
When we meditate continually, we notice ourselves distancing from the nitty gritty. We’re no longer getting stuck in the things that used to bug us. And as a consequence, we feel more lost than ever, because we’re undergoing some strange changes.
This is normal, and also, temporary.
The solution isn’t in stopping meditation, or in renouncing the human experience, rather in changing the style of meditation you do. We’ll talk about this in the following section.
#5 – You might actually feel ‘it’.
I’ve had one or two rare occasions where I felt ‘it’ happening. It was as if I wasn’t this body, and that I wasn’t this breath. But as soon as the realization started crawling in, the conscious mind became alert and blocked it.
There’s a reason why so many monks committed suicide during Buddha’s era – they didn’t want to live anymore because they felt that life had become futile after they realized the ‘Truth’.
Such is our case. Sometimes, during meditation, even the positive experiences can alarm us. I’ve heard a loved one tell me that they had the opportunity to ‘make the jump’ during meditation, but they held themselves back because they were worried about their family.
This fear may be one of the deepest and toughest challenges for any meditator. And though I haven’t overcome it myself, I do hear a certain tip quite often. This is mentioned as the final tip in the following section, so keep reading!
5 Tips to Overcome Feeling Scared From Weird Meditation Experiences
I’ve tried and tested all of these, and shared them with enough people to know that they definitely bring results.
Of course, be realistic when trying anything new. If you’re experiencing fear during meditation and it is even rippling into other areas of your daytime (or nighttime), don’t expect it to get better overnight.
Give anything at least a few days or weeks of continuous practice to see a real shift. That said, here are my recommendations.
#1 – Have a dedicated meditation space.
Instead of meditating on your bed, or even in the room in which you sleep, try to meditate in a dedicated, separate space. When we meditate, we attract all kinds of energy towards us, not just the positive.
It’s like opening a portal! So, we want to make sure the portal is away from our resting spot. This ensures that we sleep better without night terrors or ‘seeing things’ in the dark.
Some more tips in setting up your meditation space are:
- Try to set it up in a place where people aren’t coming and going all the time. When you meditate, a place that’s buzzing with unconscious energy will make you restless, whereas a place that’s generally quiet will automatically help you quieten.
- Keep some salt or tourmaline crystals near your bed, if you’re feeling uncomfortable at night. They are both highly effective in clearing out energy.
- Every night before you sleep, visualize wrapping your room and your house in White Light, and ask the Universe to protect your space.
If you no longer feel comfortable meditating altogether, for some time, try out walking meditations that you can do outdoors. I created a guided walking meditation here, that you can explore.
#2 – Don’t (always) meditate on the third eye.
The biggest mistake that we make in this spiritual journey, is to think that we need to focus only on the Third Eye Chakra. The truth is, that when we do that, we overstimulate it.
Thus, psychic senses might become overactive, and we may in general, experience heavier subconscious thoughts as they release to heal. This fuels the feeling of being scared during meditation.
In order to balance your energy, as well as the meditation experiences, you can focus on balancing all seven chakras. Not just the third eye.
And if you do like to meditate on a specific chakra, pick the Heart center. There is an entire spiritual organization, called Heartfulness, which focuses on meditating on the Heart Chakra.
The meditations in the Heartfulness groups (all free, by the way) led to a breakthrough, after weeks of fear and sleeplessness! So rest assured, it works.
#3 – Ground your energy.
Fear is a primal emotion, which rises from our primal instincts. So, in order to help heal this fear, we need to start at a primal level. The best way to ground your energy is to work with the Root chakra.
The simplest way to start grounding your energy, is to visualize your energy moving down into Mother Earth, and fresh energy rising up. As you anchor yourself, you will feel more in control and present in the body. Thereby feeling less scared of losing it.
Another technique is to use your physical senses to ground yourself. When fear rises during the meditation, play some nice chanting music or watch a comedy skit on Youtube to elevate your consciousness from the fear to a more joyous state.
Allow yourself to switch out of the fear through engaging with the physical reality, versus trying to escape it (which ironically leads to more fear).
I also love what my coach, Alyssa, shared in class once. She said, and I quote, “when you’re in the body, nothing else can be”. And so, another practice is to feel your feet, your knees, pelvic floor, stomach and so on – feeling your body and reminding yourself that you’re in it.
#4 – Clear the energy.
Not only should you be anchoring yourself and releasing the dense energy from yourself, but focus on clearing the energy of your space regularly. Including the bedroom, like we discussed before.
Like I shared before, when meditators open this ‘portal’, this new realm, we may invite anything and everything in. So, by clearing the energy of the meditation space frequently, we are able to free any old or stagnant energy and keep things flowing.
Even if there are unwanted visitors (if you believe in them), they move out just as quickly as they come.
Some tips on clearing the energy of the space include:
- Burning incense or camphor after your meditation practice.
- Placing salt, rice or lemons in areas that feel heavy or dense. When the effect seems to wean off, place a fresh batch.
- Ring a bell or clap your hands around the room that feels dense. You can even use spiritual tools like a singing bowl. Sound is another great solution to get the energy moving.
I will be sharing a much more detailed post on how to clear your space, stay tuned for that!
#5 – Understand death more closely.
Every day-to-day or even chronic fear ultimately goes back to the ultimate one – fear of death. So not only do we need to ground ourselves in our own body, we need to look at death more closely.
This may sound morbid, but death is the very fundamental truth of life. That which comes, must go. And every spiritual master repeatedly reminds us of this inevitable reality.
Some great books to deepen and reflect on death include Death, by Sadhguru, and Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, by Sogyol Rinpoche. They are not easy reads, but practicing their lessons will help you overcome your fear during meditation like no other tool!
Related read: Spirituality and death
When we experience supernatural or paranormal stuff, it can really freak us out. And even those that don’t believe in all that, begin to feel paranoia. If you have experienced the stuff I mentioned above, just know that it’s normal to feel scared during meditation. It IS spooky!
But at the end, it’s important to remember to not feed the fear, and simply remain in your power by using some of the techniques I mentioned above.
Stay in your light. And let the true benefits of meditation supersede the fears that hold you back.
Vasundhra is the Founder & Writer of My Spiritual Shenanigans. After seeing 11:11 on the clock one fateful night, her life turned around. Ever since, she has been blending modern psychology and ancient spirituality, to help herself and people around the world elevate the quality of their lives.
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