How Is Meditation Supposed To Feel? Expert Answers

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One of our newsletter followers wrote in today to ask, “How is meditation supposed to feel?”

Good question, thanks for asking. I am presuming that you want to know what meditation should feel like so that you can determine if you are meditating correctly.

Most people would answer by saying that meditation should feel relaxing. However, this is not always the case.

While some meditations are indeed relaxing, others are not. Some are energising, some are designed to make you feel more creative, and others are designed to boost your focus and concentration. It really depends on why you are meditating and what you hope to get out of it.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways how meditation feels, and you can determine whether you are meditating the right way.

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How Meditation Should Feel

Here are five of the primary feelings you get from meditation and when you should experience them.

1. Relaxing… Usually

Probably the number one reason why people meditate is that it helps them to feel relaxed. And indeed, many types of meditation are relaxing.

Meditation activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the opposite of the “fight or flight” response and makes us feel more relaxed. [1]

You will know if your meditation makes you feel relaxed because your breathing will be calmer, deeper and slower, and your thoughts will slow down.

If you’re meditating to feel relaxed, you should focus mostly on breathing techniques like Anapanasati and Nine Round Breathing.

2. Control

One of the most universal feelings that I personally get from meditation is that it makes me feel more in control. Specifically, it makes me feel more in control of my thoughts and my feelings.

Meditation helps you to be less reactive to mental phenomena, so if you’ve been feeling like your emotions are out of control, meditation should help.

You should also feel like you have more control over your thoughts and more ability to change them.

Many people feel like their thoughts run amok in their minds like they are the victim of negative thoughts. After you meditate, you should feel less reactive to those thoughts and more able to change them.

The best type of meditation for feeling this way is Vipassana, which is the Buddhist method of monitoring and labelling mental phenomena.

3. How Is Meditation Supposed To Feel Physically?

Given all the physical health benefits of meditation, it’s no surprise that meditation makes you feel better physically.

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Meditation has been shown to help with all manner of ailments, ranging from high blood pressure to aches to breathing problems. As you meditate your body relaxes, which reduces the symptoms of any illness you may have and makes you less sensitive to pain.

The first place you will notice this feeling of wellness is in your breathing. Your breath will become deeper and calmer. Once this happens, your body will start to relax and will notice a feeling of physical rest.

Next, you might notice that any pain you’ve been experiencing reduces (this happens to me in my neck, because I have a serious neck injury). Overall, it will be as though your body is being soothed.

By the time you finish your meditation, you should feel healthier in your body.

4. Happy

Some types of meditation are supposed to make you feel happy. The fact that you are taking twenty minutes or so to relax will naturally reduce stress, which of course makes everything feel better. After meditating you will be more focused on the present moment instead of on thoughts and feelings, which is key to happiness in general.

Some forms of meditation will make you happy in different ways. For instance, practising Metta (Loving Kindness) will make you feel more positive about other people and more supported. Practising certain mantras (especially kundalini ones) will make you feel more joyful. And the Smiling Buddha technique will make you feel gladness.

Overall, you should feel happier after your meditation session.

5. Meditation should feel empowering

One of my personal favourite things about meditation is that it makes me feel empowered. My daily meditation practice helps me to feel like I have control of my mind and of my health.

Before I started meditating, I felt like I was at the mercy of thoughts and feelings. When I started meditating, I realised that I could control my thoughts, stop them, or change them. This was immensely empowering because it made me the master of my own mind, rather than the victim of it.

Once you’ve been meditating for a few months you should feel as though you have gained control of your mind, and this should be an immensely empowering feeling.

If meditation makes you feel worse

We know from research that there are times when meditation makes you feel worse. For instance, there are cases where someone with anxiety or depression tried meditating and it actually worsened their condition. However, this is not usually the case.

If meditation makes you feel worse, you are probably meditating the wrong way. I recommend that you change the meditation technique you are using or try meditating in a different position (for instance, standing up).

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By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.

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