For whole decades of my life I struggled with talking to people and was almost absurdly quiet. And I never realized that my meditation practice was playing into this. That was until about a year ago when I read a post on Reddit in which a community member said, “Meditation is making it impossible to talk to people”. I looked into this, and it turns out that a lot of people are experiencing the same problem.
Suddenly aware of how commonplace this side effect of meditation was, I decided to investigate. What I learned is that there are specific reasons why meditation can negatively affect conversations and make it harder to talk to people. And even more importantly, I worked out what to do about it.
Why Meditation Makes Us Quiet In Conversations
There are several possible reasons why meditation makes it harder to talk to people. So let’s go through each of them.
Firstly, maybe it’s because you yourself have changed. I know from my own experience and from teaching others that meditation can change us. Things that used to interest us no longer do, and that could include many of the topics of conversation that you used to talk about with friends and family. Maybe all those movies and games just aren’t interesting you since you’ve started dabbling in more spiritual matters, and you’re simply no longer interested in discussing such trivial things. Although if this is the case I would remind that a) there’s nothing wrong with trivial conversations, and b) just because your friends and family haven’t expressed any interest in spiritual matters to now doesn’t mean they don’t want to talk about it.
Next, let’s discuss mind-wandering. A lot of the thoughts that we share through small-talk come to us from idle mind wandering. This mind wandering is a process of the Default Mode Network, DMA, part of the brain. Meditation reduces activity of the DMA, which is one reason why it also helps us focus. But by reducing mind wandering meditation also leaves us with little to talk about. There is a solution to this, which I will discuss in a moment.
There is also the possibility that meditation is making you more self conscious, and that in turn this makes you feel less talking feel less comfortable talking to people.
Finally, it could just be that your mind is quiet. After all, if there are no thoughts flowing through your mind, there will be no speech coming out your mouth.
Now, all of this might be making you think about stopping meditation, because you probably want to enjoy conversations with people, right? The thing is, you don’t need to stop meditating in order to be talkative. You just need to make a few key changes.
How To Continue Meditating While Still Being Talkative
Now that we understand why meditation makes us less talkative, we can begin to make some changes so that we can continue to meditate while still enjoying conversations. Here’s how.
1: Start With A Change Of Perspective
Consider this. Most of your life (probably) you have had an active mind full of thoughts, which meant you always had things to talk about because your mind was only ever quiet on the odd occasion, like after meditating. Throughout all that time, it was the quiet mind that didn’t come easy. Talking was simple, inner peace wasn’t
Well, meditation has turned the tables on that. Now, as an experienced meditator, the quiet mind comes a lot more easily and a lot more often, and it’s the thinking and talking bit that is harder. This doesn’t mean that something is wrong. It just means that you need to make an adjustment. Realize that you now have a quieter mind, and enjoy the peace that brings. And when you want to be talkative, deliberately inject a little bit of noise into your mind (see below). That way, you will have things to talk about.
2: Find things to talk about before socializing
Above we discussed how the meditator’s quiet mind has less thoughts and therefore less things to talk about. Well, there’s one logical way to fix that: Deliberately create thoughts before you socialize so that you have plenty of topics for conversation. Some ideas on how to do that are: Watch the news; think about your past and your future; read; and to listen to other people talking. Remember, your quiet mind is an option. You can always make your mind more active for a little bit and then restore your inner-quiet later.
3: Reducing Self Consciousness
Although it is rare, some people have told me that meditation made them too self conscious and that this increased level of self-awareness made them feel like they were being watched and judged. Of course, that makes talking more awkward. But we can fix this. If this has happened to you, I recommend switching the meditation techniques that you do. Do more compassion based methods such as Metta, Karuna, and Tonglen so that you no longer think people are judging you. Oh, by the way, those are all techniques that I teach in my private meditation lessons. Also try my meditation for self confidence. This will make you feel less self conscious and give you more confidence in social situations.
4: But don’t forget that half of all conversations is listening
While you’re trying to make yourself more talkative, remember that there is a lot to be said for the quiet listener. A lot of people really enjoy talking to someone who genuinely listens to them. And meditators are some of the world’s best listeners. I’m pretty confident that one of the qualities about me that my friends and family love is that I listen to them. So before you make any abrupt changes, ask yourself, is it really such a big issue to speak less and listen more? How do your friends and family feel about it?
My Final Thoughts
There does seem to be a link between meditating and being quiet. Because meditation reduces thoughts it also leaves us with less idle banter. However, that may or may not be an issue depending on your point of view. Perhaps it is better to be a quiet listener rather than a loud speaker. And even if it is an issue, you can easily adjust for it by giving yourself plenty of things to talk about before you socialize. Finally, if your meditation practice us affecting your romantic relationship, you might want to try couples meditation.
Giving Is Caring
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison