If Meditation Doesn't Work For You, This Could Be Why

Centering ourselves, gaining clarity, and achieving a stable sense of inner-peace is increasingly important in our fast-paced modern world. Some swear by the practice of meditation and reap the many benefits of simply sitting in silence and focusing on deep breathing. It's a powerful and beautiful avenue to maintain wellbeing. But for others, quieting the inner-landscape is often easier said than done, either due to time constraints or unceasing internal chatter. If this is the case for you, it's possible you haven't found the right form of meditation for your unique makeup (via Psychology Today). And while we may think of meditation solely as sitting cross-legged on the mat with closed eyes, there are actually many forms of meditation that can all achieve the desired result: peace and grounding.


"When I was a kid, someone gave me a violin and said they thought I'd be really good at it. I tried it for a few months, but it wasn't for me. But maybe if someone had said, 'Here's a violin, a piano, drums, and a guitar,' I would have found an instrument I connected with and stuck with it," chief spiritual officer of MNDFL Lodro Rinzler told Well+Good, on why meditation is not one size fits all. Let's take a closer look at why meditation might not be working for you.

Meditation can increase anxiety for those with mental health conditions

If you struggle with anxiety, depression, addiction, or PTSD, meditation may actually be a triggering experience. This can feel confusing as we regularly hear heaps of praise for meditation. But if someone suffers from intrusive thoughts, catastrophizing, or incessant worry, then zeroing in on that energy during meditation is likely stressful. When we aren't feeling strong enough to consciously choose positive affirmations and clear out the mental clutter, then we end up instead giving our attention to negative thought patterns and rumination during meditation (via Psychology Today). The effect is not relaxing or grounding.


"Mindfulness and body-scanning practices ask that you tune in to how you are feeling and to simply notice what is happening," yoga specialist and meditation expert Claire Grieve told Well+Good. "It is possible that tuning in to your feelings like this can amplify the anxiety around them."

First off, it's important not to judge yourself if you can't seem to meditate successfully. There's more than one road to peace.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Try alternative types of meditation

As we have established, meditation comes in many forms, including via digital tools, such as apps. The goal is to calm and clear the internal landscape and if your mind isn't a soothing place to be, then using your body to get into a peaceful rhythm can greatly enhance inner wellness (via You Aligned). As such, swimming, hiking, walking, chanting, singing, drawing, knitting, and gardening can all be meditative experiences. If being around others who share the goal of attaining peace and clarity might help you meditate in a more traditional manner, you may want to consider a meditation group or class.


You may also just want to experiment to find what avenue works for you. Don't give into feelings of inadequacy or discouragement. If meditation looks like drawing in your sketchbook for half an hour each morning while listening to a relaxing, zen playlist, then celebrate, for you've found a tool to reach a flow state which will enhance all other areas of your life.