So I was doing breath meditation each day for 30 mins or so for around 2 years. Then over the past year I have found that it is causing me to feel strange and anxious when doing everyday tasks. When I meditate I don't feel the symptoms but during the day when I have to start thinking the symptoms come.

When its at its worst loud sounds can make me feel very odd (e.g. someone shouting or laughing suddenly and loudly). However, if I have to speak and have a conversation then the symptoms tend to go.

It's very frustrating because meditation has been such a great interest for me and has helped me so much in lots of other areas that I am reluctant to give it up completely. I am a pragmatist though and if the right move is to give it up completely then I will do that.

Has anyone else had any experience of this or got any advice. Obviously its a tricky thing to advise on as you don't know the entirety of the situation but any help would be really appreciated.



You said anxiety symptoms cease when you meditate.

A great opportunity for learning the cause of your anxiety has come to you. Once you see the cause, you'll become forever free of any form of anxiety.

Now it's time to put the hard work of meditation you've done in the past 2 years into practical use.

Try this:

Make the anxiety arise. How? You already know how. Go into the environment where you start feeling anxious.

Once anxiety arises, go quickly in meditation and observe how the symptoms cease.

Then, come quickly out of meditation and observe how the symptoms arise.

Then, go again in meditation, but this time slowly, and observe how the symptoms cease.

Then, come out of meditation, but this time slowly, and observe how the symptoms arise.

Then, do the above very very slowly and observe very very attentively. Then do it again, but veryyyyy veryyyyy slowly and observe veryyyyy veryyyyy attentively.

Do the above exercise many many times. Observe precisely, like a scientist observes things under the microscope. You'll see the cause of your anxiety. Once you know the cause, you'll gain total freedom from anxiety.

  • Thanks very much for this. I am trying to follow this approach. Aiming to observe the anxiety itself to understand it better. It is tricky as its the act of meditating that is making me anxious so the more I simply observe the more anxious I become. However, I am trying to keep sitting with it. – Daniel Wyatt Oct 30 '17 at 15:34

Simple answer: It's a phase, it will pass.

Detailed answer: Mindfulness meditation doesn't result in a strictly upward curve in terms of clarity or perceived well being. This is one of the reasons for getting guidance from someone experienced, so that they can give you proper feedback on whether you are making progress or not.

If you don't have a teacher/can't find one, I can give you some tools for self diagnosis, let me know in the comments. But be warned, self diagnosis has its own issues and assuming oneself to be in different stage can cause unnecessary and needless suffering that one can do without by just sticking to regular practice.


refer to rows 2 (possible current stage) and 3.1 (possible reason for worsening symptoms)

  • Yeah would appreciate tools for self diagnosis. Will use it with the necessary caveats. I'm not sure it is a phase because its been ongoing for around a year now. Also if I meditate through the symptoms they just get worse. Thanks for your help :) – Daniel Wyatt Oct 18 '17 at 14:53

Mindfulness is just awareness of whatever is there now.

Why would be truly aware of things (non-depressedly or attachedly) ever lead to anything but greater clarity and energy?

Try breaking down the sensations that you are feeling in and out of meditation.

You are holding onto some concept either in Practice or normal life.

More calm but consistent awareness is best following the Five Faculties. An in-depth study of this subject will be of great benefit to Practice and may help you find out what you are doing wrong with your attention.

  • When I am meditating and am aware then I am fine. It's when thoughts come back that the issue arises. I sub-consciously don't like the sense of calm and the experience of no-thought. I am having a reaction to it. – Daniel Wyatt Oct 18 '17 at 16:10
  • Some people have an anxious attachment to activity, and others have an attachment to nothing and peace. Neither are ultimately good because (1) what use is activity? everything is empty anyway, sands on the ocean of time and on the other hand (2) nothing does not have an ostensible immediate benefit as activity does. Anyway, whatever reaction you are having it is transforming you in an ultimately good way. I'd suggest to spend an equal amount of time studying meditation as practicing and that will be informative to achieving specific points in meditation. – Ahmed Oct 19 '17 at 15:25

Calm is our natural state. Please seek out an experienced teacher.


In order to understand why you "feel strange and anxious" you need to understand a bit about the psychology of mindfulness meditation and about the psychology of sankhara (schemata according to Emmanuel Kant) in particular. As an unconscious cognitive process, sankhara is a fundamental adaptive and very intelligent process whereby we make sense of our experience (and form beliefs, feelings, wishes, attitudes, and the like). This process results in the formation of a set of relevant dispositions (beliefs, desires, fears, motives, perceptions, and other adaptive strategies). In the Pali language, this set of dispositions is also called a sankhara. Hence, the term sankhara has two but closely related meanings. There are several types of sankhara. The type that is relevant to your situation is the kind of sankhara that infants and young children form when they are forced to adapt to other people or circumstances they do not understand. In extreme cases, this is the means by which children adapt to physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse. This kind of sankhara always has a history of adaptations to the recurrences of the same problem. I my view, you are re-experiencing a childhood adaptation to a very difficult situation. An advanced form of mindfulness meditation was suggested by the Buddha in the Satipattana Sutta called meditating on "the body in the body." This process was re-discovered by Eugene Gendlin, a clinical psychologist. He called it the process of "focusing" in his book called Focusing. I recommend you read it. In my own book on the subject, I would suggest that you are experiencing the effect of a safeguard process that has the function of detecting, revising, or correcting poorly informed or maladaptive sankhara. In your case, you are probably in the process of recalling a very distressing childhood situation, such as a very angry, indifferent, violent, unloving, or unaware parent or caregiver. The safeguard process causes you to gradually recall a distressing situation bit by bit. This allows you to become unafraid of the original experience. Eventually, whether you try "focusing" on it or continue to meditate, you will fully recall a very troublesome or traumatic experience to which you needed to adapt without understanding it. At the time, you were forced to make a decision (a mental action or karma in Buddhist terminology) as to how adapt. The process of this imposed (by the safeguard process) recollection is to give you a chance to recall and then revise this decision and thereby free you from a painful or distressing emotion (a form of suffering in Buddhist terminology). It is important that you recognize this safeguard process is trying to help you. Safeguard processes are your best friends once you understand them. They are innate forms of intelligence (sankhara) that come from your core intelligence (Bodhicitta). But that is another story.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.