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I'm having a really hard time. Not just in my meditation practice, but in my life in general.

I've established a habit of 20 minutes of meditation first thing in the morning, then another 15 minutes in the early afternoon. I also try to take mindful breaks, I regularly take mindful walks, and I will meditate when I need a break or I'm feeling very stressed. I started meditating probably 3 years ago, and my routine has been pretty strong for the past 2 years. I usually use headspace meditations, and sometimes I just meditate on my own in quiet. I've read a few books about meditation, zen, etc, but I've never gone to a meditation retreat or anything hardcore like that - and given my work and young kids, I don't consider that an option.

I think I started meditating in a healthy way. I wasn't trying to solve any specific problems, I just wanted to be more mindful in my daily life. But I did think regular meditation would be a healthy habit to adopt, and that it would be a safeguard of sorts against other ills. However, I now find myself really frustrated because I've actually started to get more anxious, and I've barely slept for the past month.

I've tried to mindfully just accept my anxiety, not fight it, and I think that's generally fine, but the insomnia is debilitating. There is no major life event that I can think of that's causing this, I don't understand it, but I'm very disappointed that my meditation practice hasn't helped more. I've tried to increase my meditation recently to see if it would help, but I just keep getting worse.

I'm very frustrated and I can't help but think what's the point of spending all this time meditating? Could I be doing anything wrong? Has anyone had any similar experiences? Any advice?

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  • Id suggest trying the 6R’s style of metta in your case. At least check it out online.
    – Al Brown
    Jul 27 at 1:04
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From within the practice of meditation, it can be hard to tell whether "it's working" or not. I've been a meditator for more than 30 years and my experience is that it is mostly a very slow process, and only by looking back on it from a long way away do I begin to clearly see the benefits.

Life itself has plenty of ups and downs. Meditation may affect those ups and downs, or maybe that's not what's at the base of your insomnia at the moment (myself: I recommend heart-thumping exercise at least every other day as a cure for inability to sleep well). But for me, mindfulness, meditation and -- in particular -- increasing understanding of Buddhism -- has helped a lot in coping with life.

It often amazes me how hard it can be to figure out, in the moment, where stress is coming from. Our first instincts about the causes too often turn out to be misleading. Meditation practice can help with that but, as I said, it can take a while to get the insights. Just try to be patient with yourself. Compassion begins with kindness to yourself.

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    thanks for your understanding and feedback. A general understanding of Buddhism is a growth point for me. I really appreciate your time and help on this matter. It means a lot. I'll upvote this answer if I can (reputation prereq). Jul 25 at 22:34
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Welcome to the site.

These anxieties are your own psychological issues. They bubble up to the surface as a result of meditation.

Meditation initially sounds all nice and pleasant with frilly bits and squishy things - although that is how it is generally delivered in the many brochures - but many don't realize what meditation can actually do. It is about the cold, hard reality of facing yourself, and sometimes what we see is gruesome and disturbing. It can be very uncomfortable, but once all that stuff is out, it leads to a great liberation.

Just be aware that if you decide to continue, it may have ramifications upon your life and family. Some people are just not ready to enter into that part of their psyche. That's for you to work out.

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    thank you for taking the time to share your insights with me. I don't have anybody in my personal life that practices meditation so it means more than you know to have this feedback. If I gain the prerequisite reputation to upvote your answer, I absolutely will. Jul 25 at 22:32
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I'm no expert, but I've been meditating consistently for several years & have been on retreat etc. so I have some experience of what you have gone through. I strongly recommend finding a meditation teacher. Its hard to tell what's going on based on an internet post because there are so many factors; when you 'meditate', what are you actually doing, what are you doing in your day to day life, how is your sila (morality), are you on any medication etc. An experienced teacher will be able to pinpoint things in your practice you might not have been aware of and will be much more helpful than any advice you can get from internet strangers.

However, I now find myself really frustrated because I've actually started to get more anxious, and I've barely slept for the past month.

If this is a big issue for you, I think you should cease your practice for a while, at least just to see if it gets better. Its hard to tell without knowing more information, but it could be caused by you meditating 'wrongly'; i.e. following the anxious thought train & reinforcing the thought loops/ having wrong sila, or it could just be how your mind was all along, just that meditation made you aware of it. Only a teacher can guide you on this. All the best

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In general you can stop what you are doing if you think it's causing you anxiety.

Although im not familiar with headspace, meditation usually fails as being ineffective rather than harmful. There are however ways in which one's training would cause anxiety & restlessness but i think it's unlikely here because i think it would be more obvious.

Imho, more likely than not & based on the info in op, you seem to have many duties and the meditation is not improving the quality of your life which probably makes you anxious about the training, questioning whether it's worth it.

Id try to drop it until you feel like doing it again or learn more so that it becomes worthwhile.

"Suppose that there is a foolish, inexperienced, unskillful cook who has presented a king or a king's minister with various kinds of curry: mainly sour, mainly bitter, mainly peppery, mainly sweet, alkaline or non-alkaline, salty or non-salty. He does not take note of[1] his master, thinking, 'Today my master likes this curry, or he reaches out for that curry, or he takes a lot of this curry, or he praises that curry. Today my master likes mainly sour curry... Today my master likes mainly bitter curry... mainly peppery curry... mainly sweet curry... alkaline curry... non-alkaline curry... salty curry... Today my master likes non-salty curry, or he reaches out for non-salty curry, or he takes a lot of non-salty curry, or he praises non-salty curry.' As a result, he is not rewarded with clothing or wages or gifts. Why is that? Because the foolish, inexperienced, unskillful cook does not pick up on the theme of his own master.

"In the same way, there are cases where a foolish, inexperienced, unskillful monk remains focused on the body in & of itself — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. As he remains thus focused on the body in & of itself, his mind does not become concentrated, his defilements[2] are not abandoned. He does not take note of that fact.[3] He remains focused on feelings in & of themselves... the mind in & of itself... mental qualities in & of themselves — ardent, alert, & mindful — putting aside greed & distress with reference to the world. As he remains thus focused on mental qualities in & of themselves, his mind does not become concentrated, his defilements are not abandoned. He does not take note of that fact. As a result, he is not rewarded with a pleasant abiding here & now, nor with mindfulness & alertness. Why is that? Because the foolish, inexperienced, unskillful monk does not take note of his own mind.[4] https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn47/sn47.008.than.html

There is a time for practice and there is a time for learning.

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  • Nice pull on the story. I think there is a lot of truth in it. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I'm learning a lot from these answers, many thanks and hopefully I can upvote your answer soon. Jul 26 at 1:58
  • Insomnia can develop due to excessive persistence in work, working tirelessly, being good at arousing wakefulness. Working after a trip, working when hungry, working after eating, maintaining body suitable for work, waking up quickly, not indulging in pleasures of lazy stretching & nodding off, etc etc
    – user8527
    Jul 26 at 19:18
  • It's the opposite of becoming used to sleeping all day. Ideally one would use that energy for meditative development, otherwise it can become very tiresome if there is no healthy outlet. In general sleeping little is a good thing but if wakefulness is merely to solve problems & ruminate then it's going to be burdensome like oversleeping. One should either develop a healthy dose of lazyness out of compassion for oneself or better yet maintain devotion to wakefulness & learn meditative stilling but that would require a comprehensive plan.
    – user8527
    Jul 26 at 19:32
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Meditation, if done properly, is the super skill that amplifies every mental and physical skill you do in life. It would be stupid to stop meditation. The only question is whether you're doing meditation properly, skillfully, correctly, etc. You've got a great daily habit established, 20min in morning and one in latter half of the day, and regularly small meditation sessions all through the day.

Clearly the insomnia is the problem you need to take care of. If you don't have adequate nutrition and physical health, then meditation is less likely to have obvious immediate benefits.

Whatever you need to do to fix your health problems, take care of that first, and maybe with your time constraints you might have to suspend meditation temporarily.

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    thank you for the response. I think part of my frustration is that I keep hearing and reading about meditation being a super skill, and I'm just disheartened that this purported super skill hasn't given me the help that I need when I need it. Maybe it will though, I think I'll try to stick with it. I'll try to upvote your answer if I get the reputation. Thank you! Jul 25 at 22:37

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