Weird Feelings After Meditating

Someone was asking about “feeling weird” after meditating. Here is a checklist to run through.

1. You’re doing an appropriate meditation for your body type but meditated too long–for example 30 min. is too much, whereas 20 min. might be just right.

2. You are doing an appropriate meditation for the right length of time but didn't give yourself a transition time. After every meditation, the senses and physiology need a few minutes to adapt to the outer world. Start by giving yourself five minutes to transition. At the end of every meditation, repose for 5 min – the first two with the eyes closed. A couple of minutes of closing the eyes, opening a little, closing again, doing a few stretches, checking in with yourself.

3. Everything is fine – it is just that you go so deep into meditation that you have to learn how to come back. It feels like a problem, then meditate for only five or 10 min. for a few weeks. You will get used to it.

4. You need a “bridging activity.” I almost always have my students do tai chi like motions at the beginning and end of meditation–easy, relaxed, free-flowing, spontaneous gestures of peace and integration.

5. You are sleep deprived. Meditation is restful, and the brain is going to micro sleeps. When we have a sleep debt, the micro sleeps is just the brain’s way of taking needed rest. We can feel very disoriented after meditating if we have fallen asleep. Solutions here would include sitting for a while and letting yourself slowly wake up. Just be aware of your breathing, for example. Long-term solution is to pay off your sleep debt by getting an extra hour of sleep a day for a few months.

6. You’re not getting enough exercise. Start walking more, for example, a couple of miles a day.

7. You’re meditating at the wrong time of day, or the wrong part of your daily rhythm. Consider meditating first thing in the morning, within a few minutes of rising, and again about six hours before going to sleep. Meditation is best considered as preparation for activity. Study the rhythm of your day, and fit meditation in before your major cycles of activity. We each have different structures to our day, so be creative.

8. You’re doing the wrong meditation for your current lifestyle. You might be doing a meditation that feels familiar, somehow you know it, but the energies that are activated don't have any place to flow in your current daily life.

9. You are not being free in your inner world. You might be doing a meditation technique that sort of fits you, but you are imposing it on yourself, and so you are disoriented afterwards because of the repression. If this is the case you will have to give up doing that technique for a while, and “begin again” with a different technique that you do not associate with repression. Do a technique that feels free and easy until you get over the habit of strain and control. In essence, you are imposing the wrong path on yourself, or you are doing the right technique in the wrong way.

10. Your teacher is leading you on the wrong path. Most meditation traditions have subtle currents of denial, repression, and a disguised contempt for daily life. This is because historically - for thousands of years - our main teachers have been monks, and a couple of nuns. It's only the last few decades –perhaps 50 years–that most practitioners in the West have been women, and there have been many women teachers. Whenever any of us study meditation in a tradition that comes from male monks there is the possibility of being “stolen away” which is actually engineered into the system. Monks think that a successful meditation will make you become uninterested in the world of the senses, detached from your relationships, bored with life, dissociated from your own desires, and in a mood to surrender and give your life over to the guru. For most Westerners, this is a “meditation fail” - like taking the wrong medicine. But for half of one percent, it might be meditation success. This you will have to figure out for yourself. Just be aware that the meditation traditions in general are designed to manipulate your inner energy centers and take you off the path of daily life and put you onto the path of renunciation. The brilliance of this is that they get you to do the work yourself.

Someone reported feeling “weird” after meditating - I don’t have any more information than that. There are many reasons this can happen, the list above is part of my checklist as I listen to the meditator.

Even when things are going well, all the planets are aligned, one can feel weird after meditating, just as we can feel groggy after taking a nap or when waking up in the morning. Your “weird feeling” may be the same thing you always feel when transitioning, but because you just meditated, you are more aware of yourself. You never really noticed before how weird it is to transition from waking to sleeping and back, for example.