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Be careful with meditation

Be careful with meditation

Meditation has long been recommended to help you relax and unwind, as well as restoring balance in your life. However, new reports have suggested it could trigger depression and anxiety.

Clinical cognitive and behavioural psychologist and meditation expert Dr Paula Watkins explains that people can end up going too far into the 'recesses' of their minds, bringing up deep-seated feelings.

"Some of these effects are incredibly mild but meditation is becoming increasingly popular and people are finally taking a break from their very busy day-to-day lives, and if there [are] any psychological issues, suppressed emotions or a history of trauma, that stuff can come up," she told Daily Mail Australia.

Dr Watkins has been researching the topic for years and has discovered people who visit meditation retreats are more likely to suffer from the above negative effects. She also describes these getaways as a 'psychological boot camp', with those staying having many suppressed emotions which could leak to the surface.

"Intensive meditation retreats are not all bliss, a lot of stuff can come up when you are meditating ten hours a day for ten days... it can release blocked or suppressed emotions and memories.

"Even in our daily meditations the internal landscape of what's going on in our minds and bodies is always changing," she added.

She urges people who experience manic symptoms, like feeling irritable and aggressive, to avoid meditation unless they seek professional aid. The same goes for people who suffer from psychosis or schizophrenia, with Dr Watkins warning that 'mental events' (hallucinations and delusions) can become even more extreme when meditating. She said it isn't safe for these individuals to look inside themselves, and that meditating isn't a replacement for therapy.

"I feel very strongly that people who meditate for the first time should be supported safely in a variety of different techniques until they find a technique that resonates well with them... research hasn't answered whether there is one style safer than others," she explained.

However that shouldn't put everyone off, and she notes that the majority of people can absolutely relax and feel calm after meditating. She simply wants people to be aware of the negative side effects, but it shouldn't stop those who don't have mental health issues.

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