Meditation is one of the world’s most common spiritual practices that has immense benefits. It is scientifically proven to help calm the mind, but sometimes, anger can arise when we try to sit in stillness.
Meditation may make you angry if you’re too tired to focus, silence makes you anxious, you’re impatient, or your thoughts make you uncomfortable.
These can easily be solved by using mantras during meditation or by divvying up your meditation schedule. Practicing guided meditation or yoga also helps.
Meditation has the potential to help change your life. Read on for more info on how to make this practice work for you, even when you’re majorly grumpy.
You’re Too Tired to Focus
If you find that meditation makes you angry, consider what time of the day you’re meditating and under what conditions you’re meditating.
If you are meditating either first thing in the morning or late in the evening and you’re sleepy, the probability is high that you’re angry because you just want to go to sleep. Don’t feel bad about this – it’s completely normal.
When you’re first starting to meditate, it’s natural to have thoughts that race back and forth. Your thoughts will likely feel more frantic than usual because when you meditate, you actively try to quiet the mind, so it wants to fight back!
Many meditation scholars call this the “monkey mind.” Like trying to tame a wild monkey, our minds yell and scream and run away from us when we try to meditate.
If you’re trying to meditate but are getting grumpy because you’re tired and just want to go back to sleep, try a more “active” version of meditation that is more engaging than simple seated meditation.
One practice that is very helpful for people whose minds wander and become angry during meditation is called Japa. Japa is the Buddhist and Hindu practice of repeating a mantra over and over again, usually 108 times, while counting on a set of beads.
As most of us don’t have a set of beads handy, you can easily count to 108 on your fingers; check out this video for the technique.
Silence Makes You Anxious
It’s no secret that even just one meditation session has the ability to help with anxiety; mindfulness practices have been clinically proven to help soothe generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
But sometimes, mediation has the opposite effect on people. Especially when you are just starting to build a meditation practice, some serious feelings of stress and anxiety can arise.
This is because of the “monkey mind” effect – when we try to silence our brains, sometimes they just get even louder and make it harder to find peace.
If meditation makes you upset because silence makes you anxious, you should take your meditation practice very slowly. Don’t attempt to sit for an hour at a time every day – gradually incorporate meditation into your life in small doses.
Perhaps you try sitting still and quieting the mind for just three minutes. Do that every other day this week. Then next week, sit for four minutes, eventually adding on an extra day of practice to each week.
By gradually incorporating meditation into your life, you will build up a tolerance to the anxiousness and anger that arises when you try to shut your mind off.
Don’t get upset at yourself for not being able to sit for long periods of time at first – even the most dedicated meditation practitioners started small.
Remember that meditation is a practice that helps us to become more peaceful versions of ourselves; the Dalai Lama wrote in his book “The Path to Tranquility,” “One of the things meditation teaches us, when we slowly descend into ourselves, is that the sense of peace already exists in us.”
If you’re a particularly fast thinker and someone who likes to get tasks done as quickly as possible, you will likely get angry during mediation because you’re impatient.
Meditation and impatience are diametrically opposed – one cannot be impatient while they are trying to meditate; otherwise, the meditation just won’t happen.
Trying to rush meditation is like trying to hurry a cake to bake: if you try too hard and work too fast, you’ll ruin the result, and your time will have been wasted.
You might be thinking, “I can’t meditate if I’m impatient.” If that’s where you’re at, don’t worry: there’s good news for you. Being impatient is actually just a part of the process of meditation.
Most meditation sessions you do, whether three minutes long or three hours long, won’t feel blissful. The majority of people’s meditation practices are spent working to calm their impatience.
You’d be hard-pressed to find an everyday meditator who hasn’t felt impatient.
Instead of twiddling your fingers in silence, looking at the clock for a set amount of time every day, try listening to a guided meditation.
Guided meditations are a great way to focus your mind if you’re impatient and angry. Having someone else’s voice leading you into a state of mindfulness can sometimes be much easier than doing it yourself.
This video is a quick, guided meditation from a Tibetan Buddhist master. You don’t need any experience to follow along – just an open mind.
Your Thoughts Make You Uncomfortable
Sometimes when we struggle with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or mood swings, we enter a state of being uncomfortable with our own thoughts.
This can be a disheartening mindset to experience – who wants to feel stuck in their own head?
If you feel this way about your own thoughts, then it’s likely that meditation may make you angry.
Don’t feel guilty for being distracted by distressing thoughts.
If you feel that your thoughts are weighing down on you so heavily that you can’t think straight, make sure to check in with a health professional before introducing a meditation practice into your life.
If you get the sense that your thoughts are “okay” and you feel motivated enough to meditate instead of trying to sit still and stew in your negative thoughts, consider practicing a moving meditation like yoga or qigong.
Yoga is a helpful precursor to any meditation practice. In fact, the practice of performing yoga poses is designed to train the body and the mind for seated meditation.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of free resources available for yoga beginners. If you follow any yoga influencers on Instagram, check out their profiles to see if they offer free classes via Instagram Live or Facebook Live.
Yoga With Adriene on YouTube is a great resource as well – she is a fully-trained yoga instructor who offers free video classes every week.
If you’re struggling to learn how to meditate because of anger that arises, know that you’re not alone.
When we’re new to meditation and try to sit in stillness and be mindful, our brains often revolt by producing thoughts at a faster pace than usual, which can create anxiety and anger in the body.
Some people get angry during meditation because they’re tired, while others have racing thoughts. Impatient people often have a hard time meditating, while people who are depressed or otherwise emotional may not feel safe with their own thoughts.
There are easy solutions to each of these issues – you can use a mantra and take your practice slow or follow a guided meditation audio or yoga video instead.
I hope these tips help you learn that, while anger during meditation is normal, it also has its solutions. Happy meditating!