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  • Writer's pictureJessicah Walker Herche, PhD, HSPP

Why Meditation May Increase Your Anxiety and What To Do About It

It is a pretty mainstream fact now that meditation can be helpful for anxiety – and so many other conditions too. Yet, the biggest complaint I hear is that meditation makes anxiety worse. For many, they are taking a leap to try something different anyway, and if that first experience doesn’t help calm anxiety, it’s likely never to be tried again. Anxiety is unpleasant, to say the least, and experiencing an increase in the internal sensations of worry, fear, or alarm while practicing meditation can be discouraging at best. Oftentimes, we try to fix anxiety by throwing just about anything at it to see if we can find a cure, the antidote, or simply some short-term relief.


We are so anxious about being anxious that we take an anxious approach to fixing our anxiety.

Inherently, anxiety has an urgent feeling around it, so it makes sense that if some intervention makes anxiety worse, we will not give it much more thought. We will simply say, “That didn’t work for my anxiety.” But, wait! Please don’t give up on meditation.


An increase in anxiety while meditating is a sign that you are doing it right!

Meditation can have such a beneficial effect on mental health. However, many people try it and decide it must not be working because they notice an increase in anxiety. You may notice an increase in physical sensations as well, which is actually your awareness of those physical sensations increasing (versus an actual increase in physical sensations). If you experience more anxiety as you become aware of these physical sensations, it suggests anxiety was already present and the physical sensations are just mirroring that anxiety. This increase in anxiety or awareness of anxiety is actually a sign that you are doing meditation right and that meditation is working for you.

Meditation helps to reset your baseline emotional state.

Those with anxiety are used to constant chatter in the head, a perpetual awareness of the invisible audience. Meditation begins to calm all of this noise and initially that is slightly terrifying to the system because all the chaos has become the norm and feels familiar. Remember, the familiar has a tendency to feel safe, but familiar is not always safe. As the noise begins to recede and your system becomes more comfortable with peace and calm, you will be grateful you stuck with meditation.

Meditation can be a portal to your natural way of being, one of calm and confidence and curiosity and compassion.

But it often first mirrors our current experience (whether anxious, irritable, or depressed). If you persist with meditation, it can teach you to be present with the discomfort, which can open the portal to inner peace.

So next time you try meditation, expect the increase in anxiety and the increase in your awareness of the physiological sensations of anxiety. And when you notice it, smile...knowing that meditation is doing its thing for you too.


Seeking Professional Help: If anxiety feels ever-present and you want to learn how to effectively and compassionately manage it, working with an anxiety therapist who understands can be life-changing. To find out more about anxiety therapy, please call or text 317-747-0574 or visit our contact page


Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional psychological care, professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.



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