Meditation - Friend or Foe?
anonymous Asks ...
My son has problems with anxiety and he has been diagnosed with social and GAD. He has not found medications to be an effective answer. Over the last few months he has become increasingly interested in meditation. He went on a week long retreat at the beginning and ever since then he has been spending more and more of each day meditating. He will now meditate for up to 6 hours a day. I was happy for him at first that he had found something that was helping him but now I am worried that he is using meditation as an excuse to stay at home and avoid the world or maybe that he is starting to feel depressed again. He really struggles with social situations but his doctors have always said he needs to get out and face his anxieties but now since he is meditating so much he is not going out very much at all? Wouldn't an hour or so a day do as much good as half a day in his room staring at the wall?
Dr. Katty (Coffron) Richardson Says ...
Without hearing your son's perspective it hard to be certain, but from your description it does sound like you have a good reason to be concerned. Meditation practice is a wonderful resource for those with anxiety, but ideally it is a practice that prepares a individual to better handle life's stresses, rather than becoming life itself. At six hours a day, it sounds like your son may very well be using meditation as a way to avoid his anxieties rather than as a way to deal with his anxieties.
If your son is willing to seek help, a good therapist with some experience with meditation and mindfulness might be able to help your son put meditation in perspective. Ideally your son can learn how to use meditation as a tool to build self-awareness and promote relaxation while also learning to get out in the world to face and overcome his anxieties. Continued avoidance is likely to re-enforce and increase fears - the longer he doesn't go out, the scarier it gets to go out.
If he is unwilling to listen to you, you might want to consider contacting someone from the retreat he attended that might be able to help him put meditation into the proper perspective. If he is unwilling to seek help, I suggest that you do. A therapist can help you figure out your best course of action in taking care of yourself and your son.