Current Page: 1 of 14
Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: grainne uaile ()
Date: July 23, 2011 11:28PM

Dangers of Meditation
"One often hears and reads about the dangers of Yoga, particularly of the ill-reputed Kundalini Yoga. The deliberately induced psychotic state, which in certain unstable individuals might easily lead to a real psychosis, is a danger that needs to be taken very seriously indeed. These things really are dangerous and ought not to be meddled with in our typically Western way. It is a meddling with Fate, which strikes at the very roots of human existence and can let loose a flood of sufferings of which no sane person ever dreamed. These sufferings correspond to the hellish torments of the chönyid state..." C. G. Jung, Introduction to The Tibetan book of the Dead *

Dangers of Meditation

Years ago when I was in Self Realization, I found a book at the local library, Living with Kundalini by Gopi Krishna. I thought it would be an exciting read, and actually it was just that. What I read rather frightened me because Gopi Krishna's kundalini awaking left him seeking out help, but actually, no one could help him. I gave the book away, thinking to myself, Yogananda wouldn’t teach us a dangerous technique. Then one day I was on the Kriya Board, (Yogananda taught Kriya), and a poster was asking for help. I remember his talking about meditation and what he was feeling inside, and I thought, “This sounds just like Gopi Krisna's experience. He was also talking about killing himself because of his bodily sensations, but he added that no doctor could help him, and those at SRF Headquarters told him that it can’t be from his Kriya practice because Kriya only gives you peace. I made a post to him and told him about Gopi Krishna, and that the Vedanta Society might be able to help himt. The next day I came online to see if he had read my post, it had been deleted. They never wanted anyone to think that meditation was anything other than good. Did he see that post? I never forgot that man, and it has been over 20 years.

Here is what I found again in Gopi Krishna's book:

“With the awakening of kundalini, the arrangement suffers a radical alteration affecting the entire nervous system, most cases it results in a great instability of the emotional nature and a great liability to aberrant mental conditions in the subject, mainly resulting from tainted heredity, faulty modes of conduct, or immoderation in any shape or forum.

Leaving out the extreme cases, which end in madness, this generalization applies to all the categories of those in whom kundalini is congenitally more or less active, comprising mystics, mediums, men and women of genius, and those of an exceptionally high intellectual or artistic development. In the case of those in whom the awakening occurs all at once as the result of yoga or other spiritual practices, the sudden impact or powerful vital currents on the brain and other organs is often attended with grave risk and strange mental conditions, varying from moment to moment, exhibiting in the beginning the abnormal peculiarities of a medium, mystic, genius, and madman all rolled into one."

His experience:

"…On the third day of the awakening I did not feel myself in a mood for meditation and passed the time in bed…I completely lacked the power to concentrate…

For a few days I thought I was suffering from hallucinations…I passed every minute of the time in a state of acute anxiety and tension, at a loss to know what had happened to me and why my system was functioning in such an entirely abnormal manner…

There was no remission in the current rising from the seat of kundalini. I could feel it leaping across the nerves in the back and even across those lining the front part of my body from the loins upwards…I felt as if I were looking at the world from a higher elevation than that from which I saw it before…

The few brief intervals of mental elation were followed by fits of depression much more prolonged and so acute that I had to muster all my strength and willpower to keep myself from succumbing completely to their influence…

I lost all feelings of love for my wife and children. I had loved them fondly from the depths of my being…”

He sought out all kinds of gurus for help, but no one could help him, and this is the reason why I always say that even having a teacher may not help when something goes wrong in meditationm because even the gurus of India couldn't help.

Then when I was in the Vedanta Society, I learned that those who practiced Kriya Yoga sometimes showed up at the Vedanta Society in mental pain or even physical from the practice of Kriya. The comment from the swami was something to the effect that it could harm your nervous system, and that that was one of the problems SRF members were having when they came to them for help. I also remember a couple coming to the fireside room where discussions took place every Sunday. It was obvious to me that the man had some emotional problems when he asked about the practice of pranayama breathing, which kriya is a form. He told the man that it was dangerous to practice it because it could harm your heart and lungs and in some cases cause insanity. (I had already stopped practicing Kriya, having had all initiations, some from SRF and some from Eugene Roy Davis, and I was glad.)

Then I went to a Zen monastery, and I told the abbot about my experience in meditation when my mind expanded. He looked concerned and told me that it was dangerous to allow your mind to expand, that it could cause insanity. As if one could stop the process while meditating, and I knew I couldn't, so I seldom meditated after that.

It was then that I began doing research, and that is how I found the dissertation, Meditation-Related Psychosis that I have posted here in my blog.
I also found a book by Dr. Margaret Singer, and so I am posting some of her findings. She was a famous psychologist who worked on court cases and also helped people to get out of cults as well as with those who had severe problems from meditating. Here is what she found.
Cults in Our Midst by Dr. Margaret Singer, PhD

By the Mid 1970s clinical reports of negative outcomes resulting from various mantra meditation programs began to dot the psychiatric literature. Clinicians reported that some mediators were finding themselves in self-induced altered states, wherein they felt unreal or found their surroundings unreal. Some persons became unemployable because they were unable to control these episodes. Other clinical report indicated that indiscriminate use of mantra meditation could precipitate more serious psychiatric problems ranging from depression and agitation to psychotic decompensation.

In a series of studies, Leon Otis, a psychologist at Stanford Research Institute, pointed out that despite benefits for all who take up the practice as advertised by one meditation organization, his research proved otherwise. According to Otis the reverse is true. In fact, the number and severity of complaints are positively related to duration of meditation. Also not supported by research is the notion that the initial uncomfortable feelings are transient. Meditators reported continuing adverse side effects: they had become anxious, confused, frustrated, depressed, and/or withdrawn (or more so) since starting meditation.

Another concern, explored by researchers Michael Murphy and Steven Donovan, is that advanced practioners rank high in suggestibility, meaning that their physical or mental state is easily influence by the process of suggestion. Whether they become more suggestible because of participation in meditation practices or are highly suggestible to being with, a state which might reinforce their continuation of the practice has not been determined. Either way, the suggestibility puts them at risk of losing personal autonomy.

When meditators first reported experiencing depersonalization and derealization (feeling removed from ones body or as if one were watching oneself), it was believed that these altered states were connected to actual periods of meditation. Psychiatrists eventually recognized, however, that these were states of involuntary meditation, for want of a better name, that were intruding into the waking consciousness of meditators when they were not deliberately meditating. Unfortunately and much to the distress of some meditators a depersonalized state can become an apparently permanent mode of functioning, {with} the apparent long-term loss of the ability to feel strong emotions, either negative or positive.

Meditation Causalities

Based on interviewing or providing therapy to more than seventy persons who had meditated from four to seventeen years in various groups.

None had a history of major mental disorders prior to participation in a meditation group.

A few examples of members range of impairments some of which remain after many years out of the cultic group>

1. Blackouts, lack of sensory filters, and anxiety attacks.

John, age 36, meditated off and on for nine years. During the last 2 years of that time, he was encouraged to do intensives. Now he is living on public funds, having been diagnosed as mentally disabled and incapable of working. He suffers from fainting, blackouts, severe and frequent anxiety attacks, and exhaustion. He feels he no longer has protective barriers for his senses.

2. Fog and space

Lisa was in a meditation group for 13 years. During nine of those years, she suffered from unique dissociative experiences in which she would feel space out. Her level of functioning was poor.

3. Altered states and memory difficulties

Rick meditated for 17 years. He experienced his first distressing symptoms at his first advanced course, when over breathing and yogic exercises were added to his mantra meditation. He described states of euphoria; periods of dissociation, depersonalization, confusion, and irritability; and memory difficulties. He had difficulties with reading, memory, concentration, and focusing; had involuntary
body shaking; and experienced frequent episodes of dissociation.

3. Loss of boundaries

Bruno, an architect in this 40s went to his first extended meditation after a year of initial brief meditation. He lost track of time and felt odd and not himself. He finally fled the course after an unsettling experience in his hotel room: Suddenly I become one with the air conditioner It was unspeakable terror after returning home, he remained anxious, had trouble sleeping, and was very tired for some weeks.

4. Inappropriate and unrelated bursts of emotion

Tom, age 26, signed up for a course...he developed RIA symptoms that continued after the course was over he experienced bursts of inappropriate aggressive sexual urges. He said motion was driving him crazy. For several months he feared he was losing his mind, and he was becoming phobic about going out alone to public places because he never knew when these episodes would occur.

5. Muscle jerking

Josh spent more than a dozen years in a meditation group. His major symptom marked head and neck jerking that he could not control. His physician had prescribed him anti-seizure medication.

6. Long-term emotional flatness

June meditated and took courses over 9 years. She had no complaints, but her husband, young adult children, parents, and siblings claimed she had become depressed, spacey, unenthused, not careful or caring about things. June was emotionally flat. She reported to me that she lost an awareness of time, and her eyes went out of focus prior to meditating her family said that June had been a warm and compassionate person, responsive, and involved with what was going on, even prone to temper blow-ups. Today, June appears impersonal in social situations and seems to have ceased experiencing and displaying strong emotional feelings, either positive or negative

7. Seizures

Calvin suffered his first seizure in the fast breathing program. He left the program and is now on anti-seizure medication.

8. Visual hallucinations

Caryn meditated for 17 years. She reported that she had begun seeing little creatures with wings during her intensive meditation. I began to not be able to tell who was a person and was a deva {a Hindu nature spirit.}

I am not saying that everyone who meditates has problems. I have spoken with many persons who find brief meditation relaxing who are enthusiastic about their personal quiet time.

Is Meditation Ever Beneficial?

If, without surrendering your life to a cult, you sit and do one of the two traditional methods of meditation, yes, that can be very helpful.
Other Negative Experiences from other sources:


Otis (1984) described a study done at Stanford Research Institute in 1971 to determine the negative effects of Transcendental Meditation. SRI mailed a survey to every twentieth person on the Students International Meditation Society (TM's parent organization) mailing list of 40,000 individuals. Approximately 47% of the 1,900 people surveyed responded. The survey included a self-concept word list (the Descriptive Personality List) and a checklist of physical and behavioral symptoms (the Physical and Behavioral Inventory). It was found that dropouts reported fewer complaints than experienced meditators, to a statistically significant degree. Furthermore, adverse effects were positively correlated with the length of time in meditation. Long-term meditators reported the following percentages of adverse effects: antisocial behavior, 13.5%; anxiety, 9.0%; confusion, 7.2%; depression, 8.1%; emotional stability, 4.5%; frustration, 9.0%; physical and mental tension, 8.1%; procrastination, 7.2%; restlessness, 9.0%; suspiciousness, 6.3%; tolerance of others, 4.5%; and withdrawal, 7.2%. The author concluded that the longer a person stays in TM and the more committed a person becomes to TM as a way of life, the greater is the likelihood that he or she will experience adverse effects. This contrasts sharply with the promotional statements of the various TM organizations.

Ellis (1984) stated that meditation's greatest danger was its common connection with spirituality and antiscience. He said that it might encourage some individuals to become even more obsessive-compulsive than they had been and to dwell in a ruminative manner on trivia or nonessentials. He also noted that some of his clients had gone into "dissociative semi-trance states and upset themselves considerably by meditating." Ellis views meditation and other therapy procedures as often diverting people from doing that which overcomes their disturbance to focusing on the highly palliative technique itself. Therefore, although individuals might feel better, their chances of acquiring a basically healthy, nonmasturbatory outlook are sabotaged.

Walsh (1979) reported a number of disturbing experiences during meditation, such as anxiety, tension, and anger. Walsh and Rauche (1979) stated that meditation may precipitate a psychotic episode in individuals with a history of schizophrenia. Kornfield (1979 and 1983) reported that body pain is a frequent occurrence during meditation, and that meditators develop new ways to relate to their pain as a result of meditation. Hassett (1978) reported that meditation can be harmful. Carrington (1977) observed that extensive meditation may induce symptoms that range in severity from insomnia to psychotic manifestations with hallucinatory behavior. Lazarus (1976) reported that psychiatric problems such as severe depression and schizophrenic breakdown may be precipitated by TM. French et al. (1975) reported that anxiety, tension, anger, and other disturbing experiences sometimes occur during TM. Carrington and Ephron (1975c) reported a number of complaints from TM meditators who felt themselves overwhelmed by negative and unpleasant thoughts during meditation. Glueck and Stroebel (1975) reported that two experimental subjects made independent suicide attempts in the first two days after beginning the TM program. Kannellakos and Lukas (1974) reported complaints from TM meditators. Otis (1974) reported that five patients suffered a reoccurrence of serious psychosomatic symptoms after commencing meditation. Maupin (1969) stated that the deepest objection to meditation has been its tendency to produce withdrawn, serene people who are not accessible to what is actually going on in their lives. He said that with meditation it is easy to overvalue the internal at the expense of the external.

These and other negative meditation outcomes are described in traditional sources. The path is "sharp like a razor's edge" says the Katha Upanishad. [54] St. John of the Cross wrote an entire book about the dark night of the soul. [55] Several hundred pages of Sri Aurobindo's collected works deal with the problems and dangers of his integral yoga. [56] A large part of Aldous Huxley's The Perennial Philosophy consists of admonitions from various spiritual masters about the difficulties encountered in contemplative practice, [57] and William James explores the negative side of religious life in The Varieties of Religious Experience. [58] These and other sources provide a wide array of warnings and directions for those entering a path of meditation. Though the rewards of contemplative practice can be great, they do not come easily.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: Misstyk ()
Date: July 25, 2011 03:03PM

This is very important information. I've been participating on Buddhist discussion forums, and from time to time, someone will post that their meditation is causing anxiety, or other uncomfortable symptoms. Everyone always advises them to keep at it, it's just a phase, or it's all in their mind, or some such nonsense. I'm the only one who cautions them that meditation isn't for everyone, and that they should stop if they're having disruptive symptoms.

There's a lot of ignorance about the dangers of meditation in these Eastern religions, plus, practitioners tend to want everyone to be on the same page, on board with the program. There's a strong tendency to enforce conformity, rather than to look compassionately at someone's difficulties and advise them appropriately. Independent thinking and independent action are discouraged, sometimes subtly, other times no so subtly.

RE: the research saying that experienced meditators are more suggestible: I've read in several sources that meditation is a form of self-hypnosis. So it makes sense that the more you meditate, the more suggestible you become, because you're just training your mind to be more and more susceptible to hypnosis! No wonder all these power-hungry (and sex-obsessed) gurus want everyone meditating!

Thanks for posting an important topic.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: July 25, 2011 06:03PM

I read Sri Aurobindo when I was very young and although I never took on his particular belief system ( he has an interesting history himself) his treatise on the pitfalls of his yoga system was a big eye-opener for me. It was the first time that I cottoned to the fact that this whole enterprise has to be grounded in the body and not in some airy fairy purely psychological dreamworld.

I found his work to be straightforward and honest, although he was later usurped by 'Mother' on the public, practical front and became a true recluse, so of no use to anybody except himself.

Interestingly he started out as a political agitator for a Hindu resurgence, a sort of taking pride in one's own cultural heritage after labouring under the yoke of Empire under us Brits.
I think quite fondly of him, he did recognise that the yoke of Empire had brought some organisational benefits to India, such as the civil infrastructure, education, trains etc, so not all bad---and in fact essential if the Hindu resurgence was ever to become a reality.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/25/2011 06:04PM by Stoic.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 25, 2011 09:14PM

Another Danger of the Meditation Setting--Covert Use of LGAT 'tech'

This can apply to 'satsangs'. There are all sorts of satsang teachers popping up like
mushrooms after a rainstorm. You can look at the bulletin board at the local health food store and see when the new ones arrive on the scene and post adverts.

Some may be fine. But others may be using skills that have nothing to do with actual mediation and use the satsang or meditation session as a front for something else.

Thats something that has to be considered.

Some of our members understand these techniques - run searches on The Anticult and read the analyses of Ericksonian conversational trance and the use of nested loops.

Also, not enough seekers are aware that persons claiming to teach ancient methods of meditation have covertly included technology from modern methods of trance induction and Large Group Awareness Trainings (LGAT)

Muktananda (founder of Siddha Yoga) was sponsored in one of his trips to the US, and learned to incorporate tech from EST into his Siddha Yoga intensives.

What is sad is that very many former members of both Siddha and SYDA yoga (the one run by Muk's successor Guryumayi) feel haunted by the intensity of the experiences, have tried hard to recover, and blame themselves for continuing to have cravings.

What many dont realize is that at least two kinds of poison were used--bad guru yoga and LGAT tech/trance.

If just one of the poisons is known and treated, while the person is unaware that they were also subjected to a second poison--LGAT/trance technology, they will continue to struggle.

Here is a thread started here on the subject. I have tried to bring this up on other discussion venues. People either show no interest in discussing it, or my posts on the subject do not show up.

This thread includes a discussion of "install the guru" meditation, which The Anticult identified as being very powerful stuff.

If a guru does story telling (and many use stock stories and metaphors from the Hindu tradition) and coverly uses Ericksonian methods of conversational trance this is dangerous to those who trust that the guru is honest.

Warning: Anyone who uses what is written on this message board to enhance their own effectiveness as trance technican will become more of a monster than he or she always is.

Trance technicians become prisoners of their own methods and end up slaves and gargoyles.

All this is written to assist human beings to remain or regain their agency.

So-Called Ancient Hindu spirituality concealing American LGAT 'tech'


Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: SebaT ()
Date: July 25, 2011 09:51PM

When looking to a text for meditation instruction, it is essential that you understand every word as fully as possible with no 'foundational' uncertainties (foundational in the sense that you rely upon conclusions drawn from 'facts' or 'observations' which contain uncertainty). Meditation is a powerful school of techniques and it does not come in a safe-for-all 'pill form' which you can take without risks. You must be certain of your mental foundations for the level of meditation you aspire to: anything further is folly borne of greed for quick progress and therein lies the main source of danger in meditation. Cheng Man Ching (a Tai Chi master) wrote in one of his books that greed and impatience are two of his three main faults in a student.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Dangers of Meditation
Date: July 26, 2011 03:01AM

I'm glad this thread was started as there is very little available about the possible dangers of meditation. If anything, it is being promoted as being some sort of magical "cure" for a lengthy list of ailments and life situations.

The first time I came across information suggesting that meditation wasn't for everyone was in Jewish Meditation by Aryeh Kaplan. On page 58 he wrote:

At this point, a word of warning is in order. Mantra meditation is a fairly safe method for most people, but it can be dangerous for someone with a history of mental illness. If a person's connection to the real world is not strong to begin with, he may have difficulty reestablishing his connection with reality after a deep meditative experience. Just as certain forms of strenuous exercise must be avoided by people with a history of heart trouble, certain forms of mental exercise should be avoided by people with a history of mental illness. The Talmudic story of Ben Zoma, who lost his mind after a particularly intense meditative experience, serves as a warning. Any person with douts about his mental stability should make sure that he has an expert guide before becoming involved with any type of intense meditation.

The thing is how qualified are meditation instructors when it comes to dealing with students who have bad reactions after meditating?

By the way, the copyright for this book is 1985, so this isn't new information, but scaring away new students can't be good for business.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Dangers of Meditation
Date: July 26, 2011 04:16AM

Lorin Roche's website features interesting insights regarding the dangers of meditation.


An excerpt from his site:

There is a weird set of problems here, having to do with the meditation traditions themselves, and what a good job they have done of preserving the teachings that were given in 100 BC, 500 BC, 100 AD, 1300 AD, and so on. Almost all teachings on meditation are slanted toward the needs of the monks who lived long, long ago in places far, far away. The traditional teachings are slanted toward how to adapt to life in 500 BC, IF you are a male, IF you are a Hindu, or Buddhist, IF you are a male-Hindu or Buddhist who wants to be celibate. Or how to adapt to life in a Tibetan lamasery in 1500 AD.

Two more:

[quote="So back then, the fundamental stance of meditation was that you start out by denying everything. You deny the world, you turn your back on everything and every obligation. You deny your family. You abandon your family if you have one, like Buddha did. You deny your desire for sex. You deny your desire to have a home. You deny your desire for innovation or creativity, and take an oath to just accept things as they are. You deny your desire to be an individual, and surrender your will to whoever is your superior in the religious order you have committed to.][/quote]

[quote="The denial doesn't always work – often you just get people who are dead inside, and kind of drift around chanting and pretending to be spiritual. But sometimes there is a good match of inner and outer, and the denial serves to redirect the life force of the individual into the blossoming of special gifts. This is similar to what people do when they cultivate roses – they prune away at the bush so that there will be just a few big flowers, so that the rose bush will have no choice but to put all its vitality into a few big flowers, instead of many small ones."][/quote]

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: July 26, 2011 04:18AM

'but scaring away new students can't be good for business.'

Yes, that plays a very big part in the 'safe-for-all pill' it is often promoted as.

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: grainne uaile ()
Date: July 26, 2011 05:48AM

I have tried to warn others on forums too, just as Misstyk, but I am often met with hostility, and sometimes the posts are deleted. It amazes me how many teachers say it is safe, and then how many students will not listen. I remember when I was in Hinduism I thought, "We are meditating to experience God; then why is it that reaching God in meditation can be so dangerous. If there were a God, would not h/she make it simple to reach h/her without causing some people's mind's to become deranged?" Perhaps it is as simple as heartfelt prayer. But I have no answers now. I no longer meditate, and I am just grateful that nothing negative happened to my mind while meditating. It was hard enough dealing with the gurus in these organizations and asking myself, "If meditation is so great a tool, why are they so corrupt," and since then I learned that meditation doesn't make you a better person. I even doubt now that it brings enlightenment, but that is something that I had never striven for in the first place.

Corboy, can you give us the link to the thread that you had once started?

Options: ReplyQuote
Re: Dangers of Meditation
Posted by: Stoic ()
Date: July 27, 2011 01:33AM

"If meditation is so great a tool, why are they so corrupt,"

There are numerous unfounded asumptions around it, propagated by those who may have dodgy agendas to promote, just as there are assumptions about many things.

Never assume, but then I guess you already know that.

I would start in a dictionary, if faced with something that I might have unfounded assumptions about that might prove unwise.

Nobody reaches god in meditation, although they might convince themselves that they have--all that you can experience is your own mind chugging away--but that can be interesting.
Not too advisable for the obssessively inclined though, who will find it all too easy to disappear up their own fundaments.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/27/2011 01:34AM by Stoic.

Options: ReplyQuote
Current Page: 1 of 14

Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
This forum powered by Phorum.