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Dangers of Meditation: List Of Possibilities

Most people associate meditation with laser-like focus, expanded internal awareness, emotional stability, and cognitive enhancement.  Plus there is mounting evidence to suggest that many of these claims are valid, just read all of the scientific benefits of meditation.  The new wave of meditation science, coupled with development of meditation apps (e.g. Headspace), and celebrities attributing their success to daily meditation – has literally and figuratively brought meditation to the forefront of public consciousness.

To an outsider, all the hype surrounding meditation makes the practice seem like a utopian, “magic bullet” for mental health and even some aspects of physical health.  Unfortunately, not everyone experiences notable positive effects from meditation.  In fact, some people end up meditating only to find that it amplifies their preexisting problems or even creates a new set of problems such as: mood swings, severe brain fog, or depression.

Due to the fact that this negative experience is the opposite of what most people report, proponents of meditation have thrown around esoteric labels such as: “Dark Night of the Soul,” kundalini, energy transmutation, and “chakra opening” to describe the negative experience.  Regardless of the spiritual terminology tossed around to describe your negative reaction to meditation, it may be time to rethink your meditation practice – contrary to what your guru wants.

Factors that influence dangers of meditation

Below are some factors that may influence some of the dangers associated with meditation.  These factors include things like: time span over which you’ve been meditating, the frequency of your practice, how long you typically meditate, your lifestyle, and mental health.

1. Time Span

How long have you been practicing meditation? Dangers may appear over the short-term (e.g. weeks), may emerge after a moderate-term (e.g. years), or may only occur after a long-term (e.g. decades).

  • Short-term: If you just started meditating, you may encounter some bumps in the road.  These are considered normal, and a part of your brain changing itself.  Those that just began meditating and are novices may perceive their initial discomfort as a “danger.” It is important to work with a mediation teacher during this time to distinguish the preliminary discomfort from any real dangers.
  • Moderate-term: Those that have been meditating for a moderate term may be increasing the intensity of their meditation by ramping up the frequency and/or length of their sessions.  Over time, an increasing number of neural adaptations have accrued as a result of the practice.  If a person begins experiencing breaks with reality (e.g. hallucinations), they may need to scale back the practice or stop.
  • Long-term: Some long-term meditators may not experience any negative effects of meditation, while other long-term meditators will have experienced a bumpier road.  The longer you meditate, the more experience you’ll have in handling potential psychological traps or roadblocks such as emotional upheavals and repressed memories.

2. Frequency

How often do you typically meditate?  Those that meditate several times per day may be more likely to experience the dangers of meditation compared to those who meditate just once per week.  If you’re spacing out your meditation sessions and limiting meditation to just one time per week or even one time per couple weeks, you probably won’t experience any significant dangers.

Those that get caught up in thinking that meditation has all the answers to their problems may ramp up the frequency of their practice.  As frequency increases, the brain and physiology adapts to the increased number of episodes spent directing the attention inwards.  This unnatural directing of attention at a greater frequency may result in dangers to “manifest.”

3. Duration of sessions

A novice who jumps into meditating for 8 hours per day may be more likely to experience some dangers (e.g. break with reality) compared to someone who is meditating for 5 minutes per day.  The duration of meditative sessions is often increased as a person becomes more skilled at the practice.  A monk that has meditated for 30 years may be able to handle 8 hours of meditation like it’s no big deal, but someone who isn’t experienced or skilled may not.

When the duration of the meditative sessions increases, a person experiences more profound neural changes.  These neural changes become strengthened and cumulative with each consecutive meditative session.  In general, the longer you meditate (especially if you’re not advanced), the greater the likelihood of danger.

4. Technique

It is important to realize that the more you meditate, the more you are essentially “molding” your brain in a specific way via neuroplasticity.  If the neural patterns induced by the meditation make you feel physically and psychologically healthier, chances are that you’ll want to strengthen them.  However, if the neural patterns induced by the meditation make you feel continuously worse, there’s no need to strengthen them.

The “molding” of your neural activity will differ based on the specific type of meditation that you pursue.  It is well documented that different types of meditation affect the brain in unique ways.  A person doing transcendental meditation (TM) will endure very different neural changes compared to an individual practicing mindfulness meditation.

While there may be some overlap in regards to neural changes from different techniques, most produce technique-specific changes.  Therefore it is important to consider the role of the particular technique that you’ve been utilized.  One technique will yield may produce favorable adaptations, while another may result in dangerous ones (based on your neurophysiology).

5. Mental Health

Perhaps the most important factor to consider before starting a meditative practice is your mental health.  While certain types of meditation like Mindfulness have been proven to reduce anxiety and depression, it cannot be assumed that they are universally effective.  If you have been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, personality disorder, or have endured past-trauma – meditation may be detrimental to your mental health.

It’s a total conundrum in terms of predicting who will benefit from meditation.  One person may find that meditation is a natural cure for anxiety, while another may find that meditation worsens anxiety and depression.  Those in poor mental health and/or with a history of mental illness should proceed slowly and with caution with the act of meditation.

Dangers of Meditation: List of Possibilities

Below is a list of potential dangers associated with meditation.  Understand that both the severity and number of “dangers” experienced is subject to significant individual variation.  You may struggle with dissociation, while another person may struggle with post-meditation brain fog.

Attachment: One potential danger is that a meditator may become overly attached to the meditative experience.  This attachment may be to emotions experienced during a deep meditative state or to an esoteric, subjective experience.  They may begin to meditate for longer durations and with increased frequency as a means to “chase” these feelings.

The attachment is dangerous in that some people may drop all other important “Earthly” activities (e.g. working, eating, friendships) to focus on meditation.  Becoming overly obsessed and attached to the meditative experience may be detrimental to psychological health.

Brain fog: In some cases, excess meditation can actually cause “brain fog.”  The brain fog is insidious in that it may interfere with a person’s work or school performance.  It is generally caused by abnormally slow brain waves, changes in regional activation, and excess relaxation – without proper stimulation from the sympathetic nervous system.

Cognitive impairment: While meditation has potential to dramatically increase your cognitive horsepower, it also has potential to impair it.  If you were already high-performing, start to meditate, and notice that your thoughts become less organized and you can’t focus – it’s probably the meditation.  The cognitive impairment may be dangerous in that it may compromise work or school performance.

Cults: In some cases, a person may place full trust in their meditation instructor or “guru” to show them the way.  They may come to view the instructor as some sort of deity, when in reality, the individual is just good at meditation – they can’t read your mind and they don’t know your past life.  Placing full trust into a meditation instructor with your entire life, especially your psychological health is dangerous.

They may blame you for your own misery and claim that meditation is the only answer.  Furthermore, you may get suckered into thinking that the more you meditate, the more you increase your chances of “manifesting” money or even sunny weather.  If you sense that you’re in a meditative cult, it may be time to run for the hills.

Delusions: There are many types of delusions that you may experience while meditating.  You may believe that you were sent on a mission from some godly figure to change the world.  Or you may start to believe that the more you meditate, the better your chances of reincarnating into a higher realm.

Delusions are considered false beliefs that have no basis in reality and are often experienced by meditators.  The basis for these delusions may be neural alterations as a result of excess inward focus and a lack of balance with external reality.  If you think that you’ve been sent on a mission from a deity or that your meditation is changing the “collective unconscious” – you may be dangerously deluded.

Depersonalization: If you are depersonalized, it means you no longer feel like your authentic self or as if you’ve lost your identity.  The more you meditate, the more likely you are to eventually experience an altered state of consciousness.  Not all altered states of consciousness are favorable over your standard, waking state of consciousness.

In an altered state, you may feel as if you have become emotionally numb or disconnected.  You may feel as if your soul has been sucked from your body and that you’ll never get it back.  The depersonalization may be extreme for some individuals and may produce long-lasting discomfort – especially if the meditative practice is continued.

Detachment: Many meditative practices preach that the meditator should remain “detached” from sensations, experiences, and the physical world.  Although detachment may be helpful for dealing with certain scenarios, if a person makes the practice a lifestyle, they may feel unconnected and possibly less human.  Some types of attachment are completely healthy and when meditation drives home the mantra of “non-attachment” – it may be confusing for some and taken to an extreme by others.

Dissociation: You may come to feel as if you’re detached from the rest of the world or dissociated.  This dissociation may be extreme, especially if you’ve been forcing yourself to meditate for long periods of time.  Others may find that the dissociation eventually fades, but it can produce significant feelings of discomfort.

Ego shedding: Many people claim that meditation can help you “shed” your ego.  The problem with trying to get rid of your ego is that the ego provides us with a sense of identity, promotes self-esteem, and self-importance.  Dropping your ego will leave you feeling depersonalized, dissociated, and submissive to others – which will likely compromise your psychological health.

Emotional amplification: Some people experience emotional amplification, almost as if someone turned up the volume on their emotions.  Happiness feels significantly more intense than usual, but so does depression.  This emotional amplification may be due to increased internal awareness as well as specific neural changes induced by meditation.

This isn’t always a problem, but the increased potency of emotions may be dangerous for someone prone to frequent negative emotions.  If previous “anger” now instantly becomes full-blown “rage” – it may make life much more difficult.  Those that frequently experiencing negative emotions should beware of potential amplification.

Emotional numbness: Others may notice that they feel emotionally numb after meditation.  This numbness may be related to depersonalization and/or dissociation.  Many people would rather feel some emotion (even if unpleasant), than complete numbness.  This numbness may impair your ability to relate to others, empathize, or function in society.

Escapism: Most would argue that meditation is a practice to help us better embrace reality.  However, some individuals may turn to meditation as way by which they can mentally “check out” of reality.  This may lead to a person meditating all day rather than maintaining a well-rounded, balanced life.  Excess meditation and failure to maintain balance with other areas of life may result in psychological dysfunction.

Hallucinations: Many people experience both hypnagogic hallucinations and hypnopompic hallucinations during their meditative practice.  While these are considered relatively benign, it is possible for more dangerous hallucinations to occur.  Hallucinations may be more likely among those with a preexisting mental illness, but may occur among individuals who over-meditate and isolate themselves.

Some people may claim to hear voices (auditory hallucinations), while others may claim to see strange objects or lights (visual hallucinations).  If you believe that you’re hearing voices from god, seeing spirit guides, or are flying into other realms – this may be very dangerous.

Hypersensitivity: During meditation practices, many individuals become hypersensitive.  The hypersensitivity may be to the emotions of others (e.g. overly empathetic) or simply hypersensitivity to sensory experiences.  For example, you may perceive sounds as painfully loud or lights as blindingly bright.  While this may not be “dangerous” – it may impair your ability to function.

Mood swings: Not only could meditation amplify the intensity of your emotions, but you may experience significant mood swings as a result of the practice.  One minute you may feel calm and relaxed, yet the next you may feel intensely angry or upset.  You may have thought that meditation would stabilize your mood, but instead it’s having the opposite effect.

Narcissism: Some meditators may believe that their meditation practice automatically makes them superior to others.  A combination of social isolation and the idea that meditation is somehow improving their performance may make them view non-meditators as intellectually inferior or non-health conscious.  This unhealthy perception may result in narcissism that hurts others and/or promotes a state of social isolation.

Psychosis: It is well known that those ingesting psychoactive substances may experience a drug-induced psychosis, but it isn’t very well known that meditation may also trigger psychotic episodes.  These psychotic “breaks” may be characterized by hallucinations (e.g. hearing voices) and/or delusions (e.g. believing Jesus sent you on a special mission).  Psychosis isn’t commonly reported in the meditation community, but can certainly occur – even among those without a preexisting mental illness.

Relaxation-induced anxiety: For some people, excessive relaxation can result in feelings of anxiety.  Excess relaxation without any appropriate stimulatory balance may lead a person to a state of brain fog, high emotion, and inability to concentrate.  This experience may provoke significant anxiety, resulting in a phenomenon known as “relaxation-induced anxiety.”

Resurfacing trauma: If you’ve endured any sort of emotional trauma in the past, it is possible to experience a resurfacing of both memories and emotions related to that trauma during meditation.  Your brain had adapted to help you function after the trauma, but as meditation changes its functioning, you may feel as if you’re taking 2 steps backwards.  The emotional upheavals and repressed memories related to the trauma may result in a psychological crisis.

Social impairment: Those who meditate in excess may compromise their ability to connect socially with others.  The brain strengthens connections that are used and gets rid of unused connections.  If you spend most of your time meditating, you may be so “caught up in your head” that when it comes time to socialize, you’re overthinking everything and feel out of sorts.

Those who balance meditation with socialization may not experience any dangerous impairment.  That said, those who isolate themselves and meditate for long periods without sufficient socialization may be digging themselves and their brain into a social abyss.

Social isolation: Those who get overly caught up in meditation may isolate themselves from others to further their meditative advancement.  If you’re meditating rather than hanging out with friends or seeking social connections, it may result in poorer mental health.  Social connections are known to help improve our mood, and humans evolved interacting with fellow humans – not isolating themselves by meditating.

Tics / Jerks: If you suddenly notice that your head starts “jerking” or that you experience muscle tics, it may be a result of meditation.  Many long-term meditators can verify the existence of these tics, but often don’t report them.  Since meditation is rewiring the brain and physiology, it is important to consider that these tics may be a sign of excess internal stimulation.

Mechanisms Behind the Dangers of Meditation

Below is a list of potential mechanisms that may responsible for some of the dangers associated with meditation.  It should be understood that these mechanisms may differ based on the specific dangers experienced and will likely be subject to individual variation.  These aren’t a result of some invisible force like “kundalini” or “consciousness expansion” – rather they are often a result of physiological, neurological, and psychological changes.

Brain activity: Meditation changes thickness of certain regions and blood flow in the brain.  Before meditating, your brain may have had significant activity in one region, but after several years of meditating, this region may have been dramatically reduced in terms of activity.  Another region that may have been underactive prior to meditation now may be highly activated.

Over time, the brain changes as a result of neuroplasticity to accommodate the meditative practice.  Different types of meditation will alter brain activity in different ways.  If you experience certain dangers from meditation, it may be a result of: unfavorable regional activation, blood flow changes, and/or thickening of certain regions.

Brain anatomy: It is important to consider that your brain’s anatomy is unique to you.  While the meditative practice may produce the same template-esque changes to your brain as someone else’s, your brain will still be different from their brain.  You may have already had a thick right insula and the meditation practice is making it even thicker.

Another person may have had a thin right insula, and via meditation they now feel significantly better.  Some people may have insufficient thickness of the amygdala, and when they meditate, they may further reduce its thickness.  This may result in feeling even more spaced out and an inability to feel fear when fear is necessary.

Brain waves: Most meditative practices slow the brain waves from fast-paced beta waves to alpha waves and/or theta waves.  These slower brain waves may be beneficial for those in need of restorative relaxation, but may actually impair cognitive function in someone with an abundance of slow waves.  Meditation slowly modifies the electrical activity in your brain to fit a specific pattern – which may be detrimental to your performance.

Epigenetics:  It is known that meditation may “turn on” certain genes and “turn off” others.  The concept of epigenetics suggests that the environment and your experiences are constantly influencing your genetic expression.  Therefore it is logical to assume that frequent meditation may result in activation of certain genes and deactivation of others.  It is possible that the epigenetic alterations stemming from meditation may trigger certain dangers.

Hemispheric lateralization: It is possible that meditation triggers overactivity in one hemisphere of the brain, potentially causing functional impairment.  For example, if your right-hemisphere becomes overactive and left becomes underactive, you may experience significant depression or emotional sensitivity.  It is possible that in some cases, hyperactivation of one hemisphere (i.e. lateralization) yields certain dangers.

Hemispheric synchronization: In other cases, meditation may enhance communication between the left and right hemisphere.  The increased communication sounds like it would be an improvement, right?  For some individuals too much communication may actually interfere with cognitive function and other tasks related to mental performance.

Hyper-introversion: Those that are introverted are often already internally aware and aren’t as focused on the external world as others.  When a person meditates, they fixate their attention inwards.  For an extroverted person, turning attention inwards may provide some degree of balance.  However, an introvert may find that their inward-focus is amplified to such an extreme extent, that they have difficulty functioning.

Neurotransmission: Meditation is known to alter neurotransmission in the brain.  You may experience an increase in dopamine and serotonin.  Although increases in certain neurotransmitters and receptors may improve neural function for certain people, for others, levels may be abnormally high.  It is thought that high dopamine specifically may be responsible for provoking hallucinations and delusions.

Restoration of homeostasis: The state of normative physiological functioning known as homeostasis may not be recommended for everyone.  Not everyone finds homeostasis to be psychologically pleasant.  In fact, some people experience depression their entire lives and are attempting to escape this state of homeostasis. Most types of meditation restore the homeostatic state, which could revert a person’s consciousness back to a state of significant pain and dysfunction.

Who is most likely to experience dangers of meditation?

Those with mental illnesses are likely to experience more dangers associated with meditation than others.  This is due to the fact that meditation may amplify certain emotions, thoughts, or other perceptions associated with the illness.

  • Anxiety disorders: Some individuals with anxiety may find that meditation provides significant benefit and essentially acts as a cure.  Others may find that meditation actually worsens their anxiety.  If you have a history of anxiety, you may be scared that you’re practicing the technique wrong or you may not know how to handle the feeling of relaxation.
  • Bipolar disorder: Those with bipolar disorder may find that meditation results in more “manic” highs and more “depressive” lows.  If you have bipolar disorder and have turned to meditation, it is important to understand the potential risks and dangers.
  • Depression: Those who are depressed may end up making their depression worse as a result of meditation.  Meditation can amplify existing feelings, increase activity in the right-hemisphere of the brain, and further slow brain waves.  This increased slowing of brain waves and brain activity may trigger an even deeper level of depression.
  • Introverts: Those who are introverted may end up making themselves even more introverted as a result of meditation.  Sure meditation clears the mind, but what if your mind is already blank and your attention is already focused inwards.  Amplifying introverted traits may actually impair a person’s ability to cope with external stimuli.
  • Novices: Individuals who are new to meditation are more likely to experience the dangers.  Specifically if an individual is using improper technique and/or if they meditate for an excessive period of time.  Someone that is new to meditation and immediately meditates for hours at a time is increasing their odds of experiencing the dangers.
  • Personality disorders: While certain personality disorders may benefit significantly from meditation, others may find that meditation worsens their symptoms.  Those with schizoid personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, or schizotypal personality disorder may find that meditation amplifies their preexisting reclusive tendencies.
  • PTSD: Those with post-traumatic stress disorder may experience surges of painful emotions and memories during meditation, often related to the trauma that they’ve endured.  If you have PTSD, taking up a meditation practice may be a recipe for disaster unless you’re working with a skilled professional.  You may not be prepared to handle the emotional upheavals and memories that could emerge at any time.
  • Schizophrenia: Due to the fact that meditation is known to alter brain activity and neurotransmission, some individuals with schizophrenia may find that it worsens their hallucinations and delusions.  Furthermore, meditation may attempt to teach the person to “accept” their experience rather than treat it.
  • Socially-isolated: Anyone that’s already socially isolated may want to avoid meditation.  Social isolation coupled with meditation may result in psychotic episodes or other breaks with reality.  Those that are isolated and meditate don’t have enough external stimulation to balance the effect of their meditative practice.

What to do if you experience dangers of meditation?

If you experience dangers associated with meditation, there are several steps you could take.  These include: stopping meditation, continuing to meditate, revising your meditative practice, switching techniques, and/or working with a professional.

1. Stop meditating

It is important to realize that if meditation makes you feel worse, you can always just stop.  There’s nobody (other than a cult leader) that should make you feel as if you’re forced to continue the practice.  Understand that meditation isn’t for everyone, and can make some people feel significantly worse than normal.  Assuming you’ve experimented with meditation, but you never seem to feel any benefit – it may be time to throw in the towel.

2. Keep meditating

Another option you have is to keep meditating and hope for the best.  In some cases, certain dangers subside and you’ll get through the “dark night” and attain an improved state of consciousness.  If you keep meditating, you may want to work with a professional that understands your situation so that you don’t feel so alone or lost.  Although you may eventually make it through the “dark night” – there’s a chance you’ll also remain stuck.

3. Revise your meditation

Some people may benefit from revising their meditative practice in terms of time and frequency.  You may want to cut back on the duration of your meditation sessions, as well as how often you meditate.  If you’ve been meditating for hours each day, you may want to drop the time down to just 30 minutes.

Those that have been meditating for 30 minutes and find the sessions too long may want to cut down to just 5 or 10 minutes.  Additionally, if you’ve been meditating at a high-frequency, you may want to simply reduce the frequency to just once every few days, once a week, once every couple weeks, or even just once a month.

4. Work with a professional

There are highly-skilled meditation practitioners that are familiar with many of the dangers.  If you want to meditate, you should always be working with a knowledgeable instructor and/or psychotherapist.  If you can find a meditation teacher that works as a psychotherapist – this would be an ideal scenario.

Professionals may be able to relate to your experience and or give you some suggestions that my help you cope with the experience.  Having someone to talk to about your experience can be tremendously beneficial.  Who knows, the advice you receive from the professional may even help you work through the danger that you’ve experienced.

5. Get some data

If you want to really know what’s going on “under the hood” – you should get some data.  This means conducting some cognitive tests, journaling, getting brain scans, and possibly blood tests.  Most obviously you’ll want to know what the meditation practice is doing to your brain.  It’s best to get some baseline data before you start meditating so that if you experience improvements or negative effects – you can pinpoint the cause.

For example, you may get a QEEG prior to meditation and find that you have significant beta activity in your prefrontal cortex.  After 12 weeks of meditation, you may get another QEEG and find that the beta waves have now become theta waves.  This transition may be what’s making you feel more depressed and interfering with your ability to write, read, or perform.

Without the data, you don’t really know what’s going on in your brain or nervous system as a result of the meditation.  If something feels “off” and you notice that meditation increased blood flow to your right-prefrontal cortex, that may be the reason.  You can then take appropriate steps to correct the problems induced by meditation.

6. Switch meditation techniques

If you want to keep meditating, but your current practice isn’t working out, you can always experiment with another technique.  Jumping around from technique to technique may be like “crossfit” for your brain; never mastering one skill set, but still getting some benefit.  If you had been doing Vipassana meditation, but continued to feel worse, you may want to try transcendental meditation.

There’s no technique that should be considered “better” than the others.  The changes in neural activity derived from one meditative practice will be different than another.  By switching techniques, you may come to find that the new technique makes you feel really good compared to your old one.

Trust your own experience rather than some “guru”

To make things worse, there are people reporting that there are no dangers of meditation and that the “Dark Night” of the soul is just a spiritual phenomenon.  The gurus or meditation practitioners may throw around words like: “energy,” kundalini, spiritual awakening, etc. – the last thing a scientifically-minded person wants to hear.  In some cases, the meditation practitioner may encourage the person to continue meditating, even when it is clearly doing more harm than good.

In other cases, the practitioner may reassert their stance that meditation is not dangerous and that there is something else “wrong” with the meditator; as if they’re “flawed.”  In some cases, the only thing wrong is that the person is continuing their meditation practice.  Forcing or suggesting that certain people continue with meditation when it’s making them feel worse is akin to telling a person with a torn ACL to do start doing heavy strength training (e.g. squats).

Pushing through the pain or discomfort may turn out to be dangerous and certainly will not always propel an individual to a “higher state” of consciousness; in some cases it will be nothing more than a detrimental altered state.  Since we cannot verify whether the danger (e.g. Dark Night phenomenon) is temporary, it is difficult to recommend whether a meditator continue their practice or discontinue.  To be on the safe side, it may be better to take a break or find a replacement activity for the meditation (e.g. neurofeedback).

Should you keep meditating if it’s making you feel worse?

If you are feeling worse as a result of meditation, it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether you’d like to stop or continue the meditative practice.  Making this decision can be difficult, especially if you hear nothing but “good things” from others related to their meditative experience.  If they’ve only encountered bliss, peace, and feeling as if they’ve been floating on a magic carpet at the top of a rainbow – they probably won’t relate to your experience.

Ultimately you will want to listen to your brain and body, and make the best decision possible regarding whether you should discontinue, proceed with caution, or proceed full-throttle.  The decision you make may depend on how awful you’re feeling in the moment, or may be a result of cumulative negative effects from meditation.  If you continue the practice, I’d recommend keeping a daily journal to track your emotions and consciousness.

If you are experiencing the Dark Night phenomenon, it may help to talk to a meditation expert or post in a meditation forum.  Of the millions of people that meditate, you certainly aren’t alone in your experience.  That said, by no means should you feel as if you have to continue meditating if it makes you feel crappy. Just like running several miles per day may exacerbate someone’s arthritis, meditation may exacerbate someone’s psychological distress or mental illness.

Okay, so is meditation good or bad?

Meditation itself is a neutral act designed to increase one’s awareness and/or cultivate a specific state of mind.  Meditation should be regarded as a tool, whether it be a spiritual tool and/or a tool for other health benefits.  That said, it is important to recognize that this particular tool isn’t a good fit for every person on the planet.

Humans didn’t evolve by sitting and focusing all of their attention inwards – they evolved by focusing their attention outwards on their environment.  For most people, meditation yields significant cognitive, psychological, and physical health benefits.  However, for an unlucky few, the practice may cause significantly more detriment than benefit.

Just because your favorite celebrity, public figure, or magazine hypes the benefits of meditation – does not automatically mean that you’ll have the same experience.  Everyone is different and what benefits one person may be of no benefit (or of harm) to you. Ultimately it is a personal decision as to whether meditation adds value to your life.

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Raen April 18, 2016, 2:30 am

    I appreciate how this paper seeks to educate psychologically & socially imbalanced individuals who are beginning to meditate on their own. I feel many of the statements in this article are opinions, radicalized, and to some extent, exaggerated.

    This paper would be so much more credible if it included primary sources (or at least links to other websites), to support its claims, instead of just jumping to other articles from the same website!

    I agree that having a social network is important to develop a healthy mediation practice. Curiosity of the present experience, as well as questioning what one is told, is vital to gaining self-confidence and strengthened mindfulness.

  • A.G May 2, 2016, 7:26 am

    I have experienced detachment and some depersonalization after almost a year of meditation, which I have been taught by the internet. After stopping meditation for a few weeks, all my emotions and feelings and attachment came back to me, and I felt more energized. Now this numbness has returned, I have chosen to meditate on it. I had some major benefits from meditation throughout, but also as I’ve said, the side effects aren’t that welcome.

  • Wondering May 13, 2016, 4:29 am

    Does this assessment apply also to hypnosis, which puts one in a trance-like state? Also, what if one doesn’t have dx mental illness, but is hypersensitive in other ways? Seems to me that everyone needs to be careful! Also, some Christians are wary of it because of the possibility of demonic influences… it’s hard to know what is “normal” or healthy, nowadays.

    • Attached July 25, 2016, 11:22 am

      I would say that, yes, hypnosis is probably just as weird and scary an experience for certain people. Also, in my experience, meditation coupled with sensory sensitivities makes life amazingly miserable. I thought this was a really good article.

  • Attached August 1, 2016, 9:07 am

    Oh, and I would recommend that the author include derealization, depersonalization’s equally nasty cousin, on the list. Rather than feeling dissociated from oneself, people experiencing derealization feel dissociated from the external world and their experience of it, as if the world itself and their surroundings are not really real. It’s quite possible to have both derealization and depersonalization at the same time, of course.

  • Denise September 25, 2016, 12:21 pm

    The dangers should be stated at every meditation site. My son has died since he began meditation. He was fine before this very dangerous practice.

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