Tagged: clinical studies

Seven Popular Myths about Meditation

The origin of species, Hendrik van Leeuwen, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The origin of species, Hendrik van Leeuwen, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

There’s no scientific consensus that meditation can cure mind, body or soul. So why do so many drink Buddha-flavored kool-aid?

Before you swallow the kool-aid, consider the myths surrounding mindfulness and meditation.

“It is hard to have a balanced view when the media is full of articles attesting to the benefits of meditation and mindfulness. We need to be aware that the reports of benefits are often inflated… whereas studies that do not discover significant benefits rarely pick up media interest, and negative effects are seldom talked about”, warns Wikholm.1

In The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Change You?, Catherine Wikholm co-author, with Dr Miguel Farias, bust seven common myths of meditation.

The University of Surrey and Oxford researchers in clinical psychology found studies that revealed meditation actually raises stress hormones. A US study found that 63% of people on meditation retreats had one adverse side effect, from confusion to panic and depression.2 One in 14 had experienced ‘profoundly adverse effects’.

kool-aid, amanda-freenman, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
kool-aid, amanda-freenman, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

There is growing evidence that for some people meditation may cause mania, hallucinations, depression and psychosis.

“…Meditation was primarily designed not to make us happier, but to destroy our sense of individual self–who we feel and think we are most of the time–is often overlooked in the science and media stories about it, which focus almost exclusively on the benefits practitioners can expect,” writes Wikholm.

Article originally appeared in The Guardian

Here are seven popular myths about meditation that are not supported by scientific evidence.

Myth 1: Meditation does not have adverse or negative effects. Meditation only changes us for the better

Fact: Many who have researched the benefits of meditation also have personal or professional interest in promoting the mindfulness movement. The emerging evidence is that meditation can be associated with stress, negative effects and mental health problems.

When something goes wrong or if meditation doesn’t work, the problem say meditation advocates, is not with meditation. There’s something wrong with the patient or the practitioner. “It’s not the meditation. She didn’t practice right or must have already been predisposed to psychosis”. This is called blaming the victim.

Myth 2: Meditation can benefit everyone

Fact: No surprise that meditation may have benefits that vary from person to person. “After all, the practice wasn’t intended to make us happier or less stressed”, says Wikholm, “but to assist us in diving deep within and challenging who we believe we are”. Everyone will react differently during the process of dismantling of the individual “self”. Whatever your belief of self is, your mistake is to try use meditation to define it.3

Myth 3: If everyone meditated the world would be a much better place

Fact: “There is no scientific evidence that meditation is more effective at making us, for example, more compassionate than other spiritual or psychological practices”, writes Wikholm. When we expect to benefit from something, we will most likely find or report benefits.

Myth 4: If you’re seeking personal change and growth, meditating is as efficient–or more–than standard therapy

Fact: There’s no evidence that the benefits of meditation are the same or better as of being in conventional psychological therapy. Most studies compare mindfulness to “treatment as usual” (such as seeing your General Medical Practitioner), rather than one-to-one therapy.

Myth 5: Meditation produces a unique state of consciousness that we can measure scientifically

Fact: The overall evidence is that these meditative states are not physiologically unique. The consciousness or internal sensations from practice can be experienced from many other activities: such as during sleep, relaxation, or engaging in sex or our favorite hobby or sport.

Myth 6: We can practice meditation as a purely scientific technique with no religious or spiritual leanings

Fact: “Research shows that meditation leads us to become more spiritual, and that this increase in spirituality is partly responsible for the practice’s positive effects”, writes Wikholm. Similar to what was noted above about the mistake of trying to define self, trying to define what spirituality is probably a mistake as well. Meditators often have a conscious or unconscious leaning towards illuminating the “self” or becoming spiritual, whatever that means.

Myth 7: Science has undeniably shown how meditation can change us and why

Fact: Some studies show that meditating can have a greater impact than physical relaxation, although other research using a placebo meditation contradicts this finding. Advocates of meditation can be overenthusiastic about scientific studies and overlook the actual findings. When looking beyond the headlines and hype we find that science knows little about meditation, if and why it may or may not work with some people. Unlike established scientific facts, like gravity or evolution, there’s currently no consensus, no testable scientific theory for how meditation changes us and why.

Conclusion

Some people may get benefits from meditating. But not everyone. And, occasionally meditation may cause depression, paranoia, and psychosis. Meditation was not designed to make people happy, but was designed by renunciants who wanted to destroy the sense of individual self. When the benefits of meditation are not forthcoming or when things go wrong it’s not always caused by the practitioner. We need better scientific studies and a testable theory for how and why meditation works. We need open public discussion about the adverse (side) effects of meditation practices, not just the benefits.

Is it any surprise that some people might go mad from meditation–as it was not designed originally for human happiness but for destruction of the individual self?

Are you surprised by the above myths or facts? Submit your comments below.

Further reading

Notes

1 Quote from Mindfulness apparently isn’t as good for you as science originally thought, The Debrief

2 See my post “Unusual experiences” of mindfulness for more data on adverse events occurring during meditation retreats

3 See Why “Being Authentic” is Holding You Back, Fast Company for further discussion about practical problems of defining “self”

Can Yogis Stop Their Heart?

Paramahamsa Sacchidananda, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0
Yogi Swami Sacchidananda, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Investigating whether yogis can voluntarily control heartbeat

This post explores heart-stopping claims of yogis, in three parts:

1) Experiments in India, lab tests with yogis

2) Heart-stopping claims of famous yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda

3) How to “stop” heartbeat and pulse

“Prominent among the many claims of unusual bodily control that emanate from practitioners of Yoga is the ability to stop the heart and radial pulse”, says Wenger, Bagchi, and Anand in Experiments in India on “Voluntary” Control of the Heart and Pulse1. During the author’s investigations in India they searched for persons who claimed to stop the heart or pulse. Assisted by many individuals including the Indian press, they found four people for their experiment.

Colored Heartbeats, Duane Schoon, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Colored Heartbeats, Duane Schoon, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Experiments in India on “Voluntary” Control of the Heart

Summary of article from Circulation: Journal of American Heart Association, Experiments in India on “Voluntary” Control of the Heart and Pulse:

Equipment and Procedures

Briefly, lab equipment consisted of electroencephalograph (EEG) for recording respiration, skin temperature, electrical skin conductance, and finger blood volume changes. Procedures varied according to the cooperativeness of the subject and other circumstances.

Four claimed to stop or slow heart

The first two subjects claimed they could stop the heart. The second two claimed to slow heartbeat.

No. 1. Shri Sal Gram, at Yogashram, New Delhi, made four attempts at one session. Little change occurred; changes in heart rate were small. There was no indication of heart arrest. The subject refused further cooperation.

No. 2. Shri Ramananda Yogi, of Andhra, age 33, at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, made seven attempts on two days, and additional experiments on a third day. His pulse, although very feeble, could be felt. No heart sounds could be heard but heartbeat was detected using EEG.

No. 3. Shri T. Krishnamacharya, of Madras, age 67, at Vivekananda College, Madras. In 1935 this subject had apparently demonstrated to a Dr. Brosse that he had stopped his heart. This time he would only agree to demonstrate the method he had employed, pranayama (yogic breathing), but with minimum apparatus attached. There was no absence of heart sounds but at one time the pulse was not detectable in either wrist.

Photo via Mayo Clinic, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Heart muscle, Mayo Clinic, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

No. 4. Shri N. R. Upadhyaya, age 37, at Kaivalyadhamna, Lonavla. This subject did not claim to stop the heart, but only to slow it. The maneuver occurred in the reclining position. He was tested on three days. There was little change in magnitude of heartbeat but significant slowing of heart rate.

Methods to “control” heart

The method of “control” of heartbeat for the first three subjects involved holding the breath and considerable tensing of the muscles in the abdomen and thorax, variations of yogic exercises or pranayama.

The researchers concluded the veins that returned blood to the heart were restricted but that the heart was not stopped. While sounds from the heart and pulse were weakened or disappeared.

The fourth subject, with different intervening mechanisms of muscle control, did markedly slow his heart for a maximum of three seconds.

Conclusion of experiments

The researchers said it was obvious that the four subjects did not voluntarily control the heart muscle. The abdominal and thorax muscles were used to intervene and restrict blood flow to slow heart rate, or to weaken or eliminate sounds from the heart and pulse. Only one subject could be said to have markedly “stopped” or significantly slowed the heart for a few seconds.

Read the entire article Experiments in India on “Voluntary” Control of the Heart and Pulse, Circulation: Journal of American Heart Association

Paramahansa Yogananda, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Paramahansa Yogananda, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Heart-stopping claims by famous yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda

In 1920 Paramahansa Yogananda arrived in the U.S. The famous yogi wrote his Autobiography of a Yogi (1946) and was the first Indian-guru to permanently make his home in the West.

Yogananda made many claims that yogis could and should stop heartbeat. Here are four claims made by the famous yogi:

“Yogis who know how to operate the switch of the heart, and to control their heartbeats, can quit the body quickly and at will; or stay in it as long as they wish…Only those who have practiced control of the heartbeat and who have learned to live without oxygen–by eating less carbonizing food and by preventing the decay of tissues in the body through definite yoga training in meditation–can consciously experience death at will.2

If one can learn to control the heartbeat, he can experience conscious death, as did St. Paul (“I die daily”–I Corinthians 15:31) and many yogis of India who have practiced this Hong-Sau [concentration] Technique, and through it achieved mastery over the action of the heart.3

Only advanced souls who can live without breathing or heartbeat are consciously aware of the true state of death (in which the breath and heartbeat also stop).4

Please practice these two states–of sensory-motor samadhi with heartbeat and sensory-motor relaxation samadhi without heartbeat–and you will know this universe as God’s cosmic cinema house”.5

How to “stop” heartbeat and pulse: secrets and illusions

Despite yoga-guru’s claims, yogis have failed to “stop” the heart in lab experiments for more than a few seconds.

The scientific evidence is slim to none that yogis can voluntarily stop their heart. We need more and better experiments to seriously entertain the heart-stopping claims.

In the meantime, maybe we can learn something from mentalists who “stop” heartbeat and pulse?

Stopping the Pulse secret revealed: Darren Brown

How to stop heartbeat and pulse trick: GeTrue

A man stops his heart: Guy Bavli

Late Late Show: Keith Barry makes his heart stop

Questions for readers: Do you know of comprehensive experiments of stopping the heartbeat? Can you cite any yogis who’ve claimed to stop the heart? Please cite sources in your comments.

Notes

1 Experiments in India on “Voluntary” Control of the Heart and Pulse, M.A.Wenger, Ph.D., B.K. Bagchi, Ph.D., and B.K. Anand, M.D., Circulation, Volume XXIV, December 1961

2 Self-Realization Fellowship Lesson 90, Overcoming Fear of Death

3 Self-Realization Fellowship Lesson 21, The Technique of Concentration

4 Self-Realization Fellowship Lesson 135, Disembodied Souls–Part 2, The Metaphysical Technique of Contacting Loved Ones

5 Letter from Paramahansa Yogananda to his disciple Rajarsi Janakananda (James J Lynn), written in Ranchi, India, 6 Aug, 1936. From Rajarsi Janakananda: A Great Western Yogi, Self-Realization Fellowship

Evidence Against Breathlessness and Samadhi

Master yogi in meditation
Sri Yuktewsar, master yogi

No basis for yogi meditator’s claims of breathless and deathless states

First, let’s try to define what samadhi is, as that is often claimed to be the goal of breathlessness.

Samadhi is a Hindu and Buddhist yogic ideal of total meditative absorption. The concept of samadhi is imprecisely defined in the yoga texts and traditions. There’s many interpretations of samadhi. We can’t cover them all here.

In this post, we’re focusing primarily on Classical yoga’s definitions of four types of samadhi:

Four types of Samadhi

SavikalpaKalpa means time or aeon, savi means subject to. Savikalpa samadhi means attainment of altered states that are subject to time. In other words, the meditator is not beyond change nor is she beyond mortal existence in the phenomenal world.

NirvikalpaNir means without kalpa (time). So Nirvikalpa samadhi means timeless, changeless superconsciousness. In this state the meditator is supposedly beyond time, is immortal, and beyond the realms of the material world.

Watch two famous yogic masters demonstrate what they claim are superconscious “samadhi” states:

Paramahansa Yogananda in Samadhi

Sri Chinmoy: Samadhi Demonstration

What do you think after watching these master yogis “demonstrate” samadhi? Impressed?

MahasamadhiMaha means great. Mahasamadhi, the great samadhi, supposedly is when a master yogi practitioner forcefully abandons his body at a time of his own choosing, never to return. Some scholars have called this yogic suicide.1

Sri Yukteswar mahasamadhi, Paramahansa Yogananda propped his guru's corpse up for a funeral burial and a photo
Sri Yukteswar mahasamadhi, Paramahansa Yogananda propped his guru’s corpse up for a funeral burial and a photo

The fourth samadhi in Hinduism is a funerary monument, a tomb that houses the cremated ashes or shriveled corpse of a royal person or a yogi. In other words, this type of samadhi is actually a crypt to honor a dead person.

Breathlessness is Deathlessness?

Famous yogi-guru, Paramahansa Yogananda said: “The mystery of life and death, whose solution is the only purpose of man’s sojourn on earth, is intimately interwoven with breath. Breathlessness is deathlessness. Realizing this truth, the ancient rishis of India seized on the sole clue of the breath and developed a precise and rational science of breathlessness”.2

What was Yogananda’s method for attaining breathlessness and deathlessness? Kriya Yoga, was a ‘special’ dispensation that he taught his disciples to practice: pranayama, yogic breathing exercises. Pranayama is breath control practiced for the purpose of transforming breath into superconscious awareness, ultimately for the meditator to experience samadhi. 

Through the practice of yoga meditation the practitioner purportedly may experience breathlessness and attain samadhi. Pranayama, the yogic mental and physical methods for regulating or observing the breath, is supposed to lead the practitioner, step-wise, to slowing and ultimately to stopping her breath. To stop breath is supposed to bring an altered state of consciousness: superconsciousness, samadhi, immortality, and unity or gnosis with Brahma or God.

What science actually says about breathlessness

The claims that yogis can stop their breath ought to be verifiable in a controlled laboratory.

  • What is the scientific evidence that yogis can stop breath? None. In fact, it would be dangerous if they did.
  • I was not able to find any scientifically verified examples of meditators who can stop their breath or heartbeat. Read my post Can Yogis Stop Their Heart?
  • Yogis or anyone who could demonstrate breathlessness could earn millions of dollars and promote their “worthy” causes if they would only demonstrate the truth of their supernatural claims.

Abraham Kovoor’s challenge: Anyone who can demonstrate supernatural or miraculous powers under fool-proof and fraud-proof conditions can get Rs 100,000 (Sri Lankan rupees).

JREF Million Dollar Challenge: $1,000,000 is available from the James Randi Education Foundation for anyone who can demonstrate breathlessness or other supernatural feats

Joana Coccarelli, nice breath, Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Joana Coccarelli, nice breath, Flickr, CC BY 2.0

There is no scientific evidence for so-called yogic breathlessness. But there is plenty of evidence that proves beyond doubt that lack of oxygen to the brain causes hallucinations and brain damage.

So-called Yogic Breathlessness leads to brain damage, hallucinations, and death

Medical science clearly indicates that lack of oxygen to the brain, which occurs within minutes of oxygen deprivation, leads to brain damage, hallucinations, and even death.

How long can the brain be without oxygen before brain damage?

What is brain death?

Hypoxia: the medical condition in which the body or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply.

Symptoms of oxygen deprivation (hypoxia) includes:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Numbness, tingling of extremities
  • Severe cases of oxygen deprivation, include:
    • Confusion
    • Disorientation
    • Hallucinations
    • Behavioral change
    • Severe headaches
    • Reduced level of consciousness
    • Breathlessness.

Evidence against Breathlessness and Samadhi

Breathlessness, as touted by yogis, is highly improbable, if not dangerous. There is complete lack of any scientific evidence to substantiate yogic claims that one can live without breath for more than a few minutes without brain damage or death.

What we do know about breathlessness, from actual medical and scientific cases, is that oxygen deprivation to the brain causes lightheadedness, tingling sensations, and, in severe cases: lack of oxygen leads to hallucinations, brain damage, and death. Could the samadhi of yogi meditators be hallucinations from lack of oxygen to the brain?

Or, could samadhi be God in a Seizure: Epilepsy & Mysticism?

Readers are always welcome to send me any scientific evidence that might substantiate or challenge my findings here. Until there’s more convincing evidence, the claims that yogis go into samadhi and breathlessness may just be wishful, magical thinking. Like seeking a pot of gold at the end of rainbow, striving for samadhi and breathlessness seem to me at present to be only air-castles of human speculation. Our brains and universe is wonderful and beautiful enough without having to deprive them of oxygen.

Do you have any substantial evidence or arguments for or against breathlessness or samadhi?

Notes

1 David Gordon White, Sinister Yogis,  University of Chicago Press. 2009. Paperback. p114

2 Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, Philosophical Library: New York. 1946. Chapter 49

Psychotherapy and Meditation

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0

Psychotherapy and meditation have long been at polar opposites, the rational and scientific versus the intuitive.

In The Observing Self (Beacon Press, 1983) Arthur Deikman M.D. relates how the mystical tradition of meditation can enable Western psychology to come to terms with the essential problems of meaning, self, and human progress. Deikman was a contributor to The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. His books include Personal Freedom: On Finding Your Way to the Real World (1976) and The Wrong Way Home: Uncovering the Patterns of Cult Behavior in American Society (1990).

Intrigued by his experiences of altered awareness while he vacationed alone in the wilderness of the Adirondacks, noted psychiatrist Arthur Deikman became a pioneering investigator of mystical states in the 1950s. In the following decade he created a humane form of psychotherapeutic treatment for patients suffering from psychosis, sometimes defined as loss of contact with reality. Deikman also became a student of Zen meditation under Suzuki Roshi, of Sufism under Idries Shah, and engaged with leaders within the 1970s Human Potential Movement.

“Adverse effects are common”

Arthur Deikman 2010
Arthur Deikman 2010

An advocate for meditation, mysticism, and intuition, in The Observing Self Deikman also warns:1

“In considering the potential usefulness of meditation for psychotherapy, we must recognize that some people are unable or unwilling to meditate. Most who start quit, in spite of obtaining initial benefits. [The same applies with prescriptions for drugs and other therapeutic treatments]. Not everyone is improved by the experience; on the contrary, adverse effects are common. Some people find intensive meditation a convenient way to withdraw from social interaction and defend against intimacy. Good results are not guaranteed: certain meditations can increase obsessiveness and schizoid tendencies. Impressive altered states of consciousness are not necessarily accompanied by an increase in maturity. In fact, the reverse is just as likely. Misinterpretation of altered consciousness may result in an increase in grandiosity, magical thinking, and paranoia. Anxiety, even terror, may be occasioned by the weakening of conceptual and perceptual boundaries.

Adverse effects are almost certain for those who reason that if thirty minutes of meditation is good, three hours is better, and three days even more so. Such dubious logic seems to flourish in the field of esoteric practice. These people would not ordinarily consider taking one hundred aspirin simply because two had relieved their headache. Although they begin meditation on a modest enough scale, they soon proceed to gorge themselves. The result can be psychotic decompensation.

Because of these possible effects, authors who advocate meditation for psychotherapeutic purposes usually specify the techniques be employed selectively by a therapist trained in the procedure and able to deal with idiosyncratic [adverse] reactions.

The problems attendant to using meditation in psychotherapy are not limited to the patient. When the use of meditation is at variance with or unintegrated with the therapist’s natural style and clinical training, the effect on therapy is likely to be detrimental. As with any other intervention, the prescription of meditation by the therapist may be in the service of countertransference [when the personal feelings of the therapist are transfered to the patient] or overlook an impasse that should be explored or resolved. Equally important, the need for meditation techniques may be reduced or eliminated by a more adroit use of a therapist’s own techniques and clinical knowledge. Unless these different considerations are borne in mind, the patient could easily end up with neither good meditation nor good therapy”.

Notes

1 Deikman, Arthur, J. M.D., The Observing Self: Mysticism and Psychotherapy, Beacon Press, Boston. 1982. Paperback. p 149-51

See Deikman for written works by Arthur J. Deikman

Damaged by Meditation?

Emily, head in hands, Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0
Emily, head in hands, Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Nirvana gone awry? Stories of nervous breakdown, terror, suicide and death after meditation

The dark side of meditation is seldom if ever reported in the media or by mindfulness advocates.

What was once a fringe spiritual practice in the West has, within the space of decades, transformed into a mainstay of modern culture and wellness advice. Over the past few years, science has increasingly started to back popular claims about the effects of mindfulness and contemplation. And studies now link regular attempts to focus our minds and calm our bodies via breathing exercises, chanting, or other meditative techniques to a host of benefits—everything from decreased stress and blood pressure, to increased cognitive abilities, to fundamental shifts in the way we process the world. Last January, Time even ran a cover story on America’s meditative “Mindful Revolution.”

Originally appeared in Good: a magazine for the global citizen

Yet this rush to validate, package, and promote meditation as a universal good may actually come with unforeseen risks. Although sitting and thinking may seem like an innocuous process, the fact remains that meditation is an altered state that we use as a tool to transform our bodies and minds. And like any tool, although intended for good things—like introspectively confronting our thoughts and feelings and coming to terms with troubling realities—it can wind up causing harm when set towards tasks that it just isn’t meant for (like acting as a quick-fix concentration booster or anesthesia for emotional strife). In the case of meditation, as the practice proliferates in the West, we’ve become increasingly aware that for some people, especially those with mental or personality conditions, mindfulness can trigger anxiety, depressive episodes, or flashbacks to past traumas.

“Because meditation cultivates a type of witness awareness (I’m witnessing my thoughts, I am not my thoughts),” wrote Andrew Holecek, Buddhist spiritualist and teacher, “which if done properly can help us distance ourselves safely and beneficially from the contents of our mind, it can also exacerbate certain kinds of dissociative and depersonalization disorders.”

“There is a sutta [Buddhist scriptural verse]” where monks go crazy and commit suicide after doing contemplation on death,” writes Chris Kaplan of the Mind and Life Institute.

Listen to Interfaith Voices: Nirvana Gone Awry: Death at a Buddhist Retreat for:

An account of the Buddhist monks committing suicide and why the Buddha changed his teachings of meditation on death to meditation on breath.

Two modern accounts of death during meditation retreat, including:

1) Emily O’Conner, age 21, tells her spiritual guide, “I’m having the most wonderful time of my life. Thank you so much for bringing me here”. That night, the last thing Emily wrote in her journal was, “I am a Bodhisattva [an enlightened being]”. Then she climbed up onto the roof of the retreat center, wrapped a scarf around her face, and jumped off the roof to her death.

Ian Thorson and Christie McNally
Ian Thorson and Christie McNally

2) Ian Thorson, age 38, dies in front of his wife, Christine McNally, during a three-year silent retreat. Dying of dehydration and dysentery in the remote mountains of Arizona, Thorson had believed he was on the cusp of becoming enlightened.1

Continuing with the article from Good: When Mindfulness Goes Wrong 

“I thought that I had gone crazy,” recalls Britton of the experience. “I thought I was having a nervous breakdown. I mean I had no idea why I was suddenly having all these… like terror was a big symptom of [my own negative meditative episode].”

…Lurid and haphazard accounts of “spiritual sickness” and erratic, dangerous behavior brought on by extreme meditative retreats and practices—seem to suggest that the perils of meditation, even if niche, are worth popular consideration and address.

… As humanity loves a simple, silver bullet solution (as so many believe meditation to be). It seems likely that people will continue to suffer under the dark side of meditation until high profile cases reach a critical capacity or—as the pendulum of pop obsession starts to swing in the other direction—the meditative trend begins to regulate itself. Until then, if your post-yoga om session has your mind turning to anxious or disturbing thoughts that you just can’t process or move past, it might be a good idea to just get up and walk away, rather than pushing yourself into the void. Or if you’re dead set on meditating, at least find yourself a therapist or spiritual guide familiar with the practice who can help you work through the dark states you’re coming up against.

Read the full article published at Good: When Mindfulness Goes Wrong

Listen to the audio broadcast at Interfaith Voices: Nirvana Gone Awry: Death at a Buddhist Retreat

See my index of posts on adverse effects and critiques of Meditation and Mindfulness

Note

1 For an article on the circumstances of Ian Thorson’s tragic death, read How Self-Improvement Became Self-Destruction On ‘Diamond Mountain’, NPR Book Reviews, 2015 Mar 18