The media has at times highlighted the cases of people facing serious difficulties because of meditation. Meditation has led them to ailments like delusions, extreme detachment from society, panic attacks, etc. There is a lot of research on the positive effects of meditation, like the recent Berkeley research cited here. But this surely is a topic worth considering and discussing, and not pushing under the carpet.
Is meditation really harmful?
Meditation has definitely helped a lot of people. There are many success stories from the various forms of meditation – be it detachment, religious practices, or even introspection. Even I vouch for its positive impact.
But the question is – Is Meditation alike for all? Even those who are teaching meditation state that meditation has a different impact on everyone. Some feel lighter, some intuitive, some detached from thoughts, while many feel calm. Have you ever wondered, why any research does not show 100% positive results?
We, humans, are all not alike, food, exercise, rituals, all have a varying impact. In a separate article, I’ll try to muse on the reason on same. But the point here is, there is a good possibility that a certain share, even if it is 0.0001%, has a negative impact. In fact, due to this majority factor, meditation is for the greater good of humanity. It should be practiced by all and not be feared. But what about those in the minority. The more we ignore this, the more there is a possibility of them getting worse.
I am sure there is a solution for these people too. There may be a lighter meditation, change in the type of meditation, or some helpful practices. True gurus would know the solution. Isn’t it time to create help centers in every Meditation teaching institution for these kinds of people? Meditation teachers can be trained to handle the concerns, as well. In fact, some organizations do.
Let us come to the point – why things could go wrong?
The power of meditation. First of all, meditation is truly powerful. Those who witness it knows this. It will not make you God in a session. But it can influence your body and mind in subtle ways. Spiritual followers even believe it can open 3rd eye and lead to psychic abilities like visions (don’t worry this is not so common). If you do not know these things and you suddenly start getting messages, won’t you be scared? If alone in the night, I hear a sound in my head I’ll think I am going mad. In fact, even if a small unrelated sound occurs, due to my heightened senses I may consider it a message, becoming delusional. How will I know if I am being delusional or has my psychic abilities suddenly got tuned?
Suppressed abuses from the past or suppressed mental disorders are not uncommon. What will happen when the suppressed problems start resurfacing? Mind suppresses an emotion because it is unmanageable. Now your mind may have become stronger but the tools to solve those emotions are still not fully available to you, what will happen?
Meditation initiates one on a path of detachment. Since a long time ago people have left households to join the path of Yogis. It is helpful because it helps detach us from greed, temptation, crowded thoughts, etc. But these negative patterns have been a part and parcel of our life till now. Now suddenly if we find ourselves detached from everything, will we be able to settle back in society? Take an example of a prosperous criminal, who suddenly decides to transform. He may become a good person but the people around him, his circumstances – nothing has changed. People are suspicious of him. And without his power and money, they now don’t even respect him. Will he survive this sudden upheaval? Sometimes people have to face short-term obstacles, which require proper guidance.
We are often addicted to relationships. We sometimes fall in love to simply feel appreciated. What will happen to these relationships, if we suddenly become emotionally strong and do not need to depend on others for fake love and appreciation? Won’t our emotional stability wipe out all our fake pretension-based relations? We may end up alone. How will we survive till we again make meaningful connections?
What about society? We may have suddenly left a not-so-fulfilling, high-stress job, considered lucrative by others. Or we have suddenly left our spouse because we can now dare to avoid the toxic relationships which were not working for us in the past. Well, will society not consider us a fool for going against the norms? Now I am not saying we should let society dictate us, but when suddenly society starts making fun of us, we need support at that time.
These are just some of the instances where meditation can be transformational. But if not handled well during that sensitive time can be disastrous for life.
What is the solution?
The advantages of Meditation outweigh its concerns in the long term if handled properly. We need people and friends around who can guide us during our transformation. In fact, some of these institutions form groups for monthly or weekly meetings to be around like-minded people.
There should be more open discussions on these taboo topics.
In case of psychological changes, we require the guidance of spiritual or medical counselors.
Meditation is practiced solo at times, but friends and family should be around for help if required.
All the Meditation centers in the world should open a separate counseling center for those impacted negatively by meditation. In fact, if they do this for other life problems also then it will be a huge favor to mankind. More and more people in the world today, need counseling.
Most important warning: Frauds are present in every industry including the Spiritual industry. A little common sense and practicality can also lead to enlightenment. Refer to: Don’t be fooled by charlatan meditators.