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    Thread: risks of meditation

    1. #1
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      risks of meditation

      I ran across this today and thought it would be worth posting. I only skimmed it.

      The Dark Knight of the Soul - Tomas Rocha - The Atlantic

      A couple of quick comments:

      For myself personally, the goal of knowing myself is pretty much non-negotiable. Maybe some people have trouble dealing with knowing who they really are, and maybe they shouldn't go there too deeply. But I want to know.

      I think part of the problem is that when people teach meditation, there are always other beliefs and goals in the background, and those have effects that self-inquiry would not have by itself. When people inquire 'Who Am I' as a part of a meditative tradition, for instance, they always have assumptions about what the question means, an ideological position on what the answer is going to be, and a motive that circumscribes what kind of answer is acceptable. That's not quite the same as really asking. To some extent its a kind of deciding who to be, but often with an unseen internal contradiction in what is being decided.

      Like I said, I didn't take the time to read the article carefully, so I'm not saying I think its good or bad.

    2. #2
      Out of the Matrix Neo Neo's Avatar
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      I just finished reading through it, and it is an interesting read. I didn't know people could get there abhorrent psychological conditions just from meditation, and it shows that even with lack of substances involved, psychological and/or physical issues can still arise. This will be a long post, so forgive my long-winded reply >.>

      The article discusses "mindful meditation", and mentions lots of retreats where people got into trouble with meditation, but it did not discusses what really happened in those retreats that could have caused the problems mentioned. It did mention several meditative traditions, and vipassana from Theravadin Buddhism. Vipassana (according to the article): "about vipassana, a specific type of insight … into the three characteristics of experience." These are also known as the three marks of existence: anicca, or impermanence; dukkha, or dissatisfaction; and anatta, or no-self." If people new to meditation are trying to focus on stuff like vipassana, I could see how people could potentially develop psychological conditions. I don't know, it just seems really odd, so I've got my own viewpoint on what this could be about.

      I'm going to adopt a "spiritual" mindset, in that we have a soul/spirit, and along with our physical body we also have a energy body (aura). There are various realms of existence with this physical universe being one of them. There are also realms of spirit, which are largely non-physical and where dreams reside. And what this has to do with the individual, is that one can approach things differently based on intent. And there are these non-physical forces that are also interacting with our reality as well, even if we are unaware of them happening. So there is an individual, with intent, which both interacting within an multi-dimensional environment and being interacted upon by their non-physical environment.

      When someone does something like meditation, and does it seriously with intent, they are basically entering into an altered state of consciousness. The focused/concentrated state of mind as well as the imagination and has opened the doors into their own inner self. Depending on the intent or what "meditation" takes place, meditation can also be used to explore spiritual dimensions. Out of body experiences come to mind here. Or also shamanic or healing work can be initiated in the meditative state. Also, shamans can have good or bad intents (selfless or self-serving) and this applies to meditation as well. Depending on the intent, frame of mind, and what is in someone's mind/self, can bring about different things.

      I am familiar with Usui Reiki healing, and it works by the Reiki practitioner facilitating the flow of the Reiki and being able to sense and interpret auras. Reiki healers don't have to be able to "feel" the aura per say, but in my experience I have, and there are techniques for "closing up" the aura (much like bandaging it back up) after a healing session. To both ground the person and restore the flow of their energy. If this is not done then the person being healed could end up with some adverse, albeit subtle, after effects. They could be more tired, hungry, restless, or perhaps feel discomfort in an area(s) where the energy was not restored to its proper flow.

      So how this gets back to meditation, is that there are several factors that practitioners (of any of these new-agey things) have to keep in mind that there are several factors that come into play. This deals with who the person is, what their belief/religion/spirituality is, what emotional/psychological baggage they are bringing with them, inner "demons" dealing with the cliche dark night of the soul, the type of meditation being done (is it a guided meditation, a healing one, a ritual, ect), if any incense or substances of any kind are used, and if it is a one-on-one session or group session.

      With all this being said, with my experience I've run into people that don't believe in meditation/dismiss it more than would believe in the way that I do. And I've either had positive experiences, really divine experiences, neutral/nothing, or experiences where it just feels like my imagination. So I would like to know if these conditions were happening to people that more believed in meditation working, or if these adverse conditions happened to skeptics of these phenomenons as well. With a scientific perspective though, I think its easier to dismiss certain parts of preparedness since the "spiritual realms" are dismissed. However, I don't think that there should be too much focus on the spiritual/shamanic side, since I don't think it should be ritualized either. I just think certain areas need to be recognized, and the fact that certain people are falling into psychological/physical distress shows that something is going on. Perhaps these inner struggles are coming out and manifesting into physical/psychological struggles? If so, I think that these struggles should be affirmed as real struggles, and dealt with in a way that can cover both scientific/psychiatric help as well as spiritual help. Just my two cents

      1st Edit: grammar

      2nd Edit: That article in the OP are some really extreme examples of meditation going wrong... I would like to think that most people end up completely find after trying it. To me at its core, meditation just seems to be concentrating, letting go, and being still. Just observing and being. I don't want to be ignorant and say nothing can go wrong doing that, but apparently for some people it has.
      Last edited by Neo Neo; 06-27-2014 at 04:49 AM.

    3. #3
      Member Virtualucidity's Avatar
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      I haven't red the article fully yet. I'm not sure I want to, though I likely will at some point.

      I just started meditating again after my 25th birthday about a week ago, my life is stagnant, and while it's not as miserable as it has been in the past and I am no longer dependent on anti-depressants to function, it is still largely unsatisfying. I've meditated periodically in the past, typically getting heavily into it for a few weeks to a few months and then dropping off rather quickly due to some challenging time. The last time I really made a concerted effort was going quite well though, I was taking some classes and finding some reach peace, but then things kind of went off the rails.

      The thing is I don't meditate like a lot of people, firstly I'm almost exclusively attracted to zen meditation, no imagining tranquil beaches or focusing on goals and peace with the world, simply focusing on quieting my mind. Not obsessing over distracting thoughts mind you and trying to force them out, that is more distracting than the thought itself, but ultimately the goal is a totally still mind, and a totally still mind can go in some strange places. I also don't meditate for the duration a lot of people do, I can't imagine doing a 10 or 15 minute meditation and calling that my practice. To me an hour long meditation is a quickie I do when I don't have a lot of time or I'm getting my practice going again. I consider it a great success if I can find any level of peace in an hour or even two, it typically takes me into the third hour before I even catch glimpses of true peace.

      It was during one of these extended sessions, six hours long to be precise, that I had my most wonderful and most concerning experience I've ever had. I had intended to go even longer, when I get into a rhythm at this level time becomes immaterial, if I can meditate for one more instance I can meditate for 10 more hours. Once you start thinking in individual instances and distance yourself from the perception of time there is no fatigue. As I was entering the sixth hour, however, I started to develop some strange sensations. It started with feeling of incredible peace and joyousness, and a feeling of temperature, from hot to cold or the other way around I forget which, not like a fever or chills, it was quite pleasant. At that point I began to experience an increasingly powerful tingling resonance towards my crown and a flood of sexual energy, like being on the verge of orgasm for several minutes. Unfortunately after this had gone on for a time, I suddenly felt a pain shoot up my spine, up my neck, and into my skull, giving me a terrible headache, the worst I think I've ever had, I imagine this must be what a migraine is like.

      Suffice to say this was not conducive to allowing me to continue, so I stopped for the night and tried to go to sleep. Except I couldn't, I couldn't sleep for the next two days, I simply wasn't tired. My thought patterns also changed over this period, I became very peaceful, but also very detached, my voice softened and I became more of a neutral observer of my emotions than the one experiencing them. I looked into my experience to try and find and explanation and discovered the signs were consistent with a release of kundalini energy. I sought out a meditation and kundalini forum to discuss my experience, but I did not receive the greeting I had expected. When the people there heard of my actions they were shocked and told me that I was putting myself in terrible danger. I never thought that meditation could be dangerous, so this was quite a surprise to me. They said that people that push themselves as far as I had can ruin their minds, at best unable to connect to the word around them and at worst utterly psychotic. This more or less marked the end of my practice at that time, I wasn't sure what to believe, but I wasn't willing to push any further.

      Now it's a couple years later and I think I'm finally ready. I'm tired of this world living as I am, and I don't see external factors changing my situation. So it might just be time to open pandora's box, maybe I'll go insane, but I like to hope it will be the fun kind of insanity where anything seems possible and not the kind where you think your cat is plotting to murder you.

    4. #4
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      From what I've seen there's two reasons why people warn you of dangers of meditation. One is that the leaders of meditative cults like to scare potential followers into obedience, offering themselves as safe guides. The other is you really can mess yourself up if you get too carried away.

      I know what life-long emotional pain and severe boredom is, but twenty-five still seems to me to be too young to be careless about throwing away your sanity. Sanity is a gift and an opportunity. Insanity is fun sort of like how alcoholism is fun. There are fun drunks in the movies, but in real life they hurt themselves and the people around them.

      Maybe you should try turning your ability to focus more on solving the problems of life. If your life seems aimless, your meditation seems aimless also. According to Patanjali, you can gain definite knowledge on any subject by holding your mental light on it with sufficient stillness. Is he right? In The Secret of the Golden Flower, the same thing is done with the question of identity, the source of the light. Is that goal right, or is it an exalted spiritual masterbation that ultimately goes nowhere? They think the question is a distraction. I say the question is critical, because if Buddhists are mostly like bugs flying around a flame, then that matters, at least for them, whether they believe it does or not. But if Patanjali is right, you can ask the question and find out. And you can find out if Patanjali is right or wrong too, you can test it. In other words, use your focus for thinking on subjects like feeling or consciousness. Producing weird experiences with energy is not really thinking, its more like the mental equivalent of a suffocation fetish.

      A lot of people can do a full-body orgasm kind of thing by thinking about their capacity to feel physically, and it only takes a few minutes. But people I've known don't do this, it doesn't seem like the right direction to them somehow. That's my feeling about it also, and that sensibility seems right to me. Maybe you could meditate to find your self love, or look for where it went and inquire what path to take to get it back.

      Sorry this comes off as harsh, I'm not really hostile, I'm just really tired and in a hurry, and that's how I am by default if I don't work at it harder.

      If you want to talk to a Buddhist, there's a guy who posts under the name Mazinua over at dreammoods who is nice and seems to know stuff. I've never been into meditation myself, so my approach wouldn't work for you, since you're not me. But maybe a little bit more of my approach combined with your approach might be helpful.

    5. #5
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      No, I wouldn't say you came off as harsh, and the criticism is fair. I don't really care to get into my struggles, I've spent a fair amount of time and money in therapy to no avail, so I doubt there is much benefit to bringing my problems over here. I spend plenty of time thinking on the bigger issues, more than I care to, it's not all just trying to eliminate thought. If I spend any more time doing this I imagine that would drive me insane, at least the meditation produces an effect I can pursue to some end, whatever that might be. I have thought a great deal about improving my actual circumstances, and have yet to find an adequate means to solving them, which means some sort of internal alteration/escapism (i.e lucid dreaming and meditation) or other more drastic measures that will do even more harm. It's a bad situation to be in, but I'm trying to make something of it, if madness is the result, then those other options are still there.

      I'm sure this Mazinua fellow is a nice guy, but I'm not really a Buddhist. I'm an atheist, I simply view meditation as a tool for altering your mindset and world view. Speaking of escapism I really need to look into that 3-minute full body orgasm thing, I imagine that would kill some time.

    6. #6
      Out of the Matrix Neo Neo's Avatar
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      Virtuallucidity that is really interesting to me, as for me personally, I usually do 15-20 minute sessions when I have a routine going. Its definitely on and off for me and the most I've done is up to an hour's worth of both quieting the mind and doing some introspection. I also think that meditation largely depends on someone's mindset, but think it gets tricky when kundalini enters the discussion. I'm not sure if I've experienced kundalini but I have also heard those warnings. Ultimately I don't know either way if its good or bad for someone but I'm inclined to say to keep exploring and practicing meditation. It doesn't have to be that deep into altered states but I think (sober) meditation is the safest way of exploring these phenomenon and regions of the mind. I think it would help to know how to ground oneself if things go south or get too intense, and knowing some energy healing (like Reiki) would help a lot as well. I think again though, that it gets into someone's own belief system and how they approach meditation.

      Shadowofwind I think you bring valid points, but to me it speaks mostly to those that would either be doing meditation solely to harm themselves or place their will onto others, or those people that have somehow "reached" kundalini, which I am still skeptical of. Maybe it is just because I am not in the loop of meditation practitioners, but I've not personally heard of anyone causing themselves harm by meditation alone. I'd think if its possible, and it seems that it is, it takes a lot of effort to get into harm. I know I might sound arrogant saying all this but I just don't see enough reason to place the same level of dangers on meditation as you do. But I think people, for the most part, have genuine reasons and intentions for starting meditation. And have specific goals they would like to achieve. I don't think the issue is spiritual hooliganism, but more of "does kundalini actually cause harm?" and "how do we know if people have reached a state of mind that is dangerous, and if they have reached kundalini?". I am with you on that seeking kundalini need not be rushed or sought out after if someone has ill intentions. But I also feel that stuff like kundalini gets marketed in new age circles so much that I wonder if they are just selling things or are too gullible.
      Last edited by Neo Neo; 08-05-2014 at 05:51 PM.

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      I have a lot of issues with kundalini and the more mystical aspects of meditation. I really do believe in the power of meditation as a means of personal growth, but as an atheist and a skeptic I don't buy into anything that cannot be explained rationally. That being said I know what I experienced and the sensations I felt were beyond anything I thought my body was able to produce on its own with no external forces acting upon it. It's interesting you mention reiki, I don't have any experience with that, but I bought a book on what they call therapeutic touch when I was going through a more mystical stage. I still practice it on occasion, especially when I have a particularly bad headache. It relies on putting your hands just above the body and feeling what that area feels like in relation to the rest of the body. If the area feels too warm you imagine coolness coming from your palms to cool the area, if it feels like the air around the area is vibrating too much, you try to calm it or move the pressure around by moving your palms. It seems to work to some extent; is it a placebo? Very possibly, but if it lessens the severity of my pain I'm going to use it, and it still seems to work even given that I know it very well might be a placebo.

      I would recommend to anyone that practices meditation to try a 2 or 3 hour meditation, I think in that range you're still pretty safe from anything really strange occurring, but meditation in my experience is to some degree a war of attrition. It is just the mind's way to want to think, so there will always be those distractions, but as you sweep them away you will start to win over it. As you get into your second hour you'll find those thoughts are much less effective at distracting you and it takes much less effort to get a particular thought to cease entirely. As you get into your third hour the brain really does begin to give up and admit defeat. Fewer and fewer thoughts present themselves, and the ones that do cause you to deviate less and less from your centered place. I think of it like a membrane, you know the thoughts are out there and they are trying to get you to consider them, but you can start to choose which thoughts and emotions you allow yourself to consider rather than having them control you.

      A multi-hour meditation can be quite difficult if you haven't ever done anything of the sort, it's something that needs to be built up to, I recommend being consistent and meditating every day while extending the duration of your meditation by 10 to 15 minutes each time. At some point though the concept of time breaks down, you're enjoying yourself in the current moment, and in the next moment, and the next, and time becomes a series of moments you choose how you wish to act in, not a burden you feel weighing down upon you that you must do battle against. Just a thought, but I feel that duration is essential to truly becoming centered, at least for an amateur like me, I'm sure there are masters that can enter the state of calmness that takes me hours immediately or within minutes.

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      Neo Neo:

      I agree it takes a lot of effort to harm oneself with meditation. Like I said I didn't even read the article I linked to, and wasn't taking a stance on it. I commented in general on Virtualucidity's seemingly cavalier attitude about sanity, but I didn't form a view on whether she was putting her sanity at risk with meditation. The main thing I was trying to suggest is that (she?) consider trying to use her mental control more for active thinking, since aimless sensation seeking tends to have bad results eventually in all areas of life. Also, meditating with a more content oriented goal would take care of some of the unpleasant symptoms she was describing.

      I vaguely suggested that meditation can be dangerous if you get "too carried away", but didn't have in mind the sort of thing you're doing. I did suggest that a lot of the warnings about meditation are scaremongering, and suggested a motive for that.

      That said, I would say that what Virtualucidity described does seem to be like a "lot of effort". And since she already is fairly atypical in terms of the way her mind works, what is safe for most people may not have the same results for her. By way of analogy, if somebody was already having out-of-body experiences sober, you might be cautious about recommending marijuana use, even though its mostly harmless for most people.

      Virtualucidity:

      I don't know much about Kundalini, and suspect that most of what is written about it is nonsense. But if you want to know whether or not there is something quasi-supernatural about it, as opposed to just being electochemical blips in your nervous system, I think you can definitely find that out if you persist in exploring that. The overwhelming majority of people don't know because they don't have the kind of patience to find out. But for someone who has the patience to think on the same thing for 10 hours, and keep after it for a number of years, you can definitely find some things out that most ostensibly scientific skeptics are ignorant of.

      I guess that learning 3-minute full body orgasm might provide an extra 15 minutes or so of lifetime entertainment before you get bored with it, its pointless. All you have to do though is just think about your capacity to feel in your entire body simultaneously. Turning and holding your attention on it heightens your awareness of sensation. That amplified feeling is pleasurable, and becomes unstable and starts to break down in waves.

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      shadowofwind: I am a gentleman (well, let's not go too far, I'm a guy). I wouldn't describe what I'm looking for as aimless sensation seeking, the sensations are a part of it, but not the end goal. My goal is to quiet my mind and gain control of my thoughts and emotions, I just find the most appealing way of attaining those goals to be empty mind zen meditation. Focusing on an idea or a specific goal just doesn't produce the same feelings of happiness and peace, it feels more like a contemplative mental exercise rather than a transformative practice that can really help me achieve my goals. I have done meditations focusing on various concepts like love and self-worth and what have you, but I've never had one that I felt was truly satisfying. It may seem like a lot of effort to spend the sort of time I'm suggesting in meditation, but I feel like meditation is something you need to commit yourself to if you want it to seriously impact your life. I just don't feel like short periods of meditation give me the sort of results I'm looking for.

      As I am still getting my practice going again, I am only doing hour long meditations, but I will be ramping that up soon and I will report on my experiences. It may be another 2 or 3 months before I attempt another 6 hour meditation, right now my mind isn't properly attuned to handle it and I become fatigued too easily, though I am improving in this regard.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Virtualucidity View Post
      I have done meditations focusing on various concepts like love and self-worth and what have you, but I've never had one that I felt was truly satisfying.
      Those sound a bit like affirmations, and yeah I wouldn't find that satisfying either.

      I understand that asking a question or seeking the true essence of something isn't the same as what you're trying to accomplish.

      Long term I don't think you can actually control your mind through quiet discipline, it has to be directed towards something. But I can't easily say what I mean here, and I'm out of time. Later maybe.

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      Possibly, I'm happy to hear other ideas on this. I think there must be an element of self-control however, it's all well and good to have a positive self image or outlook, but you also need to be able to train your mind to handle the hard times. There are plenty of people that can be happy so long as nothing ever goes wrong, it takes discipline to be able to examine those feelings and emotions that come from hardship and determine whether or not you are going to allow them to impact you. That's what I am aiming to do, I don't want to build a positivity house of straw that works well until it's tested and then falls apart.

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      Honestly, I think a large part of it are people who either fall asleep, or enter a sleep like state and so see/hear hypnotic imagery/sound. It is entirely possibly to hear sounds when falling asleep, and those sounds can even be voices. It is possible that while deeply relaxed and in meditation you drift into a sleep like state and then hear voices. Such things are entirely normal, but as we should all know(since this is a dream forum) dream related stuff can be random and unpredictable. So what happens when you are unaware of hypnotic sounds induced by dreams, and you start hearing voices while meditating? Of course it would freak a lot of people out.

      It is similar to how people who experience sleep paralysis and see demons and ghosts and aliens stuff get all freaked out and think it is something super natural when it isn't. It is just strange sleep related stuff that occurs when our minds are drifting off. These things effect all senses as well not just sight and sounds. It is possible though happens more rarely to experience smells, your sense of orientation and drift, one extremely common thing is experiencing feelings and emotions. In fact the artificial emotions created by being in near dream like states can be pretty intense. Again with sleep paralysis it is common to experience extreme fear and stuff. Even entire thoughts can come into your mind.

      These things can easily be overcome with some knowledge about what is going on. If you are aware that these things you experience are normal, and can often be random and meaningless, it is easier to relax and let potentially troubling experience roll off you for what they are, just strange dreams.

      The other aspect of it, is it sounds like some of the people are just depressed. I am not sure the meditation is the cause of their depression though. It could just as easily by that they were depressed to start with and so tried meditation to try and solve their problems, only to find they become more aware of the depression they were already suffering from.
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      Out of the Matrix Neo Neo's Avatar
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      Virtualucidity: what kind of things have you encountered, if any, that have been hard or scary?

      Shadowofwind: Ahh I think I am having trouble seeing your points again, my bad!

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      I think the experience I posted is the only one that has been remotely negative, otherwise I just experience peacefulness, happiness, occasionally some loss of body awareness where my body seems less solid than it usually is, and some vibrations and tingling. All fairly routine and pleasant, but I also haven't had many meditations in excess of 3 or 4 hours, I think for me that might be the turning point when the sensory aspect starts to become more extreme. I have never experienced anything scary, except when I let my mind drift to unpleasant things. When all you have is your thoughts and darkness, the negative aspects of the darker parts of our history and society can be more threatening than they would be otherwise. It doesn't help that I'm a horror movie fan and have a certain interest in these more macabre subjects, so I have a lot of disturbing stuff to pull from. It's not like I've seen hallucinations of demons or anything, it's just the sort of tension that comes from just seeing a scary movie and being alone in a dark room, your mind starts to wander to dark places.

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      Consciousness in the Void Universal Mind's Avatar
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      There is not that much distance between meditation and "out of body experiences." I use meditation in my system of inducing OBE's. I have never had a problem with meditation, but I have read about people saying they have. I think a lot (perhaps not all) of the people who talk about meditation being something delicate that only big time experts can guide people through are persuaded by those "big time experts" who are trying to sell their versions of meditation to make money.

      Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was the epitome of one of those. That is why so many people ended up hating him. He took the practice of transcendental meditation, the instructions for which can be explained in a paragraph, and sold it. I paid $300 to learn it when I was 19. Near the end of his life, Maharishi had pushed the price up into the thousands. He also had a catalog of all kinds of absurd products and claimed that he could teach people how to fly. I am not just talking about the TM Siddhi technique that involves people crossing their legs and gracefully bouncing across a room. I mean he claimed that he could teach people to go 30 or so feet into the air and fly long distances. The lady who taught me TM said that TM practitioners need to be "checked" once in a while. A "check" involves a teacher sitting in the room with the meditator and somehow detecting whether the person is doing it correctly. How on Earth would that be possible? TM involves sitting still and silently repeating a mantra with the eyes closed. The teachers also claim that each person has a special, personal mantra and that people should keep their mantras secret. Now I know why. About ten years ago, I read up on what a scam Maharishi's organization turned out to be. I saw a list of all 12 or so of the organization's mantras. Mine was on the list. There is an organization of people who turned on Maharishi's organization, and they claim that the mantra a person is assigned is based purely on the person's age.

      Authors of meditation books have also claimed that meditation is something very delicate and that it must be guided by an expert, but those books are generally promotions for a specific type of meditation and tend to dog other types. I think they are advertisements. I don't know for sure that there are no dangers involved with certain types of meditations. I just don't understand why there would be. I am a major cynic, and when money is involved, I tend to call bullshit on bizarre claims that so conveniently happen to work in favor of more money for a person or industry. Selling a style of therapeutic thinking, breathing, or talking, when it can be explained in a few sentences, seems to scream that it's a scam. Books on the many kinds of experiences you can have or the many types of techniques you can use are understandable. Merely explaining how to do basic transcendental meditation, have OBE's, or practice zazen or koans should not cost money. Imagine this site claiming that dream sign recognition, WILD, and WBTB are delicate practices that your safety depends on having a teacher or a 300 page book to do at all and that not doing them correctly will destroy you. That would be absurd. Giving pointers on how to increase your chances of success with them and the many things you can do while practicing them would be different.

      However, I don't know about meditating for six hours. That might be pretty extreme. I never do it for more than 20 minutes. I would still be really surprised if meditating for six hours would have any permanent negative effects.
      Last edited by Universal Mind; 08-06-2014 at 03:15 AM.
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      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      God cannot destroy himself because He is Omnipotent.


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      May I ask why you choose to stop at 20 minutes? Do you feel the positive effects trail off at that point? Do you just not have enough free time to meditate for longer periods? I just don't really get it, to me the positive feelings I have after meditating are so heavily tied to how long I've been doing it for that I can't imagine not going for at least an hour when I'm trying to use meditation to create real change. Maybe this works for some people, it just never worked for me. 15-20 minutes might make me feel a little better for the 30 minutes following the meditation, but that's it. maybe it's my inexperience, maybe I need a lot more time to achieve the same effects others can achieve more quickly.

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      Univeral Mind: Yeah that sounds about right. I go even further and say that all religions of all sizes are like that.

      Trouble is, there's usually a small element of important truth mixed in with the bullshit. So eventually we may have to find a way to separate that out for ourselves; can't just throw away the whole worldview in its entirety.

      In Virtualucidity's first post, it wasn't clear whether or not he had an ideology. Now it seems he doesn't. I think that takes most of the risk away, because what makes meditative ideologies more dangerous is they sometimes have ways of explaining away the warning signs when you're pushing too far, and interpreting them as reasons to push harder. It is the blind positive feedback that is the problem. But if you don't buy into any of that, then you can usually just make a sensible adjustment when you start noticing problems.

      Alric: That all sounds plausible. But I don't think that's the sort of thing anyone in this thread is regarding as a risk of meditation. I read plausible explanations for things like astral projection all the time, but those explanations don't describe my experiences. I'm not suggesting that astral projection really involves traveling out of body, I'm sure that it doesn't. I'm just saying that there is nevertheless another element to it that the 'rational explanations' entirely miss. Likewise with other meditative experiences. You can explain part of it, but that doesn't capture all of it.

      Virtualucidity: I agree there's strength of will involved in dealing with negative emotions, but I think you can't win if you just try to overpower it. You have to listen to it and work with it a little bit. Its like when two people have a disagreement. One might think that the trouble will be solved if they can get enough power over the other person to force them to comply. But this isn't really a solution. To some extent the different parts of our psyche's need to compromise and listen to each other and work together.
      Last edited by shadowofwind; 08-06-2014 at 05:53 AM. Reason: wrong word
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      Quote Originally Posted by Virtualucidity View Post
      May I ask why you choose to stop at 20 minutes? Do you feel the positive effects trail off at that point? Do you just not have enough free time to meditate for longer periods? I just don't really get it, to me the positive feelings I have after meditating are so heavily tied to how long I've been doing it for that I can't imagine not going for at least an hour when I'm trying to use meditation to create real change. Maybe this works for some people, it just never worked for me. 15-20 minutes might make me feel a little better for the 30 minutes following the meditation, but that's it. maybe it's my inexperience, maybe I need a lot more time to achieve the same effects others can achieve more quickly.
      I was taught 20 minutes, and that is what I did for years when I believed that Maharishi had reached the seventh state of consciousness. After I denounced him, I still believed in the meditation itself and kept doing it, just not faithfully twice a day. I tried 10 minutes, 30 minutes, and other amounts of time, and 20 minutes seemed to be the best for me. There is research that suggests the slowed metabolism gets lost at approximately 20 minutes, making that the ideal amount of time. It was Maharishi's people publishing their findings, so I don't know what the truth really is on that. It's specifically transcendental meditation I am talking about. I don't know what the best times are for other styles. Transcendental involves silent, nearly effortless repetition of a mantra without much force directed toward concentration. For me, it's the most effective type that doesn't involve deep breathing.
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      Quote Originally Posted by really View Post
      God cannot destroy himself because He is Omnipotent.


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      I see, appreciate the response. I haven't been trained in TM, but I'd say my meditation practice is fairly similar, I do use a mantra much of the time, a bit of Sanskrit I picked up once, don't know what it means, but it sounds good and it helps break up my thoughts and keeps me from focusing on anything distracting. I wouldn't say there is a lot of focus required either, outside of the dedication required to push for longer durations until you break through that wall and it no longer becomes an issue. It's pretty much just a matter of staying peaceful and gently brushing aside thoughts that have begun to distract you. I guess whatever works for you, I find this works best for me, but if you've been doing it for years consistently you probably don't need the same amount of time it takes me to get centered.
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      Quote Originally Posted by YogiSun13 View Post
      Hi Qwer,

      Raising Kundalini is very important for our further spiritual development and evolution into high beings. Yes, you are right, it is a very long process. However, if you maintain spiritual practice under the guidance of a proper Guru, it will be easy for you to awaken your Kundalini and further processes will take not so much time. Only Guru can guide us correctly and help us achieve higher realms. Some practitioners spend years in seacrh of a proper Guru, that how he is important for proper spiritiual development. I hope it will help you, Qwer)
      Importing this from the 'Raising Kundalini' thread, since it seems relevant....

      For me this invites the same point I was trying to make in my anti-hallucinogen thread. If you're going to try a lot of tricks to induce labor two months before the baby due, then it seems like you must have expert guidance. But most people are better off just taking things at their natural pace. Then it is not so difficult.

      Yeah it would be really nice to have some expert guidance, because I know almost nothing about what I'm doing with Kundalini and whatnot. But every time I encounter a presumed expert, or explore their written material far enough, sooner or later I discover that they know even less than me in crucial regards. An arrogant claim? I think they are the arrogant ones for pretending to wisdom that they don't have. If they were what they claim to be, they would be able to answer difficult but sincere questions instead of evading with various bogus dodges.

      Happily, it seems to me that we do have some kind of help, that there are hidden spirits that subtly assist our way forward, in accord with our own honesty and preparedness. Is that the 'proper guru' that is spoken of, and do these sometimes act through human agents in guru-like external roles? I guess that must be the case. But it seems a large part of what we are learning is to spot a charlatan, and to recognize our own deceptions that make us vulnerable. Do the gurus do us a service that way? To some extent I guess they must. But it is a mixed blessing, and they're still responsible for the harm caused by their betrayal of trust.

      That's my two cents anyway!

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      Even if you put weight in the value of gurus I'm not sure seeking one out is worth the risk. There seem to be so many charlatans out there looking for profit, power, reverence, sex with impressionable hippie girls, etc. for every legitimate qualified guru, it seems like a bit of a minefield to navigate. I don't see myself seeking out a guru, I've watched way too many cult documentaries. Look up Kumaré or The Source Family on Netflix for some good examples. I don't pretend to know anything, but I think with time I can learn, and if not at least my experience will be honest and I won't be a tool of a guru's ego.

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      ^^ Then perhaps you should seek a legitimate, qualified guru, one without an ego that requires the fuel of unsuspecting acolytes?

      That's less facetious than it sounds, I think. There very likely are guides out there -- people who have traveled the path or mastered the discipline in which you are interested, but these gurus would be hard to find, because they do not advertise, have no interest in paying customers, and probably no interest in sharing their wisdom. But, as Shadowofwind said above, perhaps the very act of seeking that elusive qualified guru will help you learn, and grow: when you finally find him (or her), she might tell you you've already done most of the work.

      Not all people are selfish idiots, and not all gurus are charlatans. Never trust anyone who claims to be a guru, but don't let that close your eyes to the guy who is a guru, when you finally see him.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Sageous View Post
      not all gurus are charlatans
      I think they're all charlatans. By natural selection, the people who are not are not gurus. If you're trying to master a sport or a martial art, that's different. But those who presume to teach The Way are all fools or knaves because nobody actually has the knowledge that implies and nobody has traveled that path. If a guy like Ramana Maharshi would temper his claims a bit, and say, OK, I don't have the ultimate answers to everything but I can help you with this one specific step in self-awareness, then he wouldn't be a charlatan. But when he claims to teach the only message that matters, and his followers treat him as a god, while he accepts and verbally justifies their worship, then he's a charlatan.

      I realize that the idea that there's a trustworthy guru someplace might seem heartening. But there's what we want to be true, and then there's what the evidence tells us. Let's put this a different way. Suppose I were to claim that there are no chimpanzees who have the ultimate truth and who have travelled the Great Way. Would that seem presumptuous or controversial? We are chimpanzees.

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      A possible clarification....When I say we are chimpanzees, I don't mean to denigrate the characteristics we have which distinguish us from chimpanzees. What I mean is that we're barely better equipped to pronounce ultimate answers than chimpanzees are. What, for example, is the full truth about reincarnation? How could we possibly know such a thing? Do you know? What advantages does anyone else have that so far exceed yours that they might know? We glimpse only narrow aspects of it. So how can a person have full knowledge of the Self without also understanding basic things about our place in nature? It is hubris. The ideal of a guru assumes that an ultimate spiritual goal is known and achievable. But we don't have that. We have some experiences, which we understand a little, that tell us that what we currently know is not the end of the story. That's something, but it doesn't earn followers. Follow where? A guru can help a person find an experience of Self which they do not call an experience. But does the dependence of the disciple on the guru for that step ultimately undermine their spiritual progress? The guru presumes to know, and may understand a few things about it, but does not actually know. It is malpractice. A chimpanzee should not pretend to be a brain surgeon, and a human being should not pretend to be a spiritual guide. Neither is qualified. Some chimpanzees suffer because they lack brain surgeons, and some of us suffer because we lack spiritual guides. But better that than the false alternative.
      Last edited by shadowofwind; 08-08-2014 at 08:49 PM. Reason: ^knowable^known

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      Damn. I forgot how different our views are on this subject, Shadowofwind!

      I'll stick to hoping that some of us, sometime, are able to transcend our primative nature and catch a glimps of greater things, and then have the werewithall to remember (and, yes, report on) them. I also am confident that nobody who makes this leap would tend to feel a need to share it, so you are probably right about self-proclaimed gurus. But not even a possibilty of their existence? Well, I may be totally wrong, but holding hope is much more agreeable to me than establishing limits.

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