Is Meditation Dangerous?
Meditation can perfectly go hand in hand with warm and alive feelings. This may require some caution.
Many things have been called ‘meditation.’ If you are sitting on a cushion with eyes closed, nobody knows what you are doing. It’s also difficult to talk about. Are you meditating in the way your Zen teacher intends you to? Difficult to say.
Then there are also cultural differences. Even if people describe their experiences in the same way, culturally they may be talking about very different things.
So what is ‘real meditation’? There just is no conclusive agreement.
Thus it’s also not straightforward whether some kinds of ‘meditation’ are dangerous, or more so than others. ‘Real meditation’ may not be dangerous at all… so dangers only appear when people do something that is definitely not the intention of real meditation…
Still, as a result of ‘meditation’, troubling experiences have been noted
… even in extremes of ‘psychological hell’. Acute feelings of deep anxiety during so-called ‘meditation’ have driven people to panic attacks, even after years of practice. Lesser reported symptoms are for instance depersonalization: the feeling of not being yourself, or being in an environment that feels ‘unreal’ or ‘not normal’, or feeling disconnected with a normal environment. A disconcerting feeling of inner emptiness is also possible.
Meditation may change you in the core of your being. So it may also change your social relationships in general. When you start meditation, thinking it will not affect you, and then it does, are you ready for it?
A part of you may deeply change. Can this be easily integrated with the rest of you?
In many Eastern traditions, the goal of meditation is ‘enlightenment’. That is of course a major road to travel upon. If you stumble on that road, at least you should document yourself. Practice should go together with insight and ethics.
Are you ready for meditation? If one way or another your goal is ‘enlightenment’, then you had better be careful if what happens to you doesn’t feel right. So:
Be warm and friendly in your meditation.
Even enlightenment built on this basis is – according to me – more stable and worthwhile. Meditation is about becoming more human. It’s not about being a stony statue.
It’s about warmth and friendliness towards yourself and towards others.