Goenka, kundalini, psychosis, hospitalized and the wild woman archetype.

Bjørk S B, modified 1 Year ago at 12/26/22 1:09 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/26/22 1:09 PM

Goenka, kundalini, psychosis, hospitalized and the wild woman archetype.

Posts: 8 Join Date: 9/10/22 Recent Posts
Hello everyone! Here i go by the name Bjørk, and i am a 23 year old woman who lives in Norway.
I am writing here today to get some support and to laugh… and I am very receptive to advice and observations.
So here the story goes...
Once upon a time I was a hardcore meditator. I would try my best to meditate the right way. According to Goenka (the tradition i was hanging out in) that ment 2h every day and at least one 10 day Vipassana retreat every year + service. I did it, and i was really commited to it. Vipassana became a huge way of how i filtered and made sense of my experience. But, i really had a hard time with the goenka body scan, it felt very forceful. But some point i was intruduced to "do nothing" meditation. Witch was a huge relief from the way i had been practicing. 
I didn’t just follow Goenkas discources, I read loads of dharma books… including MCTB2. This book really excited me, and I read it through and through. But I I had the hardest time ever mapping my experiences. 
I also did attempt noting, but it only seemed to frustrate me. The noting voice was very critical of itself.
So…..  Last year i went on another Goenka retreat. My forth one! And I was so motivated, and was aiming for stream entry. I don’t know if I got what I was looking for (hahahah!). But I damn sure got something.
When the silence was broken on the tenth day of the retreat, i went in to such an emotional state that I could see my organs moving inside my stomach, and I had to hold on tight to the chair I was sitting on to not fly away. 
The teacher gave me encouraging words; “this is a consciousness expansion!” he said... And in my body a big YES rung. I felt it, and it really excited me! And then….. I got home, had a lot of involuntary body movements. Sometimes it looked like an exorcism, some times spontaneous dance, sometimes I would have sex with the universe. I loved it! This felt like progress! ...until it got so intense i was not able to get out of bed, i was not able to eat, not able to sleep...
And yeah, long story short I ended up in the hospital after calling 113 (the Norwegian emergency line) because I was convinced I was going to die, had to kill myself or that i had to set the world on fire. I’m so glad I didn’t do any of that hahahah! I was sent to the hospital and stayed there for two months. And I got on medication.

But i truly was having the time of my life in the hospital. I felt like a prophet, and that i was healing everyone there with art, touch, conversations and games. I felt like I was fighting the system (the patriarchy or whatever) from the inside. I was a prophet. 
And then the magic faded... i went back in to confusion, shame and numbness. Witch was truly the worst part of it. I could not tell if this big experience was “just crazy” or if this was a kundalini awakening. I had no one to talk to. I couldn’t even find a language to talk about this with myself.

After some time things got better, and i started with my formal meditation practice again, witch was pretty much choiseless awareness. And then it started to rumble again. There are lots of experiences to describe, but i will skip describing them for now.

Right now I’m back in the hospital. My body is literally shedding. Skin shedding, vommiting, drool, acne being healed by self touch, and pink tonsil stones falling out one by one. My sense of time is very different also. It feels like I’m a rabbit jumping between the future and the past. I am in flow I guess, it’s just not always flowy, but also sometimes harsh and edgy. And some times realy cool and calm. I’m here, I’m the hospital again voluntarily. And they are giving me Valium and an anti psychotic called Zyprexa.
Right now I am worried about what the medication is doing to my brain and my body…. if it will regress me in some way…. Whatever that means… I’m afraid of numbness.
And on a side note! I am amazed that I’m still bleeding (the menstrual cycle)! After all the stress my body had been through.Any thoughts?? Would love to hear from anyone!
Thanks for reading, i'm a bit loopy atm, so i hope there is some sense to be made of this.
blessings to you all emoticon 
Aviva HaMakom, modified 1 Year ago at 12/26/22 1:44 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/26/22 1:44 PM

RE: Goenka, kundalini, psychosis, hospitalized and the wild woman archetype

Posts: 101 Join Date: 12/17/22 Recent Posts
Hello Bjork,

I am sorry that you had to go back to the hospital but I am glad you are in a safe place getting taken care of. You sound like a very dedicated person. I think it is quite hard to tell exactly what goes on, whether something is an already-latent mental illness that got triggered by meditation or whether it is all due to meditation and we simply have not studied it enough. Whatever is the case, it is good to stabilize and care for your brain and body.

I briefly considered checking myself into a mental hospital during a retreat recently, due to similar types of stuff that I was able to just barely keep the lid on during and after. I had to ramp down the intensity of effort totally in order to avoid that outcome. I suspect that being so excited about practice and so intensely dedicated can throw neurotransmitter levels out of whack and contributes to such experiences. Relaxing and grounding yourself in normal daily activities are good things and can be a full-time job during something like this. 

I wish you much peace and healing, keep us updated. 

With Metta,

Oatmilk, modified 1 Year ago at 12/26/22 1:58 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/26/22 1:58 PM

RE: Goenka, kundalini, psychosis, hospitalized and the wild woman archetype

Posts: 141 Join Date: 7/30/20 Recent Posts
Thank you for your openness. I'm sorry to hear about your struggles. A lot of people are not honest in regards of the spiritual path. It's most likely talked down and titled "Dukkha Nana's" but as you already describe it so good, our experience is much more complex and a label of some sort cannot describe the deep seating pain you are experiencing. The spiritual path resembles psychopathology in many ways, yet although they may appear similar, some of the phenomena go way beyond the descriptions of clinical psychology and should not always be characterized as that. However, if you prefer to stick to the western clinical approach, you could try to reach out to Willoughby Britton at Cheetah House. Willoughby does a great job but be careful not to fully buy into all her terminology. That said, she's pretty good at anything related to autonomic nervous system dysregulation. I would suggest to talk to her about your current psychiatric medication. From there on it's best to take things very slow, try to enjoy time with family and friends and the things you enjoy.
Sharing from my own experience, I experienced similar phenomena. Take it slow. 
Ben V, modified 1 Year ago at 12/26/22 6:07 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/26/22 6:03 PM

RE: Goenka, kundalini, psychosis, hospitalized and the wild woman archetype

Posts: 417 Join Date: 3/3/15 Recent Posts
I'm sorry you had to go through that.

I had a short (about one year) period where i was also in the Goenka tradition, and had an intensely difficult second retreat. And there are many that went through similar situations that you describe.  In retrospect, I find that Goenka's lineage has much good in it but also shadow sides, one of which is an all-or-nothing, one size fits all attitude to meditation.

One thought I thus have for you is that you may need to find a practice model that fits you personally. For example, it could be that, at least for now, intensive retreats are not the way to go. Or that intensive body scans are also not the way to go.  It could be that only just a little meditation like 15-30 min a day would fit you. Could be that some practices fit more than other (e.g. metta, devotional, etc). We all need to find the model that fits best for us. 

Also, it may be a good idea to recover some stability before you begin meditating again. 

Last but not least, having someone to speak to (therapist, counselor, etc) on a regular basis can really be helpful, and I would suggest a type of therapy/assistance that is more of the supportive type, not the in-depth exploration of unconscious, uncovering stuff type, for now. You can google about the differences between supportive therapies vs. uncovering therapies. A good therapist would know anyway whether to adopt a supportive style or an uncovering one.  Perhaps, I would hope,  you've already felt supported at the hospital. 

All the best to you.
Bjørk S B, modified 1 Year ago at 12/27/22 2:01 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/27/22 2:01 AM

RE: Goenka, kundalini, psychosis, hospitalized and the wild woman archetype

Posts: 8 Join Date: 9/10/22 Recent Posts
Thank you for supportive words. It is really grounding to read your responses. I also think it is a good idea to take things slow, and see a «normal» psychotherapist for some time.

Since i've pracficed «do nothing meditation» so much, the line between meditation and no meditation is pretty much gone. I am not practicing formaly right now. Loving my body, really helps: Dancing, self touch, walking in nature, making art etc. I have read trauma sensitive mindulness and an exploring ways to regulate myself. That has been very good.

And i have a doctor that i really like and trust. That i am so gradeful for! I have believed for this last year that the doctors and the medications were «the great enimy», but for right now at least i really feel like a lot of them just want to understand and help me where im at.
George S, modified 1 Year ago at 12/27/22 6:15 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/27/22 6:15 AM

RE: Goenka, kundalini, psychosis, hospitalized and the wild woman archetype

Posts: 2722 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
You could try Tara Springett:


She specializes in extreme kundalini symptoms and has written a couple of books.

I can also recommend Francesca Oldani, who is a very talented healer:

Stephen, modified 1 Year ago at 12/27/22 10:57 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/27/22 10:55 AM

RE: Goenka, kundalini, psychosis, hospitalized and the wild woman archetype

Posts: 34 Join Date: 1/5/17 Recent Posts
Yes, I recommend working with Tara Springett, if you can. She has a bit of a wait list though so it might take up to 6 months for a slot to fill up. It could be sooner though. She specializes in strong energetic experiences. I didn't have such difficult experiences as you are describing, but I recognize this is not unfamiliar when it comes to Goenka teachings. I started out in Goenka retreats. After a couple years though I switched because not everything they said was lining up for me and I needed more support. If you can't get in touch with Tara then consider working with a personal teacher. Stephen Snyder is one name worth considering. He is open to taking on students, as far as I know, and he has a lot of practice experience. His approach really emphasize metta meditation so that could be helpful. I'm glad you are working with a doctor and getting support. Metta to you <3
Freya , modified 1 Year ago at 12/30/22 5:45 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 12/30/22 5:42 PM

RE: Goenka, kundalini, psychosis, hospitalized and the wild woman archetype

Posts: 64 Join Date: 8/15/21 Recent Posts

So sorry this has happened to you.

I could probably write a book on this stuff. However for now here are a few pointers:

If you're set on keeping up a meditation practice, bring in metta - make most of your practice a metta practice. Also use metta for people in the meditation hall and bring in Sukha. The heart can hold all and create a wide base to hold all of your experiences, the Sukha brings a sweetness. Metta and sukha create a buffer/cushioning to the energies around you.

Listen to your intuition, you'll get a lot of people telling you what to do and projecting onto you. You'll get to know whats good for you.

You'll get to know what you need, tell people what you need to support you, don't stay silent. I just left a Goenka retreat because they couldn't provide the right meditation conditions for me.

​​​​​​​I was unwilling to speak up first of all - now I own it, and make sure people know what happens to me, what to do and what not to do. This is not only in meditation but there are other areas of my life this effects.

Move your body in the way that feels right for you. Swimming, dance, walking, whatever is your preference. You have involuntary movement that wants to come out and flow, let in flow in a safe and grounded way that feels good.

And lastly I'd look at the work of Carl Pfieffer and how nutritional deficiencies effect the brain and make sure you're getting the best help you can. It's often some very simple supplements and minerals that can have a huge positive impact on mental health.
HouseOnFire, modified 7 Months ago at 8/31/23 12:02 PM
Created 7 Months ago at 8/31/23 12:02 PM

RE: Goenka, kundalini, psychosis, hospitalized and the wild woman archetype

Posts: 23 Join Date: 10/29/20 Recent Posts
Wow! I actually find your post really comforting bc its so similar to my own experience. I too went from Goenka to sex with the universe to hospitalization and Zyprexa. I'm on a gentler path now as well.

​​​​​​​Looking forward to your next update!