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Negative Side-effects of Meditation

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Negative Side-effects of Meditation Tom Smith 2/27/13 11:16 AM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Brother Pussycat 2/27/13 11:39 AM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Alan Smithee 2/27/13 11:52 AM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Brother Pussycat 2/27/13 12:10 PM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Tom Smith 2/27/13 2:06 PM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 2/27/13 8:14 PM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Joshua, the solitary 2/27/13 3:53 PM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation This Good Self 2/27/13 5:29 PM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 2/27/13 7:46 PM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation This Good Self 2/27/13 9:06 PM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Alan Smithee 2/28/13 1:05 AM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Brother Pussycat 2/28/13 3:37 AM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 2/28/13 4:21 PM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation This Good Self 2/28/13 8:36 PM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks 3/1/13 6:38 AM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation This Good Self 3/3/13 8:09 PM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Rob Wynge 5/7/13 10:04 PM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Sleeping Buddha Syndrome 2/28/13 4:30 PM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation PP 2/28/13 6:46 PM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Travis McKinstry 7/3/19 10:39 AM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Chris Marti 7/3/19 10:42 AM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Travis McKinstry 7/3/19 10:55 AM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Chris Marti 7/3/19 11:01 AM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Travis McKinstry 7/3/19 11:01 AM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Chris Marti 7/3/19 11:02 AM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Travis McKinstry 7/3/19 11:03 AM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Chris Marti 7/3/19 11:06 AM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Chris Marti 7/3/19 11:08 AM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Travis McKinstry 7/3/19 12:07 PM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Chris Marti 7/3/19 12:24 PM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Travis McKinstry 7/3/19 12:26 PM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Chris Marti 7/3/19 12:39 PM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/3/19 2:09 PM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Chris Marti 7/3/19 4:52 PM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/4/19 12:37 AM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Travis McKinstry 7/4/19 7:39 AM
RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 7/4/19 7:53 AM
Negative Side-effects of Meditation
Answer
2/27/13 11:16 AM
A friend just sent me this. What do you think?

Negative Side-effects of Meditation
From:
http://minet.org/www.trancenet.net/research/2000perezdealbeniz.shtml

Not all effects of the practice of meditation are beneficial. Shapiro
(1992) found that 62.9% of the subjects reported adverse effects during
and after meditation and 7.4% experienced profoundly adverse effects.
The length of practice (from 16 to 105 months) did not make any
difference to the quality and frequency of adverse effects. These
adverse effects were relaxation-induced anxiety and panic; paradoxical
increases in tension; less motivation in life; boredom; pain; impaired
reality testing; confusion and disorientation; feeling 'spaced out';
depression; increased negativity; being more judgmental; and,
ironically, feeling addicted to meditation.

Other adverse effects described (Craven, 1989) are uncomfortable
kinaesthetic sensations, mild dissociation, feelings of guilt and, via
anxiety-provoking phenomena, psychosis-like symptoms, grandiosity,
elation, destructive behaviour and suicidal feelings. Kutz et al.
(1985a,b) described feelings of defencelessness, which in turn produce
unpleasant affective experiences, such as fear, anger, apprehension and
despair. Sobbing and hidden memories and themes from the past, such as
incest, rejection, and abandonment appeared in intense, vivid forms
and challenged the subject's previously constructed image of their past
and themselves. On the other hand, it is not uncommon to encounter a
meditator who claims that has found 'the answers' when in fact he has
been actively engaged in a subtle manoeuvre of avoiding his basic
questions.

Therefore, Shapiro (1992) recommended caution when the answer
encountered to every dilemma was 'adverse effects are only part of the
path. It takes years of practice'. This statement is reminiscent of the
classical psychoanalytic dictum: 'insight causes cure; if you are not
cured, by definition you need more insight'--and its misuse.

The side-effect profile summarised also resembles many of the
neurotic/anxiety constellation of symptoms. None of the studies
reviewed tried to disentangle the effects of meditation per se from the
influence of the presenting problem or/and premorbid personality of
the subjects. It is unclear whether certain personality types are more
likely to try meditation or whether the effect of meditation increases
the awareness of those feelings, symptoms and personality traits
(Morse, 1984).

RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation
Answer
2/27/13 11:39 AM as a reply to Tom Smith.
I'm almost certain this article has been discussed here before.

Anyway, I feel this paragraph to be particularly relevant:

Perhaps meditation can offer the possibility of development beyond what most therapies can offer, but proceeds more effectively when certain fundamental ego-based issues, such as self-esteem, livelihood, intimacy and sexuality have been, at least to some extent, tackled (Finn, 1992).

I suppose that tackling these things belongs in the domain of sila, one that should never be neglected.

RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation
Answer
2/27/13 11:52 AM as a reply to Tom Smith.
Tom Carr:
A friend just sent me this. What do you think?

Negative Side-effects of Meditation
From:
http://minet.org/www.trancenet.net/research/2000perezdealbeniz.shtml

Not all effects of the practice of meditation are beneficial. Shapiro
(1992) found that 62.9% of the subjects reported adverse effects during
and after meditation and 7.4% experienced profoundly adverse effects.
The length of practice (from 16 to 105 months) did not make any
difference to the quality and frequency of adverse effects. These
adverse effects were relaxation-induced anxiety and panic; paradoxical
increases in tension; less motivation in life; boredom; pain; impaired
reality testing; confusion and disorientation; feeling 'spaced out';
depression; increased negativity; being more judgmental; and,
ironically, feeling addicted to meditation.

Other adverse effects described (Craven, 1989) are uncomfortable
kinaesthetic sensations, mild dissociation, feelings of guilt and, via
anxiety-provoking phenomena, psychosis-like symptoms, grandiosity,
elation, destructive behaviour and suicidal feelings. Kutz et al.
(1985a,b) described feelings of defencelessness, which in turn produce
unpleasant affective experiences, such as fear, anger, apprehension and
despair. Sobbing and hidden memories and themes from the past, such as
incest, rejection, and abandonment appeared in intense, vivid forms
and challenged the subject's previously constructed image of their past
and themselves. On the other hand, it is not uncommon to encounter a
meditator who claims that has found 'the answers' when in fact he has
been actively engaged in a subtle manoeuvre of avoiding his basic
questions.

Therefore, Shapiro (1992) recommended caution when the answer
encountered to every dilemma was 'adverse effects are only part of the
path. It takes years of practice'. This statement is reminiscent of the
classical psychoanalytic dictum: 'insight causes cure; if you are not
cured, by definition you need more insight'--and its misuse.

The side-effect profile summarised also resembles many of the
neurotic/anxiety constellation of symptoms. None of the studies
reviewed tried to disentangle the effects of meditation per se from the
influence of the presenting problem or/and premorbid personality of
the subjects. It is unclear whether certain personality types are more
likely to try meditation or whether the effect of meditation increases
the awareness of those feelings, symptoms and personality traits
(Morse, 1984).


I've also heard that meditation can cause dry mouth, weight gain, and shrink your penis. Basically, at this point, anyone familiar with the subject of the Dark Night nanas knows that there indeed can be negative psychological side-effects to meditation. However, I think it is worth pointing out that it isn't at all clear from the article what is meant by "meditation"; meaning, what types of practices are these folks doing? For all we know, meditation to these people could simply mean sitting around thinking about their problems, you know, psychologizing. That said, I'd be more interested to read a study of folks who have "high" meditative attainments of various types -- 1st path, 2nd path, 3rd path, 4th path, jhanas, AF, kundalini, etc and so forth -- and know what psychological effect their attainments ultimately have on their mental health. For all we know, most of the folks in your survey may never have even passed the A+P. I'd look for an article more current and cutting edge...

RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation
Answer
2/27/13 12:10 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
Alan Smithee:


I've also heard that meditation can cause... weight gain...


Well, if all one does is sit emoticon

RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation
Answer
2/27/13 2:06 PM as a reply to Alan Smithee.
For all we know, most of the folks in your survey may never have even passed the A+P. I'd look for an article more current and cutting edge...


If you find anything let me know. I am very curious about any real research into the effects of meditation. Lots of the research seems biased.

RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation
Answer
2/27/13 3:53 PM as a reply to Tom Smith.
Meditation is the path to the supramundane. Nomatter how clever objective tests are, they miss the point completely.

RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation
Answer
2/27/13 5:29 PM as a reply to Tom Smith.
Tom, I'm sorry, this is not going to make it into Daniel's new scientific journal of meditation. It is scientific... that's true, but it's just that our peer review panel thought it was a bit um.... err..... Look we just don't like the tone of it, ok? Find something positive and we will consider publishing it. We have standards and preconceived notions to uphold and defend. And next time, try to make it a bit more buddhisty in flavour. For example, try to include some words like dharma, nana, samsara.

Anyone?

Come on, it's science.

RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation
Answer
2/27/13 7:46 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
Tom, I'm sorry, this is not going to make it into Daniel's new scientific journal of meditation. It is scientific... that's true, but it's just that our peer review panel thought it was a bit um.... err..... Look we just don't like the tone of it, ok? Find something positive and we will consider publishing it. We have standards and preconceived notions to uphold and defend. And next time, try to make it a bit more buddhisty in flavour. For example, try to include some words like dharma, nana, samsara.

Anyone?

Come on, it's science.
CCC: Ha! I'm not sure everyone has preconceived notions to uphold and defend, but I think I get that you're sick of the self-study sickness (I also enjoyed your run-away-if-you-see-house-full-of-dharma-books post (my paraphrase)), the narcissism that can easily happen in meditation. Do I understand you here, Mr. C C C?


HI Tom,

A friend just sent me this. What do you think?

Yes, I think sitting and watching one's own mind-body-reactions and constructions is certainly not guaranteed to be healthy, can pull up some serious BS (self-agrandissement) and more very annoying or miserable mental conditions... but it can also be very useful and practical and beneficial for self and relationships to others. And then there are no clear correlations: a person with excellent study and modesty and clarity can be besieged with problems, while cons can rise to the top with pricey cult followers seeking "enlightenment training".

I mean I suppose golf and its tools can be dangerous or it can be really healthful and enlightening, too. Anyway, I think meditation is sort of an ingredient to add to life at certain times in certain doses for folks who kinda have nagging ontological questions that may also be turning into depression, frustration, dissatisfaction, or just mega-curiosity: what am I? What is this brain? What's altruism? What's a siddhi? etc. I like the plain aspects of sitting still; maybe I'm just lazy!

But frankly I think a lot of paths of mastery -- whether meditative or golf or whatever -- goes through similar stages: anxiety, effort, dejection, arrogance, enjoyment, bonding, retreating...

meditation just happens to be linked to the desire for some kind of self-understanding (or people want omniscience or "siddhis" or calm or...) and that, I think, naturally is tapping into a more anxious part of the brain -- one that wants control due to fear of uncertainty or failure or end of life, or, somehow ultimately, freedom from that need to control/know.

When this sort of big fear comes up -- no control, fear of failure, sense of exclusion/rejection -- well, a whole deeper sh*tload of stuff comes up and maybe a narcissistic meditative practice with anxiety and mild dissociation for while is way better than some of the severe alternatives that gain headline news.

RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation
Answer
2/27/13 8:14 PM as a reply to Tom Smith.
If you find anything let me know. I am very curious about any real research into the effects of meditation. Lots of the research seems biased.
I'm trying to think of how you give a randomized single-blind study for meditation and some outcome...

Let's say for one year all residents of a senior center who seek psychological help for mild malaise on Tuesdays and Thursdays agree to be entered into a study about theravadan stages of insight meditation. This Tuesday-Thursday group is given instructions/teaching, which instructions/teaching the psychologist/counselor/psychiatrist does not see or know.

So far, double-blind and randomized.

Another group of the same population who have also agreed to be in the study but who happened to go for psychological assistance on Monday or Wednesday are assigned the placebo: they are given instructions for some other relatively solo and progressively skilled hobby like ikebana or some other skill-path, but not meditation per se, and they are also given a teacher contact for that hobby.

At time intervals the participants would be queried on their symptoms of mild malaise by their intaker at the first psych meeting, who has no idea what their patient was "prescribed" . After a year, check each group's sense of mild malaise.


But even still how any results are understood/interpreted would face bias... : )

RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation
Answer
2/27/13 9:06 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:


Come on, it's science.

CCC: Ha! I'm not sure everyone has preconceived notions to uphold and defend, but I think I get that you're sick of the self-study sickness (I also enjoyed your run-away-if-you-see-house-full-of-dharma-books post (my paraphrase)), the narcissism that can easily happen in meditation. Do I understand you here, Mr. C C C?


Maybe not. In the very moment a person decides to sit and meditate, he has strengthened his ego. He has decided the here-and-now conditions are not good enough and not to his liking. The ego-mind says "This present moment is not good enough, I want to be elsewhere...what can I do about it?". Then a "teacher" appears and says meditation is a good way to get somewhere nice and get some good attainments. This "teacher" says that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. All one needs to do is work really, really reallllllly hard for many years. There must be great sacrifice and suffering and one must have a hardcore attitude to cope. As the poor stupid student sits and watches his breath with the aim of "something better in the future", the ego-mind gets stronger and stronger and stronger. All sorts of suffering besiege him. Hopefully he stops before he has a nervous breakdown or suicides. But amidst all this suffering, along comes the "teacher" telling him to just keep going.

Any goal-directed behaviour must strengthen the ego and create more suffering. The solution is just to sink back into who and what you are now, and to sink back into how things are now. Stopping the struggle = proper meditation. Stopping the effort, the striving, the goal-directed work, the "get me out of here" = proper meditation. Watching the breath is very dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

I honestly don't think people here have the first clue what they're supposed to be doing. MCTB is to blame for that. If I hear the word "attainment" one more time I'm going to fucking scream.

.

RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation
Answer
2/28/13 1:05 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
katy steger:


Come on, it's science.

CCC: Ha! I'm not sure everyone has preconceived notions to uphold and defend, but I think I get that you're sick of the self-study sickness (I also enjoyed your run-away-if-you-see-house-full-of-dharma-books post (my paraphrase)), the narcissism that can easily happen in meditation. Do I understand you here, Mr. C C C?


Maybe not. In the very moment a person decides to sit and meditate, he has strengthened his ego. He has decided the here-and-now conditions are not good enough and not to his liking. The ego-mind says "This present moment is not good enough, I want to be elsewhere...what can I do about it?". Then a "teacher" appears and says meditation is a good way to get somewhere nice and get some good attainments. This "teacher" says that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. All one needs to do is work really, really reallllllly hard for many years. There must be great sacrifice and suffering and one must have a hardcore attitude to cope. As the poor stupid student sits and watches his breath with the aim of "something better in the future", the ego-mind gets stronger and stronger and stronger. All sorts of suffering besiege him. Hopefully he stops before he has a nervous breakdown or suicides. But amidst all this suffering, along comes the "teacher" telling him to just keep going.

Any goal-directed behaviour must strengthen the ego and create more suffering. The solution is just to sink back into who and what you are now, and to sink back into how things are now. Stopping the struggle = proper meditation. Stopping the effort, the striving, the goal-directed work, the "get me out of here" = proper meditation. Watching the breath is very dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

I honestly don't think people here have the first clue what they're supposed to be doing. MCTB is to blame for that. If I hear the word "attainment" one more time I'm going to fucking scream.

.


Attainment.

RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation
Answer
2/28/13 3:37 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
We can add screaming to the adverse effects of meditation.

RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation
Answer
2/28/13 4:21 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:
katy steger:


C C C
Come on, it's science.


CCC: Ha! I'm not sure everyone has preconceived notions to uphold and defend, but I think I get that you're sick of the self-study sickness (I also enjoyed your run-away-if-you-see-house-full-of-dharma-books post (my paraphrase)), the narcissism that can easily happen in meditation. Do I understand you here, Mr. C C C?


Maybe not. In the very moment a person decides to sit and meditate, he has strengthened his ego. He has decided the here-and-now conditions are not good enough and not to his liking. The ego-mind says "This present moment is not good enough, I want to be elsewhere...what can I do about it?". Then a "teacher" appears and says meditation is a good way to get somewhere nice and get some good attainments. This "teacher" says that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. All one needs to do is work really, really reallllllly hard for many years. There must be great sacrifice and suffering and one must have a hardcore attitude to cope. As the poor stupid student sits and watches his breath with the aim of "something better in the future", the ego-mind gets stronger and stronger and stronger. All sorts of suffering besiege him. Hopefully he stops before he has a nervous breakdown or suicides. But amidst all this suffering, along comes the "teacher" telling him to just keep going.

Any goal-directed behaviour must strengthen the ego and create more suffering. The solution is just to sink back into who and what you are now, and to sink back into how things are now. Stopping the struggle = proper meditation. Stopping the effort, the striving, the goal-directed work, the "get me out of here" = proper meditation. Watching the breath is very dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

I honestly don't think people here have the first clue what they're supposed to be doing. MCTB is to blame for that. If I hear the word "attainment" one more time I'm going to fucking scream.

.


First, I like that you hold up this point -- the agrandissement/blowhard/falsity/bigger ego risks/outcomes of meditation: those are actual risks and outcomes I can say from my own experience. But, to me, that fallibility can be found in any training, secular or religious, academic or athletic, accounting, lip synching front-"singers"... not just meditation practice. The person is taking action(s) with their intention at that moment, sincerely and honestly or not.

Secondly, I think any endeavor well-taken (sincerely and honestly) is going to pass through a cocky phase, even if it's just expressed as condescension or a superior, knowing gaze. I think two things happen in a good sincere, honest effort: natural pleasure/pride in seeing a good outcome coming from the good effort (e.g., hitting home runs at batting practice one day after months of sincere training and focus) and this momentary pleasure/pride can become a little cocky for a while. That latter outcome, I think, depends a lot on the community and the role models.

Regardless, if a person is training in anything insincerely and without some candid self-reflection, that training is going to show what has actually been trained or not. People tend to get called out on the carpet in their own way some times---and if there's been a great bluffing, that "come to Jesus" moment could be hard.

So I'm constantly learning just through daily "mundane" life what I have not practiced sincerely and therefore not so well, and I sometimes get to see evidence in daily life of what I am learning pretty well. When I see what's been done well, I don't assume anything beyond that one thing/moment. That's a treat, like buying with cash not credit.

Anyway, I do appreciate that you sound this actual hazard of practice, especially in a community where we signal to each other regularly and create the tone amongst each other. To me, some of your points serve a sincere training extremely well.

Thanks, "Bruce",
"Sheila"*

[*my effort at Aussie-awareness]



C C C:
Any goal-directed behaviour must strengthen the ego and create more suffering.
Sometimes I think this is a useful style. Often though, for me, I find the frame of a goal and its effort helpful -- even if the goal was too much, unreachable. I'm alive, can't stay in a sleeping bag all day, so I have these little things I do in being alive and I like moving towards doing things with some improving skill and willingly, enjoyably. When I was in work that I did not like or respect I found that I did not want to get better at it, but I still did (with diminishing returns) until I left. That was just rote discipline.

C C C
Watching the breath is very dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.
I can see how this --- anapansati --- and other meditation objects are hazards and that some people and certain times in their lives should just not meditate. It's a training that works for some people. Otherwise, I really think playful exercise, good sleep and a reasonable diet should come first if a person is looking at stress in their life.

Breathing meditations, however, can trigger the parasympathetic nervous system and calm a person down, too. So I can't put a full-hazard glaze on it. I'd just say if a person is too tight with it, it's not for them.

CCC:
In the very moment a person decides to sit and meditate, he has strengthened his ego. He has decided the here-and-now conditions are not good enough and not to his liking. The ego-mind says "This present moment is not good enough, I want to be elsewhere...what can I do about it?". Then a "teacher" appears and says meditation is a good way to get somewhere nice and get some good attainments. This "teacher" says that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. All one needs to do is work really, really reallllllly hard for many years. There must be great sacrifice and suffering and one must have a hardcore attitude to cope. As the poor stupid student sits and watches his breath with the aim of "something better in the future", the ego-mind gets stronger and stronger and stronger. All sorts of suffering besiege him. Hopefully he stops before he has a nervous breakdown or suicides. But amidst all this suffering, along comes the "teacher" telling him to just keep going.
This was not my experience, but certainly people have reported this. It's a pity, but abuses happen in everything. So I like that bullying is being studied and shunned these days.

On the other hand, some people refuse to practice anything for themselves -- to lean into their own self-study --- so then they may choose a dependence on a teacher and being told what to do and what is right/wrong. That kind of experience may be just the thing that triggers a person to look at themselves, what they are choosing for themselves.

RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation
Answer
2/28/13 4:30 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
Hey CCC,

I understand how you are feeling. I have felt the same way many times, and I didn't enjoy that.

You seem to find something of value here at DhO, otherwise you wouldn't keep posting. As difficult as the "practice of meditation" can be, there is something intriguing there that goes beyond all the dysfunction and seeming madness. I think it is something very wonderful, and something that can always be found in any moment if we are truly open to receiving it.

Perhaps you should look into another tradition if this one rubs you the wrong way? One of my "root teachers" is Thich Nhat Hanh and I find his Dharma talks to be very much vibed into the notion of living life fully in the present moment and not trying to attain anything. But honestly I can't say that anyone here has ever really told me that I needed to go out and meditate or attain something. Usually the only one screaming that is the voice in my head, and slowly but surely he is cheering up a bit. emoticon

Just some food for thought. May you be happy and peaceful.

ADR

RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation
Answer
2/28/13 6:46 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:

Maybe not. In the very moment a person decides to sit and meditate, he has strengthened his ego. He has decided the here-and-now conditions are not good enough and not to his liking. The ego-mind says "This present moment is not good enough, I want to be elsewhere...what can I do about it?". Then a "teacher" appears and says meditation is a good way to get somewhere nice and get some good attainments. This "teacher" says that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. All one needs to do is work really, really reallllllly hard for many years. There must be great sacrifice and suffering and one must have a hardcore attitude to cope. As the poor stupid student sits and watches his breath with the aim of "something better in the future", the ego-mind gets stronger and stronger and stronger. All sorts of suffering besiege him. Hopefully he stops before he has a nervous breakdown or suicides. But amidst all this suffering, along comes the "teacher" telling him to just keep going.

Any goal-directed behaviour must strengthen the ego and create more suffering. The solution is just to sink back into who and what you are now, and to sink back into how things are now. Stopping the struggle = proper meditation. Stopping the effort, the striving, the goal-directed work, the "get me out of here" = proper meditation. Watching the breath is very dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

I honestly don't think people here have the first clue what they're supposed to be doing. MCTB is to blame for that. If I hear the word "attainment" one more time I'm going to fucking scream.


Is there any negative side-effect of practicing Metta that I'm not aware of? Asuming you are not pursuing being a Charismatic Guru, do metta practitioners show off by saying "hey, look how much compassion I'm sending through the ether!!!", "hey, my 6th Jhana compassion is better than your Access-Concentration compassion...". If that were true, that would be fun to read!!!
emoticon

RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation
Answer
2/28/13 8:36 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
Katy I don't look at people on here and think they're cocky. That's not my issue. My issue is that instructions are often wrong, and that leads to depression. Watching the breath is only ever ok if the mind has the natural desire and curiosity to do so. And it should stop the very moment the mind gets sick of it, even if you've only been on the breath for 2 seconds. If the mind switches from "this is so nice, just watching my breath" into "that prick at work really bugs me", then the mind should be allowed to do that negative thought...and if you want, you can watch it do its thing. If the mind is forced from "the prick at work" back onto the breath, then the negative thought is suppressed. Suppressed thoughts grow in size and energy. The negative energy can only grow. If the mind wants to stay with "the prick at work" for a whole hour, then that's ok. You can watch it, even encourage it. Say to yourself: "mind, just do your thing....do whatever you want...for as long as you want....ok go" The trick I find is to know when the mind has finished with one thought and moved onto the next, and you can only know that be watching and allowing. It won't move onto the next thing until you watch and allow what's happening in the present moment. If the thought is something you'd normally consider outrageous and non-buddhisty like "I want to murder the guy at work and his whole family", that should also be watched and allowed.

Since the mind's natural tendency is to wander and to be negative, then any time you force it to watch and note one thing (like the breath), everything other thought is unnaturally suppressed. Things have to get worse. If on the other hand you've been encouraging naturalness of mind (as above), at some point the mind will naturally stop, or it will find itself dwelling on one object. If that object happens to be the football on tv, or a girl dancing in a strip club, then that's fine. Or maybe it's the breath, or thoughts of compassion and kindness, it doesn't matter.

Like you, I think a playful attitude is good... good as in helpful. Although if the mind wants to dwell on serious thoughts, then it needs to do that, and should be allowed to.

Macca (Bruce is considered a bit of a feminine name here).


Thanks ADR.

Pablo, I'd say yes it could be problematic practising metta if the mind's natural tendency was to wander or be negative in that moment.

RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation
Answer
3/1/13 6:38 AM as a reply to This Good Self.
Suppressed thoughts grow in size and energy. The negative energy can only grow. (...)
Although if the mind wants to dwell on serious thoughts, then it needs to do that, and should be allowed to.
Yes, who tells you to suppress thoughts?

A whole aspect of a sitting practice is to watch what thoughts are coming up without becoming reactive or subsumed by what's there, letting them be seen and known.

Then a person can start to learn directly what's their driving action -- at a personal, experiential level -- versus a "I read that" level and how that thinking is affecting the body and life around them.

I think a person who is starting any meditation practice is going to naturally go through a 10- to 12-month period in which their own thoughts diminish in triggering reactivity -- but generally not without passing through mental and physical discomfort associated with patterns of thought. In that effort to just sit and observe, equanimity is naturally going to be grown and concentration will be developing naturally. A three-month retreat squeezes this process into an intense period.

But I agree with you: there are times when a practitioner --- especially a newer one (let's say the first 12-16 months) --- is naturally inclined to force a concentration practice on themselves because they naturally want to avoid their own mind as one's own thoughts can seem so uncomfortable, even unbearable. And that if they manage to sustain this avoidance, then it can last years. This is when someone mistakes a rudimentary equanimity for more and tweaks equanimity into a fiercely held island. And their daily life shows this.

For myself, I'm just now able to start sitting with certain thoughts that arise -- generally, fears that arise from what actually happens by our species in various societies -- and it has been two and a half year since I became motivated to sincerely sit and watch the mind. In my view, if I cannot study these things (due to aversion and fear) then I am unlikely to be a useful part of their remedy. I think we know that some of the best agents of healing are people who've survived their conditions and overcome them in such a way to stay and guide remediation of the issues.

It's just I think that that avoidance can only last so long before person realizes everyone goes through this aversion/fear of own thoughts in meditation or they stop meditation altogether. And that's okay. If a good teacher or peer group cannot be found, meditation may be too much.

RE: Negative Side-effects of Meditation
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3/3/13 8:09 PM as a reply to katy steger,thru11.6.15 with thanks.
katy steger:
]Yes, who tells you to suppress thoughts?

A whole aspect of a sitting practice is to watch what thoughts are coming up without becoming reactive or subsumed by what's there, letting them be seen and known.



Bringing the attention back to the breath when it naturally wants to dwell on something else. To me, that equals suppression. The natural movement of mind is suppressed when it is told to go back to the breath.

Watching the mind's natural movement is not what's described by most meditation teachers. They tell you to focus on one thing, and if the mind thinks about *the person who cut you off in traffic*, to just note that and return to the breath. What if the mind's natural tendency is to stay on the driving incident for an hour or more? What if the mind's natural way of ridding itself of stress is to dwell and dwell until it's freed itself of this stress? What if non-resistance to nature is the best medicine?

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5/7/13 10:04 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
Maybe instead of the Freudian repression model, we should consider a modern neurological model. Concentration on the breath, or anything else, is rewiring the brain, weakening the neural pathways associated with your unskillful thinking patterns, and strengthening neural pathways associated with concentration on whatever you want to focus on.

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7/3/19 10:39 AM as a reply to Tom Smith.
On a more serious note, I did just hear an interesting arguement in that the Mahasi style of noting causes of lot of instability in one’s emotional health and can be more destabilizing compared to other insight meditation approaches. Thoughts??

I realize this is an old thread, but I’d like to open the discussion back up.

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7/3/19 10:42 AM as a reply to Travis McKinstry.
That was not my experience. Can you please point to the article you're referring to? Or was it in conversation?

My best guess is that any kind of self-exploration can be destabilizing in the short term but tends to lead to a more stable existence in the long term, assuming a person is dedicated and keeps the practice over the long haul.

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7/3/19 10:55 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Appreciate your input. It wasn’t an article, just a discussion I was having with a friend. They’re pretty experience in meditation and whatnot and explained that the noting style of vipassana meditation can be a bit jarring

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7/3/19 11:01 AM as a reply to Travis McKinstry.
Have you tried noting? What do you think?

EDIT: "Jarring" can mean a lot of things, but if a person is truly going to be a serious meditation practitioner "jarring" experiences are going to be part of the deal, no matter what method is being employed. Think about it - you're engaging in a re-engineering project that will expose most of your prejudices and assumptions about almost everything, most of which you have never even though about or questioned.

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7/3/19 11:01 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
I have, and I enjoyed it while I was doing it. However, I stopped because I thought I acquired SE and coincidentally I seemed to have developed a type of seasonal depression. I mentioned this to the other practitioner I referenced earlier and they suggested it’s from the nature of Mahasi-style meditation. 

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7/3/19 11:02 AM as a reply to Travis McKinstry.
So what motivated you to stop?

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7/3/19 11:03 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Well partly because I thought I hit SE and partly because I realized the skills I’m gaining can’t be directly used for monetary gain in the real world. 

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7/3/19 11:06 AM as a reply to Travis McKinstry.
So you were into meditating so you could make money?

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7/3/19 11:08 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Also - what skills were you gaining?

What about "hitting SE" made you think of stopping? You keep saying "hitting SE" is what motivated you to quit. Why?

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7/3/19 12:07 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Well, $hit you ask a lot of good questions. So I didn’t start meditating to make money. But at a certain point I realized you need money to live and meditation wasn’t making me any money so I needed to stop focusing so much on it and start focusing on making money. Why do I meditate now? I’m not exactly sure. I struggle with the idea that my seasonal depression isn’t connected with me not meditating. What I mean by that is; I am convinced (rather I’ve convinced myself) that the seasonal depression manifested because I stopped meditating. I had my other practitioner friend suggest it was from the meditation I was doing. 

What was was I hoping to gain from SE? Clarity. I’ve always believed that we have a flawed perception of reality. I’d like to see it for what it truly is. Why did I stop after I thought I hit SE? I think that’s connected with the idea that I needed to make money to live so I needed to stop focusing on meditating so much. What skills was I gaining? Focus, ability to see reality and sensations for what they truly are, etc.

I appreciate you trying to work through this with me. Really.

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7/3/19 12:24 PM as a reply to Travis McKinstry.
You have a lot of interesting assumptions going on there  emoticon

I have no idea about you or your life situation, of course, and I don't know how you're practicing, or if you are, but...

My humble opinion, to take with a grain of salt, is that you can spend an hour a day in meditation and have a very prudent, useful and cogent practice. You don't need to spend all day at it. That leaves time for jobs, family, and all manner of other pursuits. IF (big if) your disorder is somehow due to stopping your earlier practice this one hour a day, done diligently and with some skill, may very well help you figure the disorder thing out. And it might have lots of other benefits, too, like helping you see experience more clearly, as you said you want to be able to do.

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7/3/19 12:26 PM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Makes sense. Thanks for that.

Last question (probably not); what if my depression is not caused from stopping meditation?

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7/3/19 12:39 PM as a reply to Travis McKinstry.
... what if my depression is not caused from stopping meditation?

Then it's a medical or psychiatric issue and you visit a good doctor/psychiatrist who knows a lot about that kind of thing.





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7/3/19 2:09 PM as a reply to Travis McKinstry.
I am not anywhere near the kind of insight that Chris has, so take my advice with a grain of salt (or a cup, maybe), but the sudden and irrational idea that one needs to stop meditating entirely in order to make money sounds to me like typical dark night territory. On the other hand, it also sounds like something one would think during a clinical depression. Also, I guess one doesn’t necessarily exclude the other. Anyway, if it was darknight, it was sort of meditation-induced, but a temporary phase that may lead to great insights if practice is maintained, and maybe even liberation from a lot of suffering, and the clarity that you were seeking in the first place. I think it could be worth trying, and Mahasi noting is a great method. If you find that it is too jarring for your wellbeing, there are other methods, but as Chris said, the journey will not be all roses and no thorns. I think only you can determine whether Mahasi noting is too jarring for you. What works for your friend may not work for you, and vice versa. Regardless of what method you choose, there will be instances of dukkha nanas if you are doing it well. Best wishes!

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7/3/19 4:52 PM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Gee, that's what I said  emoticon

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7/4/19 12:37 AM as a reply to Chris Marti.
Yeah, basically. Just trying to make sure that my word is not weighed in as much as yours. Didn’t mean to imply that I was disagreeing. :-)

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7/4/19 7:39 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
I do appreciate having different people explain it in the same way, so thanks for that emoticon

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7/4/19 7:53 AM as a reply to Travis McKinstry.
Ah, good. I thought you might. emoticon Just be aware that it is possible that I’m at least partly scripted by reports from more experienced meditators on this forum and by MCTB2 which is sort of my bible. Still, so far it holds up to actual experience for me as well, so I’d recommend listening to them.