Hazards of meditation
Republished from Dec 2012.
Does anyone ever think about where the techniques of ancient meditation came from or were used for? No, I am not talking about the latest technique of sitting quietly and trying to clear the mind at your super spiritual local retreat center. I am talking about real meditation techniques from the Upanishads or Bhairava Tantra or such? These techniques were used by a sadhaka that was deeply devoted to their path of which these meditations were from. Most of which were an inner path – nivritti marga – and were conducive to living alone in a forest away from any culture and people. It was not for people of the modern world nor is that form of meditation conducive to it.
Does anyone ever stop to think what they are or might be getting into if they do take on any random practice and what the cost it may be to their normal extroverted superficial lives of consumption in the western world? Specially, with no actual discernment of anything at all or the normal naive thought, “everything spiritual is good”.
Most people are naively educated by from teachers and books of superficial knowledge and inso think that all meditation is created equal or “everything is good!”
What’s worse is that today there is a huge amount of teachers out there that don’t have much knowledge or experience either where hanging up a sign and teaching people is more important than actually having real knowledge and expertise.
Think about this as an example……. Sally, since she is a super yogini having complete her goddess devi yogini teacher training 2 week course and teaches a rockin yoga class each day, is invited by a friend to attend a meditation evening at a private house that is to have a sangha by her friends guru. It turns out it is only a small group of people and the guru actually is a real guru. After sangha the guru leads the group in a deep meditation but the guru being a real guru has responsibility and asks Sally if she has a meditation practice. She, being the super goddess devi yogini that she is, of course says yes. The guru proceeds with a real technique that has substance (something completely new to Sally as she is used to closing her eyes and imagining her devi power of abundance), guidance, and real shakti. Since she says she has been meditation since her birth yet cannot asnwer simple questions about meditation and she even was given divine meditation instruction in utero, while she was meditating, none of this is a problem for her.
Sally has her mind blown, as she as never ever experienced anything like this before. She has taken the bait, she is hooked and will experience the sinker. Soon she starts to see the guru regularly and learns a regular practice from the guru.
In a short amount of time Sally starts to realize she has become “judgmental” or “critical” of the world that she used to know and starts to become an introvert. She stays at home more and more and her friends start to drop away since she has no more desire to go out and party with them any more or to be involved in the idle gossip and mindless (or mindful) chat. It just doesn’t seem important to her anymore. She gets up early in the morning several hours before the sun rises and meditates for a couple hours. Then she gets ready for work and goes to work. After work she comes home and meditates again, has dinner, relaxes more, and goes to bed early. At work, after a time, she realizes that her boss is and always has been abusive and the job she has is draining. Much more to the point, the job she was doing no longer has any meaning like it used to. So one fine day she quits as she cannot deal with the boss and job….. see the energy of them grows as they are defined. She quits the “yoga” teaching because she realizes she really didn’t know what she was doing and what she had been teaching was just a workout with alot of B.S. woo woo open heart and open chakra language thrown in. She becomes more and more depressed because she is no longer living in that jazzed up inspiring people world that she used to thrive in.
This is real.
The hazards of this form of meditation are interconnected with the benefits. It is totally from what perspective you are looking. From the job, family, and friends of Sally has dropped out of life, and they even think she has maybe joined a cult or has given everything over to this “guru” guy. To Sally her life has really just started. She has a totally different perspective to what life and living is. Her eyes have been opened to more beauty and a deeper experience of life than she ever had imagined. The problem is….. how does she now fit into the external world.
Just as everyone is an individual with their own path and dharma, there is just as much variation in meditation. Real meditation techniques are designed to make you disassociate with the external and the natural desires of a western cultural life, not flourish in it and certainly not go towards it. Many books are written by many people trying to blend the two and make some resolution to their own reasons for not living the life of the sadhaka as they have desired but the truth is plain and simple that the two are opposite paths and they cannot be resolved. That is actually the resolution. There are even people who have rewritten ancient texts to bend to their ideas of this.
The other side of this story is that Sally, now seen as weird or on a spiritual trip or whatever by the external folk, is much more content than she could ever imagine. She used to try to run to happiness all the time as she was constantly in flight from anything that was unpleasant. She has a real embodied realization (which is the only kind) that happiness and sadness are both attachments and she is just content with neither of them. She actually has a real relationship with her Self and respects her Self and her life as well as everything in it. She has begun studies into something with substance, she created a business around it that gets her by and gives her access to people that she can actually relate with. She works when she wants to rather than constantly. She no longer reads drama but reads scriptures from ancient times that have ethical and moral value. She has gotten rid of more than three quarters of the baggage she owned and has simplified her life and has moved into a much smaller house in nature. She takes time to watch the sunrise everyday and gives thanks for every moment and really gets the depth of that and means it. The world has become something that is outside of her and inside of her, she feels like she has never felt things before, the wind is part of her as it blows. She goes for long walks everywhere.
Real meditation techniques are extremely powerful. The results are due to the science that is behind each technique.
There are millions of people in the modern West practicing meditation each day, but there is little information about what the techniques are that they are practicing and there is even less information out there for people as to how to deal with the outcomes and avoid the pitfalls of meditation in a culture that does not support any form of inward journey. A 2002 study by the CDC found that about 7.6% of adults in the United States practice meditation, and 5% practice yoga. I question what is being practiced as yoga or meditation in this survey. Since what is deemed as yoga today is some western bastardization and has nothing to do with the real thing in almost all cases. What might this say of meditation as well?
This is also pointing to the roots of why real meditation and yoga are not taught in the masses, the lifestyle that goes hand in hand is not possible to live in the western culture. Instead there is a watered down version that allows one to identify with being a “yogi” or meditator. While the true deep path is never known or tread.
In addition to all of this, no meditation should be taken on without the proper mantras prior.