The practice of meditation – more specifically eastern meditation like Zen – is growing popularity. It is primarily touted as a harmless means of relaxation and as a tool for achieving greater cognitive power. However, the practice is not without it’s dangers:
Since the 1970s, meditation has become increasingly popular in the West and is promoted as a way to reduce stress, bring about relaxation, and even manage depression. It’s now being used in classrooms, prisons, and hospitals. Here in Australia, meditation groups and teachers have popped up like mushrooms: hundreds head off to the free (donation only) ten-day Vipassana courses, or sit and meditate with groups such as the Brahma Kumaris or Sahaja Yoga. There is a general assumption and belief that meditation is a secular technique and is good for everyone.
The most common types of meditation taught include sitting still and concentrating on the breath, silently repeating a sound (mantra) or visualizing an image. What is often overlooked is that these Eastern meditation techniques were never meant to be methods to reduce stress and bring about relaxation. They are essentially spiritual tools, designed to apparently “cleanse” the mind of impurities and disturbances so as to attain so-called enlightenment
Can Meditation Be Bad for You?
by Mary Garden
Published in the Humanist, September/October 2007
In the article, author Mary Garden recalls how a fellow meditation devotee committed suicide and explains why it was related to the meditation. In addition to noting regular depression among many long-term practicers of meditation, Garden explains the debilitating effect it can have on the mind:
Arthur Chappell, a former devotee of Guru Maharaj (also known as Prem Rawat), points out that meditation starves the mind of stimulus (sensory deprivation) and he wonders whether desensitizing the mind to stimuli may actually “affect one’s ability to react properly with the level of fear, love, and other emotions required in any given social situation.” Chappell says minds can atrophy–just like limbs do–if they aren’t used for a wide range of purposes:
Many meditation practitioners have complained of difficulty doing simple arithmetic and remembering names of close friends after prolonged meditation. The effect is rather like that of Newspeak’s obliteration of the English language in George Orwell’s
This is the complete opposite of biblical meditation – that is, meditating upon Scripture – where the goal is to exercise your mind by intellectually contemplating the truths of Scripture. Lots of interesting stuff about the dangerous of eastern meditation out there, but I don’t have time (or interest) to dig into it too much. If anyone has decent resources, feel free to share.