I’m interested in doing a 10-day vipassana course at a retreat (ones run by S.N. Goenka) in the near future. I’ve researched for months on the internet about the retreat and there seems to be a lot of positive feedback from the people who’ve attended the courses. While theres been more positive feedback than negative, I’m slightly worried about what has been written on a certain website (vipassana-cult.com – i think). While I am fairly confident it is not a cult, people have been reported to have experienced hallucinations and various psychological problems after attending one of the courses. What I want to know is, is vipassana suitable for everyone? Is there proof that links vipassana with psychological problems?

I am fairly new to meditation. The technique I’m using is just basically the observation of the breath. This I’m told represses emotions however, so I’d really like to try out vipassana (which doesn’t repress emotions)- providing it is safe.

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  • I believe it is not safe for everyone. If you are young and a deep thinker- this could be problematic. I have witnessed this personally with a loved one. Speculations were made about this person having a mental problem or bipolar right afterwards but no evidence of this was ever shown before this experience. It has been one year now and after taking time off and having a trusted therapist- this person is much better and back in his regular routine without medication as was first suggested. Although the person I speak of does not hold any thing against the Vipissana retreat (just thinks that it was the incorrect way he/she practiced it) – as a witness to the immediate effect afterwards I have very mixed feelings about it still. Clearly It is not healthy for everyone and it is WRONG and unfair to lump any individuals who don;t respond well to it as “mentally ill”. I have waited a full year to write anything about what I witnessed but now I am considering starting a blog about it. However- I do want to protect this person’s privacy and so I may hold off. In my opinion there may be feelings of shame among the individuals who do not complete the 10 day course or do not feel right afterwards. This could be the reason that what we tend to see on the internet is mostly positive stuff. Just my take.

  • When it doubt, throw it out. If you are unsure, why get invovled? People have had bad experiences with it, you know this for a fact. Is it really something you want to risk? You sound like a down to earth person. I suggest you stay far away from it.

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