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Is Vipassana meditation safe?

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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20 Comments

  • 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.

  • If you have any background hesitancy, then don’t go wtih this group.

    That feeling is a warning bell that this is not right for your particular needs, and you need to do more research to find a guru that does not set off those warning feelings.

    Good luck with your quest:)

  • It is a Cult, do not go !

    If you want a Spiritual Experience, find a Bible Believing Full Gospel Church, and get involved !

  • Don’t becasue your own spirit is giving your reservation. After research and you still have doubts then dont. Somethings its better left untouch especially if you have reservation in you spirit after much thought. Trust your inner voice, its God given and it guides you through life. One man’s meat is another’s poison. You are already in touch with your own spirit why play with the rest of other things. God’s spiirt is pure and holy. It will never frighten you. It will never give you reservation. We can talk with God directly why go through meditation. Just talk to Him. Heart to heart. Problem is this world uses so much head that we do not know what it is to desire, what it is to will power. What is conscience ? Everything we need to consult our head. It should be the other way round. Remeber whatever that does not give you peace. Whatever that does not give you a sense of security. Of pureness. Of holiness. Stay out of it. Even if it is good for other it will HARM you. We are our own master, why subject it to another spiritual realm that we dont even know that give you the creeps. We love things that gives us peace, calm assurance, things that encourages us. Dont mistake it as a case that you need courage or boldness. Courage and boldness are not use to combat our own instinct. Trust your instinct. Talk to God directly. Jesus please give Him widom and may your light shine upon him.

  • Hey Its Very safe as i have gone twice (each 12days).Usually my self and my dad we go there and we dont have any complaints of sickness.
    ITS REALLY COOL.

  • the Apologetics Index has info on many types of religions and meditation groups.
    I have heard from some people how have been harmed by the practices. But when one realizes that one is less able than before the practice was started they have no where to go.
    I am recovering from having been a meditator for over a decade and it was not as good as it was purported to be.
    so I would urge you to go slowly and don’t cut any people off.

    • HI
      When I ead your post i realise ” one is less able than before the practice was started ” ya really
      Depersonalisation ?
      An yes you tend to cut off people

      Go VERY Slowly — keep doing what u enjoy, Dont let this become the only ai in your life

  • Vipashyna is one of the oldest indian techniques and the most successful one to fight with flickkering mind. The only problem with a human being is what we called MAN in Hindi. At the sub-consious stage and in the consious stage, both, it affects our being 24 hours in a day. However, depends on one’s will power the way it affects : positive or negative. I have done 3 10-days camps in this technique. I assure you it will be going to be a miracle in your future life. You will have to do meditation for 18 hours a day for 9 days of your camp. No talking, no news papers, no TV…nothing. You will be residing alone in a seperate room. Meal …only once in a day!
    I must add here that i cannot express everything what I have experienced there. But you will be a different person after those 10-days.

  • Before Vipassana, do other more active type of meditations then you will not get the problems you are talking about. Look into the following web site for 100% proven safe ways of doing meditations.

  • Vipassana meditation as with other forms of sitting meditation can be challenging but not dangerous. If you have any emotional or psychological problems you should discuss it with the teacher running the retreat so they can be aware of it. If you are on medication you should talk with your doctor. Other than that you should be fine. If you experience difficulties during the retreat you should be able to seek assistance from the meditation intructor.

  • You are on the correct path.

    The whole aim of meditation is,
    1. to calm your mind, and
    2. to focus the mind on one thing.

    The mind of a normal person is like an uncontrolled monkey jumping from one thought to another. To process all these thoughts a lot of body energy is used. Thus if your mind cease to process thoughts you will be saving a lot of body energy which can be used to cure a lot of ailments in your body. That is why a person who continues to meditate regularly even gets a nice body complexion.

    Anapana or concentration on the breath is the best form of meditation.

    If you sit down and close your eyes you will notice that your mind is jumping from one thought to another. Even though you want to concentrate on your breath you will find other thoughts also coming in between.

    In learning to meditate you must first learn to calm your mind. You do this by following every thought that comes into you mind. You must be like a Manager of a Hotel who stands at the entrance and observes the customers coming in. Without getting attached to the thoughts try to observe them. You will find that a thought comes in and that it goes nowhere and another thought follows it – try following that too – with same results. This way you will find that your thoughts gradually subside. Do not try to force out your thoughts.

    Of course do not expect results in one or two days. Practise it for at least 40 minutes every day for at least 2 months you find that you have ‘killed’ your train of thoughts. I have practised for nearly 2 years and still vagrant thoughts come in.

    Thereafter start concentrating on your breath. Notice the breath coming in and going out. You should not concentrate only on the tip of your nose. Notice the breath coming in and thereafter your lungs getting filled and then gradually exhaling the breath.

    After you finish that for the day start to think of a person or several persons whom you hate most. Having those people in mind start to think in a compassionate manner “may he be healthy, may he be happy, may he go up in life, may he live long”. Keep on doing this for about 10 minutes a day for a few months you will find that you do not get angry even when you have to get angry.

    People having previous mental problems try out meditation and when their problems persist they put the blame on meditation. Do not be misled by them.

    You should be able to get some guidance from the following sites,

    1. http://www.dhamma.org/vipassan.htm/
    2. http://www.meditationexpert.com/ and click on the free articles on yoga meditation – it includes articles on all types of meditations including Christian and Muslim meditation.

  • It all depends upon your teacher. If he (or she) is properly qualified, then you should be just fine. If in doubt, ask your teacher about his lineage, including his guru and paramguru. If he can’t answer that to your satisfaction, run.

  • I’ve never come across any meditation that was not safe. Of course, if a religion is involved which tries to impose nonsensical theories which it tries to relate to some kind of God, there may be some danger. But, most meditatation groups are safer than most religious groups.

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