Mindful Therapy
Mindful Therapy

Negative experiences with meditation/ psychedelics 

It seems that we can't get by a day without reading some glowing article or hearing someone expounding about the positive benefits of meditation or 'plant medicine'. Though some of these practices are known, scientifically, to have some benefit within controlled conditions, it does feel really important to me- and hopefully it is of benefit to you- that I share about some of my personal and psychotherapeutic work with some of the negative effects that can come from these practices.


Depersonalisation is the experience of 'feeling strange', sometimes as if you are not your self. This can sometimes be so overwhelming that it can preoccupy us and then it can become DPD (depersonalisation disorder). We might feel that we are 'special' in a 'good way' or 'in a bad way'. We can sometimes feel detached or distanced from people or events and things can seem unreal. We might experience emotions that 'flow through us' but 'don't touch us'. We might have the sense of 'being an observer' and, though this can be of benefit, it might exclude feeling really engaged on an everyday human level or exclude such experiences as something that should matter.


 This can be the result of trauma (sometimes a developmental trauma that we don't know about- for instance this was, for me, a common experience in my childhood).


These experiences  can also be elicited by meditation or psychedelic use.


I have worked with people who came to believe that they had permanently changed themselves and could not retrieve any sense of normality; this need not be true!


This can be worked with!


Please don't suffer in silence or, blindly, try to 'push on through' with your practise. 

Fear with the breath

There are so many experts and teachings about 'correct breathing' it's easy to forget that 'when we are fully and completely engaged in an activity that we love' that 'the body really knows how to breathe' without any help from us! 


As a meditation teacher I have come across many people that, for many different reasons, start to become preoccupied with their breath and 'breathing correctly'.


This can happen frequently and - in one way- I have also experienced this myself. Someone might start to have fear around the breath - there might be a history of this with asthma and/or with panic disorder- or there might be experiences of fear/panic and this person might start to compulsively use the breath to manage that. 


These experiences might manifest by either a/avoiding awareness of the breath by constant distraction (experiential avoidance) or b/ engaging constantly with the breath.


Either way, here, there is an element of fear that needs to be addressed directly so that we can learn to trust our breath in it's original nature. 

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