Despite having a meditation practice for years, I often forget that it should still come with a health warning!
It can calm a busy mind, create a greater capacity for self-awareness, and lead to a more peaceful state of being.
But there is a disclaimer: Intense meditation is transformative. It encourages deep emotional pain to rise to the surface and be processed, even pain that you thought you’d dealt with many years ago.
For a while a meditation practice gives you enough payoff so you keep coming back for more. You feel happier, calmer, more at ease in life, more self-aware. Great.
Sooner or later you have to go deeper. In Divine timing an intense meditation practice such as Vipassana or breathwork may cause an unexpected flooding of old emotions/grief. This is normal. Meditation is communication with your soul. It is telling your soul that you are ready for the next stage of consciousness. The channel is open, ready to receive what is needed for a deep cleanse. As stated, this can arise in very unexpected ways.
You don’t have to fear this process. It can be very difficult depending on how much cleansing needs to be done. Surrender and trust. It will all be okay. Know there is a purpose, no matter how awful you feel. Resisting will make it harder than it needs to be. It may cause or lengthen the classic ‘dark night of the soul’ experience. Only deep inner wisdom will tell you whether you’re resisting out of fear, or because your soul is protecting you because you are not ready.
And indeed, in certain cases intense meditation is not recommended, such as in PTSD and C-PTSD and psychosis. There may be more. If you have suffered trauma or are a victim of abuse or feeling in any way unstable, do not embark on intense meditation without the support of a trusted therapist. If you wish to meditate, start slowly and ground yourself before and afterwards. Guided visualisations or walking meditations may be more beneficial than breath or Vipassana. If you have experienced sexual or physical abuse be wary of body scans or other body-based meditations. Sometimes any form of meditation should be avoided until enough psychological healing has taken place and forcing the process can be dangerous for some people.
In short, meditation is a wonderful spiritual tool with many benefits but it can also be very transformative and needs to be used wisely.