What to Do When Inappropriate Meditation Vitiates Your Life

By George A. Boyd ©2022

Q: My spiritual practices have gotten me into a state where it seems my life is a dream, and I’ve lost desire for what I formerly wanted. I don’t like this zombie-like state. Can my personal functioning be restored?

A: When the spiritual practices you do ask you to (a) remain in an altered state of awareness continually and/or (b) moving an aspect of consciousness—vehicular seed atom, nucleus of identity, or an ensouling entity—out of alignment with the axis of being, people can experience one or more of the seven “Ds:”

  • Dissociation
  • Disidentification
  • Derealization
  • Depersonalization
  • De-motivation
  • Deadening or numbing of emotions
  • Death of the Ego

How do you deal with these consequences of inappropriate meditation?

Re-association rectifies dissociation: when you bring your attention back to the fully grounded state in the waking state of consciousness, you re-establish your normal state of functioning.

Re-identification resolves disidentification: you stop creating a gap between parts of your nature.

Recognizing the reality of the physical world corrects derealization: you no longer experience the world as unreal or a dream.

Re-owning your identification with your Self (personality) and ego (life) overcomes depersonalization: you no longer feel you are separate from your life experience.

Re-discovering your authentic desires and values repairs de-motivation: you uncover what makes your life meaningful and worthwhile again.

Through re-awakening your native feelings, you transform deadening or numbing of emotions: you begin to feel again.

Reintegration with your authentic life—and rebalancing of aspects of consciousness that have migrated off the axis of being, when this has occurred—counteracts death of the ego: you reanimate your ability to function at the level of your ego and your ability to perform behavior that enacts your goals.

Psychotherapy, hypnosis, and meditation have specific techniques that refocus attention in the Conscious mind, where you can experience the ego; and in the Metaconscious mind, where you can reactivate the functioning of your Self. In contrast, when you keep your attention focused on an essence in the Superconscious mind on a sustained basis, you can trigger one or more of the seven “Ds.”

The first thing you must do to counter the negative consequences of inappropriate meditation practices is to bring your attention and awareness back to the ground state—the waking state of consciousness. This begins to break the trance-like state of identification with a spiritual essence, from which you perceive you are separate from your personality and life.

Many meditators have been given suggestions that make them not want to return to their personality and life. This keeps them locked in an altered state of awareness. These are suggestions like:

  • “The ego is sinful or evil.”
  • “The world that the senses reveal is illusion.”
  • “The personality is a trap that the devil designed to keep you from realizing God.”

To get back to ground, you have to reject these dissociation-producing suggestions. You can counter them with affirmations. To deal with these hypnotic commands, you might use:

  • “My ego is the part of my life that enables me to function in the physical world. It is good. It is supposed to be here.”
  • “Both the physical world and spiritual worlds are real.”
  • “My personality exists so I can share my Soul’s knowledge, wisdom, love, and gifts with others, and participate fully in the interpersonal world of work, family life, friendship, and civic engagement. It is OK to be a human being.”

When awareness returns from its heightened state to the ground state of awareness, many meditators report a lessening of dissociation, derealization, and depersonalization. When they come back to ground, they return to reality.

However, some meditators feel a pressure to return to heightened states of awareness where there is bliss, peace, and no troubles—unlike the world of the ego, where there is stress, difficulties, and struggles. Their challenge is to feel safe again in their life and respond to the issues of their situation without feeling they have to escape.

It helps if meditators can recognize that they need to work at both levels: to cope with the challenges of human life and to develop their spiritual potentials. They start to realize: they don’t have to run away from their life; they can embrace it.

This is analogous to when you go away to the office to work, and then you come home and do chores. You perform work in both locations.

In the same way, you can learn to function effectively in your personal life, while you cultivate your spiritual life. They are not mutually exclusive: you can learn to operate in both areas of your experience.

Negation statements characterize disidentification. Examples of these types of statements are:

  • “I am not my body; I am the Atman (Supreme Consciousness).”
  • “I am not my ego; I am my spiritual heart.”
  • “I am not my human Self; I am God.” [Referring to the God Immanent or Divine Spark that dwells at the core of the Soul.]

To come back from the withdrawal from the personal identification centers that these negation statements produce; you can use what we call re-identification statements. To address the above negation statements, you might use:

  • “I am Atman, but I also am my body.”
  • “I am my spirit, but I also am my ego.”
  • “I am inwardly Divine, but I also am fully human.”

We have said that bringing your attention back to its ground state in the waking state of awareness can help ameliorate dissociation, depersonalization, and derealization. Unfortunately, the deeper layers of de-motivation, emotional deadness, and ego death are not so easily resolved. Sometimes, long-term psychotherapy is required to rehabilitate the sense of normalized identity and function: self-help measures may not be sufficient to return to the state prior to the split between personal and spiritual life that the inappropriate spiritual practices generated.

You can address de-motivation through questions like:

  • “What do you want in your life?” [In my book, The Practical Applications of Meditation in Daily Life and Education, I discuss twelve areas where you can identify what you want.]
  • “To what are you willing to make a commitment in your personal life?”
  • “What do you want your life to be about?”
  • “If you were looking back upon your life from your deathbed, what would you want to have accomplished?”
  • “In what ways could you make a difference with your unique human life?”

Emotional deadness and numbness may be one of the most tenacious outcomes of this unintended spiritual deconstruction of the personality. This may take some time to resolve. Among the strategies that might be employed include:

  • Remember feelings that occurred before the personal/spiritual split occurred.
  • Notice your reactions to beautiful art, uplifting music, animals, flowers and trees, and other scenes of Nature.
  • Get into touch with the feeling of love and connectedness with other people.
  • Feel love and compassion for your broken and wounded parts.
  • Kindle emotional reactions through challenge statements that evoke defensive or protective layers of the mind that overlay core emotional wounds—this can trigger breaking of the dam of repression and allow catharsis of the underlying emotions.
  • Let someone express unconditional love for you and take it in—don’t reject it or feel unworthy of it, just experience it.
  • Have willingness to be reborn and healed emotionally: invite in the Divine Grace and Love to ignite your ability to feel and love again.

Ego death is the most profound state of movement way from your personality and your life. It is commonly results from translocation of one aspect of consciousness—a vehicular seed atom, nucleus of identity, or an ensouling entity—far out of alignment with the axis of bring, which produces a marked split between personal and spiritual identity.

When this split is not too severe, a re-integration modality like dynamic rebalancing can help realign the wayward aspect of consciousness. In this method, the misaligned aspect of consciousness is realigned with the axis of being through the infilling of karmic matter behind the center or centers that have been repositioned to hold it in place.

Those that ingest a powerful dose of a psychedelic drug often a temporary ego death and mystical union with a spiritual essence within them, but when the drug wears off, they return to their ego again. The challenge for those confronting ego death in themselves or in others—for example, if you were a therapist treating someone with this condition—is to catalyze this reassembly of the Self (personality) and the ego (life).

For some people, simply returning to the grounded state of awareness from a protracted altered state of awareness will generate the re-emergence of the functioning of the Self and the ego; in other cases, there is a slow and gradual recovery before the normalized operation of these two personal integration centers is restored.

Some people who are experiencing the unwanted consequences of involvement with a religious cult that has produced one or more of the seven “Ds” in them may find that walking through the steps of our Cult Recovery Coaching Program can help facilitate their personal integration. We recognize that for some of you, overcoming one or more of these negative consequences of inappropriate meditation may be a long process.

Indeed, in my own life, it took me nearly five years—see the article, “My Spiritual Journey” on our website—to return to relatively normal personality functioning again after creating an immense split between my personal and spiritual experience. But having gone through this experience, it gives me hope: if I can recover from this profound imbalance, so can you. This may not happen instantly, but with time, you can also come back.

Types of Dissociation and How to Come Back

By George A. Boyd © 2021

Q: How do you comeback to grounded awareness if you remain continually dissociated?

A: It’s important to identify what type of dissociation you are experiencing:

Type one – You are dissociated because of delusional beliefs and disorganized thinking. This type arises from psychosis, and you may need the assistance of psychotherapy and a psychiatrist.

Type two – You are voluntarily keeping your attention in union with an ensouling entity, and you disidentify from your life and your personality. This type of dissociation comes when you identify with an ensouling entity or nucleus of identity and you choose to remain in this state of awareness—you may believe that it is the Supreme Reality and you choose to embody this essence. Followers of Vedanta and Advaita schools of Jnana Yoga practice this type of dissociation, with an aim to realize union with Brahman.

Type three – You remain in an altered state of consciousness to avoid facing a painful life experience or trauma. This type of dissociation is found in those who try to stay high with alcohol or drugs, or those who seek out ecstatic spiritual experiences to avoid focusing on core issues of pain, shame, or fear.

Type four – You maintain a state of consciousness of being present, where it appears that your life unfolds on its own. You stay in the flow state and witness your life occurring without you making any choices. This type of dissociation occurs in those who attempt to remain in a state of mindfulness, and is found among those who practice Taoist and Zen contemplative detachment from life.

Type five – You are so abstracted into mathematical or theoretical modeling of the world that you no longer identify with your life or your Self, but you see them as theoretical constructs or ideas. Those who are philosophers, mathematicians, or physicists can dissociate from their normal lives through abstraction into science and philosophy.

Type six – You identify with a spiritual essence, or with the loving, devotional mindset of a nucleus of identity and become abstracted into union with that spiritual essence. You regard the world from this lens of love and virtue, and you may forget your Self and your life as you live from this consciousness of pervasive love. This type of dissociation is found in saints, and devotees of Bhakti Yoga and traditions anchored in the Transcendental Sphere.

Type seven – You involuntarily identify with a nucleus of identity or ensouling entity when your Kundalini rises and becomes fixed in that spiritual essence. Here your attention becomes dissociated from life and your personality, and you re-identify with this spiritual essence.

At the bottom of several types of dissociation—particularly types one, two, three, four, and six—is the sense that it’s not OK to be in your normal awareness. You feel or believe that it’s somehow unworthy or demeaning to be in this normal state, and you seek to be present in a transcendent state.

Other types of dissociation appear to be trance-like states that arise with deep concentration—these are typical of types four and five. While it might be all right for someone to be in the waking state of awareness in these perspectives, the depth of their contemplation keeps these individuals dissociated while they are engaged “following the Tao” or seeking a deeper layer of truth and meaning.

In two types of dissociation—types one and seven——you experience detachment and dissociation as largely involuntary. You might wish to return to your waking state of awareness, but powerful intrapsychic forces keep you locked in an altered state of consciousness, regardless of what you might wish.

The Possibility of Coming Back from Dissociation

Remaining in altered states of consciousness through dissociation can bring with it a series of untoward symptoms. Among them are:

  • Derealization – this is the sense that the world is unreal.
  • Depersonalization – this is the sense that your life and your personality are unreal.
  • De-motivation – this is the loss of desire to pursue personal goals and dreams.
  • Emotional numbing – this is the inability to feel your feelings.
  • Disembodiment – this is the sense that you are viewing your body from outside from the standpoint of being in your astral body.
  • Mental silence – the experience of absolute silence and stillness in your mind, so that you cannot think.
  • Volitional paralysis – this is the inability to choose or carry out voluntary behavior.
  • Heightened suggestibility – this occurs when your reality-testing mechanism is shut off in an altered state of consciousness, and you come to believe in conspiracy theories and delusional ideas—and follow unquestionably the suggestions of charismatic leaders who come to dictate many aspects of your belief and behavior.
  • Perceptual decoupling – this is the experience of beholding the world from a mythological or mystic viewpoint that is divorced from any practical application in your life.
  • Cognitive disorganization – this is the experience of hearing voices that lie to you about what is real and what your life means, and that construct delusional beliefs.

Among the keys to coming back from dissociation are:

  1. Recognize you are in an altered state of consciousness—either voluntary or involuntary.
  2. Remember the waking state of awareness, and move your attention back to that state.
  3. Notice what comes up as you place your attention in your waking state of awareness—whether you feel it is not OK for you to be there
  4. Process any beliefs you have that make it not OK for you to be in your waking state of awareness, until you can feel complete comfort in being fully grounded and present in your life.
  5. Set criteria for when it is appropriate to be in an altered state of awareness, and delimit the time you spend in these states, so you can balance personal life with your spiritual life.
  6. Address any traumatic or painful issues through effective self-help methods, psychotherapy—or psychiatric intervention, if required. [We teach some of these self-help methods in our intermediate meditation classes, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program.]
  7. Learn to lower your Kundalini back to the fully grounded state. Those of you who are having difficulty with this may wish to request a Kundalini Recovery Services consultation from us.

Some temporary dissociation is commonly experienced in prayer, meditation, and hypnosis. If you return to normal awareness again after this experience and take the time to integrate what you have learned and discovered, you will strengthen your ability to function as a human being.

If you remain in a dissociated state, however, this can lead to a variety of issues that can disconnect you from your life and detract from your ability to function as a human being. We encourage you to be able to experience and operate in your inner worlds of mind and spirit, but also to be able to live in this world in your authentic human life.

Progressive Benchmarks of Meditation Mastery

By George A. Boyd © 2021

Q: Are there any guidelines for what we should be able to achieve in meditation?

A: What you achieve in meditation is based on (a) your aspiration, what you desire to achieve, and (b) your proficiency with the practice of meditation. We can identify markers of relative proficiency with meditation, starting with the ground state of a non-meditator or a person who has never been able to successfully meditate, and progressive benchmarks of mastery of the ability to focus attention. These are listed below.

  1. Can’t get out of waking state of consciousness
  2. Can do basic mindfulness, monitor centers in the Conscious mind
  3. Can travel in the Temporal Mnemonic zone and participate in depth psychology
  4. Can meditate on the chakras of the Subconscious mind
  5. Can consciously enter the astral body and participate in hypnosis, remote viewing, or astral projection
  6. Can unite attention with the Self and contemplate the centers of the Metaconscious mind
  7. Can contemplate the archetypes of the Subtle Realm
  8. Can raise awareness into the wave of the present time and tune into the Soul’s thought and intention
  9. Can lift awareness into the Star Seed and the nuclei of identity of the Planetary Realm
  10. Can unite attention with the Soul
  11. Can unite attention with the spirit
  12. Can unite attention with the attentional principle
  13. Can unite attention with higher octave nuclei of identity
  14. Can unite attention with spirits in higher octaves
  15. Can unite attention with ensouling entities in higher octaves
  16. Can unite attention with Satchitananda

In our intermediate meditation classes, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program, we train our students to access benchmarks 2, 3, 4, 6, 10, 11, and 12. Those who complete one of these courses, and opt to go on for our advanced meditation training, the Mudrashram® Advanced Course in Meditation additionally learn to access benchmarks 9, 13, 14, 15, and 16.

When spiritual transformation is done at the cutting edge of spirituality, you maintain full contact with your waking state of consciousness, your life, and your personality and can return from these altered states of consciousness at will.

In many spiritual traditions, they teach you to identify with an essence outside of the cutting edge of spirituality, and unfold it along its track. This leads to imbalanced states where your attention may be fixed in a nucleus of identity or spiritual essence, and progressively dissociate from personality functioning.

These imbalanced states appear to progress through the following steps [Note: you may not necessarily experience all of these steps, or all of these steps in order]:

  1. Union with a higher octave nucleus of identity through meditation
  2. Movement of that higher octave nucleus of identity along its track
  3. Sense that the world is unreal (derealization)
  4. Sense that your life and motivations are unreal and worthless (demotivation)
  5. Sense that your personality is unreal (depersonalization)
  6. Communion with archetypes, gods and goddesses
  7. Communion with the guide form of the Supervising Initiate of this Path
  8. Fixation in the nucleus of identity without the ability to return to the waking state of awareness
  9. Formation of a pseudo-personality and dissociation from human life and feelings
  10. Kundalini syndromes, if they have not appeared earlier, may arise at this stage
  11. Inability to function any longer in normal adult roles
  12. Complete absorption in inner spiritual experience

If you are doing meditation and you are having experiences like this, you may be following a track of spiritual imbalance. The appearance of steps 8, 9, and 10 are especially problematical, and typically precede the loss of any ability to function in your personality in normal adult roles.

If you have become involved with a spiritual practice, which is generating these symptoms of spiritual imbalance, there is yet hope for you. Through the strategies of dynamic rebalancing or progressive spiritual recapture, you can rectify any imbalances you have created. Those of you who have generated Kundalini syndromes through your well-intentioned meditation practices can take advantage of our Kundalini Recovery Services—a service we have provided to the meditation community since 2006.

We encourage you to learn to master the practice of meditation so you can go to any state of consciousness at will and return to the waking state of consciousness upon completion of your session. If you are having difficulties returning, we may be able to assist you.