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Diagnosis, Prescription, Warnings and Precautions

Each aspect of meditation has its powers of healing; many have specific uses and, unquestionably, particular dangers and drawbacks for certain individuals. The diagnosis and prescription of meditative practices for the many varieties of ailments is an art that has received far less attention than it deserves.

In general, concentrative practices should be avoided by individuals whose reality-testing function is poor, who are strongly paranoid, or who are likely to develop delusions of grandeur from the altered states of consciousness that these practices tend to produce. People with overwhelming anxiety should probably avoid insight meditations, in which the anxiety level can reach intolerable proportions. Long periods of meditative practice (as in contemplative meditation) may precipitate psychotic episodes in susceptible individuals.

Probably the safest course for those in the healing professions is to experiment with meditation practices for themselves, and then to share with clients and friends only those which they thoroughly understand. Also, in monitoring the meditation practices, the professional should bring to bear all the available tools available in evaluating the gain or the danger, regardless of the exotic or "sacred" origin of the techniques being studied. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna gives Arjuna some timeless advice that is relevant here: "Fear not, Arjuna, for what is Real always was and always will be, and what is not Real never was and never will be."

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