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When Meditation Goes Wrong

For some people, meditating can lead to severe complications, from depression to traumatic flashbacks.
Illustration by Xavier Lalanne-Tauzia
Image: Xavier Lalanne-Tauzia

Meditation is powerful. By now there are enough peer-reviewed studies and research initiatives to prove that the simple, yet often difficult act of focusing one's mind can have marked impact on our physiology and mental health. Meditation practices are ubiquitous in both the East and West—integrated into health care, education, work, and religion.

But while a majority of folks have a positive or therapeutic experience with meditation, a small number of people can have severe reactions. As Shayla Love reported for Tonic, a fraction of meditation practitioners find themselves dealing with complications after meditating, which can range from hypersensitivity and depression to traumatic flashbacks. Researchers have just started trying to understand why it's happening, and how they can support this suffering population.

We talked to Love about the phenomenon for the latest episode of The VICE Guide to Right Now Podcast.

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