Surprise! Unpleasant, even dangerous, things can result from TM practice
They left a few things out of the introductory lectures!
They didn't tell you at the introductory lectures that unpleasant things may result from the practice of TM? This was yet another mental reservation "for your own good." They didn't want to scare you off which would keep you from gaining the "benefits" of TM. They meant well.
But this is the point at which some people do indeed began to experience significant negative effects from the practice of TM. This is because all of this dissociation turns out not to be a normal or "natural" thing at all.
These negative effects can take the form of lingering dissociation after meditation, or after coming home from a residence course. You may have trouble getting out of that "spacey" condition. In fact, as you increase your TM dosage and frequency you may reach a stage where you never get out of the "spacey" state at all, i.e. you may experience chronic dissociation. Chronic dissociation is the most dangerous effect of TM, and can become very very serious.
TM can also actually significantly increase anxiety in some people. This is a well-known phenomenon called "relaxation induced anxiety."
Another very common negative effect is to have "headaches in meditation". This can happen even doing just "twenty minutes twice a day", but it is especially common during and after periods of toxically increased "dissociation dosage" such as at a residence course.
The negative effects can also take the form of unpleasant physical sensations or involuntary twitching of large muscle groups.
The TM dogma on "unstressing"
In the introductory lectures they never mentioned that there could be any unpleasantness whatever arising from TM practice. They were only thinking of your own good when they withheld the fact that TM can have very negative effects. If they had told you that then you might not have started TM and that would have been tragic! You just "weren't ready" to properly evaluate such information!
And they only gradually reveal a tiny glimpse of this hidden reality to you during the "Three Nights of Checking". This is because if they revealed the entire reality then you might stop TM practice at that point, and that would also be tragic.
I recommend reviewing the TM spiritual dogma on "unstressing" (called "stress release" in that document) as taught in the second group meeting after initiation. Understanding the basic TM dogma on "unstressing" is vital to understanding TM.
In summary, TM dogma asserts the following:
- "Stress in the nervous system" is the only thing keeping us from perfect happiness, and from being able to fulfill literally all our desires.
- This "stress" can only be "released" by "rest."
- The amount of rest needed depends on the strength of the stress. Superficial stress can be released by superficial rest such as normal sleep. But "deep stress" can only be released by "deep rest." And the really powerful and "deep" stresses, the ones that are really impacting our lives and keeping us from happiness and from success (and from CC), can only be released by the "deep rest of TM"!
- The stress was unpleasant when we acquired it, so we shouldn't be surprised if it is unpleasant while being "released."
- The really deep stresses may be particularly unpleasant while being released.
- Therefore unpleasantness arising from TM is just a symptom that "something good is happening." This "something good" is the release of some of the stress that has been causing us all of our suffering, and which is the only thing keeping us from CC!
What they don't tell you about during the "Three Nights of Checking" is something that TMers call "heavy unstressing". It is the suffering, often extreme, which according to TM dogma is caused by the release of the deepest and most powerful stresses. In fact, it is just the TM dogmatic rationalization for the toxic effects of "too much TM." We'll introduce examples of this phenomenon below.
Periodic re-indoctrination: "You should have your meditation checked regularly"
One thing they emphasize during the "Three Days of Checking After Initiation" is that you should "have your meditation checked regularly." The purpose of "checking" is to reinforce the suggestion that you will become deeply relaxed, and to reinforce the proper technique of auto-trance-induction, including training in how not to fight the dissociation. This is all accomplished via yet another trance induction script called the individual checking procedure (see "Section 1", "Section 2", "Section 3", and the "General Points" on that page, all of which together comprise the "individual checking procedure").
As with the trance induction scripts used during "personal instruction" and the "three days of checking after initiation", the "individual checking procedure" must be perfectly memorized and recited precisely. (Demonstrating rote mastery of all of these many trance induction scripts is the hardest requirement of becoming a TM teacher!). It is somewhat similar to the "group checking procedure" used each night during the "three days."
Unlike the other TM trance induction scripts, the "individual checking procedure" can be performed by someone who is not a TM teacher. In such a case, the individual is called a "checker." Becoming a "checker" is often the first step toward becoming a TM teacher.
While you are always encouraged to "have your meditation checked regularly", in all cases of unpleasant results from TM you will be especially encouraged to do so.
The objective, in TM-speak, of "checking" is to "guide you in the effortless use of the mantra." However, what they are really doing is to guiding you in how not to fight the increasing dissociation as you descend into trance.
Headaches in meditation: unpleasant, but they are the least of your worries
It is actually true that "checking" can sometimes help with "headaches in meditation. I believe that this is because such headaches can be caused by a tendency to fight the descent into trance, and a tendency to fight the reduction in thought activity. By teaching you once again to yield to such things, and not fight them, "checking" can indeed help prevent headache in meditation.
"Heavy unstressing": TM can be extremely psychologically destructive
On a long course, such as a Teacher Training Course (TTC), "heavy unstressing" is a major fact of life for many people. My TTC was the "Mallorca/Fiuggi Fonte Course" in the early 70's. It is infamous for the "heavy unstressing" that went on.
At one point we were "rounding" for 14 hours a day! A "round" is a period of meditation followed by a period of yoga postures or "asanas." Meditation, asanas, meditation, asanas, etc. etc. etc. for 14 hours a day, day after day. At other points in the course we rounded fewer hours a day which gave us time for hours and hours of indoctrination sessions. This went on for a minimum of three months for everyone, but there were people like me there for six months and even longer doing this.
It was very common for people to acquire major tics of large muscle groups, most commonly in the form of very noticeable head jerks. I'm talking about sudden jerks of the head to right or left of about 45 degrees. In addition there were people with major emotional problems. Mahesh had to establish "heavy unstressing clinics." At attempt was made to help people at these clinics by application of physical therapies including body massage and foot massage.
Several people were not able to become TM teachers at this course because they were not able to free themselves of the major body tics before it was time to "receive their mantras." Mahesh could not send people back to their communities as official "Exponents of Reality" when they had been so conspicuously damaged by the TTC experience.
There was a great deal of psychological suffering. One course participant went home and was hospitalized for mental difficulties by his father, a psychiatrist. Mahesh was quite disturbed by this event (he particularly wanted the endorsement of psychiatrists) and he discussed this negative turn of events in an open meeting. He was angry that such a "weak person" had been allowed to come to the TTC. He showed no concern about the person involved. At all.
I stayed on for a month after the official TTC ended to witness the taping of the original "Science of Creative Intelligence" course by Mahesh. Mahesh was openly unhappy by the amount of "heavy unstressing" that had gone on (again, that's how we heard about the psychiatrist's son). His position was that the course selection process had let too many people into the course who "weren't ready" for the dramatic evolutionary power unleashed by such prolonged meditation.
And to give you a further of what "heavy unstressing" can lead to I refer you once again to "Kropinski's List of TM Casualties." Below is an example from his TM victim list. This woman was well known to the TM world, since she was the wife of the president of the Maharishi University of Management (MUM), (the TM organization's private university (formerly called "Maharishi International University" (MIU)).
[Victim #4], Los Angeles, California: The former wife of Dr. Keith Wallace lived in the TM center in Los Angeles. She was under the personal guidance of Mahesh and was permitted to live in the center with Mahesh's personal permission. In a hallucination while practicing the TM-Sidhi program she felt an older woman was drawing energy from her body preventing her from levitating. She purchased a gun and shot the woman during their practice of TM Sidhis.
And here is another example from Kropinsky's testimony:
There is no question the movement knew of these incidents and numerous others. My own review of files in La Antilla, the results of rounding courses in Majjorca[sic], Spain and Fiuggi, Italy confirmed these same disastrous consequences for many individuals. Additionally administrators of MIU are aware of incidents like the student who jumped through a plate glass window, the staff member who couldnt[sic] be found and was later discovered in a dumpster, the student president who proclaimed he was Arjuna and was sent home, and they are aware of the individuals involuntary [sic] committed to local mental institutions. They have witnessed and experienced for themselves the courses in which everyone was screaming, shaking and convulsing. They have had their own employees administer thorzine[sic] by injection to 'freak outs." They know and have known of students, former students and course participants who after leaving MIU or other movement facilities later committed suicide.
"Heavy unstressing" at TM's own private university
To continue on the same theme: on the opening page of this web site I suggested that you take a look at the sworn affidavit of Attorney Anthony D. DeNaro. DeNaro is a former professor of economics and business law at MIU (this was before it was called MUM), as well as former legal counsel to the same institution. This affidavit is a gold mine, and worth a careful read. Right now, though, I'll concentrate on statements he made that cast a light on the toxic psychological effects of TM. In the affidavit, DeNaro says things such as (emphasis added):
- The extent and scope of the deception before, during and after
becoming "initiated" (their term) into TM-Sidhi programs is so vast and
far-reaching with enormous potential for severe injury, and, even
death, that it is impossible, within this necessarily abbreviated
brief, to document it all.
At para. 17, President Morris claims "heightened intellectual clarity." As a professor who taught at MIU that claim is false. The effect is the opposite: a spaced-out, unfocused, zombie-like automaton, incapable of critical thinking is the more usual "benefit" of prolonged meditation.
In fact, meditation was used as an excuse (probably valid) by my students for not completing a project much in the way a "virus" or "the flu" debilitates the average college student. The consequences of intensive, or even regular, meditation was so damaging and disruptive to the nervous system, that students could not enroll in, or continue with, regular academic programs.
Many of my students offered as an excuse for not being able to sit for an examination or write a paper, the fact that they had a "bad meditation" or just "got off rounding" (group TM) and haven't gotten "back to earth yet."
- A simple review of internal correspondence reflects the
inconsistency between the outward, sanitized, "safe" public image they
try to present, and the frequently dangerous reality of TM-Sidhi
A disturbing denial or avoidance syndrome, and even outright lies and deception, are used to cover-up or sanitize the dangerous reality on campus of very serious nervous breakdowns, episodes of dangerous and bizarre behavior, suicidal and homicidal ideation, threats and attempts, psychotic episodes, crime, depression and manic behavior that often accompanied roundings (intensive group meditations with brainwashing techniques). Euphemisms are employed to describe essentially dangerous, unstable and injurious behavior. "Unstressing," for example, "Baking" is another.
For example, a memo dated 5/21/75 from Dean Sluyter, a copy of which is annexed (with original markings and notations) to Jon Shapiro, the head of psychological services, acknowledges that rounding results in bizarre behavior. The memo notes that it includes a recommendation from the President's Council [of MIU].
The effectiveness of a course leader depends largely on his ability to maintain and manifest a feet-on-the-ground, non-rounding perspective. Constant immersion in the usually "baked" atmosphere of a long rounding course presents a challenge to that perspective.
Course leaders in Europe have a notorious tendency to get baked.
- Jonathan Shapiro, and other experienced Forest Academy and TTC leaders, in a moment of candor, have personally acknowledged that rounding can result in a nervous breakdown. However, this is not the term they prefer to use.
- There were meditators who experienced
serious breakdowns during and following meditation. MIU and the
counseling staff usually opted for banishment in these cases, although
their practices often triggered mental breakdowns. Many students who
experienced severe and uncontrollable trauma from meditation came to me
for assistance and counseling since Jonathan Shapiro and his staff
were punitive and hostile in their "therapeutic" approach.
Banishing people who have problems not only from the campus, but attempting to keep them out of the state [Iowa] through extortion, threats or intimidation is not unusual. In many cases, the problems are precipitated or worsened by TM-Sidhi practices and/or by activities of the TM hierarchy. Essentially they cause the problem, blame the victim for his or her breakdown, and then threaten them with injury or other means if they don't leave the state permanently.
- ...about three or four in the morning I was awakened by noise and excitement outside of my dorm. A twister (and possibly more than one) was west of the campus in the direction of Ottumwa and clearly visible. The students were outside their frats (dorms) in their nightclothes to test their "supernatural" powers. No one was injured simply because the twister did not hit the campus. Nevertheless scores of students believed (I questioned them the next day) that somehow the meditation safeguarded them.
- These experiences and myths perpetrated by the TM cult might appear humorous or silly, but in fact I saw many casualties from their irresponsible lies and deceptions. Teaching methodology, for example, is actually indoctrination or brain washing and one of the very few (perhaps only) classes where genuine learning was attempted was in my classroom.
- I have more than five (5) years family court law guardian experience and work with young drug abuses and addicts. In addition, I was involved in implementing a drug addiction program in Nassau County, New York. My observation and experience of some of the erratic and volatile "unstressing" (actually nervous breakdowns) on campus was similar to the reactions I've observed from people who had a "bad trip" or "freaked-out" from dangerous hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD.
- In early December 1975, while the Maharishi was on campus, I spent
a great deal of time trying to persuade him to adopt a more honest,
less commercial, approach to meditation, the Sidhi courses, the
curricula, the disguised religious element masquerading as a science,
He was aware, apparently for some time, of the problem, suicide attempts, assaults, homicidal ideation, serious psychotic episodes, depressions, inter alia, but his general attitude was to leave it alone or conceal it because the community would lose faith in the TM movement.
- Maharishi had a very cavalier, almost elitist, view about very serious injuries and trauma to meditators. His basic attitude towards the concealment of the religious nature of TM was: "When America is ready for Hinduism I will tell them."
- The claims of flying and levitation in the Sidhi courses are more than just false and dishonest, and an ambitious, cynical money making scheme by a group of cosmic merchants. They are exceedingly dangerous to a small, but significant, percentage of people who believe this and uncritically accept these outlandish claims.
- Based on specific and personal observations and knowledge, inter alia, there is no question, but that the Maharishi had prior and actual notice and knowledge of the detrimental consequences of some meditative and Sidhi practices. However, he made a conscious decision and choice a long time ago to make money, develop a world-wide network of TM-SCI-Sidhi programs, irrespective of the trauma he caused to many vulnerable and uninformed people who were willing to trust him.
Why "heavy unstressing", why can TM practice be so psychologically toxic?
"Heavy unstressing" and the psychological casualties are a result of deliberately inducing chronic dissociation via excessive TM practice, which can also result in an extreme degree of suggestibility. This extreme suggestibility, combined with heavy exposure to advanced TM esoteric indoctrination, can in turn lead to induced psychosis as in the example of Mrs. Wallace above.
TM induces dissociation (trance), but trance of itself is neither "good" nor "bad." The ability to enter trance is actually a natural feature of human psychology. Experts on the subject say that becoming heavily absorbed in TV show, or absorbed in a book, or absorbed in a daydream can be a benign form of trance.
TMers deliberately induce dissociation (trance) every day. Those who have fallen deeply into the rabbit hole may induce dissociation many times a day for months or years. Too much trance becomes psychologically toxic. What is "too much"? I believe that depends on the individual, but the many hours a day of trance experienced by advanced TM practitioners too much. A steadily more serious case of "chronic dissociation" is the result.
What happens is that they end up developing dissociative disorders, including depersonalization, and derealization:
- Individuals who experience depersonalization feel divorced from their own personal physicality by sensing their body sensations, feelings, emotions and behaviors as not belonging to the same person or identity. Often a person who has experienced depersonalization claims that life "feels like a movie" or things seem unreal or hazy. Also, a recognition of self breaks down (hence the name). Depersonalization can result in very high anxiety levels, which further increase these perceptions.
- Derealization (DR) is an alteration in the perception or experience of the external world so that it seems strange or unreal. Other symptoms include feeling as though one's environment is lacking in spontaneity, emotional colouring and depth. It is a dissociative symptom of many conditions...
Here's the story of my own adventures in TM. When I described it to a psychiatrist years later he called it "induced psychosis." What happened to me is that in my permanently dissociated state I internalized all TM dogma. In particular I internalized the dogma regarding what experiences at "higher levels of consciousness" would be like, and also about demons. I then "had" these "higher" experiences, and also began to experience evil supernatural forces who were opposing the spread of TM. Unfortunately I was able to discuss these and other psychotic ideations with Mahesh, who confirmed them, making things incredibly worse.
Mrs. Wallace's story above is just one of many other examples of how TMers experience "induced psychosis." If you read all of the stories of psychological damage that I've mentioned you'll see many many examples of it.
Heavy participation in TM is a formula for psychological