THE BLOG

Love, Shamanism and Safe Meditation

05/26/2011 07:14pm ET | Updated July 26, 2011
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There are countless benefits that come from meditation. Scientific studies show meditation activates the part of the brain that helps one make better decisions. Other benefits are anti-aging, healing, enhanced abilities and feeling balanced, peaceful and centered.

Meditation has been an important part of my kung fu training and life for over 20 years. However, very little has been written about the dangers of meditation, especially the rare times when one goes out of balance. Recently, a close friend of mine who is a healer and meditates daily, got into a deep relationship with a man who turned out to be damaged, depleted and out of balance.

He tapped into her and used her energies to heal himself and feel better. He accused her of not going to her maximum abilities to help him. So, she went higher and higher until she was leaving her body to do energy work.

To everyone's shock this normally very stable balanced person seemed to be acting certifiably insane. Not getting out of bed, refusing to eat, missing work and when she did surface she did incredibly destructive things. It turned out entities had entered her body to use her for their own purposes.

She saw a shamanic practitioner to help clear it out. The healing session worked like a miracle! She was told not to meditate for a while and to put roots down in the earth to get grounded again. She followed the instructions of the shaman and is now better than ever.

It is possible to meditate too much and spend too much time out of your body in other realms. It can leave one feeling "spacey" and disconnected from life on the physical plane. It's important to have energetic balance between our spiritual and physical. When I meditate I find it helps to root to the earth and align with the divine. Then I finish by balancing my spiritual/physical energies below the navel(tantien)

Katie Weatherup, author of "Practical Shamanism," has direct experience with this subject and helps heal clients with these issues. She is also highly skilled with other types of shamanic healing work, such as assistance in healing old wounds, trauma and clearing blockages so one may be in the flow and attract their most high good. I had the opportunity after an incredible session with her to ask some questions, I had been curious about and thought may help others.

How common is this type of nightmare? Do we just not hear about it?

Anytime someone has a tendency to dissociate or find their awareness isn't fully in their body at unexpected moments they can become more vulnerable to all the things you described that your friend experienced. As women, we often have a hard time fully being in our bodies. So, moderate meditation balanced with physical activity is great. But multiple hours a day of meditation can increase any tendency to dissociate, especially in trauma survivors because meditation is in itself an exercise of separating our minds from our physical reality!

When we're not in our bodies we are disconnected from our healthy boundaries, sense of self and personal power. It makes us more vulnerable to other people's energies and unhealthy relationships. Activities such as yoga, qi gong, tai chi, or other martial arts combine a wonderful balance of spiritual and physical connection. However, hours of sitting meditation and focused Kundalini work have been a catalyst for a full breakdown for more than one of my clients.

Much of modern meditation wisdom was developed for men. Men are often very connected to earth and have a hard time connecting to spirit, so meditation helps create a balance, whereas women are often very connected to spirit and have a hard time connecting to earth and to being fully in our bodies. Multiple hours of meditation can increase the imbalance for women. I highly recommend trauma survivors, whether male or female, receive other healing such as soul retrieval before undertaking meditation.

How can we protect ourselves when we go into an altered state of consciousness?

Exploring altered states of consciousness with an experienced teacher is a good plan. There are a number of steps that I teach my students when doing shamanic journey to keep them safe and clear of outside influences. Learning to meditate for 30 minutes a day from a book or CD is fine, but a deeper practice should be guided by an experienced teacher.

How can we tell the difference between impostors who are not for our most high good and high beings of light/angels trying to assist us?

There really isn't a substitute for working with an experienced practitioner. Intention is very important as well as mental and emotional stability. One good test is that a high being of light will never tell you to "prove yourself" or do something that feels out of integrity or safety to you. Free will is sacred and our guides hold loving space and make suggestions, but they never make demands or place conditions on their support. I address this more in my book, "Practical Shamanism".

Who we pick as a romantic partner, has such a huge impact on every phase of our lives. Please share some of your insights on staying in our center in relationships?

I regularly work with the complex landscape of romantic relationships both personally and professionally. I've witnessed over and over again how our instincts for survival play a huge role in the dance between partners that often goes unnoticed. Likewise, our unhealed childhood wounds often play into our choices in partners. I've found understanding, honoring and managing my instincts and inner child are key to being centered in relationship. The stronger my relationship with myself, the more space I have for romantic partnership that is based on joyful, mutual expression rather than unhealed pain or fear. My second book, "Sex, Shamanism, and Healing" goes deeply into this question.