As the mindfulness movement becomes more and more trendy, there are studies focusing on possible concerns.
What happens when a person sits in silence for hours at a time, when that person sticks to it no matter what emotional state s/he might be experiencing? What happens when an ‘unstable’ personality is faced with the idea of noticing mental activity or unwanted emotions. What happens when that person is unsupervised or offers no hint that there might be some kind of danger when participating in a retreat that continues for days on end?
There are studies being conducted and studies show that not everyone is equipped to deal with vypassana retreats.
Reminds me of the studies that showed that not everyone can deal with intense walkathons, fasts, or the intensity of high achievement in academics. Not everyone can slide through a new experience and come out shining.
Should there be a disclaimer when a meditator registers for a Silent Retreat? Eventually, there will be. A registrant will have to know that just like in yoga when the instructor reminds us to pay attention to our body, not to over-extend, so will the facilitators at a retreat. One will need to be aware that the mental and emotional stretch of hours upon hours of meditation might bring about side effects. One will need to be ready and able to judge if it’s cool to continue or if a short break is needed.
You might be interested in listening to this podcast given by Dr. Willoughby Britton on The Dark Side of Dharma about research being conducted.
Thanks, Dr. Britton. The more we engage in an activity, the more facets we will encounter.