“The Answer to All Your Problems?” The Overly Positive Presentation of Meditation in the Media

The current popularity of ‘secular’ meditation has been due in large part to its promotion in the mainstream Western media. In 1975 TIME magazine ran a cover featuring an image of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation (TM) along with the headline: “Meditation: The Answer to All Your Problems?” Ever since, stories about meditation have captured the attention of a Western audience receptive to narratives around spirituality, healing, self-help and wellness. The view of meditation that is portrayed by the Western media is, however, radically simplified and incomplete. Specifically, it is an overwhelmingly positive view, which at its … Read more

Kundalini Crisis – A Modern Phenomenon?

Classical esoteric literature describes kundalini as a normally dormant force that resides at the base of the spine, and that when awakened, can cause a variety of mental, emotional, physical and spiritual effects. Kundalini is said to be the biological mechanism behind enlightenment.[1]

According to some modern accounts (e.g. Lee Sannella), kundalini should only be awakened as a gradual process, under the guidance of an experienced teacher. If a kundalini awakening occurs when an individual is not properly prepared, it can cause negative effects, including fear, disorientation and psychosis – a ‘kundalini crisis.’[2] However it is not clear … Read more

Fire Kasina / Trataka

Traditional Hindu texts refer to a variety of meditation practices. For example, the Upanishads mention techniques that utilise cosmic contemplation, Vedic religious symbolism, avataras (images understood to be a physical presence of a deity or God), and mantras (words or sounds that have special religious significance) like the OM.[1] Various positive physiological and psychological effects are also mentioned in the Hindu scriptures, however health benefits tend to be the outcome of preparatory and purification practices (kriya) rather than of meditation itself.[2] For example, body postures (asana) and breath control (pranayama) are … Read more