The Dark Side Of Meditation

By Leo Gura - October 10, 2016 | 54 Comments

The odd side-effects of meditation

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Amanda says:

Man! Perfect timing. Thanks for another episode that coincides with my life right now.

Matevhu says:

Hey Leo, thank you so much for this great insights. Without a doubt this is, for me, one the best video by you. Just what I needed.

Julia says:

Hey Leo,

really love your video. Just went to some weeks of depression waves and my zen teacher couldn’t explain it as nice as you do, what was acutally happening.
Will keep in touch with your videos. Thank you for sharing, you really succeed to explain the spiritual path in a contemporary way! :)


Gavin says:

Thanks Leo, this definitely made me feel better about some of the negative things I’ve been experiencing over the last year or so, as I’ve been thinking (Shouldn’t I be getting happier than usual?) e.g. mood swings, feeling like I’m going a bit mad occasionally. Never occurred to me to attribute it to my meditation practice.

Is it true to a degree that most people (including non-meditators and people not interested in personal development) are likely to experience some of the more common things listed in the video, at some point in their life, e.g. hyper-judgmentalism, dishonouring values, excessive horniness, mind going crazy etc.?

Is the difference that these states are more likely to be recurring/unconscious for non-meditators, whereas for meditators they are just things that bubble up and will eventually pass for good?

Also… the aliens, angels and demons… these are just projections of the subconscious mind right? RIGHT? :) :O

Leo Gura says:

You have little idea yet how bad the spiritual purification will get. You’ve not even completed 0.01% of the path.

Aliens, demons, angels merely projections of the mind?

Well… just keep in mind that time, matter, energy, external reality, the brain, other people, self, body, language, science, religion, death, and existence are also merely projections of the mind.

Gavin says:

Thanks for the response!

Yeah, since learning about enlightenment itself, it kind of blew the whole door wide open for me – in this kind of way: “well if this is true, how can I really dispute the possibility of all these other seemingly impossible things”.

Re: the angels & demons etc., when you phrased all of those other subjects as merely being projections of the mind also, then the distinction between what’s “real” and “not real” really starts to blur and break down for me.

I was halfway through writing about how a physical table is surely more real than something witnessed during a hallucination, but then it kind of clicked that the table “as a table” doesn’t actually exist, only as a label or concept. To grasp that the matter it’s made out of also doesn’t exist though, is still a step too far for me at the moment, I think. There’s definitely something there that causes an experience when I collide with it! I guess that’s all I can really say for certain.

I guess no response is necessary, writing this message has been helpful in itself :)

Keep up the great work!

Leo Gura says:

Consider the possibility that you invented the distinction between “real” and “unreal” and that in fact there isn’t such a thing.

What would that mean? Something rather significant. That’s for you to discover.

As far as matter goes… there is no such thing. The table is not made out of matter. That’s just a thought. I know, I know… it’s a bitter pill to swallow.

Yes, there is the experience of colliding with a table. But that doesn’t mean it’s made of matter. In a dream your feet collide with the floor. Does that mean the ground in the dream is made of matter?

Even if you’re using the standard scientific model, it’s pretty obvious that “the table” is just a hallucination rendered by the brain. You’ve never seen “the physical world”. All you have are a set of persistent hallucinations. The standard scientific model is of course wrong. Even if you upgrade it to a modern quantum mechanical model, you’re still no better off. Matter doesn’t exist in quantum mechanics. And the quantum mechanical model is STILL wrong! (Because it too is just a series of thoughts.)

Notice that there is no scientific model relating matter to consciousness in any plausible way. Current science doesn’t understand consciousness at all, because it insists on a materialist reduction.

Gavin says:

Thanks again for the detailed response!

OK the dream analogy of what I’m colliding with in the dream really got me good! I’m going to be chewin’ on that one for a while :)

I’m still working my way through Integral Spirituality and he’s talking a lot about particular phenomena having different dimensions (in each of the “4 Quadrants”), so that for every physical manifestation, to reduce it purely to the physical material realm is wrong and that there is in reality, a “tetra-arising”. I know you are a far more advanced student of that kind of material, so just wanted to ask, do you see that 4-Quadrant framework as a valid way to interpret reality, or is it really the case that direct experience truly supercedes the physical and that they are not equivalent perspectives on the same particular phenomenon?

Leo Gura says:

There is the “physical” domain conventionally speaking, but it’s more accurate to replace that word with “virtual”. The only reason it appears physical is because that’s what you’ve been told by your culture and because you haven’t yet experienced anything beyond.

So go experience what’s beyond the physical, so you can let go of this whole physical paradigm.

Gavin says:

That genuinely makes sense, thanks!

I’d certainly like to experience what’s beyond the physical. I feel like I’ve only ever had the tiniest of glimpses.

I’ve been trying various forms of meditation over the last couple of years, changing every couple of months; for only 20 minutes or so daily, sometimes closer to an hour on weekends. Do you recommend one meditative practice in particular for experiencing what’s beyond the physical, or is it really just dependent on personal preference? Last question, I promise! :)

mark says:

Hi Leo,thank fuck for this video,i thought i was going crazy,perfect timing,onwards and upwards,cheers.

Ashley says:

Thanks for the heads up Leo. I have only been practicing TM for 3 months & have already experienced the horniness! Just discovered your videos last week & have watched many of the ones on meditation, they have really inspired & motivated me. Would be interested in your thoughts about TM,the transcending experience & how it compares with other forms of meditation.

Peter says:

Hi Leo.

Thanks for making this Video. I am curious how you came to the conclusion meditation was causing all the ill effects you describe?


Leo Gura says:

I do research. That’s my job.

Tom says:

Thank you Leo! One of your best videos in my opinion. Thanks to you I’ve been meditating now for 2 months, 30 minutes a day. I’m going to crank it up to maybe 45 minutes a day soon.

Martin Peterson says:

veganism i s l ..

Sevi says:

Such a complementary thoughtful video.

Charles says:

Thanks Leo … (big sigh) … Good timing with this video as always … Soothing to know others are experiencing the same shit ( and I am not going fucking mad) … This is not an easy ride at times, but we always re-awaken. Undoubtedly something is different; a noticeably more deeper peace these past two years of meditating / contemplation. Yes, we are becoming more conscious (it’s so darn subtle) yet these sidesteps are not … Nice job explaining what is going on …

Hey Leo … Isn’t it about time we followers of all meet up … Would be interesting to meld with the rest of this wave experiencing the “perfect fuckedupidness of our journey with Leo” … ( YES – That is what this is … )

george says:

hey Leo!
all of this list sounds like side effects of just being a human being in this palnet wheather you have been meditating or not….

george says:

hey Leo!
all of this list sounds like side effects of just being a human being on this palnet regardless of meditation habits….

Leo Gura says:

Hehe, you have no idea yet how bad it gets. If you become a serious meditator, you will discover a whole new world of suffering as your constructed human reality melts from contact with Truth.

Ramona says:

So God is in a battle with itself. Cool. Sometimes I am amazed by the stupidity of your spiritual approach. Don’t worry! I didn’t single you out. Most of the spiritual teachings are total bullshit and this bellicose attitude against this illusion (ego) will never ever work. Neither any spiritual technique used with the same attitude against yourself in order to get to some stupid illusory point of a future enlightenment. What about some respect, attention and love for these wounds wich have been neglected and denied for our whole lives? Let’s meditate, let’s play this game of “who is suffering?”, let’s attack people for being unconscious, let’s add more separation in this world with this spiritual crap instead of admitting the deep and rejected wounds that each one of us carries with them, being with them without any judgement, acknowledging them in others and walking together the only path towards enlightenment: the path of the heart, the path of love. I mean, you felt infinite love for the dust in your bathroom, but you fight battles with your “ego”, as if ego is other than consciousness. Hilarious!

Leo Gura says:

To God, it’s just play, not battle. Only to egos it looks like a battle.

Ramona says:

Wow! Such a wise answer that I will stop listening to you on the subject of enlightenment. It’s like taking advice about dancing from a guy who sketches bodies dancing. Thank you and good luck!

Marcus says:

Since you’ve got everything figured out, why go here for spiritual advice?

Paul says:

Great video Leo! I have been doing a yoga habit for 6 weeks, a journal for 3 months and meditation for 2 days. I’ve done all the above sporadically but certainly the habit forming, everyday practice seems to be sticking. I thought I was a strange individual who reflects on life to the degree I do but it’s great to hear your ideas and thoughts and know I’m not alone. Thanks!

Nicole says:

Hey Leo.
I just wanted to say that this was one of your best videos yet. I was always wondering why I’d think things like this and a lightbulb went off in my head and I was like, “oh! It’s the meditation! Of course! It’s shaping me!”

Brett Miller says:


Jacques Poirier says:

Hi Leo,

I was questionning my spiritual journey because the more I progressed the more I was feeling bad. Not knowing there was possible side effects to meditation as you put it in this video, I was considering quitting such practices not understanding why.

So, same as taking quality natural products, vitamins and minerals for the first time or starting a new physical training, at the beginning, the desired effect can be the opposite of what is expected because the body is in detoxification process.

Thank you for all the information in “The Dark side of meditation” and the hard work you put in all your video. You are strait to the point in all your video and I am gratefull to you.

Jacques from Montreal.

C says:

Hi Leo,

Absolutely love this video. Very informative. I’ve had my share of bad experiences meditating but I seem to have a routine down that helps me avoid that now. I just feel so rejuvenated and in such a great mood after my meditation. While meditating I put on music with binaural beats and isometric tones which allows me to go really deep. I really get into it with candle light, the himalyian sea salt lamps, the aroma therapy oil on my body, and crystals, burning sage and incense. I just get so lost in the moment. I think I have more positive experiences with meditation more than usual because of the reiki training. I’m using the reiki symbols and sending energy out to other people and myself. I can feel the energy circulating in my body and have noticed the improvements in others and I’m thankful to share that with other people. I’ve even sent you energy several times in hope that enlightenment finds you. I really hope you reach enlightenment because I really feel that you deserve to have it. You have worked so hard, and have watched you grow over the last few years. It’s so neat how there are so many different techniques and experiences we can have with meditation.

I have done kundalini yoga to balance my chakras but I’ve never experienced what you have described, however I just feel so balanced and full of love towards myself and others after doing so.

i think it’s so awesome how you pointed out how life takes you on unexpected journeys and how sometimes that involves walking away from your life purpose and going down the wrong path. I’ve had that happen a few times recently but because of my personal development training with you I’m able to change my perspective and see where I’ve grown from those experiences. Because of this point of view, I just grow so much faster, and bounce back with full force. From what I can see I don’t think it’s natural for us to be in a negative state. When we are excessively negative it can prevent personal growth, it causes depression, sluggishness, ill health, and shortening of the life span. It is unnatural. I have become aware of how much it inhabits me, and have made the conscious choice to stay positive even when life throws me a curve ball. Right now my dad is living his last days in the hospital dying of cancer. I can choose to be negative and complain that he is leaving me and my family behind, or I can choose to celebrate his life and realize that his consciousness lives forever, and the body is the only thing that is dying. I chose the positive perspective. Life is too short to wallow in misery.

Another great video as always! Thanks again for all your hard work and dedication.

Piotr says:

Thanks Leo for this great video !

Ken B says:

Holy shit, and I thought it was just me going crazy. Thank you for explaining all this Leo……………… and for the reassuring bit at the end.

Luis Miguel says:

Leo, have you got any insigth about true nature and meaning of relationships?. Thank you

Callum David says:

Look I’ve been following your videos for a year and a half. I finally got my meditation routine going about 7-8 months ago 10 minuets a night. Now jitters and random shakes yeah, bright lights only once or twice not common. However all the crazy stuff your talking about sounds to me like it’s your conscious hulusination not a real life event which means your allowing your self to become attached to thoughts instead of detaching and becoming more grounded in your body’s sensory field (feeling the body so to speak) which is the Essenes of being in the moment.

I love your teachings your older videos helped me get in my feet with my life. However I can’t help but feel your latest videos are signs of spiritual ego. Leo id appreciate if you could address what I’ve said here to give me a clearer understanding. I am open minded I am a critical thinker I’m not saying I don’t believe what your saying is impossible but I am saying In my opinion these experiences are thoughts/concepts in the head not an actual encounter with aliens or angles or demons.

LEO I would also like you to response to this video!!! It’s another personal development teachers reaction to your video.

Please respond


I noticed you don’t allow URL’s so here’s the details;

YouTube search for “naked reality reaction to”

Leo Gura says:

Once you’ve meditated for 5000 hours, come back and let’s talk.

You haven’t a clue yet what you’re in for.

It’s like I am telling you about the challenges of solving second order differential equations, and you’re responding by saying, “But Leo, I just finished 1st grade arithmetic and with hardly any problems!”

Josh says:

mmm… I meditated for a few years already. Loneliness, mood swings, anger, ego backlash etc yes. Aliens and shit…ehm… no.

Actually, I may not have 5000 hours yet, since you like insisting on this idea of X amount of hours. Maybe I have 1000-2000. But speaking with the meditation teachers at camps, people who’ve done that for tens of years…honestly… no one brings up aliens and shit or tells people you have no idea what you’re getting into. Over the long run, you are in for ‘liberation from suffering’. Which is what the Buddha taught. And actually if you practice right, your life just feels better overall, with very deep struggles of course here and there, but on the long haul, you’re suffering less. When people brought up strange visions during the camps I attended, the teachers always said ‘don’t pay attention, the mind can create anything. Just go back to the breath or body’. Or he laughed about it.

U Ba Khin used to tell his students that if their body felt like dissolving or things like that they could just slap their own face and they’d feel that the body is indeed still there!

Lastly, I would just like to point out that I attended different types of camps and during some of those – say Vipassana or other – just normal people experienced usual sensations, pains, tingling etc. No alien no entities, no object talking no shit.

I once attended a yoga camp where people experienced all sort of crazy shit. Mountains talking, entities, angels etc.etc. Except for me and a few friends I knew and who are indeed quite grounded people. Well, I probably should mention that in this camp, most of the attendees who experienced in fact all this crazy shit, where people coming from a history of problems, psychological problems, or in some sort of difficult life situation and quite fragile. That may be just a coincidence but…. just some food for thought.

Now you can go on with this path that you’ve taken. I’ll keep ‘radical open mindedness’ and if you offer me a technique to exit my body and meet the aliens I’ll just try it diligently. Just by following it step by step.

Meanwhile you may adopt the radical open mindedness to consider the possibility that these acids are leading you a little off track here. And that the guy who responded you on Youtube (Naked Reality) which I’m sure you’ve seen may be offering you something useful. Just to entertain, without adopting it necessarily…

Leo Gura says:

What you dismiss as “all sorts of crazy shit” is the variety of phenomena I described. I haven’t taken any path. I’ve described a range of phenomena possible for serious meditators. Just because you haven’t experienced it, doesn’t mean anything. I explicitly said that you will not necessarily have all these side-effects. If you’re a left-brained person, you may not experience too much “weird shit”.

Watch the projections you make on me when you hear something that rubs you the wrong way. There is way more to consciousness than you think.

If you want techniques to experience entities or paranormal phenomena, they are readily available and trainable. Go discover what you’ve been ignoring, if you dare. As you say, the mind can create anything ;)

Baljit says:

Hey Leo,

This is what I was looking for. I have been meditating for a couple years on and off, but this past year was pretty consistent. Then I decided to take some time off and go to the Himalayas on a Spiritual retreat, and I started to basically not care about my job, and a lot of other “important” things. So many drastic changes are happening like getting back into old bad habits, that I thought were a part of the past…It’s really intense that you made this video..I Just wanted to say that you are truly an inspiration. I have posted regarding some of your older videos from the account bthehealer. I just want to say that this video is on point… Thank you so much for sharing!


Callum David says:

This is silly it’s not due to meditation why bad habbits are cropping up it’s because of your lack of awareness it’s fear of emptiness it just means you need to sit in a room and watch your habbits and cravings mindfully for a few hours a day. It’s homeostasis so to speak you’ve still not shifted centre point. I’m not writing normal life of to side effects of meditation bullshit. That’s like saying there’s actual proof of the Big Bang i.e. a picture haha.

Leo’s lost man he’s got some explaining to to as far as I’m concerned. Hope he does explain… The one thing I’m finding consistent with Leo is he urges you to be massively open minded but his mind is very fixed not open he believes he holds the true path but half the things he’s saying now a days you can’t even research it because it’s his own opinions. His work has degraded the last 5-6 months.

Callum David says:

Look Leo with all due respect I think you should make a video response to Naked Reality’s reaction. I say this because you say this is advanced stuff and no doubt if it’s true… However it sounds far fetched even to those of us who have been following for a few year. I think you might lose a few people because of this video surely you must understand how that sounds to intelligent people who are watching you to see how we can boost our lives.

Your responsible for helping me on a very positive path Leo I have a lot of love for you man I’m not someone who writes in the comments I just listen to you research it and complete the exercises you tell us to do. But I’m at a point now were to me you seem to be almost losing it the last few videos have been nuts although I’ve listened but after this one it broke me then I watch the pd guy of naked reality and it has reinforced the fact that your getting lost.

I agree fully with josh, don’t push this one aside it really needs addressed please provide some clarity, you’ve caused us to question you Leo please help us.

Btw if you respond please break it down and try not to let your ego get the better of you :) for example id enjoy if you responded with compassion not from a position of being on a high horse like you normally do.


Leo Gura says:

I can see how it would look this way from your perspective. But it will only get worse in the future. I warned you guys that advanced stuff is coming, and you’re not going to be able to understand it unless you’ve been taking massive action.

This work requires extraordinary nuance and care. There are many traps your mind will trick you into the deeper we go.

It would be a good idea to not take the things I say ideologically. I certainly don’t.

Josh says:

I’ll reply here to both comments. Regarding “Watch the projections you make on me when you hear something that rubs you the wrong way” I feel that with respect to a lot of sound comments you avoid the core of the question / statement and either dodge it or tell people ‘watch your ego’ bla bla. And I don’t get what you mean here.

What I and Callum David are trying to say is a lot more simple. My point is if you make a list of those experiences and videos like this I think you’re doing a disservice to a lot of meditators who may be only at the beginning. Yes of course of anything can happen, so what? Like the guy in Naked Reality said, you can hallucinate. I personally never hallucinated during meditation.

And I told you, it may be a coincidence, but in the multiple circles I’ve been those the people more prone to hallucinating were people that had some serious problems in life (socially, past abuse, diagnose disorders, young and fragile, seeking approval emotionally wounded etc). Now there was an instance where a teacher instead of helping them let go of attachment to these fantasies, which was just clearly stuff that they experienced in their minds with eyes closed, since during the camp no fucking alien, or entity ever appeared, was treating this stuff as something valuable to SHARE! Exactly like you’re doing.

And all this bullshitting about experiences that don’t matter was just distracting me to do what we were supposed to do. The work. On the body, feeling the body, feeling the goddamn present moment. Now like the guy in Naked Reality say, if you start making videos about them and attaching importance to this stuff instead of say, well it’s just hallucination, like a dream, you are doing the same as that teacher.

On the one hand, yes you label them as ‘side effects’ but on the other hand you subtly imply that they’re also mark of progress and you know why? Because basically anyone who tells you that this is impossible you label as someone whose beliefs about reality are limiting and he still has to break them down.

You’re in disagreement with most spiritual teachers here. Yes those things can be experienced in the form of hallucinations. And yes ultimately hallucination is just another experience, like a dream or reality. Of course you can come and make the same argument for how to tell apart dream and reality? Schopenhauer did it hundreds of years ago. It’s true but if you practically start to treat hallucinations as real or reality as a dream and act from that standpoint you’re someone affected by psychosis. Not an enlightened being.

So we surely don’t want to encourage psychosis through the practice.

And again, from Eckhart Tolle to a lot of other wise teachers, no one comes to the point where it starts to call into question the rules of the physical world, or reality itself. Yes reality may be like a dream and dreams within the dream they have in fact their roles too. One day or the other we will have to challenge you to basically show us how to fly if we follow the ramifiications of this.

Also a 99% of meditation teachers or yogi I’ve met they were teaching observation. Of the breath, or body sensation and that’s it. And do you want to know in my personal experience where the path takes? Through ups and downs?

To a place of greater equanimity. Where even recently, I was in hospital in pain because of a physical condition, and I was not reacting to pain as much and in the end I was even surprise that I looked at my entire experience with gratitude. In a way it felt ‘good’. And it brings to not be so controlled by your desires and reacting to them too. It brings constant vigilant awareness of your sensations, emotions and thinking. Even when you snap there’s this awareness saying ‘oh look! I’m snapping here! It’s building up’. And you do more and more and there’s complete awareness. And perfect equanimity. Not an increase of experiences that conflict with law of physics or common sense.

No teacher ever told me or people I know that the more we meditate the more we increase the possibility to see something that defies the physical rules of what we call reality. Deep emotional experiences etc okay. Seeing batman no. Praying mantis people no. And yet here you insist on : I expect you to see something so shocking that you won’t believe it.

Well man, this is stuff advertised by people who do drugs. Usually not by experienced meditators. As I said those tend to dismiss hallucination for what they are, stuff that doesn’t matter. They don’t encourage to ‘be ready for it’.

So, I’ll keep following the channel and see where this thing goes. Meanwhile you keep an open mind too. And I’ll leave you with just a possibility to consider, I’ll use a sentence that a fellow meditator once said and which one year later made all the difference: ” we live in a society where we have Hollywood and all these special effects and we think of enlightenment as something wow incredible. But maybe it’s something very very simple, like nothing special. Who knows”.

P.S. When you invite people to take massive action here, by massive action you basically mean they need to take drugs. Because clearly by only meditating, most of us sane people haven’t yet come to agreeing to shocking experiences. We keep going to work, feeding our families, loving our fellow human beings, becoming more balanced and equanimous and chopping our woods and carrying our water. As boring as this can be compared to being constantly shocked by aliens, tables dissolving, reality melting and paradygms crumbling down.

Frederik says:

No Podcast for this episode? :(

Frederik says:

is there no podcast for this episode? :(

Callum David says:

Couldn’t agree more with what josh said, I can’t find crazy experiences anywhere else also this numbers game I keep hearing Leo say after so many hours of meditation you’ll see this you’ll feel this… All I find of all the other spiritual teachers is it takes as long as it takes some might advance quicker than others which makes more sense.

I’m still open minded to what Leo has said but that a big difference to blindly following everything he says which is what he told us not to do in his critical thinker video

Sandeep says:

Hi Leo,

Is there going to be a podcast for this video? I thought you may have stopped the podcast, but then I see the recent one “Mechanics of Beliefs” is there, so it just seems this one is missing!


Gavin says:

That genuinely makes sense, thanks!

I’d certainly like to experience what’s beyond the physical. I feel like I’ve only ever got the tiniest of glimpses.

I’ve been trying various forms of meditation over the last couple of years, changing every couple of months; for only 20 minutes or so daily, sometimes closer to an hour on weekends. Do you recommend one meditative practice in particular for experiencing what’s beyond the physical, or is it really just dependent on personal preference? Last question, I promise! :)

Leo Gura says:

Everything is non-physical. Look around you. Everything you’re seeing is pure consciousness.

Kk says:


When you meet Leo, out of the blue, strongly slap his face! Then observe his reaction. You can add if you want: ‘so what? Everything is non physical!’

Leo Gura says:

When I slap you back, I’ll say the same thing. Maybe then you’ll experience some illumination!

Jay says:

hi there!
I just want to share my story with you guys who are also going through this.

Been experienceing this stuff for about two years now.
Some really crazy stuff has crossed my mind, deep depression, lack of meaning etc. fluxuating between high and low states of conciousness. Waking up in the morning with negative emotions so strong that it feels like really bad physical pain in the chest.

Thing is, i dont do meditation.

Ive been following Echart tolles books and teachings. Its all about being present all the time, instead of 20 min a day. Its hard in the beginning but eventually your main state becomes presence. I feel like if i were lost in my ego/mind/thoughts all day it would slow my growth. Why not meditate 24/7 ? ;)

Finally, do you think i should start a meditation habit aswell?

Lauren says:

Just what I needed to hear!
Hugs to you, brilliant and brave man Leo!

Asaiah Powers says:

Whenever i meditate,i get these jolts of humiliating memoirs from my childhood up through my teen years, things Ive said or done that i can never take back. And they keep coming back during sleep ,What do i do? How do i get closure? do i keep meditating,or increase the time?

Leo Gura says:

Yes, just keep meditating. They will eventually be purged from your system.

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