Yoga Journal

The dark side of meditation

For many months after the ordeal ended in 2014, Jane Miller * was haunted by her stalker, a man she had initially befriended, but who then tormented her and threatened her life. The nightmare was tumultuous for Miller and her husband, and the cloud of sadness, shame, fear, and anxiety had a devastating effect on her life. She fought the urge to stay in bed all day. Blinds closed and curtains drawn, she kept even the tiniest sliver of sunlight from penetrating her fortress. She only left her house for necessities.

* Name has been changed for privacy.

Miller’s psychiatrist diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress and depressive disorders. Her therapist recommended that alongside regular therapy sessions she take a 12-week mindfulness meditation class to help her reclaim her life. Knowing she needed to do something to find peace of mind, she signed up and started the class full of hope.

Yet when she sat on her mat for the first time as the teacher began the class, her anxiety rose to the surface. She started sweating. Her heart began to race, and she was gripped by debilitating fear. “When class started that first day, a lot of negative selftalk flooded in. I closed my eyes, and silent tears started streaming down my

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