A meditation practice can offer surprises, as can any spiritual exploration or path. And it’s good for whomever guides us to know about these.
What are some of these surprises?
Some are specific to a spiritual path, for instance…
Meditation or a spiritual opening leading to the lid being taken off unprocessed psychological material. This can be scary and overwhelming.
Energy system fried or destabilized. In or after a spiritual opening, high energies can run through the system and fry or destabilize it.
General psychological disorientation and destabilization.
Other wrinkles are well known from regular psychology.
Chasing states. Get a taste of a state and try to recreate it while missing the essence of a spiritual opening or glimpse.
Inflation. Seeing oneself as better than others due to spiritual openings, insights, or abilities.
Projections. Blindly projecting things out on others and overlooking them in oneself.
Giving away authority. Giving away ones own authority to a spiritual guide or organization.
When we chose spiritual guides or coaches, it’s wise to chose someone who has knowledge of these and knows how to prevent and recognize them, and can help people navigate through it or know who to refer to.
At the minimum, people who teach meditation or similar approaches (prayer, inquiry, yoga etc.) should be trained to minimize the risk of these, recognize the signs, and know who to refer to. And those who help navigate people through these should be familiar with the terrain from their own experience.
Since the second category is well known in mainstream psychology, quite a few guides have some skills and familiarity with how to work with those.
But in my own experience, not many teachers are educated or equipped to deal with the first category. For instance, when I needed guidance for grounding and stabilizing in the early awakening phase, what I found was teachers who were mostly or only trained to help people further open – which wasn’t what I needed at the time. Fortunately, I knew that I needed grounding and not further opening so I found my own way.
When I later went through the “lid taken off” phase, I was fortunately in a different situations and did find some who could offer guidance and support based on having gone through it themselves.
And I should mention that none of these wrinkles or hiccups are wrong in the big picture. They can be confusing, scary, uncomfortable, and destabilizing. But they are not inherently wrong. If they happen, they become part of the path, and – as anything else – are fuel for healing, maturing, awakening, and embodiment.
Note: There are, of course, no real “shoulds” here and no real “need” to know. I just decided to use a more conventional language. It would be more accurate to say that if people seek out teachers with this insight and experience, they can be guided through it more easily if some of these wrinkles happen for them. And teachers who familiarize themselves with it will similarly be better able to guide others, or at least recognize the signs and refer to someone else.