Once, one of my teachers, a Buddhist practitioner, advised against body scan meditation saying that it can cause psychosis and the surfacing of problematic contents. I have subscribed to this advice so far.

Is this really true? What are the dangers associated with body scan meditation?


Your teacher maybe refering to the insight that can occur during meditation but I'd like to widen this to include any Buddhist meditation methods or variations thereof. Also, the unearthing of deep-seated unconscious material can produce unpleasant mind and behaviour altering states.

The Buddha's teachings can be quite potent for some and respect must be given to the process of unfolding insight.

There is a sutta that describes the power contained in the teachings and it's probably the most extreme example. (Vesali Sutta, SN 54.9.) The Buddha had given the monks a practice before going away for two weeks. When he came back some of the monks had taken a knife to themselves and ended their lives. They had fallen into the extremes of the disgust of their own bodies.

It's wise therefore to have a healthy mind and body so that one can hold the fascinating experiences and insights that may arise.

  • The Sutta referred to in another answer about a mass suicide of monks is the Vesali Sutta, SN 54.9. Clearly this should be a comment and not a new answer, however I don't have enough reputation to comment. Oct 8 '18 at 17:05
  • Thank you. I've updated to reflect more accurately.
    – user14148
    Oct 9 '18 at 16:05

If I hold and/or grasp as permanent a meditative experience -- even a body scan -- I may get lost in any number of illusions.

Doing a body scan, completing and finishing, moving on with the day -- no problem.


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