2 questions: Medication + Meditation?

I have 2 questions, but first of all, I wanted to thank you for the section you have written that starts off, "Rarely acknowledged by traditional psychiatry, the spiritual dimension of mania and what is most often labeled as "psychosis" may often times reflect a deeper spiritual emergence, a dissolution of ego, or higher state of consciousness." I'm 19 years old & after experiencing psychosis/mania back in March, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Type I. The past 6 months I have been incredibly depressed because--as you explained so well--I felt the spiritual element of my experience was never validated. Before the mania, I had begun meditating daily/practicing hatha yoga...delving into my journey on the spiritual path so to speak. Now for my first question: did my meditation practice in any way somehow increase my susceptibility to the bipolar? I know that meditation doesn't cause bipolar, but I was wondering if the two were related in any way.


Now for my second question. I'm currently taking various medications, including depakote and zyprexa and now lamictal as well. The plan is that soon I'll hopefully only be on lamictal, though someday I hope to try the EMPower Plus. I just don't think it'd be appropriate at this time to ask my parents to go off my current medication/am not sure they'd go for that. Anyway, after discovering your site, I felt a great sense of peace and a desire to go back to my spirituality because it really is very important to me. My second question is whether or not the medication will affect the benefits of meditation? I hope to someday practice kriya yoga and was wondering if such medications will hinder the depth of my spiritual experience?

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I really appreciate it.

Ben's Response

These are excellent questions. First manic experiences most often occur around the ages of 17-21. There may be many reasons for that, including the emotional stress of leaving home, separating from family, being independent, possible drug use...

Meditating and practicing yoga may have been part of the same deep thirst for spiritual understanding that later fueled your mania. But that doesn't mean it caused the mania. On the other hand, I believe that too much meditation, and certain yogic practices, pranayama (life-force control through the use of breath), can raise the energy (prana/kundalini) to such a degree that it may trigger mania if you do not gradually build up the capacity to handle the energy in your body. These practices should be done in moderation and only gradually increased - preferably with some expert guidance. Those same practices could be a great aide in your recovery - but you must be very mindful or their effects and if you become to energized, ungrounded or agitated, you should stop and do a gentler practice.

I think you have a good plan. Don't be concerned about the medication affecting your meditation. It's more important that you do the meditation. Though the meds will mostly likely dampen the effects of the meditation. As you decrease your meds, you may start to feel more when you meditate, which is good - again - as long as you are very aware of not becoming to out of balance or ungrounded. Doing the asanas (physical postures) is a good way to stay in the body.

If you do Kriya someday, do so with caution and moderation and an advanced teacher or Kriya Master.

Thanks for the questions. I wish you great success and happiness!

Ben

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