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May 27, 2022

Anna Lutkajtis is the author of The Dark Side of Dharma: Meditation, Madness and other Maladies on the Contemplative Path.

Lutkajtis joins us on the Adventures Through The Mind podcast to discuss mediation; the adverse effects of meditation; where those adverse effects may arise from; the importance of meditation teachers having psychotherapeutic skills; the nerfing of spirituality; and why it is that Western meditation contexts not only generally lack an awareness and understanding of mediation adverse effects, but why those harms are seemingly actively and explicitly ignored.

Furthermore, we touch on psychedelic experiences as well; the media landscape surrounding their industrialization; the influence psychedelics have had on meditation culture (and vice versa); and how Anna’s research into the adverse effects of meditation overlaps with the growing interest in psychedelics amongst clinical practice, investors, and the wellness industry at large.


For links to Anna's work, full show notes, and a link to watch this episode in video, head to




*** Extra BIG thanks to my patrons on Patreon for helping keep this podcast alive!

Especially my $23+ patrons, Andreas D, Clea S, Joe A, Ian C, Yvette FC, Chuck W, Alex F, Eliz C, Nathan B, Nick M, & Chloe C —— 


Episode Breakdown

  • (0:00) Opening
  • (2:05) Overture
  • (4:05) Guest Bio
  • (6:56) Patreon Thanks
  • (8:51) Presenting the thesis of The Dark Side Of Dharma
  • (12:42) What is Mediation? | Transcendental Meditation, Vipassana, & Mindfulness
  • (18:02) The adverse effects of meditation (including spiritual crisis)
  • (21:33) Pathologizing the adverse effects of meditation might be a mistake
  • (25:48) The harms of secularising/decontextualizing meditation from its historical traditions
  • (32:53) Colonial extractivism and the distorted hubris of Western secularism
  • (36:38) The central role of mediation is a response to colonial conquest
  • (39:34) Repackaging Buddhism as a science to appeal to the Western Mainstream
  • (41:19) What’s missing in Western meditation contexts vs traditional ones (a personal story)
  • (44:38) Traditionally, “Having good health is a prerequisite for meditation” not the other way around
  • (49:26) Some adverse effects can come from the misinterpretation of meditation (and psychedelic) insights
  • (55:14) The trickster energy of high dose psilocybin
  • (58:04) The importance of meditation teachers having psychotherapeutic skills
  • (1:05:03) A concussion-symptom break
  • (1:09:19) Presenting meditation as a cure-all is harmful | what drives this presentation?
  • (1:19:09) Might the shifting media-tech landscape support psychedelics from falling into traps of corporate branding
  • (1:24:42) Anna asks James about how he feels The Dark Side Of Dharma might apply to psychedelics
  • (1:27:06) The influence psychedelics have had on meditation culture (and vice versa)
  • (1:27:37) Once you open the door, it can never be closed again
  • (1:29:56) Nerfing spirituality, spiritual bypassing, deception, and no, it’s not all good.
  • (1:34:08) Places to reach out if you are experiencing adverse effects
  • (1:36:11) Follow-up links
  • (1:37:46) Outro



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