Can Meditation Make You Hallucinate?

Can Meditation Make You Hallucinate?

During meditation, you can have a wide range of experiences. Anywhere from being high to mere sensations of profound peace. But there are other things we can experience during meditation that isn’t often talked about. 

Meditation is a safe experience, even so, the things we experience can feel so out of this world, that someone could question whether they should continue practicing at the time they’re experiencing the foreign sensation or if it’s a sign to stop. 

If you are experiencing something new with meditation, you’re doing something right. Some get curious at this point whereas others stop it because while everyone can experience significant changes in their lives throughout meditation, not everyone is ready. 

With meditation, you can experience hallucinations, but these are not common, and if anything, happen in two scenarios: when you enter the hypnagogic state or deprive yourself of sensations where your mind is so locked in on one thought you start seeing a light.

The Hypnagogic State

It’s common for lucid dreamers to use meditation as a means to enter a dream that they can control. This often happens when the mind retains its consciousness in the hypnagogic state, where it’s the state our mind is in a border between being awake and being asleep. 

During the hypnagogic state, people can experience hallucinations, for instance, seeing colors or geometric patterns. 

At this point, however, it’s debatable whether it’s a meditation, given how close we are to losing awareness, as hallucinating while meditating isn’t common. But it’s not a cause for concern. On the contrary, meditation tends to make you more alert than asleep. 

But even if you were to experience unpleasant hallucinations, during meditation you’re in control the entire time, and the same can’t be said about a nightmare that you’re trying to wake up from. Hypnagogia is merely scratching dream territory. 

Sensory Deprivation

Focus can be seen as the water you plant with meditation. The one you plant will grow, but in this case, being focused on just one thing whilst cutting off everything else, can manifest hallucinations in the form of white light, others describe it as some sort of fog and others see the shape of strings. This can be common for some meditators, but rare for most. While meditation opens up the possibilities for different experiences, not one person is guaranteed to experience the exact same thing as someone else. 

When it comes to sensory deprivation and its hallucinations, not everyone experiences the exact same hallucinations. 

But when meditation is done in complete quietness, in a dark environment, depriving the eyes and ears of any sensations, there’s a chance that the brain becomes sensitive, where neurons respond in the form of giving different images. 

When the mind is no longer limited by the scope of reality it’s always locked in, it may start pushing out of its boundaries which could translate into having different experiences, such as in this case, hallucinations.

When do Hallucinations Happen During Meditation?

During deep meditations, hallucinations are more likely to present themselves. You’re unlikely to have any hallucination from just a 5-20 minute meditation, especially over the short term. Consistent practices of long sessions of meditation are where people start experiencing things they didn’t think were possible before. 

Often, pertaining to awareness. However, sometimes, hallucinations can happen at the beginning stages, as part of the negative feedback the mind tries to give us about meditation. Keep in mind that the mind dislikes meditation. 

This video explains in detail why the mind hates meditation. Those who struggle with meditation are beginners, once you master your mind, meditation becomes effortless and it’s less likely for the mind to throw you off while meditating. 

What To Do If Hallucinations Are Present During Meditation

Generally speaking, if you’re seeing hallucinations whatsoever, you should consult a professional. Even if it happens during meditation. However, hallucinations during meditation tend to be harmless. 

An optimal thing to do is to continue the meditation, completely unbothered, realizing it sometimes can be a result of something external trying to rob your attention from the meditation. Simply, bring back your attention to your breaths and the thoughts that present themselves, and observe them as if they were clouds. 

The less importance any disrupting thought is given, the mind learns to accept the idea of meditation, which ends up meaning a more effortless practice over the long run. 

Hallucinations and Letting Go

When you hallucinate, it could also mean your mind is trying to show you something that’s a part of you. It could be something you’re repressing or something completely innocent. 

Some don’t have control over these hallucinations and turn to meditation as a way to be less affected by such a hallucination. 

One of the core goals of meditation is detachment, and while it’s unlikely to cure someone that’s hallucinating, it can make the day-to-day more pain-free, both in a psychological and a physical sense. 

So big is the impact of meditation to the point that physicians have started recommending it for several years up until now. 

Rather than seeing meditation in the eyes of what you can gain, and the more you see it as what you can lose in the sense of lifting the weight that’s holding you back, the more your expectations are likely to be in line with what meditation’s core objective is. 

However, most of the hallucinations people refer to when they meditate are seeing a white light, which can provide a point of focus – some meditations have an objective to focus on a white light. 

Binaural Beats

These are beats designed to interact with our brain waves. There are some meditations that use binaural beats as a means of relaxation or hallucinations. 

But using binaural beats could be stepping into risky territories for some, as there are some circumstances where it’s better to stay away from binaural beats, for instance, if you are driving, have a certain condition, or while doing any other task that requires concentration. 

The core objective of meditation shouldn’t be to have hallucinations, but rather, to enter a deep state of awareness where you experience a peace that was previously foreign to your mind. 

Hallucination may come as a side effect, but it’s better to let things happen. Meditation is best done alone, without any binaural beats, because meditation can be done at any time anywhere, at least, at the most basic surface level one can. 

Binaural beats require headphones and are two frequencies the brain is exposed to, frequencies that are unfamiliar to the brain, where the brain can respond by producing its own tone through what’s called the superior olivary nucleus. 

With binaural beats, people respond differently to a tone. Therefore, before using binaural beats, it’s important to assess the risks and know your current circumstances if you choose to go this route.