Can Day dreaming be Meditation?

Food for thought. The new research on intentional daydreaming, mental health and mindfulness that I summarised in my recent article on my Psychemagination website raises some interesting questions in relation to meditation, so I I’m posting the link here to make sure you had a chance to read it.

Questions for us ex-Tibetan Buddhists are: Was that creative wandering that happened when you meditated really a distraction? Or was it still meditation, done mindfullly as intentional daydreaming? (Which is how I treated stopping sitting on my cushion and writing the scene of my novel that had just appeared in my head.) Was our vajrayana meditation all intentional daydreaming?

Comment there on my Psychemagination website or read it there and come back here to share your thoughts on these questions.

And if you’d like to get posts from Psychemagination (art, creativity, spirituality, psychology, meditation and neurodiversity) direct to your inbox sign up here.

Does Meditation Help People with ADHD?

I’ve discovered that I have ADHD, and I’m not the only one of our community who has discovered this about themselves. I stopped meditating formally after the events of 2017 – which are well documented here and in my book Fallout: Recovering from Abuse in Tibetan Buddhism – but I’ve recently returned to a form of meditation practice after realising that I need it. And when you look at the research on ADHD and meditation, it’s easy to see why it’s particularly good for my neurodivergent brain.

When I look back at how my mind was before I started meditating – easily distracted, often overwhelmed with thoughts, low self-esteem – it’s easy to see how much it’s helped me. I can even see why the Vajrayana practice worked for me when other forms of practice didn’t. It simply held my attention better. When you take my autism into account (structure, repetition, stimming-style use of mala etc) I can see why it’s the perfect form of meditation for me – once you’ve taken away the feudal and blind devotion bullshit side of it of course.

Why meditation is good for people with ADHD

Research backs up my experience, and I’ve written an article about how meditation works for ADHD on my Psychemagination website. If you’re interested in the details pop over and take a look.

What isn’t helpful for people with ADHD in Tibetan Buddhism

I mentioned that Vajrayana practice was good for me, but I always make the distinction between Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism because they are not the same thing. Tibetan Buddhism is just one version of Vajrayana, and Tibetan Buddhism isn’t all good for people with ADHD. Parts of it are, and parts of it aren’t.

Since I practiced alone at home and avoided group practices, I escaped the aspects of Tibetan Buddhism as displayed in Rigpa that are not ideal for anyone but are particularly a problem for people with ADHD. Aside from abuse, these are the cult control and manipulation tactics of pressure and shame: pressure to conform, to complete a certain number of mantras in a certain time, to be able to parrot the guru’s words back at him and so on; and the shame people are made to feel when they don’t meet the guru’s expectations.

What does work particularly well for people with ADHD are the structured practices with the use of imagery and imagination, mantra, chanting and the physical repetitive nature of flicking mala beads. These things just help to keep ADHD minds focused.

Has anyone else discovered they have ADHD or any other form of neurodivergence, or think they might have? Has it changed how you see your meditation experience?

My story of looking at myself through the neurodivergent framework is documented (illustrated with animated AI art) on Psychemagination: Journey into the Psyche. Do pop over, the site is changing and growing all the time.

Cult Recovery – Using Different Language to Re-evaluate your Experience

Different words have different effects on different people. What inspires some may make others want to puke. The same words have subtley different meanings and associations for different people, and the language we habitually use effects the way we see the world.

While in a cult or religion, we use the language of their teachings to describe our spiritual experiences, and cult recovery experts say it’s helpful when recovering from a cult experience to re-evaluate and reframe our spiritual experiences using our own language. This helps us to claim those experiences for ourself, to see them as our own experience, not something dependent on the cult teachings.

Though we may find some of the cult terminology still useful, we will likely need to discard a lot – or all – of it because it lilely triggers a renewed sense of betrayal and cause flashbacks to traumatic memories for those who were directly abused. If we continue to use cult-speak without re-evaluating the language we were programed to use, are we still, to some degree, under the sway of the cult teachings?

In this video I also mention the problem that we also might have unknowingly – to some degree – manufactured an ‘experience’ to meet the expectations set up by the cult’s language. Or we may have assigned certain terms to experiences that may not have been the actual meaning of the terms, simply because we expected to have an experience we could label that way. I wonder how many of those now teaching in Rigpa who declare that abuse was a teaching for them dissociated in response to the trauma of being abused or watching abuse (which is an automatic self-preservation response to that kind of situation) and mistook that state for the ‘nature of mind’. If so, they’re now busy teaching others to make the same mistake! Sigh.

Are there any terms that you just can’t abide now because of their close association with your abusive lama?

For me, for instance, I refuse to use the word ‘karma’ now, especially given how it was used to enable the abuse, and I can’t use the term ‘rigpa’, for obvious reasons. I try not to use the ‘nature of mind’, preferring to use something like ‘essential awareness’ – not that it’s something I need or want to talk about much these days! I heard Jeff Brown use the term ‘unity consciousness’ recently and I thought that was quite good. Does that work for you?

If any of these questions of what I say in the video inspires a response, please share in the comments below.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

How to Deal with a Narcissist

If we had known how to deal with a narcissist before getting close to Sogyal Rinpoche, would we have avoided the worst of him? Did those who avoided being abused by him do these kinds of things naturally? I’d love to read your answers to these questions.

I certainly kept my distance, even when I was asked to be national director many years ago. I said, ‘No,’ because I could see how it was for those in that role. I didn’t see anything other than the verbal abuse and the relentless driving of his team, but it was enough for me to know that I didn’t want to be in that role – no matter how much it was supposed to hasten my journey to enlightenment. Knowing what I know now, that Sogyal Rinpoche physically, emotionally, sexually and financially abused his close students, I’m really glad I stayed out of any role that would have brought me into his orbit.

Many weren’t so lucky! I hope these points on how to deal with a narcissist will protect you in future – even if the person trying to manipulate you might not fit all the boxes for narcissistic personality disorder. It’s not only narcissists who try to manipulate us.

The notes I referred to in the video are below.

Continue reading “How to Deal with a Narcissist”

Do you Recognise these Narcissistic Methods of Manipulation?

People with narcissistic personality disorder manipulate those around them to coerce, diminish and take advantage of them.

By spotting how narcissists distort facts, language, feelings and ideas to you can gain distance from them which makes it easier to set healthy boundaries against them.

The notes I used are below the video.

Continue reading “Do you Recognise these Narcissistic Methods of Manipulation?”

Is Your Guru a Narcissist?

One of the things I learned about in the year after I discovered that Sogyal Rinpoche abused his close students was narcissistic personality disorder. In order to avoid potential abuse, all spiritual seekers should examine the question, is your guru a narcissist? Or was he or she a narcissist?

Narcissists are everywhere, and they are dangerous people who manipulate others for their own gain. They are masters at coercive control and often become abusive. If you know what to look for, you can see the signs of narcissistic personality disorder in people around you. Donald Trump is a good example of someone with narcissistic personality disorder and so was Sogyal Rinpoche.

I think it’s vital that we all know how to spot a narcissist so we can avoid being manipulated by one. They are able to be very charming, loving and alluring when it suits them, so it’s easy to get sucked in.

Continue reading “Is Your Guru a Narcissist?”

Feel Helpless? Good. That Means You’re Feeling!

I recently recorded a video in which I shared what I do when I feel helpless. I shared it because I figure that I’m not the only one feeling helpless, at least occasionally, when we look at the world situation, particularly climate change and the dire predictions for our future. In the video I share how the way I deal with such an emotion takes me from a place where I feel helpless to a place where I realise that I’m not actually as helpless as I think I am. In the video that’s a kind of esoteric place – for want of a better word – but that’s not the end of the story. What I find interesting is how the sense of empowerment gained through working with an emotion in that way can help me find ways to help on the level of action in the physical world.

Continue reading “Feel Helpless? Good. That Means You’re Feeling!”

Authentic Experience with an Inauthentic Guru?

Can an unrealised teacher induce a genuine spiritual experience in his or her students? This is something we’ve talked about before here, but for me, up until now, my examination has been very much informed by beliefs instilled in me by Tibetan Buddhism. In fact the whole quandary is due to the dzogchen teachings insistence that one needs a realised teacher for any genuine transmission of the nature of mind to occur.

‘So in Dzogchen, the direct introduction to rigpa requires that we rely upon an authentic guru, who already has this experience. It is when the blessings of the guru infuse our mindstream that this direct introduction is effected. ‘

Dzogchen, Heart Essence of the Great Perfection, HH Dalai Lama

Now I’d like to step out of the Tibetan Buddhist framework of beliefs and look at this question from a different perspective.

Continue reading “Authentic Experience with an Inauthentic Guru?”


This week we have a guest post by Brielle Love Eden. She posted it in a Facebook group called Grounded Spirituality a discussion group for Jeff Brown’s new book of the same name, and she allowed me to republish it here. Given the behaviour we’ve seen in our Tibetan Buddhist cults, I thought you’d find it interesting. Perhaps some of you have come, or are coming to the same kind of conclusion. Please share what you think of this view in the comments.

DEAR FRIENDS- Because I want you to be completely free of the undeserved suffering you have been struggling with your whole life, I am about to say something which is both “spiritually incorrect” and essential to reclaiming your birthright of happiness.

Despite the bland and comforting saying about the wide array of religions and spiritual paths- that they are all equally liberating and therefore “all roads lead to the same place”- the honest truth is that they actually don’t!

Or, you might say that they do all lead to a common destination….

Which is a dead end.

Because none of them are grounded in, and sharply focussed upon, what will really heal your pain and set you free.

Allow me to explain why this is so!

In my years as a Core/Bioenergetic Psychotherapist and teacher of unconditional self-love, I have had the honor of working with many brave people- true spiritual warriors- who had invested decades of their lives into their religious and spiritual beliefs.

Many of them were brilliant and accomplished teachers of these paths.

They ranged from Buddhist meditation masters to world traveling yoga teachers, from devout Christians to devotees of various gurus or modern teachings like the Law of Attraction or A Course in Miracles.

What did they all have in common? Just this- they had put their faith and trust and every drop of effort they had into these worldviews and disciplines.

And yet they were still burdened by inner conflicts and relationship struggles, recurrent frustration and lingering unhappiness.

Most of these people were desperately struggling with anxiety and depression and haunting self-doubt. They felt far from being truly free.

Sounds familiar?

Their unresolved conflicts- which were primarily with their own honest feelings and Real Selves- had not been reached and released by the ways they had been taught to look at and work with themselves.

Certainly they had made valuable gains from their years of inner work and from the partial truths contained in the paths they had followed.

But they had not gotten to the bottom of their problems, and thoroughly broken the inner chains that bound them.

Each of them was wise, and desperate, enough to realize that they were never going to be free if they stayed strictly on the road they were on and kept on doing what wasn’t really getting them “unstuck”.

So here is what I helped them to wake up and see. And what I taught them to do to finally claim the grail of happiness they had struggled so long and hard to reach.

First of all they had to recognize- regardless of what they had been told by their traditions and teachers- that their anxiety and depression, their lack of fulfillment and genuine joy had its true origins in the dysfunctional treatment and negative conditioning they had suffered DURING THEIR CHILDHOOD.

For example it wasn’t their (non-existent) “Original Sin”, their “karma from past lives” or their Buddhist “ego” which was causing them to suffer.

And that to finally be free they needed to break through their emotional blocks and numbness, and thoroughly express/release the stored-up childhood sorrow and anger, pain and self-defeating attitudes (fear, guilt, shame, self-doubt) that were keeping them bound.

There is no substitute for this heroic and infinitely self-compassionate work.

To avoid becoming fully conscious of the impact of your childhood keeps you forever trapped in the darkness you are afraid to face.

The other essential healing task they needed to whole-heartedly embrace was to unconditionally love and accept themselves.

Learning to warmly understand and validate everything inside you- and see your own unique beauty and perfection through the eyes of love- enables a person to be at peace with Life and at one with their Real Self.

And in the end that loving relationship with YOU is the ONLY THING that leads to lasting fulfillment!

So if you are a practitioner of any religion or spiritual discipline I urge you to wake up now and realize that none of these can possibly get you all the way to where you need to go.

Why? Because they don’t keep you completely focussed on the real problem- your buried and unredeemed childhood suffering and the shame and guilt, fear and self-doubt you so undeservedly carry from the dysfunctional treatment of your developing infant, child and adolescent self.

And on the real hope- which lay in accepting/expressing/releasing every last drop of your stored-up anger and fear, hurt and grief.

All of this as you learn to unconditionally see, love and validate the Beautiful and Authentic You.

It’s time to open your eyes and realize that “you can’t get there from here”!

But if you seek with all your body and spirit and heart and soul to love and liberate the Real You, I guarantee that you will find your way home to the unchained aliveness and blessed life of happiness you have always deserved! LOTS OF LOVE- BRIELLE

P.S. I have developed a rich array of practices and meditations designed to help you face and release your stored-up emotional pain (especially from your childhood) and awaken the grace of your Unconditional Self-Love. These are available for your study and use in the Notes section of my Timeline and on my Psychotherapy page.

Be brave, move forward, work hard- and set yourself free! YOU CAN DO IT!

What do you think of Brielle’s point of view? Does it ring true to you or relate to your experience in any way?

If you’d like a more private place to chat about your ongoing spiritual path after you’ve left an abusive community, you can join the Beyond the Temple Facebook group. This group is for people who don’t want to talk about abuse, but want to keep in touch and share their discoveries, inspiration and challenges as they move on with their lives.

If you want to talk about abuse, then Rigpa or ex-Rigpa students can join the secret What Now? groupApply via the contact form here, telling us about yourself and why you want to join the group. 

Students from other Vajrayana communities who need somewhere where they can talk about abuse and find survivor support can join the Survivors of Vajrayana Abuse and their Allies group.  

Note that you will not be added to these groups if you don’t answer the questions.

The Facebook page and You Tube Channel associated with this blog are called Living in Peace and Clarity. Click the relevant link on the side bar to ‘Like’ and ‘Subscribe’.

Spiritual Practice or Spiritual Bypassing?

in the early 1980s, psychologist John Welwood coined the phrase spiritual bypassing to refer to the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with uncomfortable feelings, unresolved wounds, and fundamental emotional and psychological needs.  When I first came across this term, I didn’t think it applied to me, but when I looked at my reaction – or lack of it – to the verbal abuse I witnessed while in Rigpa, I realised that I had certainly been bypassing my discomfort – and in a very active way.

Active repression

I had been taught to bypass any feelings of discomfort or disgust in response to anything Sogyal did. Remember being told not to think too much, to let our feelings just rise and fall away without paying them any attention, to not ‘go there’, to see our reactions to the verbal abuse we all witnesses as just our ‘judgemental mind’? Any kind of normal reaction, like horror, disgust or even concern, were seen as a lack of a stable mind – an attitude I’ve unfortunately also seen in the response of some lamas to those who speak out about abuse or show any kind of emotion due to the abuse.

Of course, we’re not supposed to repress our emotions, but that’s what I did, and I suspect that a whole lot of others did as well. Why else (apart from the brainswashing discourse of, ‘Oh he’s a crazy wisdom master, what you’re seeing is love, not anger’) did we sit unreacting and with blank faces?

Jeff Brown: Spiritual Graffiti

Meditation isn’t the answer to everything

My daughter used to say to me, ‘Oh, Mum, you think everything can be solved through meditation.’ I don’t think that way now, not now that I’ve seen it used to make people pliable so they can be more easily controlled and manipulated, and not now that I know that even with the right kind of instructions, it can be used to set aside issues that we really do need to face and deal with.

I also used to think that Buddhism was the answer to everything, and perhaps if we could hear the Buddha himself speak to us it might be, but not the way some teach it–especially in Tibetan Buddhism. Teachers talk about our emotions as ‘poisons’ and ‘enemies’ and refer to psychological methods of examining our problems as some kind of inferior activity, while teaching us to simply ignore our problems under the guise of ‘watering the seeds of joy’. But pretending issues don’t exist doesn’t make them go away. Look at Rigpa’s track record with Sogyal’s abuse. If we hadn’t tried so hard to ignore our feelings – the ones that were sending us a very valid message that something was seriously wrong – Sogyal would have been stopped a long time ago.

I think we need a more balanced approach. We need to be able to look at our issues, and sort them out without getting stuck in them. We need to honour the wisdom in our emotions – like physical pain, negative emotions are, after all, telling us something is wrong – but that doesn’t mean that we’ll roll around in our emotions ad nauseum or deny the role our own thoughts, beliefs and perceptions play in our happiness and suffering. It’s not an all-or-nothing thing. We can choose the middle way.

‘To me, spiritual bypassing is fundamentally about taking a so-called absolute truth — such as “everything is okay” — and using it to ignore or deny relative truths — such as the grief we feel when we lose a loved one, or the shame that arises when we fail at something important. On the personal and interpersonal level, sometimes everything isn’t okay. And that’s okay.’

Let’s not delude ourselves

When I discovered Tibetan Buddhism, I found it all so wonderful, inspiring, and heart-warming, and the practice made me feel so calm and just plain goooood. But if all we’re doing by buying into any religion is spiritually distracting ourselves from our feelings while thinking that we’re walking a healthy spiritual path, then we’re just deluding ourselves.

So what to do about it? Ask questions of any teacher who seems to be straying into this area in their instruction, and take control of your own path by tuning into your body and feeling what’s there to be felt. Your body doesn’t lie. It knows what you might be unwilling to feel.

‘We need to remember that spiritual practice and emotional growth are not about achieving a particular quality of feeling (“good”). Being a human being on a spiritual journey isn’t about getting cash and prizes all the time, it is about being in the present moment, whatever it happens to look like. What are you experiencing right now? And how about now? Can you be present to all of your feelings without any one of them defining you? ‘
I filmed this a while ago, so I don’t remember exactly what’s in it, but it includes my experience of spiritual bypassing in the Rigpa context and a method for avoiding spiritual bypassing in our meditation.

What about you? What’s your experience? Do you think you might have used Tibetan Buddhist practices to spiritually bypass some issues? And what does knowledge of spiritual bypassing mean for our spiritual path going forward?

If you’d like a more private place to chat, you can join the Beyond the Temple Facebook group for discussions not about abuse but about your ongoing spiritual path, or if you need to talk about your experiences of and healing from guru abuse or about Rigpa’s ongoing bungling, ex-Rigpa students can join the secret What Now? group, (apply via the contact form here, and tell us about yourself and why you want to join the group). And if you’re not a Rigpa or ex-Rigpa person and need support related to abuse in Vajrayana you can join the Survivors of Vajrayana Abuse and their Allies group.  Note that you will not be added to these groups if you don’t answer the questions.

The Facebook page and You Tube Channel associated with this blog are called Living in Peace and Clarity. Click the relevant link on the side bar to ‘Like’ and ‘Subscribe’.