Conversations: Meditation Techniques for Schizophrenia & Post-Psychosis Healing

Here is the response I sent to someone in India who was struggling after what they described as a psychotic episode. I have emphasized here the cultivation of loving-kindness, as (I'm convinced) unresolved social trauma plays a huge and under-emphasized role in the development of psychosis.1

There have also been a few studies done, e.g. this and this, demonstrating that loving-kindness meditation "was feasible and associated with decreased negative symptoms and increased positive emotions and psychological recovery."


Hi [name],

You are doing fine! There is an end to the dark night of the soul. This will pass.

It is very common to go through an integration period where the mind figures out a new way of being, and this can be very difficult. Trust that the process is unfolding naturally and you eventually will land somewhere stable. "The Divine assails the soul in order to renew it and thus to make it Divine."

Here are some things you can try that may help:

Try focusing on relaxing your body and enjoying the sights and sounds of the world. Sink into and savor simple things, like the taste of water, the feeling of the breath. Go on walks and enjoy the experience of India. I would like to visit India, so imagine you are me, seeing it for the first time! Go out and gawk like a tourist.

Cultivate love for yourself. Just sincerely wish for yourself to be free of suffering. It is OK if you do not feel it at first. You say you have "no friends." Good. That is the best place to start from. From now on you have one friend, and that is yourself. Be the loving, supporting role in your life you wish you had for yourself. When you find yourself criticizing yourself, ask, "Would my ideal best friend do this?" If not, then stop, because you are now that ideal best friend.

Stick with this even if it is frustrating or you feel you do not deserve it. You're worth it. Think: even if you had the greatest friends and parents, they would not think of you and love you all of the time, and they would make mistakes, not always loving you in the way that you need. The one best positioned to give you the love you need is you. You are the only one that can do this.

Similarly, practice loving the people and world around you. Maybe you have bad feelings about others, have been mistreated, and this is difficult. That is OK. Practice with something easy: a loved pet, a god, a role model, your childhood self. Only later, expand this to more difficult subjects. When difficulties in your life manifest, when you are haunted by worry, try loving that, too.

It is good to work on this love every night before sleep. Make it into a habit. Trust that cultivating this will do good things. It will heal your mind and your life.

I will share one more thing, but don't feel overwhelmed. The most important things to cultivate for now are the above. Any time you practice tranquility, joy, relaxation, loving-kindness, that is huge, to be celebrated. It is OK for it to feel frustrating, difficult, to procrastinate, to make mistakes. Don't beat yourself up when this happens; comfort yourself. You are doing fine.

Last thing: work on cultivating stability of attention. In a darkened room, stare at the flame of a candle for 30 to 60 seconds. Let it draw you in. Then close your eyes and focus on the after-image of the candle flame. Rest your attention onto this red or orange dot until it disappears, then pay attention to the dark background for a while. At first it seems like there is nothing in this murk but eventually it will reveal itself. Just keep repeating this: stare at candle, focus on after image, then on the darkness once it fades, then start again. Do this and your mind will come to know itself. The after-image will cycle through the different phases of attention and you will learn and master them. Progressing in this way leads to enlightenment.

This is called the "fire kasina" or "candle flame kasina". If you start playing with it and want to know more, you can find more information on Google with those terms.

Sincerely wishing you the best, Robert

  1. See the section, "Why does it occur?" here, which is additionally fleshed out here.

If you have questions, perspective, doubt, or a simple longing for general camraderie, you can communicate with me directly by emailing robert at 99theses dot com. Don't hesitate. Your correspondence is personally enriching.