No Peace in Meditation
Gustavo heard voices and saw apparitions during meditation-induced trances.
To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, April 20.
The spiritual guide led Gustavo into a room to communicate with dead people in Paraguay’s capital, Asunción.
“They will give some answers that you need,” the spiritual guide said.
Gustavo desperately wanted answers. He struggled to sleep at night and was meditating twice a day — an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening — to cope with stress. The meditation offered peace for a while, but then the stress returned a hundredfold.
With the spiritual guide, he heard distorted voices, yelling, in the room. He saw people walking around and disappearing. They resembled demons.
Seeing his fright, the spiritual guide said, “Don’t worry. They won’t hurt you. They will only examine your mind and your feelings.”
After the experience, Gustavo looked back on his life. His parents, who belonged to another Christian denomination, enrolled him in a Seventh-day Adventist school at the age of 12 at the recommendation of a neighbor. He showed little interest in the school’s Bible classes, and neighborhood friends introduced him to alcohol and drugs during his senior year.
Gustavo used marijuana, alcohol, and cocaine on weekends to ease his worries. But then he started to suffer constant headaches and nausea. He went to a psychologist for help, and she recommended Eastern meditation.
Gustavo found the spiritual guide at an Eastern temple and learned meditation and yoga. To meditate, he repeated a phrase from a dead Indian language again and again. This was supposed to relax him and connect him to a peaceful place where his mind went blank.
Life seemed to improve for a while. But then he began to hear voices and see apparitions during the meditation-induced trances. “I was going crazy,” Gustavo said. “I needed someone to help me.”
He sought help from the spiritual guide, who frightened him by taking him to meet supposedly dead people.
It was then that Gustavo remembered studying the Bible at the Adventist school. He contacted an Adventist pastor and an Adventist mental health worker for help. They prayed with him and advised him to give up meditating, yoga, and drugs. Gustavo started attending church every Sabbath.
Meditation and yoga proved easy to stop, but the drug use was more difficult. As Gustavo struggled, he prayed and found help in the Bible. On sleepless nights, he claimed Isaiah 26:3, which says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” He also claimed Philippians 4:13, which promises, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Gustavo gave his heart to Jesus and was baptized at the age of 34. “I was looking for a cure, for someone to help me feel better,” he said. “In church, I found out that I’m God’s son. I was freed by His life.”
After baptism, he found a video presentation about “Christian meditation” and decided to try it. He found that the technique mirrored Eastern meditation but, instead of repeating the phrase in the dead Indian language, he repeated words from the Bible. The results shocked him.
“I lost control of my mind, and it went blank like before,” he said. “I felt an energy surging through my body, and I heard voices telling me what to do.”
Gustavo was frozen, unable to move, until he came out of the trance.
Afterward, several old friends told Gustavo that voices had instructed them during their own meditations that day to invite him to meditate like before.
Gustavo resolved never to meditate that way again. Instead, he said, he chooses to “read the Bible and meditate on His word, not doing Eastern-style meditation. That is a dangerous place. God is not guiding that kind of meditation.”
He also is convinced that yoga is a tool of the devil.
“With yoga, you feel good, and you don’t need to read the Bible or have Jesus in your life,” he said. “You think that spirits are working within you and that is enough.”
Today, Gustavo Javier Caballero is 40 and works as a literature evangelist and massage therapist. He also is an active participant of a community center attached to Nueva Sajonia Seventh-day Adventist Church, a 2016 Thirteenth Sabbath project.
He tells people in the neighborhood that drugs and meditation aren’t the answer.
“Getting high and meditating feels good for a while, but then you feel worse,” he said. “The only solution is Christ. Only when you pray do you feel better — and have real peace.”