Disaster on a Yoga Mat

The woman in the story below wished to share her experience as a warning to others. She does not want others to "learn the hard way," as she did...

I was baptized as a Catholic but was nominally Christian for most of my adult life. Gradually, I became convinced that all earnestly forged spiritual roads lead to the same God.* In so believing, I failed to notice that I had strayed from the only path to the one true God.

            In Spring of 2021, after years of dabbling, I began a more rigorous exploration of Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist practices and philosophies. I attended introductory-level online retreats with various teachers with backgrounds in Advaita Vedanta, Zen, Tibetan Buddhism and other belief systems, studying their key texts and tenets. During these retreats the leaders invoked Hindu “gods” and “goddesses.”  I also downloaded a mainstream meditation app and took up yoga via streaming video lessons, setting aside maybe fifteen minutes to half an hour per day for each activity.

By the fall of 2021, when my body began moving on its own during those daily meditation sessions in my basement, I thought it was a good thing. In fact, I took it as an auspicious and mystical sign that I was heading in the right direction. I had heard of such phenomena but assumed they were reserved for only the most dedicated devotees of certain elite gurus. In actuality, the spiritual catastrophe known as a ‘kundalini awakening’ was slowly and systematically ensnaring me.  As I was doing visualization exercises and reading the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, I felt a rising pressure up the spine to the top of my head, constant movement and pressure, and the opening of my chakras.

The acute phase of demonization was the most spectacular and included involuntary movements – spontaneous asanas, or bodily postures, and mudras, or symbolic hand gestures – that I’d neither seen nor done before. Through experimentation, I quickly progressed to automatic writing, counterfeit visions, and near-constant communication with a being I mistook for the Holy Spirit of the Bible but hailed from a different source entirely. Turns out those passages in the New Testament in which Jesus casts out demons are journalistic reports, not allegorical relics of a time before modern science could properly identify mental illness. 

By the spring of 2022, it was becoming clear that, if I wasn’t fully there already, I was very close to being fully possessed by an impostor Holy Spirit that had suddenly begun torturing me. I lost nearly everything – my marriage, many friends, and two careers -- because I had fervently sought God through the wrong channels. The overwhelming presence that was constantly accompanying me, so loving and beneficent during the initial months, had abruptly turned wrathful and accusatory, claiming I would soon go to Hell for a lifetime of sins, which it laid out in exhaustive detail. (Satan isn’t called The Accuser for nothing!)

In a series of intensifying episodes, I was squeezed and burned from the inside with choking, suffocating, and crushing sensations that ramped up whenever I tried to rest. Shortly thereafter, my so-called “god” revealed its real identity as a pair of demons, if not more, who mocked and insulted me. Their goal had always been to drive me to destroy myself, using methods that were very specific to me.**

Being demonized has been a shocking and devastating experience for which I have struggled for more than two years to find words, despite having spent nearly 25 years as a professional communicator, writer and scholar. Most shocking of all has been the understanding that it is very possible to become a vessel for evil while harboring the exact opposite intention. As one example, I regularly said the Lord’s Prayer while sitting down to meditate.***

No matter. I had violated the First Commandment by turning to other traditions, however established or complementary to Christianity they might have seemed. I am still attacked every night with the same dynamic pressure and sleep disturbances, and at times during the day I feel what a trusted friend has described as full-body vertigo paired with pangs of dread that I know are not my own. Thankfully, I have been greatly helped by sessions with an exorcist and his prayer team, whose efforts have loosened the demonic hold on my mind and body and are showing me my worth as a child of God.

As the Bible spells out, the cost can be extremely high for adopting a syncretic worldview, and the fallout can easily start on this side of eternity. In my confused pursuits, I missed a crucial, if controversial, detail: It is impossible to take up the practices and rituals of other religions while staying faithful to Christ. 

My yoga mat was an unholy prayer rug, hiding in plain sight. Even going through the motions of yoga or sitting in meditation for the sake of cultivating mindfulness can send a particular message, even an invitation, through the body. In so doing, I had repeatedly and unwittingly worshiped other gods – who weren’t gods at all. I learned the hard way.


*A common New Age belief is that all religions are the same and lead to the same God. This belief is not compatible with Christianity. See: Acts 4:12.

**For those who are oppressed by such demons of divination, see: "Pray With Me: Casting Out Evil Spirits of Divination.

*** It should be noted that there is a common practice of meditation in Christianity which is healthy and holy, which validly invokes the presence of the true God.

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