Meditation is believed to help soothe the body and mind, but lately research has found that more than 25% of individuals who mediate regularly have had encounters of displeasing psychological incidents as an outcome. The study, which is published in PLOS ONE, shows that more than a quarter of individuals who meditate many a time come away having an adverse experience.
Researchers at University College London (UCL) in the United Kingdom, Witten/Herdecke University in Germany, and the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia collected these results by using an international online questionnaire of 1232 individuals who were meditating for at least 2 months.
The questions they asked the individuals who participated were, “Have you ever had any particularly unpleasant experiences (eg. Anxiety, fear, distorted emotions or thoughts, altered sense of self of the world), which you think may have been cause by your meditation practice?”
More questions and qualifiers resulted in how long the individuals meditated and how frequently did they meditate. Each individual also gave information if they ever went to a meditation retreat and the kind of mediation they perform. Some particular results stood out when the team examined the data. It was seen that more males (28.5%) than females (23.0%) had a negative experience and those who had no religious belief had a negative experience with those who were religious (30.6% versus 22.0%).
Moreover, the ones who participated had been on a meditation withdrawal had more chance to encounter a bad experience than those who never participated (29.0% compared with 19.6%). Lead author Marco Schlosser, from the UCL Division of Psychiatry, mentions that as scientists are not much aware about meditation-related issues, it is vital to carry out further research to know more about these issues. “Longitudinal studies will help to learn when, for whom, and under what circumstances these unpleasant experiences arise, and whether they can have long-term effects.”, says lead author Marco Schlosser. He adds on, “This future research could inform clinical guidelines, mindfulness manuals, and meditation teacher training.”
Advantages of Meditation
Meditation has been popular since a long time and can help in extending calmness and physical relaxation for those who regularly do it. Individuals can use meditation to help in curing their illness, enhancing psychological balance and improve their health and well-being.
The number of individuals doing meditation in USA is increasing, and figures are tripling from 2012 to 2017. There are various styles of meditation, but they all have some things in common; a quiet area, a particular posture, something to concentrate on and an open attitude. The medical community believes meditation as a safe place for many people, but it is vital that those having physical health issues communicate with a healthcare professional before initiating this activity.
Although there is proof that meditation can improve anxiety and depression, there are few findings which have shown that meditation can do more harm to these conditions – a research that matches with this most recent study.
Future investigation goals
The study authors recognized that their research has certain restrictions. For example, they asked the individuals straightforward yes or no questions. They also did not dig further into the seriousness or type of bad experience, and they also did think about already known mental health issues. However, they think that more research on meditation is required, because it is too prompt to tell what, if any, unfavorable effects may remain. Further research can help structure meditation counseling and teacher training, combined can have a good effect on those who regularly meditate.
“Most research on meditation has focused on its benefits, however, the range of meditative experiences studied by scientists needs to be expanded,” Schlosser adds. “It is important at this point not to draw premature conclusions about the potential negative effects of meditation.”