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Studies reveal the negative effects of meditation on its practitioners

Meditation is usually associated with qualities such as peacefulness, happiness and satisfaction. People usually meditate for a calm mind and improving overall mental health. Meditative practices have been mentioned in the Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism since 1500 BCE. Now it has been adopted worldwide and practised by masses for a better life.

However, a new study finds that upto a quarter of disciplined practitioners have had negative experiences with it. In a group of 1232 meditators, researchers mentioned some of the negative effects such as anxiety issues, fear and 315 people agreed that they identified one or more of these issues. The study was published in PLOS One.

Scientists mentioned that the intention of the study was not to show meditation in a bad light but it is only for creating awareness of the issues which could happen. Through an open discussion, it is possible for finding out solutions which will make meditation fun and fulfilling experience.

Marco Schlosser, lead researcher, University College London mentioned that the study will help in increasing and also improving the significance of meditation and not just as a technique for improving one’s health.

It is not clearly known why such situations arise and how these issues can be tackled properly. There is a fine line in understanding the importance, necessity of such negative effects and when such situations are ill effects which are to be avoided.

The participants of the study had a minimum experience of two months in meditation and were asked if they faced any of the above mentioned negative effects during practice sessions. An interesting observation came from the study. It was seen that female practitioners and the people who identified with a religious belief were much less probable to have negative experiences.

However, those who went to a meditation retreat had problems with negative thinking and one practised meditative practices such as Vipassana were more probable to face the negative effects. Schlosser commented that till now most of the researches have focused on the positive aspects of meditation and it is time that the other aspects are also thoroughly studied. He warned that one should not draw immediate conclusions about on negative consequences of meditation.

Previous researches have shown the positive effects of meditation. It can improve our immune system besides having a lasting impact on mental health. Researchers, however, note that the study did not account the present mental health conditions of the participants.