(image by me)
Scientific studies have consistently found that meditation does not give better results than taking a short nap, listening to pleasant music or thinking pleasant thoughts. However, according to recent research, the application of a new definition of meditation involving “mental silence” appears to have effects substantially greater than this, especially with regard to the impact of stress.
Although more than 3,000 scientific studies exist on meditation within the major scientific databases, only about 4% are reports on randomised controlled trials (RCTs) ¾ the only way to reliably exclude the placebo effect.
Researchers who have systematically evaluated these RCTs consistently find that meditation, as it is practised and defined in western society (eg. relaxation, attention focusing and mindfulness), is little more than a sophisticated way of generating a placebo effect. Descriptions of the meditative experience that originated in ancient India, however, reveal that a key feature of meditation is the experience of mental silence. Western definitions have not emphasised this feature.
Currently, the Royal Hospital for Women’s Meditation Research Program (MRP) is systematically evaluating the mental silence perspective of meditation. Over the past nine years, a multifaceted evaluation program has been conducted to evaluate the effect of mental silence on a variety of health and behavioural factors, especially stress. (more…)