Perhaps you’ve asked yourself if meditation really works, and if so how?
The truth of the matter comes down to what you mean exactly by “work.” For example, what is your goal when it comes to meditating? Are you looking for spiritual insight, emotional benefits (i.e. stress reduction), and/or health benefits?
Believe it or not a lot of studies have been conducted on meditation in an attempt to quantify the effects it might have and not just on a person, but on a group of people or community as well.
Meditation and it’s benefits
It goes without saying that meditation is a very personal experience.
And though you can find a number of books on meditation, it often takes on many forms. In fact, some people may not even be aware that they are meditating (e.g. they may “define” their activity as praying or “quiet time.”)
Regardless of the form of meditation, it is typically understood as spending time where one turns off an awareness of their “outer” environment in order to turn “inwards.” And in doing so many people report that time spent in silence, thinking of “nothing,” helps them to:
- gain clarity or wisdom
- relieve stress
- lower blood pressure
- along with a host of other health benefits.
In fact, Deepak Chopra, long time advocate of meditation, was asked once in an interview to recall the last time he was sick.
That in more than 30 years he couldn’t recall being sick a single day in all that time.
Meditation and research studies
A number of studies have been conducted regarding the efficacy of meditation, both for the individual and for it’s effects on a community as well.
In fact, the research behind GAMP is well documented and based on a number of academic studies. You can click the link for more information.
And according to a recent study conducted by Peter Sedlmeier of the Department of Psychology at Chemnitz University of Technology in Germany, meditation does provide positive health benefits.
The challenge, as you would imagine for any scientific study, is to sort out the variables in order to arrive at some meaningful data that will statistically show a measurable effect from meditation. In other words, though many people say they “feel better” by meditating this is not something that is easy to quantify or measure.
With this in mind Sedlmeier chose to focus not on the emotional changes resulting from meditation, but rather cognitive and other psychological indicators. His study analyzed results from 125 separate studies that reported findings on meditation techniques used for relaxation and not for other reasons.
His focus was to determine if meditation had positive effects.
According to his findings “The evidence accumulated in the present meta-analysis yields a clear answer: yes.”
Additionally, the results of his study support previous research that suggestions meditation can help to improve a person’s mental or physical health.
Now, HOW meditation works is another matter entirely.
Jiddu Krishnamurti once famously remarked in a discussion with a Harvard Philosophy professor to stop asking “how?” because that blocks true understanding.
In other words, does it really matter what the mechanism of meditation IS?
Scientific studies have shown that regardless of why meditation is being used, i.e. to gain personal awareness, universal enlightenment, or to address psychological issues such as substance abuse, the overall effect is a positive one.
In the final analysis shouldn’t that be enough?
If you’re searching for meditation classes in New York click the link for more information. And to take part in an interesting (and deeply meaningful) research project please follow GAMP on Facebook by Liking them today.
“Together we can help create a peaceful, just, sustainable and healthy world.”
~ Deepak Chopra