Meditation is often used for relaxation, emotional stability, and mental clarity. When meditating, people train their mind to focus on a particular object or they practice mindfulness. The technique is used to alleviate stress and reduce pain as well.
While meditation is highly applauded for its effects, not everyone views it positively. A new research shows that above 25% of people who practice meditation have undergone an unpleasant psychological episode because of it.
This study was carried out by researchers from the University College London (UCL), United Kingdom with the Herdecke University, Germany and the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. The team of investigators took results from an online international questionnaire filled by 1,232 people who had been practicing mediation for at least a period of 2 months.
One of the questions asked them, “Have you ever had any particularly unpleasant experiences (e.g., anxiety, fear, distorted emotions or thoughts, altered sense of self or the world), which you think may have been caused by your meditation practice?”
An analysis of the results showed more males than females had had a negative experience and more non-religious people experienced an adverse event than religious ones. While 23.0% of women reported a negative event due to mediation, among men the percentage was 28.5. Moreover, 30.6 people who didn’t have a religious belief had a negative experience while only 22.0% of religious people did.
What’s more, 29.0% of people who had been on a meditation retreat reported a negative experience compared to 19.6% of those who hadn’t been. The lead author of this study, Marco Schlosser, said, “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.”
However, this research didn’t dive deeper into the severity of the mental episode that people had experienced. More research needs to be conducted in this area. While mediation is known to lessen depressive symptoms, some studies show that it may worsen the condition.