– EN Fitness & Wellbeing – If you’re trying to feel calmer and more zen, turning to meditation might seem like an obvious choice.
But new research has found that not everyone has an enjoyable time while mediating – in fact in a new study, it was found 25 per cent of people have ‘particularly unpleasant’ experiences, like feelings of fear and anxiety, while meditating.
For the research, a team from University College London focused on 1,232 participants, and asked them if they’d ever had any particularly unpleasant experiences which they thought may have been caused by meditation. Anxiety, fear, distorted emotions or thoughts and altered sense of self or the world were all given as examples of unpleasant experiences.
They were also asked to share how long they’d been meditating for, how often they practiced the ancient technique, if they’d ever been to a meditation retreat and what form they practiced.
Results showed 25.6 per cent of the group had encountered unpleasant meditation-related experiences.
“These findings point to the importance of widening the public and scientific understanding of meditation beyond that of a health-promoting technique,” said lead author Marco Schlosser. “Very little is known about why, when, and how such meditation-related difficulties can occur: more research is now needed to understand the nature of these experiences.
“When are unpleasant experiences important elements of meditative development, and when are they merely negative effects to be avoided? Most research on meditation has focused on its benefits, however, the range of meditative experiences studied by scientists needs to be expanded.
It is important at this point not to draw premature conclusions about the potential negative effects of meditation.”
Results have been published in PLOS ONE.