meditation & mindfulness

55 published studies were analysed in this review describing meditation adverse effects, anxiety, depression, cognitive anomalies, gastrointestinal symptoms and suicidal behaviors. (‘Adverse events in meditation practices and meditation-based therapies: a systematic review’. Miguel Farias et al. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia. Vol 142, issue 5, Nov 2020 p374 to 393).

7 of these published studies from 1976 to 2017 are described along with a summary and link to each full paper here Meditating in Safety. This is a collaboration between ‘A Buddhist, Damcho Pamo’ sharing lived experience and Dr. Miguel Farias, co-author of ‘The Buddha Pill : Can Meditation Change You?’ (A free downloadable leaflet designed for Students for Teachers are provided). These published studies describe anxiety, depression, mania and psychosis in new and long-term meditators from a variety of traditions including Zen, Transcendental Meditation and Buddhist.

The most recent study listed there is ‘The Varieties of Contemplative Experience’ (2017), a study of 60 Buddhist meditation practitioners and 30 Buddhist meditation experts reporting traumatic re-experiencing, flashbacks, dissociation with associated decreased quality of life and functioning. Surprisingly, “people in our study were meditation teachers themselves and were doing the practices correctly, under supervision of other very, very well-known teachers, and many of them, almost half, did not have a psychiatric or trauma history.”

Dr David A. Treleaven discusses this study in his book, ‘Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness: Practices for Safe and Transformative Healing’ with foreword written by Dr Willoughby Britton. 

The team have concluded that cultural context is vital, importing a set of techniques and practices developed in another time and place can be problematic.

There are literally hundreds of different kinds of meditation practices. Only a very small variety of which have been seriously studied scientifically, and have been championed in Western popular culture. One of the important challenges and tasks in modern research is to be able to specify with more precision what kinds of practices may be best for which kinds of people.” (Davidson).

Meditation Is a Powerful Mental Tool—and For Some People It Goes Terribly Wrong“. By Shayla Love Nov 14 2018, 4:37pm First published by ‘Tonic’, the health site of ‘Vice’.

In Dr Britton’s perfect world, mindfulness could be a tool that people use to get a sense of what their baseline levels are.

“Meditation is powerful. It’s a skill not to be taken lightly, and in the right circumstance can provide incredible benefit, and in others, harm. Because meditation types are grouped together without discrimination, we don’t know enough about each type and its effects on the brain.

That would be my ideal sort of mindfulness program, would be to have multiple dimensions of different processes; use your own mindfulness or your monitoring skills to understand where you are, and then know which practices are going to get you to a more optimal level of each one. Everybody’s going to be different”.

Meditation Is a Powerful Mental Tool—and For Some People It Goes Terribly Wrong“. By Shayla Love Nov 14 2018, 4:37pm First published by ‘Tonic’, the health site of ‘Vice’.

Dr Willoughby Britton delivers a keynote describing the study at the CMRP Conference 2017 in Chester, UK . “Meditation-Related Difficulties: Building Competency”

%d bloggers like this: