Meditation Research: The Top Ten
Based upon an extensive and comprehensive review of the literature, and based upon findings from our own research, the following is what we consider to be some key findings and/or emerging insights from the scientific study of meditation.
1.When correctly practiced, meditation can improve physical, psychological, and spiritual wellbeing.
2. Poorly administered meditation training can lead to deleterious health consequences.
3. In general, people (including many academicians) have a poor understanding of what constitutes meditation practice.
4. In general, people have a poor understanding of what constitutes authentic spiritual practice. For example, spiritual practice is often confused with religious practice (which may or may not be spiritually inclined).
5. There is a tendency for people to search outside of themselves for spiritual happiness (i.e., to believe that ‘liberation’ can only be granted by some kind of enlightened being or divine entity). However, the evidence suggests that people experience the greatest gains in spiritual and psychological wellbeing when they start to look ‘inside’ and take accountability for their own spiritual growth.
6. Most people have difficulty in understanding that they inherently don’t exist. In other words, they ‘cling’ to the idea of an independent and intrinsically existing ‘self’ or ‘I’. This ‘addiction to self’, which we term ‘ontological addiction’ (Shonin, Van Gordon, & Griffiths, 2013), appears to play an integral role in the maintenance of psychological distress and spiritual bewilderment.
7. Simply letting the mind rest in the present moment, whilst anchoring ones concentration on the natural flow of the in-breath and out-breath, appears to calm the mind and reduce psychological and autonomic arousal.
8. It seems that spiritual practice comes low-down on people’s priorities with most people placing greater importance on material pursuits (e.g., career, wealth, reputation, etc.).
9. In consequence, most people are unprepared for death and generally meet it with a great deal of fear and regret. Furthermore, although there is a superficial understanding that death is inevitable, it seems that most people are self-deceived due to the construction of a deeply-held and maladaptive belief that death will never happen to them.
10. ‘Spiritual addiction’ (Shonin, Van Gordon, & Griffiths, 2013) appears to be a multifaceted and valid construct in which ego-clinging plays an important aetiological role.
Ven Edo Shonin & Ven William Van Gordon