Meditation Doesn't Make You A Better Person

The popularity of meditation has been peaking for the last few years. A study in Scientific Reportspoints out that that meditation may not make us noticeably better people. Nonetheless, there is no reason to quit, Alice Walton writes on Forbes.

The authors of the report looked at the restricted prosocial effects of meditation.

Many researchers have hope for its potential in changing people.

The authors of the report write: "The possibility that meditation might improve prosocial behaviours, and reduce prejudice and aggression, brings with it the prospect of applications in a variety of contexts, including schools with high rates of conflict and in prisons."

The researchers looked at written works that measured meditation’s effects on various social-psychological variables including: compassion, connectedness, empathy, aggression, and prejudice.

Only 22 out of 1000 studies met the researchers' standard for inclusion.

Ultimately, the researchers established that the effect was “limited” altogether.

Empathy and compassion are the only variables that the researchers were able to find evidence for. Compassion rose only in those members where the teacher of meditation was also the author of the paper. 

This makes it seem as though there’s some experimental bias which affected the outcome.

The report makes it clear that results are not an indication that meditation is not effective.

“This, of course, does not invalidate Buddhist or other religions’ claims about the moral value and eventually life changing potential of its beliefs and practices... However, the adaptation of spiritual practices into the lab suffers from methodological weaknesses and is partly immersed in theoretical mist,” the authors write.

With the transition of meditation from spiritual practice to popular practice, there may be something lost in translation.

Dr Miguel Farias, co-author, from Coventry University, has formerly raised concerns about  how meditation is practiced today since he believes that removing it of its original ideologies doesn’t work as well as we like to think.

Dr Farias said: "All world religions promise the world would change for the better if only people were to follow its rules and practices."

Learning about meditation and yoga's ethical and spiritual roots gives us a necessary and powerful lens for seeing our relationship with tradition, ancient and modern.

Meditation on its own may not turn us into the self-sacrificing persons that we hope, yet continuing your practice is still a good idea. Meditation has its benefits. 

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