The ideal control

It may not be practically possible to devise and implement an ideal control method for meditation trials, nevertheless it is important to select a strategy that approximates that ideal. The bare minimum criteria for a control process in meditation research should therefore be:

• First, high face validity as a therapeutic/stress management intervention in its own right. It should actually appear to be a credible meditation technique if that is the expectation of participants.
• Second, a process that involves relaxation and reduction of somatic arousal since this is the nearest conventionally understood phenomenon that meditation resembles and from which it needs to be distinguished.

Given these considerations there are two ideal strategies: sham meditation and the head-to-head comparison.

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