Why has western meditation research failed to demonstrate a specific effect?

The failure of the proponents of meditation in the West to produce conclusive data on its specific efficacy in the health sphere (see Ospina’s definitive treatment of this issue), has been due to understandings having been largely confined to Westernised versions of the practice. Such understandings have meant that the original ideas about meditation as developed in South Asia and particularly on the Indian sub-continent, have been substituted by more culturally accessible but less effective Western concepts.

Thus our research programme proposes that any solution to the current scientific impasse needs to involve a re-examination of the cultural contexts in which meditation is practiced. Of particular importance in this regard are South Asian cultural themes embodied in ideas such as yoga, moksha, and sahaja. It is argued that Western conceptualisations and definitions of meditation need to be reshaped to more accurately reflect the original meaning of the practice, particularly the experience of mental silence.


Dr Ramesh Manocha

One Comment

  1. Good point. The West thinks of meditation as a way reduce stress from the hectic lifestyle. But meditation embodies so much more. It is a lifestyle of inner-reflection and discovering who we are in relation to the outside world. In the West, I believe religion has played a large part in misunderstanding the purpose of meditation.

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