Meditation is a state of mindfulness and awareness. People often meditate to lower their stress levels, to get to know themselves, connect better with others, improve focus and learn to be kinder to themselves; however, according to a scientific study, meditation is not necessarily a positive experience for everyone. Research carried out by scientists at University College London (UCL) in the U.K., Witten/Herdecke University in Germany and the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia conducted a questionnaire study on 1,232 people for two months.
The participants were asked to meditate a couple of times weekly and share their experiences. Although the scientists were expecting positive feedback, the participants explained their experience as worrisome, terrifying and disturbing. Some of the participants said meditation resulted in distorted emotions and thoughts and changed their perception of the world. After evaluating the results, the scientists discovered that 28.5 percent of the male participants and 23 percent of the female participants reported negative feedback on their meditation experience. Around 30.6 percent of those who did not have a religious belief had a particularly unpleasant experience, compared to 22 percent of those who did.
Lead author, researcher Marco Schlosser of UCL said: "These findings point to the importance of widening the public and scientific understanding of meditation beyond that of a health-promoting technique. Most research on meditation has focused on its benefits; however, the range of meditative experiences studied by scientists needs to be expanded. It is important at this point not to draw premature conclusions about the potential negative effects of meditation."