Ireland, Michael
May 2012
Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice;2012, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p4
Academic Journal
Originally designed to promote religious and spiritual development, meditation practices have been the subject of enormous public and scientific interest for decades. Over this time, significant research efforts have documented the many psychological health impacts associated with these practices. This article provides a descriptive and critical review of over 250 published studies, spanning 45 years of research and exploring a diverse range of meditation techniques and health and functioning outcome variables. The research is organized along the lines of meditation technique, samples, and outcome domains with study information (including limitations) summarized in tables. While the vast majority of findings support the effectiveness of meditation practices in cultivating positive psychological health and functioning, supporting conclusions of beneficence, the majority of evidence has emerged from uncontrolled and methodologically limited investigations, thus failing to support conclusions of efficacy. Finally, a review of the state of the science with a number of suggestions for future research is provided. The need for conceptually-driven studies into the nature of meditation as well as theoretically-grounded investigations is highlighted.


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