Popular media and case studies have recently highlighted the negative side effects of meditation, which increase depression, anxiety and even psychosis or mania, but few studies have looked at the issue in depth in large numbers of people. A growing body of neuroscientific research shows that meditation can make us better with others. Meditation has been shown to swell the prefrontal cortex. This brain centre manages higher-order brain functions such as increased awareness, concentration and decision-making.
Changes in the brain show that, with meditation, higher-order functions are strengthened, while lower-order brain activities decrease. In other words, you have the power to train your brain. This lack of interest may be the result of non-attachment, a common skill that many meditators strive for, according to Psychology Today. However, despite its popularity, it is still unclear exactly what mindfulness meditation does to the human brain, how it influences health and to what extent it helps people suffering from physical and mental problems.
After eight weeks of mindfulness meditation training (right), the amygdala becomes less active after meditation training. Although there is no clear estimate of how many people practice meditation, last year one app alone had nearly 40 million downloads. Although some consider it a mental and emotional tool, meditation has proven physical effects on the body. It is important to note that research on the adverse effects of meditation is limited, and that not all people who meditate experience any of the following negative effects.
Others do not include active controls, do not test the potential benefits of a meditation regimen against those of a different regimen, such as exercise or health education classes. Meanwhile, for Davidson, the neuroscientist, the virtues cultivated by meditating are so crucial that they make the practice feel almost obligatory. The study also found that meditation led to reduced levels of interleukin-6, a biomarker of systemic inflammation in the blood that is elevated in high-stress populations. Britton founded Cheetah House, a non-profit organisation that provides information and resources on meditation-related difficulties to meditators and teachers.
In 1977, the American Psychiatric Association issued a statement recommending that research on meditation evaluate both its usefulness and its dangers. There is growing interest on the part of educators and researchers in bringing meditation and yoga to school children, who face the usual stressors within school and often additional stress and trauma outside of school. If this seems small, consider that the effect size of antidepressants is also 0.3, which makes the effect of meditation sound pretty good. Almost half reported that they had problems integrating back into society after an intensive practice or meditation retreat.