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Meditation

Do you have intrusive thoughts? Do you focus too much on the past or the future, instead of the present moment? Meditation is an ancient practice that aims to help with these issues, through cultivating non-judgmental awareness. Trials have shown efficacy for certain outcomes like stress and pain, but not all outcomes. Stay tuned to this page, as 350+ trials are ongoing!

Our evidence-based analysis on meditation features 3 unique references to scientific papers.

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NOTE: We are updating our coronavirus (COVID-19) page with evidence as it comes in.

Summary of Meditation

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

What is meditation, and how is it different from just sitting around or yoga/prayer/etc?

Meditation seems simple, and for some it is.

Most meditation practices involve sitting, closing your eyes, and being aware of your breath, body, and thoughts ... without judging them.

Meditation is different than just sitting around, because there is an intention of being still, mindful, aware, and nonjudgmental. It's different than yoga, which is a movement practice typically centered on awareness of the body, and less so thoughts. Prayer is tied to the idea of a higher power, whereas meditation typically is not.

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Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what effects meditation has on your body, and how strong these effects are.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-d Notable - See study

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Things to Note

Also Known As

MBSR, mindfulness-meditation, sitting-practice

Do Not Confuse With

prayer, self-reflection

Caution Notice

While unwanted effects from meditation appear to be much less frequent than with supplements and pharmaceuticals, research is sparse. Unwanted effects appear to be mostly short-lived.[2]

Meditation isn't the only way to relieve stress or help issues related to intrusive thoughts. For example, CBT (and a variety of other modalities) have also shown efficacy, and it's not clear how to predict who will do best with which type of treatment.[1]

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Click here to see all 3 references.