The Truth About Meditation

Very many logical fallacies are mentioned in this post. For a description of these and other fallacies, please see this link. Whenever I talk about breathing exercises, I refer to Pranayama, an integral part of Meditation, without which the benefits of meditation will be even less. – Author.

Author: You know, I’ve been thinking about meditation. I’m wondering how a simple breathing technique – inhale, exhale – can provide all these health benefits that people claim.

Friend: You’re always like this – questioning our ancestral legacy. You attack anything that’s intrinsically Indian. You always do this, don’t you?

A: Nothing like a trite Ad Hominem attack, huh? You’re attacking me and my character – But, that’s not in discussion now. We’re trying to understand if meditation has any benefits other than short-term stress reduction. Let’s stick to the point, shall we?

F: Come on, meditation is not the new kid on the block. People have meditated forever, its our tradition. Its well established.

A: Ah, the Ad antiquitatem fallacy – An Appeal to Tradition. Just because something is part of our tradition doesn’t make it right. We can’t defend something only because we’ve been doing it for ages.

F: So you think meditation provides no benefits? That’s preposterous!

A: First of all, I’m not saying meditation provides no benefits. We all know how stress comes down if we breathe in to a brown paper bag. I’m sure meditation reduces stress in the short term. It can also make sad people feel better by calming them down.

F: Is that all there is to meditation? How dare you impugn meditation? Do you know how many people it provides relief to?

A: Calm down, Anger is another logical fallacy. I’m merely trying to understand if there’s any irrefutable proof that meditation provides other benefits. If it indeed helps people, tell me how. I’m really curious to know.

F: Ok, I’ve heard that it has cured Multiple Sclerosis and even AIDS. How about that?

A: Carl Sagan, in his Baloney Detection Kit says that – Whenever possible, there must be an independent verification of the facts. Now, do you have a link that proves that an unbiased 3rd party of medical professionals has verified these claims?

F: Can you tell me why my claim seems untenable to you?

A: Simply because Multiple Sclerosis in a severe neurological problem, where the myelin sheath covering the neurons degrades. If Multiple Sclerosis was cured, that would mean the Myelin Sheath grew back. I would need a Before & After MRI scan of the patient. Plus, AIDS is an immunodeficiency caused by a virus. I would need a Before & After lab report.

F: Before you proceed, let me tell you that you don’t know meditation can’t cure Multiple Sclerosis and AIDS. It could be true, you know? There’s so much we don’t know about the world.

A: While I do agree that we don’t know enough about the world, let me point out that you just committed the Ad Ignorantium fallacy – An Argument of Ignorance. You can prove your point only by providing supporting evidence, not by taking solace in stating the opponents don’t know for sure if its false.

F: I know that meditation has improved my gastro-intestinal problem. I know people whose memory has improved too!

A: Most – if not all – idiopathic GI tract problems are caused by or aggravated by stress. Meditation aids in stress-related problems too – in fact, its great for that. Short-term memory is another aspect that is worsened by stress. I’m repeating myself – meditation does help reduce stress, I have already conceded that.

F: I know people whose migraine was cured by meditation!

A: Post-hoc ergo propter hoc? Headache reduction followed after the person started meditating, so the meditation cured the headache?  For science to accept that meditation cured a person’s migraine, a proper cause and effect must be established. Do you know for a fact that the patient wasn’t on prophylactics? And how long did you study the patient to ensure that the migraines had indeed disappeared?

F: But you accepted that meditation cures stress-induced illnesses. Are you changing your stance now?

A: While stress could be one of the triggers of migraine, it should not be confused with tension headaches. Migraine is a neurological problem caused by a defect in 3 separate genes. You can’t convince me that breathing in & out cures a genetic defect.

F: I’m sure many studies have been done on the efficacy of meditation. I can pull several studies off the Internet & shove them up your…

A: Its interesting that you mention that. Do you know, they did a Meta Study – A study of all studies done on meditation, around 800+ of them. And they concluded that none of the studies followed proper protocol – and that the study results were at best – inconclusive.

F: Meaning? Meaning what?

A: Meaning, meditation may help patients, but there’s no proof so far – no incontrovertible study done so far. It may be beneficial, but we don’t know for a fact.

F: This is all a conspiracy to discredit ancient Indian medicine. I tell you, meditation works, but these doctors have covered it up. It is so effective, it will be too much of a competition for them.

A: You’re spewing logical fallacies by the minute. This one is called a Conspiracy Theory. To prove a conspiracy theory, its not enough if you assume intent, you have to provide data of a cover-up.

F: But why is it so difficult to understand the benefits of meditation?

A: That’s because there are so many types of meditation, with many variables. Some combine meditation with yoga. Some combine hand mudras with meditation. Others emphasize on focusing on a specific point, while a few others say you must negate all thought.

F: So if someone claims they improved their flexibility or hand dexterity because of meditation…

A: It could be due to the yoga or due to the mudras, not about the breathing in & out. You see the problem?

F: So many people believe in meditation. Can it be wrong?

A: Wow, you did it again – Another logical fallacy. Appeal to Common Belief Just because many people believe in something, its not necessarily true.

F: But..What about Alpha waves? I’ve heard that meditation increases the Alpha waves in the brain. And I’ve read that alpha waves improve immunity and provide a host of other benefits.

A: Alpha waves are produced when you’re not focusing on anything. You don’t need to meditate for that – simply close your eyes, think of nothing in particular & your brain will generate alpha waves. There’s nothing earth-shaking about them. It denotes an absence of visual processing. There’s no proof that it promotes serenity or creativity. Also, different types of meditation produce different waves. Theta Meditation purportedly creates Theta waves, Zen Meditation produces Alpha and Theta waves, while the Kriya Yoga produces Beta waves.

F: So, even Tibetan Compassion Meditation is useless?

A: On the contrary, its very useful. Its like daydreaming, putting yourself in a compassionate mode, making you ponder about a word. It will bring about behavioral modification.

F: Perhaps meditation provides different benefits to different people. Perhaps some people derive all the afore-mentioned benefits from it. Can we agree to that compromise?

A: Certainly not. That’s another fallacy, called a False Compromise. We don’t have to agree to a compromise, just to avoid polarization. That’s not how discussions should go. We should try to find out what the benefits really are.

F: So what are you trying to do now? Prove meditation is useless?

A: I’ve already agreed that meditation has some benefits. I want to know what people think. Quoting Carl Sagan again, one should encourage substantive debate of a topic by knowledgeable proponents. So my objective is to find out what the readers of this blog think.

Dear readers – This is an open-minded discussion. We’d love to know your thoughts on the subject. Please provide links from independent sources whenever possible.


  1. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said April 9, 2011, 9:16 am:

    Excellent post Priya. The lesson i take away is that Meditation is beneficial albeit in a limited way and is not a panacea for all ills. I am wondering if we clearly systematize it and practice it uniformly, we may be able to advance the technique of meditation as a skill. I do think that a well-accepted, scientifically tested method of exercising the brain maybe immensely beneficial to humanity. I also think meditation is likely to be only one component of such an exercise for the brain and would include solving puzzles, learning new languages etc.

  2. Quote

    Sukumar – Thanks for your comment.

    Meditation does have some benefits. I just wish we’ll stop attributing divine powers to it & be sensible about it. For e.g., when someone is angry – meditating for 5 minutes will calm him/her down. So will doing something else, thereby taking one’s mind away from anger 😉

    We should baseline meditation & study it systematically. Interesting take on exercising the brain. If meditation means “focus”, any focusing technique will help train the brain, just like meditation.

  3. Quote

    Lolz sid you really write that haha!! Nice way to throw things and let people decide 😀
    Well I have been into meditation for nearly 20 yrs now. never been a regular but it’s a great relief
    I have seen my mum do it for years now, she fights stress, ill health, and all problems by meditating.

    I don’t know if it’s true but sure the environment today doesn’t foster an environment for us to meditate lime the Buddha or the great sages, foe purity of the environment reflects in our meditation.
    🙂 very nice post loved it!!

  4. Quote

    Interesting and thought provoking.
    I’m rereading the blog post with the concept ‘meditation’ substituted with ‘sleep’.
    Equally interesting indeed!
    The idea is to make the discourse rooted in common/everyday experience.
    [ Of course, bridging the conceptual gap between sleep and meditation is left as exercise for the alert/sleepy reader!]

  5. Quote

    Ramya – Thanks for your comment.

    I’m glad meditation helps your mom. I agree it relieves stress. But what kind of health issues have been solved by meditation? And how do you know they were solved by meditation – unless some controls were applied for other factors. Please let me know.

    One of my friends told me “I’ve been meditating for 2 years & I no longer fall ill”. The very next week, she had a flu. Belief in something prompts us to count the hits & not the misses.

    While materialism is higher these days, on the whole I think civilization has progressed. There are fewer wars (not counting the current crisis in the middle East), poverty has reduced, there’s more freedom. And we don’t know how deep our sages really meditated 😉

  6. Quote

    Balaji – Thanks for your comment.

    Transplanting sleep with meditation 🙂 Interesting, I think sleep provides us many benefits & they’re reasonably well established. Memory Management & Skin repair among them.

  7. Quote

    Thanks for the response Priya,

    In my experience/understanding Meditation is a special form of sleep. In both, the activity levels of the body( Metabolism) and the mind( number of thoughts/unit of time) comes down. Resulting in many benefits.

    In other words, both sleep and meditation are Entropy management on the body-mind system. Just like any other familiar (Entropy)systems, different Entropy levels result in different ‘Interesting’ states/benefits.

    A systematic study, will sure help a lot in understanding. But instead for waiting for the study results, pulling up the sleeves and Experimenting/Experiencing is easier/practical approach IMHO.

  8. Quote

    Balaji – Thanks.

    The brain-wave patterns during sleep vary, depending on the stage of sleep we are in. Deeper sleep results in higher Delta and some Theta waves in the brain. Not all forms of meditation (as I mentioned in my post) involve an increase in the delta or theta waves. Some do, so those could be equated to sleep – though whether they perform the same functions of sleep (such as increasing immunity) is not well known.

    I’m not sure if meditation involves an altered state of consciousness. There’s no scientific proof for that.

    I tried meditation as a teenager, but I find other methods such as strenuous exercise & focused application to my tasks work better for me. But if others like it, more power to them. They should certainly give it a shot.

  9. Quote
    Sreedhar NK said April 10, 2011, 7:19 pm:


    Good post. Sounded like Me, myself and Irene 🙂

    Meditation is not my cup of tea. I am not stressed about life to begin with, so, I guess I don’t understand what all the hoopla is about. I can understand if meditation helps someone (placebo effect or otherwise), good for them. I don’t understand the preaching to others part.

    Another argument that you’ve missed is – “It doesn’t cause any harm. Then why not try it”

  10. Quote

    Great argument. Authentic Mediation is good for health but learning authentic one is really challenging.Mediation not only helpful for stress, it is good busters of negative thoughts. “Life Unlocked” book try to explain all science behind mediation and how it is helping to overcome negatives,fear etc.


  11. Quote

    Sorry for typo, i meant Meditation NOT Mediation 🙂

  12. Quote

    NK – Thanks for your comment.

    Yes, I see no need for meditation, as it is practiced. I find that a hug from a loved one works better. So does a long walk or some music.

    >>It doesn’t cause any harm. Then why not try it

    Classic. If people agree early on that benefits from meditation are limited, there would be no need for this post 😉 But they say that meditating yogis can stop their hearts, levitate etc 😀

  13. Quote

    Subba – Thanks for your comment.

    Whether meditation prevents negative thought – depends on the form of meditation used. And in some cases, having negative thoughts is helpful. It helps us have realistic expectations.

    But yes, if practiced well, meditation = pondering. It may reduce our negative thoughts & our fears to *some* extent.

  14. Quote
    senthil (subscribed) said April 10, 2011, 10:21 pm:

    /** Another argument that you’ve missed is – “It doesn’t cause any harm. Then why not try it” **/


    Meditation does cause harm (some times great harm) , if NOT done properly.. i tried meditation in my childhood on my own (by reading books), and got severe headache..

  15. Quote
    senthil (subscribed) said April 10, 2011, 10:24 pm:


    Meditation is about controlling Mind & thought.. there is no scientific proof for Mind or thought so far.. and how can we expect scientific proof for meditation & its effects?

    PS: Some part of this post resemble some of my earlier debates with you on the same topic in twitter..

  16. Quote

    Senthil – Thanks for your comment.

    No evidence for mind or thought? What do you think the brain is? Please read up on the vast subjects of neurology & FMRI scanning.

  17. Quote
    senthil (subscribed) said April 11, 2011, 9:37 am:


    Brain, Mind and thoughts are different. Brain is the physical entity, but mind and thoughts are NOT..

    If you have any material regarding scientific proof for mind and thoughts, i would like to know that.

  18. Quote

    Not sure if you have read this book – Zen and the Brain: Toward an Understanding of Meditation and Consciousness is a book authored by James H. Austin. First published in 1998, the book’s aim is to establish links between the neurological workings of the human brain and meditation. For example Austin presents evidence from EEG scans that deep relaxed breathing reduces brain activity.

    The publishers described their book as a “Comprehensive text on the evidence from neuroscience that helps to clarify which brain mechanisms underlie the subjective states of Zen, and employs Zen to ‘illuminate’ how the brain works in various states of consciousness”.

    Austin is an MD and has also practiced Zen over many years. Later Austin wrote a follow-up, Zen-Brain Reflections.

    I have not read it myself but came across it when I was researching for responding to your post. I thought you might be interested.

  19. Quote

    Archana – Thanks for your comment.

    Meditation reducing brain activity – I’ve already mentioned this in the post. Beta waves are the fastest, Alpha is slower than Beta, Theta is slower than Alpha and Delta is the slowest.

    Some forms of meditation (as I’ve mentioned in the post) produce Alpha, Theta or Delta waves. But, what is the use of reducing brain wave activity? Already, during sleep – which is 1/3rd of a person’s life – we produce Theta and Delta waves during N-REM and Alpha during REM sleep. Simply closing your eyes will create Alpha waves (thus slowing down the brain). Taking a nap will produce Theta and Delta waves.

    Creating Alpha, Delta or Theta waves will reduce stress – which I have already agreed is one of the main benefits of some forms of meditation, if practiced properly.

  20. Quote
    Nimmy (subscribed) said April 12, 2011, 9:47 am:
  21. Quote

    Nimmy – Thanks for the link. Its a hodge-podge of many different things & not always scientific.

    1. I have read about self-directed neuro-plasticity, which is why I mentioned how Tibetan Compassion meditation yields results.

    2. >>While activities like cultivating a sense of love, singing and charity work quiet the me-definers, meditation and prayer are the most effective for radical stillness and connection to God or the Universe. << No proof is presented for his. And phrases like "connection to god and universe" have no place in science. 3. There is proof for improvement in short-term memory only. Not for heightened ability to visualize. If I just sit quietly and ponder deeply about a subject, it may improve my ability to visualize. There's no need for meditation. 4. Fixed mind-set and growth mind-set suggested by Carol Dweck have nothing to do with meditation. 5. All meditation aren't the same. We have no proof that the left pre-frontal cortex is dramatically altered by meditation. For someone to say that, clear causation must be determined. Altered by what kind of meditation? And how? I would need links from scientific journals to accept this. 6. We don't even have a clear definition for what meditation is. It can't be a "hold all" term that applies to anything & everything that provides some benefit. What does it involve? Focusing on one thing? Removing all thoughts from the mind? Imagining something? Unless we agree on one definition, we can't determine what benefits meditation provides.

  22. Quote
    Nimmy (subscribed) said April 12, 2011, 11:38 am:

    Forgot to mention in my previous comment that I loved the structure of the post and the intensity with which the Author and her Friend argue/discuss! 😉 This post can be written only by “Reasoning” Gurus like you! 😉 (BTW, Do you subscribe to Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism? – Just curious…)

    Hmm….I agree that there are multiple factors and not just one or two things that come into play. But it may be a herculean task, if not impossible, to consider all possible factors in a study like this. Some of the factors may even be invisible or unknown, to boot. I presume just the top 4-5 factors of influence are considered in such studies and, more often than not, people (based on a combination of reasoning and intuition) decide to accept or reject (or remain neutral about) something…..unless, of course, one can devote the kind of time PhDs devote for research! 😛 (Wonder if that sounds somewhat unambitious/careless, but I am just stating my approach towards ‘faith’ in such things).

    More importantly, at the end of the day, I guess it is personal ‘experience’ that makes a difference. If I happen to sit down in silence for a while and it helps me somehow calm down and think clearly, I might do that again and again irrespective of what others tell me (including the HBR, Economist and what not) – as long as it is within the limits of ethics, responsibility etc. I might attend a special meditation class and find everyone ‘wah-wah’ing about its benefits…but if I seem to have a health problem due to some other medical condition, I’d stop practicing it (but will not stop others from doing it, knowing that their context is unique).

    There is also a school of thought that says that anything that is followed with faith will yield good results while skepticism may actually be an obstacle….(You may have watched the TED talk by Sebastien Seung – unsure of the spelling of the surname – “I am my Connectome”? He says the way the human mind thinks alters it. Like the riverbed and flow of water. He has a team of people who’ve been researching on the topic for many years. Let me know if you want the link…in case you’ve not watched it. Can dig it out for you. :-))

    Coming back to the points you’ve made, you could perhaps interpret ‘connection to God or the universe’ as simply a sense of connectedness to your surroundings. Also, I thought the post refers to a reliable study by a scientist/doctor and provides a picture….not convincing? 🙂

    I guess the best way to verify something is to take the plunge and do it. So, if you attempt to meditate but feel that there is no significant benefit over and above other methods, you’d then be able to argue with a personal example, provided you are sure your context is very similar to someone else who, on the other hand, claims to have benefited. Of course, if the issue is that one does not have the time to try something long-drawn unless it has been conclusively proven by a reliable entity, experimentation is not a solution. 😉

    And finally, you brought out an important point for me personally. Not all meditation techniques are the same. Also, I think each of us may respond to a particular meditation technique in different ways, depending on our physique, breathing capacity, mental ability etc.

    I think I’ve only rambled…..not really addressed many of the points you’ve raised. But at the end of the day, if something works for me, I’ll continue to use it unless a new and convincing piece of information (not necessarily research) compels me to pause and think. The human mind is mysterious and infinitely complex. Wonder if we can find out all its secrets! 🙂

    Thanks for the post! Enjoyed the read and the consequent thought-processes in my own mind.

  23. Quote

    Nimmy – Thanks for your kind words.

    I’m not a fan of Ayn Rand. Her writing is heavy & not lucid enough for me. I like Bertrand Russell, Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins etc.

    Anything can be studied. If someone thinks a topic is too hard to study methodically, they can’t call it science. They can call it faith – then, I won’t have a problem with it. They can’t claim scientifically proven benefits of such methods.

    Personal experience – I agree partly, as long as tall claims about universal benefits aren’t made.

    Unless an article makes clear references to studies made, I’m not convinced. Any article that makes references to aspects of faith & belief – such as god and “connectedness” (whatever that means) isn’t fully scientific.

    I for one think – and hope – that everything can be broken into. It just takes time. The mystery is not in something remaining forever unknowable, but in finding out how to break it open so it can reveal its secrets.

  24. Quote
    Nimmy (subscribed) said April 12, 2011, 12:37 pm:

    You said “Personal experience – I agree partly, as long as tall claims about universal benefits aren’t made.” – Yup. I think some of the problems we have today are because of exaggerated claims and because people refuse to be questioned or are unwilling to get into a healthy debate – be it in any field.

    You said “I for one think – and hope – that everything can be broken into. It just takes time.” – I agree…but the thing is that some complex topics may take several life-times! 😐

  25. Quote

    Nimmy – Yes, when we debate a topic, we do it for the benefit of all. Instead, some people feel offended when their pet topics are debated. No one can afford to take sides in the search for truth. If they do, I posit that its not truth they’re after.

    Yes, my pet peeve is, I won’t be around when they make all these break-through discoveries in the future.

  26. Quote
    Vamsi (subscribed) said April 12, 2011, 8:25 pm:


    It is an interesting post. I am not much aware of the pros and cons of meditation. But I agree to the approach you have taken. When it comes to many ‘things’ in life, we will be asked to accept and move on rather question and ex/implore.

    I wonder if it is proven that Stress is No. 1 cause of lifestyle induced illnesses, meditation may be of good help. IMHO, a good nap, walk outside in fresh air, having warm tea, reading a good book, watching stand up comedy, sex, massage or prayer etc may be equally effective.

  27. Quote
    senthil (subscribed) said April 12, 2011, 9:35 pm:

    I agree with Nimmy.. Meditation is about everyone’s experience, and the same technique may create different results to different persons.. To denounce meditation, just because it doesnt fit in to any established pattern, and then call it as unscientific, is Nothing but a scientific intolerance..

    Has science decoded everything in this universe? Or is there any rule, that the whole universe functions as per what is written in the scientific books of the present day?

    What we call as science is entirely a western science, defined on western standards and on western attitude and approach.. The Eastern Science is entirely different, and has a different approach towards the universe..

    Western science, is mostly emerged around 15th century, and as a result of knowledge gained from Europe’s contact with India and other eastern countries. And more over, the western science arose as a reactionary to christianity, and particularly to the total christian enslavement of europe.. It is christianity, which banned anything that goes against Bible , and persecution of few scientists like galileo & others are for the same reason.. Hence western science emerged as counter to the totalatarian blind beliefs of christianity, and hence many western scientists are Atheists..

    Yoga is an indian spiritual science, which developed in india, based on indian perspective of science.. to apply western standards to yoga, and then claim that there is no scientific data to benefits of yoga is fundamentally flawed..

    Why i am totally against these scientific arrogance? Because, people has set the western science as standards, that most of indian based ayurvedic methods, and many other indian concepts has been destroyed so far.. For eg, in the name of scientific rationality, indian based ayurvedic medicinal practicitioners are pesecuted under the name of “pseudo doctors”.. similarly traditional ayurvedic institutions are systematically destroyed.. Today only those BSMS degrees and sidha degrees are recognized by government..

    This is a mirror of christian persecution of european pagans..

    And i view the current attitude towards yoga as another such persecution against traditional science, in the name of western science.. this is to be condemned at the most..

  28. Quote
    senthil (subscribed) said April 12, 2011, 9:47 pm:

    Meditation ( or can i say it as yoga) exists at the mind level.. it controls thoughts, and the original purpose is to attain a state of nirvana, the state of thoughtlessness.. so yoga is about mind and thoughts, and the consciousness associated with these..

    And in my earlier comment, i had asked, is there any western scientific proof for Mind and thought? Still no answer..

    As of now, western science has only recognized, that there is some electric impulse (& associated waves) originating out of thoughts.. but this cannot be a proof for thought or mind..

  29. Quote

    Vamsi – Thanks for your comment.

    Exactly – so many other methods will be effective. Why force a halo on meditation, that’s my question.

  30. Quote
    Ruchi (subscribed) said May 2, 2011, 2:34 am:

    Priya, i found an interesting link ( study on meditation ) which was published on April 11, 2011 in this article , almost near same time as you published this post. ( A coincidence ! ) –
    ” Meditation produces powerful pain-relieving effects in the brain, according to new research published in the April 6 edition of the Journal of Neuroscience.”

    I would like to propose a hypothesis basis the study quoted in article above , ( )

    All human beings try to minimize pain and maximize gain during their entire lifetime, if meditation helps them reduce a form of pain (with less efforts ) , then meditation is likely to gain more and more popularity, as meditation becomes more and more popular, People add their own notions & interpretation to meditation . Hence all the above comments and your blog at its first place and likewise so many other articles and studies on meditation.

    Interestingly enough, in India , some smart chaps have made an Industry out of this entire concept of Meditation ( my notion ! ,;-)

    Curious enough to know from you and learn , are logical fallacies allowed in a hypothesis ?

  31. Quote
    Andrew (subscribed) said June 30, 2012, 3:12 pm:

    Hello, first I would like to say that I love your skeptical approach. It is something we need more of from people these days.

    That being said, I think it is imperative that I point out “argument from fallacy” is in itself a logical fallacy.

    The problem with testing yoga and meditation is that they are far too subjective and the methods for performing either one of them are too variable for an experiment to even involve a large enough sample size with a proper control. The teaching methods of yoga can range from several different types that drastically change their potential of benefits. If yoga and meditation could come in a pill, I believe medical journals would finally be able to get the proof they need. Unfortunately, that is not possible.

    Your method of logical analysis leads me to believe that you think any activity which does not have proper proof of its benefits is immediately invalid. I, too, once held your mindset. However, as a man of statistics, my experience has shown me that widespread anecdotal evidence can be very accurate. Of course – “very accurate” is not good enough for the medical field. To me, “very accurate” means worthy of trying even if a skeptical mind is used when going into it. And let me tell you, it has definitely changed my life for the better. Again, this is just another anecdotal evidence and I am sure it will do nothing to waver your mind if you were like me. My advice is to try it yourself before forming a conclusion. The most wonderful part of yoga meditation for me is it does not require empirical proof to work. It just does. Even if my benefits were a result of the placebo effects – the benefits do not magically disappear.

    Anyways, I would just like to end by saying that a lack of properly conducted experiments can be made up by large numbers of them with the same results. If your friend told you a rumor, you have no idea if it is true or not. However, if another friend tells you the same rumor, the probability of the rumor being true rises. If we imagine that everyone on the planet told you that same rumor, would it not make sense that the probability of the rumor being true approach 100%? Even though it is purely anecdotal evidence, a large number of them confirming the same result makes it more and more likely to be true. The first argument you’re probably thinking of are things like ear candling. I still have people to this day that tell me how great it is even though you and I both know that is just quackery. The difference is that you would never find a science journal reporting its positive effects. Hell, I didn’t even do a google search to make sure before I sound like an idiot because that’s how sure I am of the science community. I invite you to search for one and I bet you won’t find one. 800+ studies on yoga and meditation – the only people that would continue to fund such studies are people that have confidence in it’s abilities.

  32. Quote

    Andrew – Thanks for your comment.

    >>you think any activity which does not have proper proof of its benefits is immediately invalid<< That's not what I think. If something doesn't have a proper proof of benefits, I conclude its validity is questionable. I can't accept it as valid, like how I accept Penicillin as valid. There's a big difference between what I say - and concluding something as invalid. The big problem with anecdotal evidence is cherry-picking - and counting the hits & ignoring the misses. So many people in my country believe in Astrology. That doesn't automatically improve its validity. For that matter, 95% of people in the world believe in God. Truth, I think, is not a popularity contest. Yes, there are many variants in meditation. Just like there are many variants to cardio exercises, antibiotics or computer chips. Let people publish an unbiased study of those precise forms - at least a few of them. Blanket claims that "meditation helps" shouldn't be made, in my humble opinion. Which form helps? And how? That's what I'd like to know. The scientific community is wary of meditation - because of bizarre claims like "Meditation cures Alzheimers". This is precisely why more systematic studies should be made about meditation, so that human-kind clearly understands what benefits, if any, can be derived from it.

  33. Quote
    senthil (subscribed) said July 3, 2012, 11:17 pm:


    /** I can’t accept it as valid, like how I accept Penicillin as valid. There’s a big difference between what I say – and concluding something as invalid.

    pencillin is once accepted as highly beneficial.. today, its mostly banned.. it is the same scientific community which proved and again disproved about its benefits.. What was once proved as god given for a particular benefit, is later proved to be more harmful..

    It only shows, that there is NO absolute truth and hence NO absolute proof..

    In case of Meditation, the alzheimers claim may be valid or invalid.. but it doesnt negate so many other benefits out of meditation, and it doesnt makes sense, to outrightly reject meditation due to this..

    Meditation gives peace of mind.. and how can one scientifically prove this peace of mind? How do one define & measure peace, and how do one prove the existence of mind, through empirical methods.. these are abstract terms, which can only be experienced and NOT proved..

    The problem with the western educated is that they expect a universal proof for an assumed universal truth..

    /** So many people in my country believe in Astrology. That doesn’t automatically improve its validity

    Astrology is a predictive science.. it is popular, because so many people find it happening in their life.. what is the proof / validity that one wants here? If one expects absolute, repeatable results, i would say it is unreasonable..
    Can we expect same results in probability? No.. does that make, probability theory as unscientific?

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