What are the Emotional Benefits (Promises) of Meditation?
We begin documenting our "benefits" citing a book that provides an extensive review of meditation research titled The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meditation; A Review of Contemporary Research with a Comprehensive Bibliography 1931-1996 by Michael Murphy and Steven Donovan. We will use this as our primary source for the information presented below.
Emotional Effects –
Greater empathy for others - This is one of the common spiritual qualities emphasized by all spiritual schools – concern for the condition of others. In 12 Step programs we might call this “getting out of self.” Researchers are showing that meditation increases the caring and sensitivity towards others. Pages 90-92
Abilities to become more self-actualization are increased - Abraham Maslow and the basic meditation philosophies share the perspective that humans have the ability with certain potentials for growth that are blocked by our conditioning and fears. A number of studies have shown that meditation, over time, helps people to progress towards greater self-actualization, which is the instinctual need of humans to make the most of their abilities and to strive to be the best they can. Pages 94-101
Reduces both acute and chronic anxiety - It is interesting to note that modern therapy strives to lessen or diminish suffering, but most spiritual traditions strive to remove it through transformation or liberation from self. Both modern and traditional approaches agree and research has shown that meditation calms mental activity, help produce calmer physical bodies, through “concentration helps to unify scattered feelings and thoughts, that introspection facilitates catharsis, that self mastery builds self-confidence that mitigates fear.” Page 102
Emotional Stability – This is often regarded by meditation traditions as a first result of meditation. This has been supported by researchers and this benefit is described by them as:
- “…enhanced adaptation to a large range of fluctuating experiences.”
- …the tranquility of the mind and body, the detached neutrality, the experience of global desensitization, and the greater behavioral stability reported by meditators.” Page 135.
Detachment – Modern meditation researchers describe detachment experienced in meditation as”
- “disidentification from pain or inner dialog
- sensory detachment from the external world,
- full awareness of the outside world while remaining unaffected by it, paring away detachments
- a growing sense of being the witness. Page 135