The Science of Meditation

Posted on February 28, 2017

Photo: flickr

Meditation has been part of various cultures worldwide for centuries. To meditate is to focus one's mind until it reaches a state of deep mental relaxation and clarity. Compared to the experimentation, data and research of sciences like chemistry, the methods and ways of meditation practices sharply contrasts against that of scientific subjects. However, John Yates supports that some meditation practices can qualify as a science. If you describe science as the systematic study of the natural world, through observation, experimentation and a organized body of knowledge on a particular subject, Yates argues that meditation could be considered on par with other scientific subjects like biology.

The purpose of meditation is to observe one's mind and the study of the human mind is undeniably a subject of science (think of psychology!). Those who consistently practice will compare these observations against their experiences and knowledge gained from life. Over the years, meditators have refined models based from such experiences and develop new meditative techniques. This can be seen as a organized body of knowledge that is continuously changing based on new discoveries. In that sense, it can be seen as a science. The techniques used are like hypotheses and are tested based on efficacy. Those that are deemed to be effective are kept and the ones that are not are modified.

There is the argument that the results are not objective, as every individual is different and one technique might have differing results for two people. However, an argument like this would disregard a lot of the work done in psychology and other social sciences. In addition, using brain scans, we can identify the neural changes that meditation has on the brain. Results of meditation includes increased cognitive performances.

Source material from Scientific American

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