In light of the number of studies reporting adverse effects from meditation broad based surveys need to be conducted, and given that studies such as Kaldor’s (2002) suggest that up to 10% of the population may have tried meditation at some time, a direct-to-public cross sectional survey may be sufficiently effective in quantifying adverse effect rates. Also important are controlled observational studies with a specific focus on detecting, characterising and quantifying adverse reactions. Moreover, meditation should not be the only modality assessed but instead, the opportunity should be taken to assess the effects of all related quasi therapeutic practices including hypnosis, faith healing and Qigong, Reiki and other new age practices. Combining the outcomes from these different data gathering strategies on a wide variety of contemplative and new age practices will not only help us understand adverse effects associated with meditation but also provide a perspective with regard to related practices. Such information will hopefully help to explain why a practice traditionally described as beneficial seems to be associated with a consistent reporting rate of adverse events.

Dr Ramesh Manocha