In view of the seriousness of some of the reactions described above it is questionable whether all forms of meditation can be viewed as “generally safe for general consumption”. Moreover, given that recent reviews of meditation have clearly demonstrated a lack of convincing evidence for a specific effect, the importance of developing a comprehensive understanding of meditation’s adverse effects, and the risk to both healthy and unwell populations is of considerable importance. I propose that a more cautious set of clinical recommendation guidelines be considered until more thorough, independent studies are done.

A simple guideline may be that candidates should be recommended to experienced instructors with health professional backgrounds and that referring clinicians should screen for history/susceptibility to serious mental illness. It may be also appropriate to avoid recommending methods in which commercialisation or similar considerations may lead to a conflict of interest. There are many meditation techniques that can be accessed on a low fee/non-commercial or free of charge basis and these ought to be recommended over expensive, commercialised methods. Should negative experiences occur, novices should be advised to cease practising the techniques immediately.

Dr Ramesh Manocha

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Dr Ramesh Manocha discusses the negative impact of the commercialisation of meditation in this excerpt from his thesis.

Another important retarding force impacting on meditation research relates to the fact that meditation has become an important commodity and many of its leading lights have made their fortunes by selling books, CDs, courses and qualifications on or about meditation. Virtually none of these highly commercialised, mass market products discusses or describes how to achieve the mental silence experience. Might this be because its creators are unable to deliver that experience? A vague definition of meditation has commercial advantages since it allows a wide variety of practices to be marketed under an attractive banner without obligating its proponents to deliver much more than a sense of rest, relaxation or even just a an odd sensation, if anything at all. The New Age industry, culturally handicapped academics and a popular media eager for content appear to have unwittingly cooperated to promote a fundamentally inadequate, but much more marketable, idea of meditation.

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