In my systematic review of 120 randomised controlled trials, twenty eight trials used a “multimodal” approach in which meditation was used as part of a “blunderbuss” of interventions woven into a single coordinated program. Most of these programs involved other practices aimed at reducing stress such as yoga postures, exercise, breathing techniques, or group support. Such approaches may be more clinically effective but the adjunctive use of non-meditative techniques obscures any effect that may be specifically attributed to the meditation component. They are therefore not useful in trying to understand the nature of meditation per se. Similarly, examining the 16 trials that were more or less based on Kabat Zinn’s Mind Body Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) clearly indicates that this interventions is only one component of a larger collection of practices including hatha yoga, simple cognitive therapy and breathing exercises. Therefore, although the MBSR is frequently equated with Mindfulness, for scientific purposes it would be more appropriately relegated to the multi-modal category.

Dr Ramesh Manocha