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One Size Does Not Fit All in Meditation

One Size Does Not Fit All in MeditationNew to meditation and already thinking about quitting? You may have chosen the wrong technique, according to new research.

A new study just published notes the importance of selecting a meditation method that is most comfortable to the new meditator, not the one that is currently the most popular.

Choosing the one you are most comfortable with increases the likelihood that you will stick with it, says Adam Burke, the author of the study and a professor of health education at San Francisco State University.

Although meditation has become more popular in the U.S., there have been very few studies comparing the different methods, he said. That’s why he undertook his study, which compares four popular meditation methods — Mantra, Mindfulness, Zen and Qigong Visualization — to see if new meditation practitioners favored one over the others.

The study’s 247 participants were taught each method and asked to practice at home and, at the end of the study, evaluate which they preferred. The two simpler methods, Mantra and Mindfulness, were preferred by 31 percent of study participants, Burke reports. About 22 percent preferred Zen, while 14.8 percent preferred Qigong.

The results emphasize that no one technique is best for everyone, he said.

The researcher also found that older participants, who grew up when Zen was becoming one of the first meditation techniques to gain attention in the U.S., were more likely to prefer that method, while Mindfulness — the most recent meditation technique to gain popularity — was most preferred by the youngest study participants.

“If someone is exposed to a particular technique through the media or a health care provider, they might assume because it’s popular it’s the best for everyone,” Burke said. “But that’s like saying because a pink dress or a blue sport coat is popular this year, it’s going to look good on everybody. In truth, different people like different things. One size does not fit all.”

If an individual is not comfortable with a specific method for any reason, he said, they may be less likely to continue meditating and will lose out on benefits such as reduced stress, lower blood pressure, or even treatment for addiction.

Burke hopes to see more comparative meditation studies, especially to determine if particular methods are better at addressing specific health issues, such as addiction. If that’s the case, he said, health care professionals would be able to guide patients toward techniques that will be most effective for them.

Additional studies are also needed to determine if there is a way to predict which method will be best suited for any particular individual, he concluded.

The study is published online in EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing.

Source: San Francisco State University

One Size Does Not Fit All in Meditation

Janice Wood

Janice Wood is a long-time writer and editor who began working at a daily newspaper before graduating from college. She has worked at a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites, covering everything from aviation to finance to healthcare.

APA Reference
Wood, J. (2018). One Size Does Not Fit All in Meditation. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 8 Jul 2012)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.