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Finding Right Meditation Style is Key to Sustaining Practice, Study Shows

In June 2008, Elevated Existence published an article called “Finding the Right Meditation for You,” to help people realize the importance of selecting the right practice to meet their individual needs. Now a new study published online in “Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing,” has the research to back it up!

Finding a meditation style that is the most comfortable for the individual has a lot to do with someone sticking with the practice, according to Adam Burke, author of the study, professor of Health Education at SF State, and the director of SF State’s Institute for Holistic Health Studies.

Burke compared four popular meditation methods: Mantra, Mindfulness, Zen and Qigong Visualization. Using 247 participants, they were all taught the methods and asked to practice them at home. At the end of the study, the participants reported which method they preferred. The two simpler methods, Mantra and Mindfulness, were preferred by 31 percent of study participants; Zen chosen by 22 percent; and Qigong by 14.8 percent.

“It was interesting that Mantra and Mindfulness were found to be equally compelling by participants despite the fact that they are fundamentally different techniques,” Burke said in the report. Mindfulness is the most recent meditation technique to gain widespread popularity, and is most recognizable by new practitioners, so it wasn’t surprising that the youngest in the group preferred this method, he explained.

“If someone is exposed to a particular technique through the media or a healthcare 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 noted, they may be less likely to continue meditating and would lose out on such benefits as reduced stress, lower blood pressure or even treatment for addiction.

Want to start meditation or find a new style? Read our free article “Finding the Right Meditation Style for You.”

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