...Every benefit of the practice can be gained through other activities...This is the conclusion from an analysis of 47 trials of meditation programs, published last year in JAMA Internal Medicine: “We found no evidence that meditation programs were better than any active treatment (i.e., drugs, exercise and other behavioral therapies).”
O.K., so meditation is just one of many ways to fight stress. But there’s another major benefit of meditating: It makes you mindful. After meditating, people are more likely to focus their attention in the present. But as the neuroscientist Richard Davidson and the psychologist Alfred Kaszniak recently lamented, “There are still very few methodologically rigorous studies that demonstrate the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions in either the treatment of specific diseases or in the promotion of well-being.”
And guess what? You don’t need to meditate to achieve mindfulness either...you can become more mindful by thinking in conditionals instead of absolutes...Change “is” to “could be,” and you become more mindful. The same is true when you look for an answer rather than the answer.(I would also point out that 'mindfulness' can frequently be generated by switching in your thoughts from a first to a third person perspective.) Finally:
...in some situations, meditation may be harmful: Willoughby Britton, a Brown University Medical School professor, has discovered numerous cases of traumatic meditation experiences that intensify anxiety, reduce focus and drive, and leave people feeling incapacitated.