A new study now claims that the trendy Buddhist practice of meditating does not make a person more compassionate, less aggressive or prejudiced.
For decades, meditation that incorporates a range of spiritual and religious beliefs, has been touted to make the world a better place.
However, researchers from the UK, New Zealand and The Netherlands, have found meditation doesn't change how adults behave towards others.
According to Dr Miguel Farias, co-author, from Coventry University, all world religions promise the world would change for the better if only people were allow to follow its practices.
He goes on to add, “In the early 1970s, Transcendental Meditation conveyed this message openly, announcing that the rising number of individuals practising this technique would lead to world peace in the short term. Psychologists using mindfulness or other Buddhism-derived meditation techniques are now advancing similar ideas about the prosocial effects of meditation.”
The team of researchers reviewed more than 20 studies that investigated the effect of various types of meditation to make the conclusion.
The research involves mindfulness, and loving-kindness.
Initial analysis, published in the journal Scientific Reports, indicated that meditation, whether it was three-minute classes or three-month long getaways at secluded retreats did have an overall positive impact.
It made people feel moderately more compassionate or empathetic, compared to if they had done no other new emotionally-engaging activity.
However, a further analysis revealed that meditation didn't reduce aggression or prejudice or improving how socially-connected someone was.
The most unexpected result of this study, though, was that the more positive results found for compassion had important methodological flaws.
Overall, the results suggested improvements reported by psychologists in previous studies may be the result of methodological weaknesses and biases.
Dr Farias added: 'Despite the high hopes of practitioners and past studies, our research found that methodological shortcomings greatly influenced the results we found. Most of the initial positive results disappeared when the meditation groups were compared to other groups that engaged in tasks unrelated to meditation.”