Meditation makes me sick: Meditation and sensitivity to parasympathetic nervous system



Year of publication 2015
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Meditation has been studied by cognitive scientists, psychologists as well as by scholars of religion for decades. The study though has been focused mostly on positive effects of different meditation practices and these have become a part of a medical treatment or psychotherapy (Ospina et al. 2009). But what about the negative aspects of meditation practices well-known among meditation teachers and practitioners? These problems as nausea and head spinning especially common for beginners are in a scientific literature fairly omitted. We will present an experimental study which takes initial steps towards probing basic negative aspects of meditation practices and represents broader interdisciplinary cooperation across medicine, social sciences and humanities (Olex et al. 2013). Meditation in general stimulates parasympathetic nervous system and leads to relaxed states. Although sensitive individuals unfamiliar with meditation practices might have extreme response to parasympathetic nervous system stimulation. They might feel sick and nauseous during meditation. The objective of the study was to monitor individuals during exercising simple meditation breathing technique and determine the causes of extreme physiological response connected to autonomous nervous system activity. We presume meditation slows down a heart rate, decreases variability of a heart rate, decreases turbulence of heart rate and deceleration capacity. We presume that susceptible individuals will respond to meditation by strong irritation of the parasympathetic system and thus increase neurovegetative response – change of blood pressure and heart rate profile. The key is a continual monitoring of basic physiological functions of participants during baseline and meditation as a body surface temperature, arterial blood pressure, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation and heart activity (EKG) accompanied by standardized nausea questionnaire (Muth et al. 1996).
Related projects: