“Because of the increase in both general and clinical use of meditation, you want to make sure you’re finding the right method for each person,” says Burke. If people do not select a style that they enjoy, the risk is that they will quit practicing before they realize any benefits.
Burke conducted a pilot study to compare four meditation methods: Zen, mindfulness, qigong and mantra. Subjects were 247 undergraduate students, the majority of whom had no meditation experience. Students learned each method and were asked to provide evaluations and to note their preferences over a 6-week period. Most students favored mindfulness and mantra techniques. Subjects selected practices they found easier, more enjoyable and more calming.
Burke noted that individual preferences among the different methods were clearly evident, regardless of which styles were most popular. He said that if an individual is not comfortable with a specific method of meditation for any reason, he or she might be less likely to continue meditating and would lose out on benefits such as stress reduciton, improvements in blood pressure or even treatment for addiction.
The findings were reported in EXPLORE (2012; 8 , 237–42).