Are there good reasons for a typical reader of LessWrong to invest their time and effort into meditation practice? I'm going to do a literature review and will keep adding answers here but contributions from others are more than welcome. Some ground rules for the answers:
- Only links to scientific papers + ideally a short commentary (summary and criticism where applicable), please.
- Studies that have been independently replicated are especially welcome. In such cases, please post the replications as well.
- No meta-analyses, please. The last time I did a literature review on the subject, most papers were of embarrassingly low quality and a meta-analysis can easily obscure that. This rule does not introduce bias: if a meta-analysis is based on high quality studies, then those individual studies are admissible here.
- For any supposed benefit, meditation should be compared with other means of gaining that benefit. Either in the linked paper, or in the commentary.
- Participants' self-reporting on their internal mental states (emotions, thoughts, etc.) is not considered reliable or informative for the purpose of this post. Note: self-reporting on physical behaviours is admissible, although it's best if it's based on some tracking methodology rather than just memory.
- If you aren't sure whether your contribution meets those criteria, please post a comment instead of an answer.
There are no rules for the comments, other than basic civility. Anything that contributes to the discussion, including criticism of the rules above, is more than welcome. In fact, I'm going to write in comments some of the backstory and my thoughts before embarking on the search for answers.