Meditation Techniques Effects


  • Philip Ischebeck University of Vienna



Meditation is proven to have strong positive effects on emotional well-being, health, performance, and intelligence [1]. Hundreds of different meditation techniques exist, which differ in procedures and effects. Researchers are only beginning to understand how various techniques affect the human organism, how to categorize them, and how to use them [2]. It is the goal of this work to contribute to the filling of this very knowledge gap.


The common classification categorizes meditation techniques based on occurring brain wave frequencies (measured by EEG) and methodical procedures into: a) "Focused Attention", b) "Open Monitoring" and c) "Automatic Self-Transcending" [2]. This categorization however seems to have significant weaknesses.

Firstly, the "Focused Attention" category seems overly broad, with some techniques aligning more closely with other categories than their own. Furthermore, phenomenological criteria are not considered, which seems restricted considering that meditation is precisely about the experienced effect.

I hypothesize that a different categorization is more useful. Using EEG technology and phenomenology I conduct a self-experiment on the following techniques that all, except the last, conventionally fall into the category of "Focused Attention" to test the validity of the model:

  1. Samatha Meditation is the focused attention on the breath. It has previously been associated with delta brain waves and deep relaxation.
  2. Shambhavi Mudra Meditation is the focused attention on the space between the eyebrows. High increases in delta and theta activity were associated.
  3. Insight Meditation as Vipassana or Zen focusses on the impermanence of whatever experiences arises and were associated with increases in gamma activity.
  4. Manifestation Meditation focusses on cultivating desired states (e.g., health or wealth) by focussing and imagining them. It has been associated with alpha and theta brain waves.
  5. Loving-Kindness Meditation is practicing and focusing on a well-meaning attitude towards all beings. It has been associated with an increase in slower frequencies, such as theta.
  6. Transcendental Meditation focusses on quieting the mind and arriving at a state of “just being”. It is associated with alpha brain activity and conventionally categorized as “Automatic Self-Transcending”.

Methodology and Aim

The gathered data will be analysed for patterns in frequency, methodology and phenomenology to approve the conventional model or provide an alternative.

Although the conclusions drawn from this personal experiment may not be universally applicable, the aim is to serve as a door opener for further debate and research.


[1] J. Eberth, and P. Sedlmeier, “The effects of mindfulness meditation: a meta-analysis”, Mindfulness, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 174-189, 2012.

[2] F. Travis, “On the neurobiology of meditation: comparison of three organizing strategies to investigate brain patterns during meditation practice”, Medicina, vol. 56, no. 12, p. 712, 2020.