Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

When you work hard, you have to find ways to relieve stress.

Everyone finds their own methods. Some are healthier than others.

Few, though, would dispute that meditation is a positive thing.

It may not work for everyone, but its essential serenity surely can't hurt. 

Or can it?

A new study tries to be pleasant about meditation, but doesn't quite get there. 

Its authors, from University College, London, can't resist putting these words into their title: 

Unpleasant meditation-related experiences in regular meditators.

They don't stop there. How about this: 

A growing number of reports indicate that psychologically unpleasant experiences can occur in the context of meditation practice.

I confess I'd not heard such tales from friends who meditate. 

I have, however, heard worries from previous research that suggested meditation actually makes some people miserable.

Here, though, more than 25 percent of the 1,232 participants claimed they'd had "particularly unpleasant meditation-related experiences, which they thought may have been caused by their meditation practice."

What's fascinating are the sorts of people who claimed meditation affected them negatively.

Say the researchers: 

Participants with higher levels of repetitive negative thinking, those who only engaged in deconstructive types of meditation (e.g., vipassana/insight meditation), and those who had attended a meditation retreat at any point in their life were more likely to report unpleasant meditation-related experiences.

How odd that the mere attendance at a meditation retreat -- at any point in your life -- might lead to unpleasant experiences during further meditation.

What's also fascinating is the sorts of people who seemed not to suffer so much from meditation's alleged downsides.

Women and those who are religious, say the researchers, experienced fewer of these psychologically unpleasant experiences.

This isn't to say you should stop meditating. These researchers admit there is far more scientific work to be done. 

Moreover, their work didn't look at any possible pre-meditation mental health conditions in participants.

Ultimately, one can only offer the same prescription as for so many other things in life. 

If it works for you, great.

If it doesn't, do something else.

Published on: May 11, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.