As a recently published study suggests, meditation and yoga practices actually do just the opposite of what they are intended to do: they increase the ego.
According to Buddhist teaching, the self is an illusion. Yoga and meditation pick up on that idea and try to instill a fundamentally disinterested worldview, encouraging followers to renounce individual desires and distance themselves from self-concern.
Paid for themselves
The study recruited nearly a hundred yoga students and, over a 15-week period, their sense of self-improvement was regularly assessed. They used various measures to do this .
First , they assessed the participants’ level of self-improvement by asking how they compared to the average yoga student in their class. Second , they had participants complete a questionnaire that assessed narcissistic tendencies. And finally , they administered a self-esteem scale asking the participants if they agreed with statements such as: "At the moment, I have high self-esteem."
Scores were highest on all three measures when subjects had done yoga in the past 24 hours.
A second study of 162 people who practiced meditation, recruited through Facebook groups dedicated to meditation, found that the practice had a similar impact on self-esteem as yoga .
In this study, participants were asked to rate themselves based on statements such as: "Compared to the average participant in this study, I am free from prejudice."
Well-being was also found to increase along with personal improvement, suggesting that personal improvement is related to the greater sense of well-being that many get from meditation.
Therefore, these findings suggest that spiritual Buddhist practices such as yoga and meditation may not do what advocates often say they do. Either that or it is that those who practice yoga and meditation do not do it correctly .