Vipassana: An ancient technique of meditation

The aim of Vipassana meditation is to reduce cognitive and emotional reactivity.

Dr. Alberto Chiesa at the University of Bologna, in Italy, reviewed the evidence.

First, the details.

  • 7 “mainly poor-quality studies” were identified.

And, the results.

  • 3 neuroimaging studies (image the structure and function of the brain) suggest that Vipassana meditation might be associated with activation and changes in various areas of the brain.
  • 3 studies in incarcerated populations suggest it reduced alcohol and substance abuse but not post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in prisoners.
  • 1 study in healthy people suggested it enhanced copying styles and more mature defenses (unconscious psychological strategies to cope with reality and maintain self-image).

The bottom line?

Dr. Chiesa concluded, “Current studies provided preliminary results about neurobiological and clinical changes related to Vipassana meditation.”

However, he continues, “Few and mainly low-quality data are available especially for clinical studies, and current results have to be considered with caution,” with respect to reproducibility of results, placebo effect, and long-term response to treatment.

6/2/10 21:06 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.