Previous research has shown physiological differences between meditators and non-meditators but it is not known whether these differences are attributable to the practice of meditation. It is hypothesized that the regular relaxation, associated with the practice of meditation, produces physiological de-arousal outside of meditation itself. Eleven subjects were taught meditation in the belief that it was an untried relaxation exercise.
They regularly practised the technique for a period of 6 months. Pre-, mid- and post-‘treatment’ measures of skin conductance and spontaneous skin conductance responses were taken and were compared with similar measures taken from a comparison group, who merely attended for retesting. The experimental group showed a significant decrease in spontaneous skin conductance responses over the 6 month period. The comparison group and a small group of subjects who gave up meditation early in the experiment exhibited no significant change on this parameter. The experimental group also demonstrated a progressively greater decrease in skin conductance during meditation over the 6 months. This progression was not evident in the small group of ‘drop-outs’. The results suggested that regular meditation practice might be effective in producing some physiological relaxation outside of the meditation state itself.