Abstract and Keywords
Contemplative traditions have posited that exceptional abilities can occur in conjunction with meditation. These claims have been often dismissed as mere fantasies, but some have been evaluated experimentally. This chapter reviews historical accounts from Asian and Western traditions about such abilities and summarizes the research on the relation of meditation with exceptional psychophysiological control and with parapsychological (psi) phenomena such as clairvoyance or precognition, which seem to bypass time and space constraints. There is some evidence that meditation may increase perceptual sensitivity, bleeding and heart rate control, the ability to withstand cold temperatures and pain, and reduce metabolic responses. Analyses of cumulative research also suggest that meditation (particularly very long-term practice) is associated with greater-than-chance psi performance under controlled conditions. Nonetheless, the study of the relation between meditation and exceptional abilities has been scant, so more research on the topic is clearly warranted.
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