Meditation Increases Awareness of Subliminal Messages, New Study Finds

By Monica Wilson on June 11, 2012

On a new study, a group of researchers from Britain and Netherlands found that meditation opens more pathways in the brain that allow more information to enter and be retrieved. Their findings have been published in the Consciousness and Cognition.

What are Subliminal Messages?

Subliminal messages are images, words, or sounds that we usually hear and see from movies, commercials, print ads, and the like. Oftentimes, these messages are not recognised for what they are and are usually ignored by our brain. However, they entice us beyond our consciousness. Without you knowing, you are already hooked to a certain product and the last thing you know is that you’re in the store, rushing to get one of those items you saw in the magazine or brochure. The idea of subliminal messaging came in late 19th century. Since then, it became a standard fare for marketing. It’s really bizarre to think how subliminal messaging works but according to a study by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, although these messages do not reach the brain, they are able to influence our attitude and behaviour.  

Subliminal Messaging and Meditation

To find out the effects of meditation and a person’s ability to absorb subliminal messages, the researchers conducted two separate experiments. The first experiment was designed to measure the creativity of people who meditate as compared to those who don’t. To do this, participants were grouped into two. The first group engaged in a meditation session while the other group simply sat down and relaxed. Then, they were asked to take the Remote Associate Test (Rat) which is a standard psychological test for creativity which is also used to measure one’s level of insights. The researchers found that those who went through meditation scored higher in the test than those who simply sat and relaxed.

On the second experiment, participants were again divided into two groups – the first went through a meditation session while the second group had some relaxation. Then, they attended a computer examination which is designed to measure their level of awareness when it comes to subliminal messages. The test involves answering questions with multiple answers. Although most of them are very easy, the selections flashed in the screen so quickly that participants weren’t able to notice them. When the scores of the participants were compared, the meditation group scored higher.

Study Limitations

Because the participants in the study only had meditation prior the tests, the researchers weren’t able to tell what the impact would be if people would meditate on a regular basis. They also didn’t try to observe what actually happens in the brain which improves people’s responses to subliminal messaging when undergoing meditation.

 

Sources of this article:

Zen meditators tap in to subliminal messages, NewScientist

Zen meditation and access to information in the unconscious, Consciousness and Cognition, In Press

Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training, Consciousness and Cognition

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