Impact of Meditation Versus Exercise on Psychological Characteristics, Paranormal Experiences, and Beliefs: Randomized Trial

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Penberthy, J. K., Claro, H. G., Kalelioglu, T., Centeno, C., Ladoni, A., Ragone, E., Rowley, C., & Hanchak, E. (2024). Impact of Meditation Versus Exercise on Psychological Characteristics, Paranormal Experiences, and Beliefs: Randomized Trial. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 38(1), 28-40.


Background: Research indicates that meditation increases mindfulness and paranormal experiences of precognition, telepathy, clairvoyance, and synchronicities. There is limited knowledge about the prevalence or impact of these experiences on meditators and the general population. Aims: To compare self-reported well-being, mindfulness, connectedness, personality, paranormal experiences, beliefs, and performance on psi tasks in a meditation group versus an exercise control group. Method: This is a randomized trial that explored changes, including well-being, mindfulness, connectedness, psi, extraordinary experiences, beliefs, and ability to impact a random number generator in the participants, comparing a meditation vs. exercise control group. We collected data at baseline, “Mid” or halfway through the intervention (week 4), post 1, which is at the end of intervention (week 9), and post 2, which is two months post-intervention. Data was collected securely online with IRB approval. Results: Data from 72 participants (N=45 meditation/N=27 exercise) demonstrated improvement in some well-being measures (anxiety and general health). The study examined the effects of meditation versus exercise on various psychosocial measures and paranormal experiences. The meditation group displayed higher scores in openness and extroversion compared to the exercise group, which was unexpected and required further investigation. The meditation cohort also reported more paranormal experiences, with about half of them considering these experiences important or meaningful. However, the experiment exploring psychic abilities did not yield significant results. While the study had limitations, such as a predominantly non-diverse sample, it adds to the existing body of evidence linking meditation and exercise to positive psychosocial outcomes. Conclusions: The randomly selected meditation naïve cohort trained in brief structured meditation demonstrated increases over time in mindfulness, connectedness, extraversion, and paranormal experiences and beliefs compared to an exercise cohort. Performance on the psi tasks did not improve in either group over time, and these tasks may not be sensitive enough to detect significant changes.
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