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About Transcendental Meditation

Transcendental Meditation

The TM technique is a unique, simple and effective mental procedure. It takes twenty minutes, twice each day. You sit comfortably with your eyes closed. It involves no mood, belief, philosophy, or lifestyle. Most people have begun the technique for such practical reasons as the desire for better physical and mental health, increased energy, decreased anxiety and tension, more fulfilling family relations, improved clarity of thought, and greater success and fulfillment. More than six million people of all ages, cultures, and religions have learned TM.

TM simply allows the mind to settle inward, through quieter levels of thought, until you experience the most silent and peaceful level of your own awareness. TM uses the natural tendency of the mind to spontaneously go to states of great happiness. The technique involves a real and measurable process of physiological refinement. It utilizes the inherent capacity of the nervous system to refine its own functioning and to unfold its full potential. In a spontaneous and natural way during the practice, the attention is drawn to quieter, more orderly states of mental activity until all mental activity is transcended, and the observer is left with no thoughts or sensations, only the experience of pure awareness lively in itself.It is as if we have a switch in our nervous system that is automatically turned on during TM to produce this state of restful alertness. The result is that during TM you rejuvenate and revitalize the nervous system, and as a result you become more successful and fulfilled in activity.

Extensive research has documented the effectiveness of TM in improving both physical and mental health. TM helps every area of life by removing stress from your digestive and nervous system, which allows your mind and body to function more effectively. More than 600 studies at more than 200 research institutes and universities have been conducted on the Transcendental Meditation program, and over 380 of those studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals. “Peer-reviewed” means that scientists with qualifications and competencies similar to those of the study authors have evaluated the work. These methods are the gold standard of science, employed to maintain the highest standards of quality and credibility.

The principal finding of scientific research on Transcendental Meditation is, as we said earlier, that it provides the experience of a fourth major state of consciousness: Transcendental Consciousness (1-2). The practices of Zen, Compassion Meditation, Quigong, Diamond Way Buddhism, Zazen, Kriya Yoga, and the more recent practices of Mindfulness and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) are different from Transcendental Meditation. Scientists Dr. Fred Travis and Dr. Jonathan Shear have published a paper in which they identify three major categories of “meditation” out of more than a hundred different practices (3). These three are summarized as follows:

Focused attention: The first type of practice can be described as concentration meditation, since in this case, the practitioner puts his or her attention intently on something (it might be a word, an emotion, a candle flame, etc.). The changes in the brain are in the gamma range (20–50 Hz), which is known to be associated with this type of focused activity. Some forms of Zen, Compassion Meditation, Quigong, and Diamond Way Buddhism are in this category.

Open monitoring: This second of type of practice can be described as contemplation meditation. In this process, the practitioner watches himself or herself do something, such as paying attention to thoughts or the breath. This category includes Zazen, Kriya Yoga, and more recently developed versions of meditation like Mindfulness. The changes in the brain from these meditations are in the theta range (4–8 Hz), known to be associated with imagination and creativity.

Automatic self-transcending: This third type of practice can be described as transcending meditation. In this practice there is no trying, no concentration, and no contemplation—only effortless transcending. The changes in the brain are in the alpha 1 range (8–10 Hz) and are correlated with an eyes-closed, relaxed state of restful alertness. Transcendental Meditation is this third type of meditation—which, as you will discover, produces numerous physical and psychological benefits in activity.

Hundreds of studies documenting the health benefits of TM have been conducted at such leading institutions as Harvard and Yale Medical Schools and published in prestigious medical journals. The US National Institutes of Health have awarded $25 million to study the effects of TM on health, particularly on heart disease, the number-one killer in the USA. One of the most significant studies found that African Americans with heart disease who practiced the TM technique regularly were 48 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke, or to die from other causes, as compared with African Americans who attended a health education class for more than five years. It is particularly interesting to note that researchers who conducted the study at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee reported that the more regularly the patients meditated, the longer their term of survival (4).

A number of important studies have shown that TM reduces high blood pressure (5). A scientific statement from the American Heart Association concluded, “The Transcendental Meditation technique is the only meditation practice that has been shown to lower blood pressure” (6).

Other quotes from the same statement include the following:

“Because of many negative studies or mixed results and a paucity of available trials, all other meditation techniques (including MBSR) received a ‘Class III, no benefit, Level of Evidence C’ recommendation. Thus, other meditation techniques are not recommended in clinical practice to lower BP at this time.”

“Transcendental Meditation practice is recommended for consideration in treatment plans for all individuals with blood pressure > 120/80 mm Hg.”

“Lower blood pressure through Transcendental Meditation practice is also associated with substantially reduced rates of death, heart attack, and stroke.”

Research has shown that TM practice reduces cholesterol levels and tobacco use (7), and it also helps to improve certain at-risk conditions, such as diabetes and obesity (see next section). In addition, TM lowers or eliminates stress, which exacerbates heart disease and many other disorders. Studies show that meditators exhibit an improved ability to adapt to stressful situations (8.9) and a marked decrease in levels of plasma cortisol, commonly known as the “stress hormone”(10).

Research results in other areas of health show improvements in such conditions as asthma, diabetes, , pain, alcohol and drug abuse, and mental health (11-16). In a five-year study on some two thousand individuals, researchers showed that meditators use medical and surgical health care services approximately one-half as often as do other insurance users. This study was conducted in cooperation with Blue Cross–Blue Shield and controlled for other factors that might affect health care use, such as cost sharing, age, gender, geographic distribution, and profession. The TM subjects also showed a far lower rate of increase in health care utilization with increasing age (17).

In Québec, Canada, researchers compared the changes in physician costs for TM practitioners with those of non-practitioners over a five-year period. This study was particularly reliable because the Canadian government was able to track health care costs closely for both the meditators and the control group, due to Canada’s national health care system. After the first year, the TM group’s health care costs decreased 11 percent, and after five years, their cumulative cost reduction was 28 percent. The TM patients required fewer referrals, resulting in lower medical expenses for things such as tests, prescription drugs, hospitalization, surgery, and other treatments (18).

Many studies have documented how TM can slow and even reverse the aging process (19). One study shows that long-term TM meditators have a biological age roughly twelve years younger than their non-meditating counterparts. And we’ve already discussed numerous studies showing that TM improves many aspects of health and the quality of life.

Researchers at Harvard University studied the effects of TM on mental health, behavioral flexibility, blood pressure, and longevity in residents of homes for the elderly. The subjects were randomly assigned to either a no-treatment group or one of three treatment programs: the TM program, mindfulness training, or a relaxation program. All three groups were initially similar on pretest measures and in expectancy of benefits, yet after a three-month experimental period, the TM group had significant improvements in cognitive functioning and blood pressure as compared to the control groups. Also, the TM subjects reported feeling more absorbed during their practice and better and more relaxed immediately afterward than did the mindfulness or the relaxation subjects. Overall, more TM subjects found their practice to be personally valuable than did member of either of the control groups (20).

The most striking finding was that TM practice reversing not only age-related declines in overall health, but also directly enhanced longevity. All members of the TM group were still alive three years after the program began, in contrast to about only half of the members of the control groups. Research on the Transcendental Meditation program clearly shows that growing old no longer needs to signify a loss in the quality of life; rather, it can be an opportunity for further development (21-22). TM practice even affects gene expression (23-24).

Long-term changes in brain functioning have also been correlated with decreased stress-reactivity and neuroticism and increased self-development, intelligence, learning ability, and self-actualization (25-29). One important psychological study on TM shows a significant decrease in levels of anxiety in TM practitioners as compared to subjects practicing other relaxation techniques (30). Studies in a variety of work and business settings show increased productivity and efficiency (31,32).

TM is learned from a qualified TM teacher. It is taught in seven steps, normally done within a week’s time according to your schedule. Most of the steps take one to two hours (though some are shorter). There are also brief but important follow-up meetings ten days after you learn the practice and then once a month for the first three months after your TM course. All of these meetings are included in your course fee, as is lifelong support for your meditation program, including personal checking, advanced meetings, and other special events. The course fee is different for every country, and further details are given in the appendices. There are a number of advanced TM programs; however, TM is always the core technique, and it will continue to benefit your life whether you choose to take an advanced program or not.

 

References:

  1. Wallace, R.K. et al. A wakeful hypometabolic physiologic state. American
Journal of Physiology 221(3): 795-799, 1971
  2. Wallace, R.K. Physiological effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique: A proposed fourth
major state of consciousness. Ph.D. thesis. Physiology
Department, University of California, Los Angeles, 1970
  3. Travis, F.T. and Shear, J. Focused attention, open monitoring and automatic self-transcending: Categories to organize meditations from Vedic, Buddhist and Chinese traditions. Consciousness and Cognition 19(4):1110-1118, 2010
  4. Schneider R.H., et al. Stress Reduction in the Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: Randomized, Controlled Trial of Transcendental Meditation and Health Education in Blacks. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes 5:750-758, 2012
  5. Rainforth M.V., et al. Stress reduction programs in patients with elevated blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Current Hypertension Reports 9:520–528, 2007
  6. Brook R.D. et al., Beyond Medications and Diet: Alternative Approaches to Lowering Blood Pressure. A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association. Hypertension 61(6):1360-83, 2013
  7. . Cooper M. J., et al. Transcendental Meditation in the management of hypercholesterolemia. Journal of Human Stress 5(4): 24–27, 1979
  8. Orme-Johnson D.W. and Walton K. W. All approaches of preventing or reversing effects of stress are not the same. American Journal of Health Promotion 12:297-299, 1998
  9. Barnes V. A., et al. Impact of Transcendental Meditation on cardiovascular function at rest and during acute stress in adolescents with high normal blood pressure. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 51: 597-605, 2001
  10. Jevning R., et al. Adrenocortical activity during meditation, Hormonal Behavior 10(1):54-60, 1978
  11. Wilson A.F. et al. Transcendental Meditation and asthma. Respiration 32:74-80, 1975
  12. Paul-Labrador M., et al. Effects of randomized controlled trial of Transcendental Meditation on components of the metabolic syndrome in subjects with coronary heart disease. Archives of Internal Medicine 166:1218-1224, 2006
  13. Royer A. The role of the Transcendental Meditation technique in promoting smoking cessation: A longitudinal study. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly 11: 219-236, 1994
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  16. Alexander C.N., et al. Treating and preventing alcohol, nicotine, and drug abuse through Transcendental Meditation: A review and statistical meta-analysis. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly 11: 13-87, 1994.
  17. Orme-Johnson D. W., Herron R. E. An Innovative Approach to Reducing Medical Care Utilization and Expenditures. American Journal of Managed Care 3: 135–144,1997
  18. Herron R.E. Can the Transcendental Meditation Program Reduce the Medical Expenditures of Older People? A Longitudinal Cost-Reduction Study in Canada. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 17(1): 415–442, 2005
  19. Wallace R.K., et al. The effects of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program on the aging process. International Journal of Neuroscience 16: 53-58, 1982
  20. Alexander C.N., et al. Transcendental Meditation, mindfulness, and longevity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 57: 950-964, 1989
  21. Alexander C.N., et al. The effects of Transcendental Meditation compared to other methods of relaxation in reducing risk factors, morbidity, and mortality. Homeostasis 35: 243-264, 1994
  22. Schneider R.H., et al. Long-term effects of stress reduction on mortality in persons > 55 years of age with systemic hypertension. American Journal of Cardiology 95: 1060-1064, 2005
  23. Duraimani S. et al. Effects of Lifestyle Modification on Telomerase Gene Expression in Hypertensive Patients: A Pilot Trial of Stress Reduction and Health Education Programs in African Americans. PLOS ONE 10(11): e0142689, 2015
  24. Wenuganen, S. Anti-Aging Effects of the Transcendental Meditation Program: Analysis of Ojas Level and Global Gene Expression Maharishi University of Management, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 3630467, 2014
  25. Chandler H.M., et al. Transcendental Meditation and postconventional self-development: A 10-year longitudinal study. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 17(1): 93–121, 2005
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  27. So K.T. and Orme-Johnson D.W. Three randomized experiments on the longitudinal effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on cognition. Intelligence 29: 419-440, 2001
  28. Tjoa A. Increased intelligence and reduced neuroticism through the Transcendental Meditation program. Gedrag: Tijdschrift voor Psychologie 3: 167-182, 1975
  29. Eppley K.R. et al. Differential effects of relaxation techniques on trait anxiety: A meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology 45: 957-974, 1989
  30. Alexander C.N., et al. Transcendental Meditation, self-actualization, and psychological health: A conceptual overview and statistical meta-analysis. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 6: 189-247, 1991
  31. Alexander C. N., et al. Effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on stress-reduction, health, and employee development: A prospective study in two occupational settings. Stress, Anxiety and Coping 6: 245–262, 1993
  32. Harung H. S., et al. Peak performance and higher states of consciousness: A study of world-class performers. Journal of Managerial Psychology 11(4): 3–23, 1996