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The Benefits of Meditation

Modern life, which is ever marching to the tune of technological progress, has brought with it many promises of a better world. Yet, in many respects, it has only led man downhill to further states of mental and physical deterioration. Sicknesses such as peptic ulcer and high blood pressure can mostly be attributed to the uncertainties and tensions of our environment. Due to the impossibility of changing the external situation and its negative characteristics, it is indispensable to look within ourselves for another means of dealing with daily tensions. There are several ways by which a person can control both physical and mental reactions to psychological events. One of the most efficient is meditation.

Patanjali defines meditation as the continuous and prolonged flow of thought directed towards a determined object until total absorption takes place. This direct flow of thought can be conceived as moving in a straight line which is not intercepted by any other lines or thoughts that can break the continuity.

According to Tart (1969) meditation is a deep passivity combined with consciousness. By passivity he means totally suspending every thought and action, turning into oneself and directing the attention towards the interior, spontaneous experiences.

According to Wollfolk (1975) meditation implies the focalization of an indifferent or associate repetitive stimulus. In accordance with the information the person has, this is accompanied by a peaceful sensation.

Goleman (1971) conceptualized meditation as a 'meta-therapy' - a procedure that complies with the basic objectives of conventional therapy, but which in its final state takes the individual to a deeper field than that of therapist, therapies and the majority of the personality theorists - an altered state of consciousness.

For Swami Satyananda (1975) the objective of meditation is to explore the different regions of the mind in order to eventually transcend it. The different techniques of meditation help the individual to purify the mind and give it the rest and revitalization necessary for its appropriate functioning. By focusing on the interior, the person becomes aware of the chaotic and endless flow of thoughts, memories, fears, etc. which do not have any definite goal or objective.

The psychoanalytic theory asserts that all the past experiences determine the present behaviour in one way or another. This principle also states that the emotional and mental events correspond to physiological changes, therefore, the organism is moulded by the events of life. This same theory says that all the physical and mental experiences accumulate in the nervous system. Following this line of thought, there are several schools in psychology that use the musculature as an extension of the nervous system to be able to capture the events that have moulded the behaviour of an individual, and to liberate this person of those tendencies that have left the most traumatic and deep marks. According to Goleman (1971), this process of liberating the tensions of the nervous system can be accomplished through meditation without any effort or disposition.

As the individual goes deeper into relaxation states and pure consciousness develops without any thoughts, a wide range of kinaesthetic sensations, or psychic events, begins to take place. Lerner assumed that kinaesthetic sensations are the base of dreams, and that the gross body movements which appear in a great number while sleeping, abruptly stop before dreams begin, and reappear when the rapid eye movements (REM) cease. Fine muscular movements are present mainly while dreaming and are not as noticeable during the other stages of sleeping. Based upon this, Lerner suggests that gross motor activity is opposed to kinaesthetic fantasy, and that the basic factor necessary to initiate this fantasy is physical immobility. It has been shown (Dement 1960) that dreaming is essential for the maintenance of the personality organization. The privation of dreaming produces high levels of tension, anxiety, irritability, difficulty in concentrating and impaired motor coordination. Because of the immobility in which meditation is realized, it seems to propitiate kinaesthetic fantasies. It can be further deduced that the effect of un-stressing which meditation produces, is caused by the same psychological function carried out while dreaming.

Tart (1969), through his own observations and those of existing literature, found that the benefits of meditation in general are as follows: a greater ability to cope with tense situations of daily life, and therefore a greater calmness; the sensation of a greater unity between body and mind; a greater consciousness of daily experiences; an improved functioning' of the body and better sleep; and last of all, a greater judgement of when relaxation is taking place and when it isn't. The same author certifies that though meditation has definite effects over mental health, sufficient research has not been carried out in this field.

The investigation realized has been principally directed towards the physiology of meditation. A variety of results has been found related to yoga meditation. This can be explained due to the wide range of techniques and the experiences of the subjects used in the different experiments. Even with these variables, the physiological results of meditation tend towards a decrease in oxygen consumption, as well as in the elimination of carbon dioxide (Anand and Col., 1961). With respect to the skin resistance, where the low levels are associated with anxiety and the high levels with relaxation, it has been found that during meditation these levels increase rapidly, going even higher than the levels produced while sleeping (Bagchi and Wenger, 1957; Wallace and Benson, 1972).

As a part of a study about the physiological effects of Transcendental Meditation, Wallace (1970) made some blood tests before, during, and after meditation. He found that the levels of lactate in the blood decreased markedly at the beginning of meditation and continued to decrease during meditation; afterwards it remained in a low concentration.

It has been seen that lactate is present in high levels when patients with anxiety neurosis are placed under stress. Equally, patients with hypertension show higher levels of blood lactate in a resting state, compared with patients without hypertension. Pitts (1969) made a study on the biochemistry of anxiety, and he found that anxiety symptoms can be induced with lactate infusions. The role of anxiety in psychological disorders is universally accepted by therapists. For example, Angyal (1965) sees anxiety as the crucial phenomenon in psychopathology, being the determining point between health or neurosis.

In the previously mentioned study made by Bagchi and Wenger (1957), 14 yogis were studied during periods of meditation that oscillated between 15 and 120 minutes. A tendency towards a stable and reduced physiological activity was found. The cardiac rate in the majority of the yogis did not change significantly, but it was found, as Anand and Col (1961) had done before, that respiration had a tendency to decrease.

In reference to the brain wave pattern during meditation, Anand, Ghhina and Singh (1961) found that during normal rest time, the subjects demonstrated prominent alpha activity, while during meditation the duration and amplitude of these waves increased. Unlike other types of meditation such as Zen, this alpha activity could not be intercepted or blocked during yoga meditation. Wallace and Benson (1972) also found that alpha waves intensified during meditation and, on some occasions, theta waves appeared.

Goger and Werback (1975) made a study related with chronic pain. They found that significant changes in the abundance and amplitude of alpha waves are accompanied by an increased tolerance of pain and reduced activity in emotional situations.

A greater number of areas where the effects of meditation have not been explored still exist. In psychological therapy little has been done, and it is possible that meditation could be of great help, as anxiety is one of the determinant components in mental disorders. For example, Kondo (1958), a Japanese psychiatrist, affirms that when his patients were meditating at home, besides attending sessions with him, they did more constructive work.

Meditation is an ancient discipline, of great help to anyone who practises it. Therefore, it is advisable to determine all the effects, to use it scientifically in areas such as medicine, curative and preventive psychology, human relations and study achievements. While this is being realized, we can also do something for our own mental and physical health. Meditation gives us a great start in life.

Refer: http://www.yogamag.net/archives/1981/2feb81/scienmed.shtml

 

The brain waves of meditators show why they're healthier. Neuroscientists have found that meditators shift their brain activity to different areas of the cortex—brain waves in the stress-prone right frontal cortex move to the calmer left frontal cortex. In other words, they were calmer and happier than before.

Maybe meditation isn't so mysterious after all. Neuroscientists have found that meditators shift their brain activity to different areas of the cortex - brain waves in the stress-prone right frontal cortex move to the calmer left frontal cortex. This mental shift decreases the negative effects of stress, mild depression and anxiety. There is also less activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, recorded the brain waves of stressed-out employees of a high-tech firm in Madison, Wisconsin. The subjects were split randomly into two groups, 25 people were asked to learn meditation over eight weeks, and the remaining 16 were left alone as a control group.

All participants had their brain waves scanned three times during the study: at the beginning of the experiment, when meditation lessons were completed eight weeks later and four months after that. The researchers found that the meditators showed a pronounced shift in activity to the left frontal lobe. In other words, they were calmer and happier than before.

By:Colin Allen

 refer: http://psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-20030424-000003.html

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The diagnosis and prescription of meditative practices for the prevention/cure of ailments (both physiological as well as psychological) is something, which has received far less attention than it deserves. The benefits, which vary according to individuals, since the very act of meditation is such an intensely personal experience, are usually realized slowly but surely. On the whole, the effects of meditation are wholly dependent on a person's mental makeup—on the extent to which one is at ease with oneself.

Benefits are cumulative with regular practice. More can be accomplished with less effort.

Meditation

Drug Addiction

The Transcendental Meditation technique has proven to be a successful coping strategy in helping to deal with drug addiction," a useful tool in psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) by helping to control the immune system, and an effective manager of stress and pain.

Prolonging Life Expectancy
A strong link has also been established between the practice of Transcendental Meditation and longevity. Only two factors have been scientifically determined to actually extend life: caloric restriction and lowering of the body's core temperature. Meditation has been shown to lower core body temperature.

Stress Control
Most of the people who get on meditation do so because of its beneficial effects on stress. Stress refers to any or all the various pressures experienced in life. These can stem from work, family, illness, or environment and can contribute to such conditions as anxiety, hypertension, and heart disease. How an individual sees things and how he or she handles them makes a big difference in terms of how much stress he or she experiences.

Research has shown that hormones and other biochemical compounds in the blood indicative of stress tend to decrease during TM practice. These changes also stabilize over time, so that a person is actually less stressed biochemically during daily activity.

This reduction of stress translates directly into a reduction of anxiety and tension. Literally dozens of studies have shown this.

Pain Management
Chronic pain can systematically erode the quality of life. Although great strides are being made in traditional medicine to treat recurring pain, treatment is rarely as simple as prescribing medication or surgery.

Anxiety decreases the threshold for pain and pain causes anxiety. The result is a vicious cycle. Compared with people who feel relaxed, those under stress experience pain more intensely and become even more stressed, which aggravates their pain. Meditation breaks this cycle.

Childbirth preparation classes routinely teach pregnant women deep breathing exercises to minimize the pain and anxiety of labor. Few call it breath meditation, but that's what it is.

Meditative techniques are also a key element in the curing arthritis. Meditation may not eliminate pain, but it helps people cope more effectively.

Cancer and Other Chronic Illness
Meditation and other approaches to deep relaxation help center people so they can figure out how they'd like to handle the illness and proceed with life. An Australian psychiatrist who uses meditation with cancer patients, studied seventy-three patients who had attended at least twenty sessions of intensive meditation, and wrote: "Nearly all such patients can expect significant reduction of anxiety and depression, together with much less discomfort and pain. There is reason to expect a 10 percent chance of quite remarkable slowing of the rate of growth of the tumor, and a 50 percent chance of greatly improved quality of life.

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Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure
Meditation is a key component of Ornish therapy, the only treatment scientifically proven to reverse heart disease, besides research has also proven TM to be very successful in treating various heart ailments and high blood pressure.

Infertility
Couples dealing with infertility may become depressed, anxious and angry. When relaxation responses are taught to such stressed out, infertile couples, the meditators experience less distress and are more likely to get pregnant.

Respiratory Problems
Asthma, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) all restrict breathing and raise fears of suffocation, which in turn makes breathing even more difficult. Studies show that when people with these respiratory conditions learn breath meditation, they have fewer respiratory crises.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Meditation can ease physical complaints such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), tension headaches and other common health problems.

Meditation gives people a psychological buffer so that life's hectic pace doesn't knock them out. Practicing meditation is like taking a vacation once or twice a day. When you nurture yourself, you accrue tremendous spin-off benefits.

For example, when you are under high stress, it can worsen symptoms of PMS because stress can cause the muscle tension associated with PMS complaints such as fatigue, soreness and aching. On the other hand, when you meditate regularly, you dramatically reduce your body's response to stress, and that can ease the discomfort associated with PMS. The results may not be apparent for several months. You will probably need to meditate regularly for several months before your body responds positively.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcers, and Insomnia
Meditation can also improve irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, and insomnia, among other stress-related conditions. Eighty percent of the people who use meditation to relieve insomnia are successful.

Meditation can help prevent or treat stress-related complaints such as anxiety, headaches and bone, muscle and joint problems. Meditation also provides an inner sense of clarity and calm, and that, in itself, may help ward off certain illnesses.

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Meditation

Meditation can help most people feel less anxious and more in control. The awareness that meditation brings can also be a source of personal insight and self-understanding.

Handling Repressed Memories
Meditation may lead to a breakdown of screen memories so that early childhood abuse episodes and other traumas suddenly flood the mind, making the patient temporarily more anxious until these traumas are healed. Many so-called meditation exercises are actually forms of imagery and visualization that are extraordinarily useful in healing old traumas, confronting death anxieties, finishing 'old business', learning to forgive, and enhancing self-esteem.

Meditation frees persons from tenacious preoccupation with the past and future and allows them to fully experience life's precious moments. Many men and women tend to live in a state of perpetual motion and expectation that prevents them from appreciating the gifts that each moment gives us.

Meditation is a process that returns us to the present moment of our lives and allows us to wake up and reevaluate the way that we live our lives.

Depression
Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and isolation are hallmarks of depression—the age's most prevalent mental health problem. Meditation increases self-confidence and feelings of connection to others. Many studies have shown that depressed people feel much better after eliciting the relaxation response.

Panic Attacks
Sometimes anxiety becomes paralyzing and people feel (wrongly) that they are about to suffer some horrible fate. Panic attacks are often treated with drugs, but studies show that if people who are prone to panic attacks begin focused, meditative breathing the instant they feel the first signs of an episode, they are less likely to have a full-blown panic attack.

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Meditation

The longer an individual practices meditation, the greater the likelihood that his or her goals and efforts will shift toward personal and spiritual growth. Many individuals who initially learn meditation for its self-regulatory aspects find that as their practice deepens they are drawn more and more into the realm of the "spiritual."

While working with many cancer and AIDS patients, physicians have observed that many are most interested in meditation as a way of becoming more attuned to the spiritual dimension of life. She reports that many die "healed," in a state of compassionate self-awareness and self-acceptance.

 

Refer: http://www.lifepositive.com/Spirit/meditation/meditation-exercises.asp

 

 

 

Meditation simplifies our outer life and energizes our inner life

1. Happiness. Meditation can help us to cultivate a real abiding happiness. Meditation allows us to be in tune with our inner self. When we live in the heart we can experience a sense of oneness with others, this brings a happiness that does not depend upon outer events.

2. Inner Peace. Most people would like to experience more inner peace in their lives; at times peace feels an elusive quality because our lives are so hectic. Meditation teaches us how to switch off from the noise of the mind, we no longer give importance to the teeming thoughts which fly through our mind. Through meditation we can gain a clear state of mind; this is the secret of feeling a real inner peace.

3. Health Benefits. There have been numerous studies showing a link between meditation and improved physical health. Meditation is a practical solution to relieve stress. When we relieve stress we help to reduce our blood pressure and heart related diseases.

4. Simplicity. Meditation helps to simplify our lives. When we live in the mind we can feel life is nothing but teeming problems and worries. Through learning to meditate we find we can get joy from appreciating the simplicity of life.

Meditation simplifies our outer life and energizes our inner life. Meditation gives us a natural and spontaneous life, a life that becomes so natural and spontaneous that we cannot breathe without being conscious of our own divinity.”

Sri Chinmoy


5. Living in the Present. When we analyse the thoughts that go through our mind we find that many of them are dealing with the past or present. We are either fearful of the future or ruminating on the past. However by dwelling on the past or future, it means we are unable to live in the present moment. When we meditate we are completely in the here and now. Meditation teaches us to appreciate life as it is; we learn to value our present circumstances.

6. Better Relations with Others. Often we can have minor conflicts with other people because we dwell on minor faults of the other person. Whether it is justified or not, it is a common source of unhappiness and division. Meditation teaches us to give no importance to minor thoughts. When we meditate powerfully we develop a sense of oneness with other people; we naturally look to their good qualities. Their minor faults seem unimportant.

7. To discover a real sense of who we are. Our intellectual mind can seek to discover the answer to many questions, but the one question of who am I? always remains unanswered. To discover our real self; to be aware of our own soul we have to go beyond the mind. It is in meditation that we can become aware of a living spiritual presence. When we find this we feel a new purpose in life.

 

IMMEDIATE HEALING

All physical afflictions are because of mental worries. All mental worries are because of intellectual immaturity. Intellectual immaturity is because of lack of spiritual energy and lack of spiritual wisdom.

Through meditation, when we get abundant spiritual energy and spiritual wisdom, the intellect becomes mature. By and by, all mental worries cease. Consequently, all physical afflictions disappear. Meditation is the only way to heal all diseases.

Diseases are primarily because of previous negative karma. Until and unless the negative karma is neutralised, the disease will not vanish; no medicine will be of any help to clear the negative karma.

ENHANCES MEMORY POWER

The abundant spiritual energy gained in meditation helps the brain to work more efficiently and to its maximum capacity. Meditation enhances memory power tremendously.

Therefore, meditation is absolutely compulsory for all students...both at the school level and at the university level.

WASTEFUL HABITS DIE

There are several wasteful habits like over-eating, over-sleeping, over-talking, over-thinking, over-drinking etc., etc. With the abundant spiritual wisdom and spiritual energy obtained from meditation, all the wasteful habits die naturally.

MIND BECOMES JOYFUL

Life is so full of defeats, insults and pains... for any person. However, for a person with spiritual knowledge and spiritual energy, life is always peaceful and joyful... inspite of all the defeats, insults and pains.

WORK BECOMES EFFICIENT

In the presence of abundant spiritual energy and spiritual wisdom, all work, be it physical or mental, gets done with greater efficiency.

In less time, more work is achieved. With least resources, commendable work gets done.

SLEEP-TIME IS REDUCED

Abundant spiritual energy is obtained in meditation. Only a fraction of that energy is obtained during sleep.

Half-an-hour of deep meditation is equivalent to six hours of deep sleep... in terms of rest for the body and energy for the mind.

QUALITATIVE RELATIONSHIPS

Lack of spiritual wisdom is the only reason why inter-personal relationships are so very unqualitative and unfulfilling. In the presence of spiritual wisdom all inter-personal relationships become highly qualitative and totally fulfilling.

POWER OF THOUGHT

Thoughts need power to reach their targets. In a restless state of mind, thoughts are produced with least power. Therefore, they don't reach their respective targets.

However, in the presence of a restful state of mind, thoughts acquire great power and all intents get dramatically actualized.

RIGHT AND WRONG

" What to do ?", " What not to do ?" These are always million dollar questions !

" What is right ?", " What is wrong ?" We are in a perpetual dilemma !

However, such dilemmas are only for the spiritually immature persons. For a spiritually mature person there are no million dollar questions whatsoever ! For a spiritually mature person there are no dilemmas!

PURPOSE OF LIFE

We are all born with a purpose, with a mission, with a design, with a plan. Only the spiritually mature can understand and be aware of their particular purpose, mission, design and plan in their lives.

 

The Benefits of Meditation at Work

Increase the physical and mental performance of employees

Meditation is multifarious in its benefits and a person who practices, receives multiple advantages whatever is at home, outdoors, and even in the workplace. It has been noticed that both executives and employees gain comprehensive benefits from meditation, which automatically helps in creating a favorable work atmosphere in the companies and organizations.

Spiritual management and meditation are becoming the core subjects of management studies, and more and more managers are willing to explore its benefits for their business.They are open to the implementation of meditation at work and see what it can do to the whole work environment. The needs of business environment are fast demanding some techniques that can be incorporated to cater to the mental needs of the employees and executives. Tension, anxiety, and fatigue are common phenomenon that almost all the corporate sector is complaining about.The competition and market demand does not allow them to be moderate in their work. They need to work like machines.This is actually where the problem lies, and meditation at work can easily have its impact. Meditating at work can prove almost to be a panacea for work environment problems.

Let's venture to see what perceptible benefits are gained from meditation at work:

Increases Productivity
Productivity is the factor that almost all the managers look at when they want to implement some new techniques in their work environment. Meditation at work helps in increasing the productivity, as it provides comprehensive benefits to individual executives and employees. It can be easily understood that individual benefits combine to make it happen for the whole organization. A sense of satisfaction dawns on the employees and executives through meditation at work, and the experience of rewarding work help in increasing the productivity.

It should be noted that as the organization or the team moves along with meditation at work, the effects are increased. It is like more you practice and more you develop yourself.

Creates physical and mental balance
It has been noticed that meditation at work brings a complete balance between physical and mental performance of the employees. The corporate performance is propelled by more rewarding work experience, which helps in minimizing the mental wear, and thus, helping meditation at work to bring out complete benefits. Employees and executives who practice meditation at work, enjoy dynamic but relaxed work-experience, and are not prone to anxiety, tension, and fatigue.

If we can gauge the potency of meditation at home, we can easily think about the behavioral changes and mental calmness that meditation at work can bring about. Meditation at work should be incorporated as a regular practice, and not as a one-off training session. Once meditation at work is implemented, work will be done with more fluidity, lesser problems, and in a manner that will benefit both individuals and the companies as whole.

 

ndrew Newberg, a radiologist at the University of Pennsylvania, US, told BBC World Service's Discovery programme: "I think we are poised at a wonderful time in our history to be able to explore religion and spirituality in a way which was never thought possible."

Using a brain imaging technique, Newberg and his team studied a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks as they meditated for approximately one hour.

When they reached a transcendental high, they were asked to pull a kite string to their right, releasing an injection of a radioactive tracer. By injecting a tiny amount of radioactive marker into the bloodstream of a deep meditator, the scientists soon saw how the dye moved to active parts of the brain.

Sense of space

Later, once the subjects had finished meditating, the regions were imaged and the meditation state compared with the normal waking state.

The scans provided remarkable clues about what goes on in the brain during meditation.

"There was an increase in activity in the front part of the brain, the area that is activated when anyone focuses attention on a particular task," Dr Newberg explained.

In addition, a notable decrease in activity in the back part of the brain, or parietal lobe, recognised as the area responsible for orientation, reinforced the general suggestion that meditation leads to a lack of spatial awareness.

Dr Newberg explained: "During meditation, people have a loss of the sense of self and frequently experience a sense of no space and time and that was exactly what we saw."

Prayer power

The complex interaction between different areas of the brain also resembles the pattern of activity that occurs during other so-called spiritual or mystical experiences.

Dr Newberg's earlier studies have involved the brain activity of Franciscan nuns during a type of prayer known as "centring".

As the prayer has a verbal element other parts of the brain are used but Dr Newberg also found that they, "activated the attention area of the brain, and diminished activity in the orientation area."

This is not the first time that scientists have investigated spirituality. In 1998, the healing benefits of prayer were alluded to when a group of scientists in the US studied how patients with heart conditions experienced fewer complications following periods of "intercessory prayer".

Inner world

And at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston last month, scientists from Stanford University detailed their research into the positive affects that hypnotherapy can have in helping people cope with long-term illnesses.

Scientific study of both the physical world and the inner world of human experiences are, according to Dr Newberg, equally beneficial.

"When someone has a mystical experience, they perceive that sense of reality to be far greater and far clearer than our usual everyday sense of reality," he said.

He added: "Since the sense of spiritual reality is more powerful and clear, perhaps that sense of reality is more accurate than our scientific everyday sense of reality."

 

Science Daily Meditation is known to alter resting brain patterns, suggesting long lasting brain changes, but a new study by researchers from Yale, Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows meditation also is associated with increased cortical thickness.

The structural changes were found in areas of the brain that are important for sensory, cognitive and emotional processing, the researchers report in the November issue of NeuroReport.

Although the study included only 20 participants, all with extensive training in Buddhist Insight meditation, the results are significant, said Jeremy Gray, assistant professor of psychology at Yale and co-author of the study led by Sara Lazar, assistant in psychology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"What is most fascinating to me is the suggestion that meditation practice can change anyone's grey matter," Gray said. "The study participants were people with jobs and families. They just meditated on average 40 minutes each day, you don't have to be a monk."

Magnetic resonance imaging showed that regular practice of meditation is associated with increased thickness in a subset of cortical regions related to sensory, auditory, visual and internal perception, such as heart rate or breathing. The researchers also found that regular meditation practice may slow age-related thinning of the frontal cortex.

"Most of the regions identified in this study were found in the right hemisphere," the researchers said. "The right hemisphere is essential for sustaining attention, which is a central practice of Insight meditation."

They said other forms of yoga and meditation likely have a similar impact on cortical structure, although each tradition would be expected to have a slightly different pattern of cortical thickening based on the specific mental exercises involved.

Co-authors include Catherine Kerr, Rachel Wasserman Jeffery Dusek, Herbert Benson and Metta McGarvey, Harvard; Douglas Greve, Brian Quinn, Bruce Fischl, Michael Treadway and Scott Rauch, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Christopher Moore, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

NeuroReport 16: 1893-1897 (November 28, 2005)

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Yale University.

Research studies on the Transcendental Mediation® technique have been published in more than 100 scientific journals. For the bibliography lists samples from each of the major categories Click here.

 According to the TM Organization, independent research studies on Trancendental Meditation have been published in around 150 Scientific Journals and have been conducted by more than 200 Universities.

 

Summary of Scientific Research on
The TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION®
and TM-SIDHI® Programs

Compiled and Edited by
David Orme-Johnson, Ph.D.
Dean of Research Maharishi International University

The scientific research on the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhiprogram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is the largest and strongest body of researchin the world on any program to develop human potential. The more than 500 scientific studies conducted at 200 independentuniversities and institutions in 33 countries and published in over 100leading scientific journals have documented that this technology benefitsevery sphere of life: physiological, psychological, sociological, and ecological.The findings in each area of study have been replicated many times, andmeta-analyses, which are the most quantitatively rigorous means to reviewa body of research, have found a high degree of consistency of the results1.Studies using the most sophisticated, rigorous research methodologies thatare designed to prove causality have strongly verified and extended preliminaryfindings. This demonstrates that the Maharishi Transcendental MeditationSM and TM-SidhiSM programs causes thewide range of benefits in mental potential, health, and social behavior.

Research conducted around the world documents that the program is effectivefor all cultural and ethnic groups. All age groups benefit, from increasedalertness in infants of meditating parents to increased health, happiness,and longevity in meditating elderly. People spanning the full range of socioeconomiclevels and intellectual abilities benefit, again indicating the universalityof Maharishi's program.

This body of research is unique in the extent of its cross validation,which means that the findings are validated by many different types of physiological,psychological, and sociological measures. For example, the finding thatthe Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs decreases stress isvalidated by physiological changes such as decreased cortisol (the majorstress hormone), decreased muscle tension, normalization of blood pressure,increased autonomic stability, and increased EEG coherence. At the sametime, a variety of psychological changes also indicates decreased stress,including decreased anxiety and depression, decreased post-traumatic stresssyndrome, and increased self-actualization. Likewise, stress reduction isdemonstrated by the sociological changes, such as decreased hostility, increasedfamily harmony, and reduced criminal behavior in incarcerated felons.

Moreover, research extends the concept of stress reduction to the ecologicallevel. Studies have found that the reduction of stress in meditating individualscreates an influence of harmony in the environment. Scientists have namedthis phenomenon the Maharishi Effect--the finding that even 1% of the populationpracticing the Transcendental Meditation technique, or the square root ofone percent practicing the more advanced Transcendental Meditation-SidhiSM program, improve thequality of life, as indicated by such changes as reduced crime and sicknessin the larger society.

The following briefly summarizes the overall research findings by category:physiological, psychological, sociological, and ecological.

Physiological Benefits

The original landmark research on the physiological correlates of theTranscendental Meditation technique was published in Science, AmericanJournal of Physiology, and Scientific American in 1970-1972 (papers1, 3, 4). This research found that the Transcendental Meditation techniqueproduces a physiological state of restful alertness. During the techniquethe physiology becomes deeply rested, as indicated by significant reductionsin respiration, minute ventilation, tidal volume, and blood lactate, andsignificant increases in basal skin resistance (an index of relaxation).At the same time the physiology is alert rather than asleep, as indicatedby an increased abundance of alpha waves in the EEG. These findings ledresearcher Dr. Keith Wallace to conclude that restful alertness is a fourthmajor state of consciousness, termed transcendental consciousness, thatis physiologically distinct from ordinary waking, dreaming, and deep sleep(paper 2).

Many other researchers have confirmed the reality of Transcendental Consciousness.Moreover, they have found that through regular practice of the TranscendentalMeditation technique, the physiology becomes more relaxed outside of meditationas well. Baseline levels of respiration rate, heart rate, plasma lactate,and skin resistance are all lower. The autonomic nervous system, which regulatesvital internal processes, becomes more stable, integrated, and adaptable,as indicated by its increased ability to recover rapidly from the effectsof stress. Brain functioning becomes more orderly, as indicated by the growthof physiological correlates of creativity and intelligence, such as shorterlatencies of cognitive evoked potentials, faster paired H-reflexes, increasedEEG coherence, shorter inspection time, and faster choice reaction time.Medical researchers have found a reduction of important cardiovascular riskfactors such as high blood pressure and serum cholesterol. Large healthinsurance studies have found that people practicing the Transcendental Meditationand TM-Sidhi programs, in all age groups combined, display a 50% reductionin both inpatient and outpatient medical care utilization compared to controls.Hospitalization is 87% for heart disease and 55% lower for cancer. And whatis most remarkable, meditators over 40 years old have approximately 70%fewer medical problems than others in their age group.

Other research has found that meditating individuals in their mid-50shave a biological age twelve years younger than their chronological age,and that people beginning the practice even at 80 years of age live longerand are healthier and happier than controls of the same age (see Part I:Physiology in Vols. 1-5, and in the recent research section).

Psychological Benefits

Numerous studies have found that the practice of the Transcendental Meditationand TM-Sidhi program increases broad comprehension and improves the abilityto focus sharply (field independence). Through regular practice of thisprogram, the physiology becomes habituated to sustain the experience ofrestful alertness at all times. Research shows that this is the best meansof reducing anxiety, depression, and anger. Transcendental Consciousness,the experience of one's higher Self, becomes a stable internal frame ofreference, providing an unshakable sense of self even during dynamic activity.Meditators become better able to see another person's perspective, yet theycannot easily be swayed by social pressure to do something which they judgeto be wrong. They tend to perceive the world more positively and holistically.

Creativity increases, as measured by tests of both verbal and pictorialfluency, flexibility, and originality. Perception becomes more accurateand less driven by preconceptions and misconceptions. Basic memory processesimprove. School children who practice the Transcendental Meditation techniquesignificantly improve in their basic skills in mathematics, reading, languageand study skills within a semester. Studies of elementary school students,high school students, college students, and adults have found significantincreased IQ scores compared to non-meditating controls over the same period.A ten-year longitudinal study following meditating college students afterthey graduated found significant increases on holistic measures of selfdevelopment (ego development) compared to data sets for graduates of threecontrol universities matched for gender and age. The meditators reachedhigher levels of moral reasoning, autonomy and integration than has everbeen seen before in any other group. The conclusion of all the researchon meditation and relaxation techniques in the field of self-actualizationshows that the Transcendental Meditation technique is unparalleled in itsability to fully develop the unique potential of the individual. This techniquemakes a person more self-sufficient, more spontaneous, more productive,better able of meet challenges, and more capable of warm interpersonal relationships(see Part II: Psychology in Vols. 1-5, and in the recent research section).

Sociological Benefits

A quantitative review of 198 studies found that the Transcendental Meditationprogram is the most effective means of preventing and treating drug andalcohol abuse. In a study of transient, chronic alcoholics it was foundthat the technique produced a 65% abstinence rate and another study of highschool and college drug users in a rehabilitation center found an 89% reductionin drug usage.

A study of war veterans with post-traumatic adjustment problems foundthat the Transcendental Meditation technique produced significant decreasesin emotional numbness, alcohol consumption, family problems, insomnia, unemployment,and overall post-traumatic stress disorder, in comparison to controls receivingpsychotherapy.

The Japanese Ministry of Labor commissioned a five-month study of theeffects of the Transcendental Meditation program on 447 of their employeesin a major heavy industry. The study found decreased physical complaints,decreased anxiety, decreased depression, decreased smoking, decreased insomnia,decreased digestive problems, and a decreased tendency towards neurosisand psychosomatic problems among those who learned this technique comparedto non-meditating controls.

The Transcendental Meditation program has been widely used for effectiveprison rehabilitation. Studies indicate that it produces positive changesin health, personality development, behavior, and reduced recidivism (lowerreturn to prison) among inmates. One study of recidivism found that 259inmates of Folsom and San Quentin prisons and Deuel Vocational Institutein California who learned Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation techniquehad 35-40% fewer new prison terms compared to the matched controls, whereasit is known that traditional prison education, vocational training, andpsychotherapy do not consistently reduce recidivism. A large scale studyof 11,000 prisoners and 900 staff officers in Senegal, West Africa in 1987found that the Transcendental Meditation program markedly decreased prisonviolence, health problems and that it reduced recidivism to a mere 8% (seePart III: Sociology in Vols. 1-5, and in the recent research section).

Ecological Changes

Maharishi has brought to light that the most important single ecologicalconsideration is a pervasive field of collective consciousness-- the collectiveinfluence of the consciousness of individuals that comprise a society. Stressedindividuals create an atmosphere of stress in collective consciousness thatreciprocally affects the thinking and actions of every individual in thatsystem. Maharishi maintains that crime, drug abuse, armed conflict, andother problems of society are more than just the problem of individual criminals,drug users, and conflicting factions in society. Such problems are morefundamentally symptoms of stress in collective consciousness.

Maharishi has introduced a new theoretical understanding of society,which concludes that the only practical way to handle large-scale problemsis to approach them holistically by creating coherence in collective consciousness.Citing the general principle of science that the coherent elements of asystem exert an influence proportional to their number squared, Maharishihas estimated that 1% of the population practicing his Transcendental Meditationtechnique and as few as the square root of 1% collectively practicing hisTranscendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs would be enough to createan influence of coherence in collective consciousness capable of neutralizingthe stresses that are the root cause of social problems. Extensive scientificresearch on the city, state, national, and international levels has confirmedMaharishi's prediction. A study of 160 US cities found a significant reductionin crime trend from 1974 to 1978 in proportion to the number of people inthe city who had learned the technique by 1973. The study controlled fordemographic variables known to influence crime.

Research has further demonstrated that when groups practicing the TranscendentalMeditation and TM-Sidhi program are introduced into a city, state, or countryanywhere in the world that crime decreases, there are fewer traffic accidents,and the quality of life improves in that area.

Since 1979, Maharishi International University (MIU) has had a groupof Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs participants that hasvaried in size from a few hundred to over 8,000. Published research hasshown that increases in the size of the group have an influence in boththe US and Canada, resulting in fewer violent deaths due to homicides, suicides,and traffic fatalities, a reduction in unemployment and inflation; and ageneral improvement in the quality of life. Studies have shown that whenthe MIU group, or a similar group located anywhere in the world, is sufficientlylarge, that is, approaching the square root of 1% of the world population(7,000), that international relations improve and regional conflicts decreaseworld-wide. The conclusion of this research is that the only viable meansof reducing and eventually eliminating the age-old problems of society andcreating world peace is the ecological and truly systemic approach of creatingcoherence in collective consciousness through the Transcendental Meditationand TM-Sidhi program.

This remarkable body of research showing that the Transcendental Meditationand TM-Sidhi program produces basic improvements on all levels of life--health,mental potential, social behavior, and world peace--confirms that this technologyof consciousness operates on the most fundamental level of Nature's functioning,enlivening the unified field of Natural Law in the consciousness of theindividual and in society, so that life may be lived in accord with NaturalLaw, creating a state of Heaven on Earth (see Part III: Sociology, FindingsReflecting Growth of Coherence in Collective Consciousness in Vols. 1-5,and in the recent research section).

Refer: http://www.maharishi.org/tm/research/summary.html

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