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The Transcendental Meditation technique, or TM technique is a form of mantra meditation introduced in Indiamarker in 1955 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1917-2008). It is reported to be the most widely researched and one of the most widely practiced meditation techniques in the world today. Taught in a standardized seven-step course by certified teachers, the technique involves the use of a sound or mantra and is practiced for 15–20 minutes twice per day, while sitting comfortably with closed eyes.

In 1957, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi began a series of world tours during which he introduced and taught his meditation technique. In 1959, he founded the International Meditation Society and, in 1961, he began to train teachers of the Transcendental Meditation technique. From the late 1960s through the mid 1970s, both the Maharishi and the TM technique received significant public attention in the USA, especially among the student population. During this period, a million people learned the technique, including well-known public figures. Transcendental Meditation is at the core of the Transcendental Meditation movement, and is part of the Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health.

Characterizations

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi describes the Transcendental Meditation technique as one which requires no preparation, is simple to do, and can be learned by anyone.

The technique is described as being effortless and natural, and involving neither contemplation nor concentration. It relies only on the natural tendency of the mind to move in the direction of greater satisfaction.

In his book The T.M. Technique, Peter Russell says the Transcendental Meditation technique allows the mind to become still without effort, in contrast to meditation practices that attempt to control the mind by holding it on a single thought or by keeping it empty of all thoughts. He says trying to control the mind is like trying to go to sleep at night — if a person makes an effort to fall asleep, his or her mind remains active and restless. This is why, he says, the Transcendental Meditation technique avoids concentration and effort.

According to Wayne Teasdale's book The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions, the Transcendental Meditation technique is what is called an open or receptive method that can be described as giving up control and remaining open in an inner sense.

Principles of the technique

Use of a mantra

During the initial personal instruction session, the student is given a specific sound or mantra. The sound is utilized as a thought in the meditation process, allowing the individual’s attention to be directed naturally from an active style of functioning to a less active or quieter style of mental activity.

An important distinction between the Transcendental Meditation technique and other practices that involve mantras is in the way the mantra, or sound, is used. In Transcendental Meditation the mantra is not chanted—either verbally or mentally, but is instead a vehicle on which the attention rests.

Selection

According to Russell, the sounds used in the Transcendental Meditation technique are taken from the ancient Vedic tradition. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi explains that the selection of a proper thought or mantra "becomes increasingly important when we consider that the power of thought increases when the thought is appreciated in its infant stages of development". William Jefferson in The Story of the Maharishi, explains the importance of the "euphonics" of mantras. Jefferson says that the secrets of the mantras and their subsequent standardization for today's teachers of the technique were unraveled by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi after his years of study with his own teacher, Guru Dev (Brahmananda Saraswati) so that selection is foolproof, and that the number of mantras from the Vedic tradition, which could number in the hundreds, have been brought by Maharishi to a minimum number.

Author George Chryssides says that, according to Maharishi, there are different mantras for "householders" and for recluses. The Transcendental Meditation mantra is an appropriate mantra for householders, while most mantras commonly found in books are mantras for recluses. Chryssides says that TM teachers claim that the results promised by the Transcendental Meditation technique will not occur unless a trained Transcendental Meditation teacher chooses the mantra for the student.

In 1975, Time Magazine reported that each TM meditator is instructed to keep their mantra private. Each TM teacher assigns each student's mantra based on a formula that is presumed to include temperament and profession. The article says that there are 17 mantras. In his 1997 book, The Sociology of Religious Movements William Sims Bainbridge wrote that the mantras given for Transcendental Meditation are "supposedly selected to match the nervous system of the individual but actually taken from a list of 16 Sanskrit words on the basis of the person's age".

In January 1984, Omni published a list of mantras, received from "disaffected TM teachers".

Meaning and sound value

The 1995 expanded addition of Conway and Siegelman's Snapping: America's Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change describes a teacher of Transcendental Meditation who says: "I was lying about the mantras — they were not meaningless sounds they were actually the names of Hindu demigods - and about how many different ones there were — we had sixteen to give out to our students". In the 1977 court case Malnak vs. Yogi (see below), an undisputed fact in the case was that the mantras are meaningless sounds.

In a speech the Maharishi gave in Kerala, India, in 1955, he mentions a connection between the mantras and personal deities and occasionally similar references can also be found in his later works. More commonly, the Maharishi describes the mantras as working automatically.

Jonathan Shear in his book The Experience of Meditation: Experts Introduce the Major Traditions, characterizes the mantras used in the TM technique as independent of meaning associated with any language, and are used for their mental, sound value alone. A 2009 article published in the International Journal of Psychophysiolgy says that "unlike most mantra meditations, any possible meaning of the mantra is not part of Transcendental Meditation practice".

In his book Alternative Religions: A Sociological Introduction, author Stephen Hunt says that the mantra used in the Transcendental Meditation technique has no meaning but that the sound itself is sacred.

Teaching procedure

The Transcendental Meditation technique is taught in a standardized, seven-step course that consists of two introductory lectures, a personal interview, and four, two-hour instruction sessions given on consecutive days. The initial personal instruction session begins with a short puja ceremony performed by the teacher, after which the student is taught the technique. The student then practices the technique twice a day. Subsequent sessions with the teacher ensure correct practice. Session 5, called "First Day of Checking" is to verify the correctness of the practice and give further instruction; Session 6, called "Second Day of Checking" is to understand the mechanics of the TM technique based on personal experiences; and, Session 7, called "Third Day of Checking" is to understand higher stages of human development.

The technique is practiced morning and evening for 15–20 minutes each time, but is not recommended before bed. According to Russell and the official TM web site, the Transcendental Meditation technique can be learned only from a certified, authorized teacher. The terms "Transcendental Meditation" and "TM" are servicemarks owned by Maharishi Foundation Ltd., a UK non-profit organization. These trademarks have been sub-licensed to the Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation (MVED), an American non-profit organization which offers the Transcendental Meditation technique and related courses in the U.S.A.

Descriptions of human development

According to Vimal Patel, Transcendental Meditation is one of the most scientifically investigated techniques and has been shown to produce states that are physiologically different from waking, dreaming and sleeping.Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says in his 1963 book, The Science Of Being and Art Of Living, that, over time, the practice of allowing the mind to experience its deeper levels during the Transcendental Meditation technique brings these levels from the subconscious to within the capacity of the conscious mind. According to Maharishi, as the mind quiets down and experiences finer thoughts, the Transcendental Meditation practitioner can become aware that thought itself is transcended and can have the experience of what he calls the 'source of thought', 'pure awareness' or 'transcendental Being'; 'the ultimate reality of life'. TM describes itself as a technology for consciousness.

Seven states of consciousness

According to the Maharishi there are seven levels of consciousness: (i) waking; (ii) dreaming; (iii) deep sleep; (iv) transcendental or pure consciousness; (v) cosmic consciousness; (vi) God consciousness; and (vii) Supreme knowledge, or unity consciousness. The Maharishi says that the fourth level of consciousness can be experienced through Transcendental Meditation, and that the fifth state can be achieved by those who meditate diligently. Higher levels are attainable depending on one's commitment to meditation and purification. (See section below for research concerning long-term effects.) The Maharishi says that his teacher, Guru Dev, had achieved the seventh level of consciousness. According to Paul Marshall, these states of consciousness are re-expressions of the doctrine which emerged out of the Upanishads and are prominent in Vedantic teachings.

Origins

According to Kenneth Boa in his book, Cults World Religions and the Occcult, Transcendental Meditation is rooted in the Vedantic School of Hinduism, and that fact is "repeatedly confirmed" by the Maharishi's books such as the Science of Being and the Art of Living and his Commentary on the Bhagavad Gita. George Chryssides similarly states that the Maharishi and Guru Dev were from the Shankara tradition of advaita Vedanta. Boa writes that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi "makes it clear" that Transcendental Meditation was delivered to man about 5,000 years ago by the Hindu god Krishna. The technique was then lost, but restored for a time by Buddha. It was lost again, but rediscovered in the 9th Century AD by the Hindu philospher Shankara. Finally, it was revivied by Brahmananda Saraswati (Guru Dev) and passed on to the Maharishi. Russell states that the Maharishi believed that since the time of the Vedas, this knowledge was lost and found many times, recurring principally in the Bhagavad-Gita, and in the teachings of Buddha and Shankara, a cycle discussed in the introduction to his commentaries on the Bhagavad-Gita. Chrissides notes that, in addition to the revivals of the Transcendental Meditiaton technique by Krishna, the Buddha and Shankara, the Maharishi also drew from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

History

1950s

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi served as a "close disciple" and secretary to Swami Brahmananda Saraswati from 1941 until Brahmananda Saraswati's death in 1953. Guru Dev had revived a lost meditation technique that originated in the Vedas.

In 1955, the Maharishi, an Indian ascetic, began teaching a meditation technique that he said was derived from the Vedic tradition, and which later came to be called Transcendental Meditation.

He began the first of a number of worldwide tours in 1958, promoting and disseminating the TM technique. This tour began in Rangoon, Burma (now Myanmarmarker). The Maharishi remained in the Far East for about six months teaching Transcendental Meditation.

In 1959, the Maharishi taught the Transcendental Meditation technique in Hawaiimarker. Later that year, Maharishi went to Californiamarker and became a guest at the home of Roland and Helena Olson and their daughter Theresa, who later wrote about their experiences in books. He continued to visit and teach Transcendental Meditation from the Olsons' home over the next few years.

1960s and 1970s

In 1963, twenty one members of the Indian Parliament issued a public statement endorsing the Transcendental Meditation technique, and news articles appeared in Canadian newspapers such as the Daily Colonist, Calgary Herald and The Albertan.

Beginning in 1968, a number of celebrities such as Donovan, The Beatles, members of the The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, Doug Henning, Clint Eastwood, Deepak Chopra, Andy Kaufman, Jane Fonda, Mia Farrow, Shirley MacLaine, Joe Namath, Stevie Wonder, and Howard Stern, as well as author Kurt Vonnegut and Major-General Franklin M. Davis, Jr reported using the technique.

In 1970, the first scientific study on the Transcendental Meditation technique was published in Science magazine and the first course on the Science of Creative Intelligence was held at Stanford Universitymarker in Californiamarker.

In 1975, the Maharishi began teaching advanced mental techniques, called the TM-Sidhi Program, that included a technique for the development of what he termed Yogic Flying. In that same year, Transcendental Meditation received favorable testimony in the Congressional Record and was advocated by Major-General Franklin M. Davis Jr of the US Army.

A Gallup Poll conducted in August 1976 said that four percent (4%) of those Americans questioned had engaged in TM. The average number of people learning TM fell from a peak of approx. 40,000 a month in 1975 to approx. 3,000 in November 1977. Bainbridge wrote that, as of 1977, "Most of the million who had been initiated either ceased meditating or did so informally and irregularly without continuing connections to the TM Movement." The official TM web site reports that more than 6 million people worldwide have learned the Transcendental Meditation technique since its introduction in 1958.

Transcendental Meditation is often mistaken for other nostrums of the '60s and '70s, but it has little or no relationship to them.

1980s to the present

In 1990, a delegation of Transcendental Meditation teachers from Maharishi International University traveled to the former Soviet Unionmarker to provide instruction in Transcendental Meditation. The trip, initially scheduled to last ten days, was extended to six months and resulted in the training of 35,000 people in the technique.

Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health

Transcendental Meditation is part of the Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health (MVAH). MVAH (also known as Maharishi Ayurveda and Maharishi Vedic Medicine) was founded in the mid 1980s by the Maharishi. MVAH is considered an alternative medicine and aims at being a complementary system to modern western medicine. It is based on Ayurveda, a system of traditional medicine from ancient India.

Scientific research

Range of studies

Studies have suggested either a cause-effect relationship or a positive correlation between practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique and changes in health-related physiological states, including improvement in lung function for patients with asthma, reduction of high blood pressure, an effect the researchers termed "younger biological age", decreased insomnia, reduction of high cholesterol, reduced illness and medical expenditures, decreased outpatient visits, decreased cigarette smoking, decreased alcohol use, and decreased anxiety.

According to Time Magazine, researchers from Harvard Universitymarker and UCLAmarker found a significant drop in systolic and diastolic blood pressure after hypertensive patients began the practice of Transcendental Meditation. They report further findings by a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospitalmarker that oxygen consumption is as much as 18% lower during the practice of this meditation technique, compared to eyes closed rest, while alpha waves (electrical activity produced in the brain and generally associated with a feeling of relaxation) become denser and more widespread; also mentioned were reports by psychiatrists at the Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut that practitioners of the technique became less dependent on cigarettes, liquor, and drugs.

Effect on physiology

Research studies have described specific physiological effects that occur during the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique. The first studies, published in the early 1970s by lead author R.K. Wallace, found that the Transcendental Meditation technique produced a physiological state that the researchers called a "wakeful hypometabolic state", during which they found significant reductions in respiration, minute ventilation, tidal volume, and blood lactate, accompanied by significant increases in basal skin resistance, while EEG measurements showed increased coherence and integration of brain functioning. Subsequent studies using control groups found similarities and differences when compared to relaxation. In 1987, researchers at Maharishi University of Managementmarker, M.C. Dillbeck and D.W. Orme-Johnson, concluded that physiological measures reflected alertness rather than a sleep state during practice of the technique.

In her book "Stress Management", author Cotton says: "Interestingly, in spite of TM’s status outside the mainstream of the health system and mental health practice, it has been subject to a significant amount of empirical evaluation, much of which has in fact supported its claims of effectiveness in countering the physiological effects of stress." Psychiatrist Stanley Dean says, "TM is an important addition to our medical armamentarium, but it is not exclusive." According to Benson, Transcendental Meditation is "a hypometabolic state (...) that may well be induced by other techniques (...) and various religious prayers. TM therefore, is one method for eliciting the relaxation response".

Physiological effects compared to relaxation

The effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique have been compared to those of relaxation in biochemical studies, clinical research, and EEG studies. While there are similarities, a number of studies have demonstrated both quantitative and qualitative differences.

A 1984 article in the New York Times reported: "In a position not supported by most scientists outside the T.M. movement, researchers at the Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa, maintain that T.M. has subtle effects on body chemistry and blood flow different from those induced by other formal relaxation methods, let alone ordinary rest." It also said that fifteen years of research on multiple kinds of meditation techniques has left the question of meditation's physiological effects more confused than clarified.

A 1976 study by Ruth Michaels at the University of Michiganmarker looked at the reduction of biochemicals associated with stress as a result of meditation, finding similarities between the Transcendental Meditation technique and simple resting. Reduction of levels of plasma epinephrine, norephinephrine, and lactate were the same for groups. A second study by Michaels in 1979 found similarities between the two groups on four measures but said that lower levels of cortisol in the meditators may suggest that they are less responsive to acute stress because of their lower levels of cortisol relative to resting controls.

A series of studies done in the lab of Archie Wilson at the University of California at Irvinemarker over a period of nearly 20 years found biochemical differences between the Transcendental Meditation technique and relaxation. A 1978 study found declines of hepatic blood flow, increased cardiac output, decreased arterial lactic acid, and minute volume in the Transcendental Meditation group. These changes imply a considerable increase of non-renal, non-hepatic blood flow of 44% during the Transcendental Meditation technique compared to a 12% increase during rest-relaxation. A study in 1983 found a marked decline of red blood cell glycolytic rate induced by the Transcendental Meditation technique that was significantly correlated with decreased plasma lactate, a metabolite associated with stress.

A 1987 study found that during the hypometabolic states experienced by both the Transcendental Meditation and relaxation groups, arterial-venous CO2 content difference declines, and that during the Transcendental Meditation technique, arterial-venous CO2 content difference briefly disappears. This change was due to both an increase of arterial CO2 content and a decrease of venous CO2 content. Similar, but opposite and smaller, changes occurred in arterial and venous 02 content. Both groups showed a decline in respiratory quotient with the TM group showing a significantly greater decrease. A 1996 study found that the Transcendental Meditation group showed a significant increase in cerebral blood flow in the frontal and occipital regions of the brain compared to a resting control group. The study also found a high correlation between increased cerebral blood flow and decreased cerebrovascular resistance, suggesting that a contributing vascular mechanism to the increased cerebral blood flow may be decreased cerebrovascular resistance.

Other studies comparing the Transcendental Meditation technique with a relaxation control group have found that the Transcendental Meditation group shows a sharp decline in thyroid stimulating hormone (an increase of which is associated with stressors), a marked decline in red blood cell metabolism, increased phenylalanine concentration, and increased arginine vasopressin secretion (a hormone associated with augmented learning and memory formation).

Medical research

In a 1975 study published in the journal Respiration, twenty one patients with bronchial asthma (who were excluded for significant emphysema by single breath diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide) were studied in a six month RCT designed study, (with the researchers but not the patients blind to the treatment modality) using the Transcendental Meditation technique and employing a crossover trial format using reading as a crossover control. The researchers concluded that based on the marked reduction in asthma symptom-severity duration, a statistically significant improvement of pulmonary function test abnormalities (in raw measured values of cm/H2O/liter/sec determined using spirometry and body plethysmography), and from subject and physician evaluations, that the practice of the TM is a useful adjunct in the treatment of asthma.

The American Heart Association has published two studies on the Transcendental Meditation technique. In 1995, the association's journal Hypertension published the results of a randomized, controlled trial in which a group of older African-Americans practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique demonstrated a significant reduction in blood pressure. In 2000, the association's journal, Stroke, published a study involving 127 subjects that found that, on average, the hypertensive, adult subjects who practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique daily experienced reduced thickening of coronary arteries, thereby decreasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. After six to nine months, carotid intima-media thickness decreased in the group that was practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique as compared with matched control subjects.

In 2004, systematic review of five randomized clinical trials examining the effects of TM on blood pressure concluded that there was "insufficient good-quality evidence to conclude whether or not TM has a cumulative positive effect on blood pressure." The review said that the RCTs published through May 2004 had important methodological weaknesses and were potentially biased by the affiliation of authors to the TM organization. A reply subsequently published in the same journal explained the methodological choices that the researchers made and why they were preferred. It noted that the collaborators on the studies included coauthors from Harvard Universitymarker, the University of Marylandmarker, the West Oakland Health Center, the University of Arkansasmarker, the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic, the University of Iowamarker Hospitals and Clinics, the Georgia Institute for Prevention of Human Disease, and the Medical College of Georgiamarker. The critique response also noted that blood pressure data were collected blind by independent research institutions and suggested that the authors of the critical review themselves may have been biased in their critique by their affiliation with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britainmarker, and in being on the editorial board of a journal that is published by Pharmaceutical Press.

In 2005, the American Journal of Cardiology published a review of two studies that looked at stress reduction with the Transcendental Meditation technique and mortality among patients receiving treatment for high blood pressure. This study was a long-term, randomized trial. It evaluated the death rates of 202 men and women, average age 71, who had mildly elevated blood pressure. The study tracked subjects for up to 18 years and found that the group practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique had death rates that were reduced by 23%. Also in 2005, the American Journal of Hypertension published the results of a study that found the Transcendental Meditation technique may be useful as an adjunct in the long-term treatment of hypertension among African-Americans.

In 2006, a study involving 103 subjects published in the American Medical Association's Archives of Internal Medicine found that coronary heart disease patients who practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique for 16 weeks showed improvements in blood pressure, insulin resistance, and autonomic nervous system tone, compared with a control group of patients who received health education. Also in 2006, a functional MRI study of 24 patients conducted at the University of California at Irvine, and published in the journal NeuroReport, found that the long-term practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique may reduce the affective/motivational dimension of the brain's response to pain.

In 2007 the United States National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine released online an independent review of the state of meditation research conducted by researchers at the University of Albertamarker Evidence-based Practice Center. The report used the Jadad scale to evaluate 813 studies, of which 230 were studies of the TM or TM-Sidhi programs. The report concluded that "[t]he therapeutic effects of meditation practices cannot be established based on the current literature," and "[f]irm conclusions on the effects of meditation practices in healthcare cannot be drawn based on the available evidence" (p. 6). The report said that "meta-analysis based on low quality studies and small numbers of hypertensive participants showed that TM, Qi Gong and Zen Bhuddist meditation significantly reduced blood pressure" and that "choosing to practice a particular meditation technique continues to rely solely on individual experiences and personal preferences, until more conclusive scientific evidence is produced". A revised version of the review published in 2008 acknowledged that the Jadad scale may not be suitable for evaluating research on meditation and that the usual approach to double blinding, which the Jadad scale requires, may not be possible. The researchers revised the Jadad scores of the studies and concluded that while most of the studies were weak methodologically, 10% of the 400 clinical studies did score good or better on the Jadad scale and that there was a statistically significant improvement in quality over time.

In 2008, researchers at the University of Kentuckymarker conducted a meta-analysis of nine qualifying RCT published studies which used Transcendental Meditation to address patients with hypertension, and found that on average across all nine studies the practice of TM was associated with approximate reductions of Hg systolic blood pressure and Hg diastolic blood pressure. The researchers concluded that "...Sustained blood pressure reductions of this magnitude are likely to significantly reduce risk for cardiovascular disease." The study was published in the March 2008 issue of the American Journal of Hypertension. Using the Jadad scale, the researchers found that of the nine studies evaluated, three were of high quality with a score of 75% or greater, three were of acceptable quality, and three were of suboptimal quality.

A 2009 study titled "A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Effects of Transcendental Meditation on Quality of Life in Older Breast Cancer Patients", a collaboration between the Center for Healthy Aging at Saint Joseph Hospital; the Institute for Health Services, Research and Policy Studies at Northwestern University; the Department of Psychology at Indiana State University; and the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management, was published in Integrative Cancer Therapies. The study concluded that women with breast cancer reduced their stress levels and improved their mental health and emotional well being through the use of the Transcendental Meditation technique.

In 2009, at a conference of the American Heart Association, researchers at the Medical College in Wisconsin with the Maharishi University in Iowa, found that heart disease patients who practice Transcendental Meditation have nearly 50% lower rates of heart attack, stroke, and death. Researchers randomly assigned 201 African Americans to meditate or to make lifestyle changes. After nine years, the meditation group had a 47% reduction in deaths, heart attacks and strokes. The African American men and women were 59 years old, on average, and had narrowing of the arteries in their hearts.

The meditation group practiced for 20 minutes twice a day. The other group, the lifestyle change group, received education classes in traditional risk factors, including dietary modification and exercise. In the meditating group, in addition to the reductions in death, heart attacks and strokes, there was a clinically significant drop (5mm Hg) in blood pressure as well as a significant reduction in psychological stress in some participants. Researchers likened the effect of Transcendental Meditation to finding a new drug for preventing heart disease. The study was funded by a £2.3m grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Research on cognitive function

A paper published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 1978 found no effect on school grades. A 1985 study in the British Journal of Educational Psychology, and a 1989 study in Education showed improved academic performance.

A paper published in 2001 in the journal, Intelligence, reported the effects on 362 Taiwanesemarker students of three randomized, controlled trials that used seven standardized tests. The trials measured the effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique, a contemplative meditative technique from the Chinese tradition, and napping on a wide range of cognitive, emotional and perceptual functions. The three studies ranged in time from six months to one year. Results indicated that taken together, the Transcendental Meditation group had significant improvement on all seven measurements compared to the non-treatment and napping control groups. Contemplative meditation showed a significant result in two categories, and napping had no effect. The results included an increase in IQ, creativity, fluid intelligence, field independence, and practical intelligence.

In 2003, a study in the journal, Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift, reviewed 107 articles on TM and cognitive function of which ten were randomized, controlled trials that fit the inclusion criteria. Four trials showed a significant positive effect on cognitive function, four showed no effect, and two mostly showed no effect. Study authors, Canter and Ernst, noted that the four positive trials used subjects who had already intended to learn the Transcendental Meditation technique, and attributed the significant positive results to an expectation effect. They concluded that the claim that TM has a specific and cumulative effect on cognitive function is not supported by the evidence from randomised controlled trials.

Psychological effects

A 1990 controlled study involving 768 subjects conducted at Sumitomo Heavy Industries by the Japanesemarker Ministry of Labour and others looked at Transcendental Meditation and its effect on mental health in industrial workers. After a 5-month period the researchers found significant decreases in major physical complaints, impulsiveness, emotional instability, and anxiety amongst the meditators compared to controls. The meditators also showed significant decreases in digestive problems, depression, tendency toward psychosomatic disease, insomnia, and smoking.

A 1977 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology showed reduced anxiety in practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation technique compared to controls who relaxed passively. A 1989 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology compared 146 independent studies on the effect of different meditation and relaxation techniques in reducing trait anxiety. Transcendental Meditation was found to produce a larger effect than other forms of meditation and relaxation in the reduction of trait anxiety. Additionally, it was concluded that the difference between Transcendental Meditation and the other meditation and relaxation techniques appeared too large to be accounted for by the expectation effect.

Studies show that TM reduces the number of seizures in epileptic patients and normalizes their EEG. An experimental study that was done on the Transcendental Meditation technique and epilepsy found that the epileptic patients initially had abnormally low levels of 5-HIAA in the cerebral spinal fluid, which then increased to normal levels after several months of practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique. This correlated with clinical improvements in these patients.

Carrington and Ephron reported on the successful use of the Transcendental Meditation technique as an adjunct to psychotherapy, though for some patients the process entailed feeling overwhelmed by negative and unpleasant thoughts during meditation.

Long-term effects

Studies have shown that the long-term practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique has specific and cumulative effects related to higher states of consciousness. A study published in 1997 in the journal "Sleep" found greater alpha and theta EEG power, but no difference in delta EEG power in long-term TM meditators reporting episodes of "higher states of consciousness" during sleep compared to controls. A study published in 2002 in Biological Psychology found distinct EEG patterns in the 17 long-term meditators as compared to two matched control groups. In addition, using a measure called "choice-contingent negative variation", the researchers found that the subjects' brains responded more efficiently during tasks. A followup study on the same three groups of subjects that used content analysis to characterize and classify their subjective experiences found that the group reporting an experience of Transcendental Consciousness during activity had unique subjective experiences. This was characterized by an ongoing experience described as "unboundedness".

Federally funded research

As of 1975, the Federal Government had funded 17 Transcendental Meditation research projects, ranging from the effects of meditation on the body to its ability to help rehabilitate convicts and fight alcoholism.

In 1999, the NIH awarded a grant of nearly $8 million to Maharishi University of Management to establish the first research center specializing in natural preventive medicine for minorities in the U.S. The research institute, called the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention, was inaugurated on October 11, 1999, at the University's Department of Physiology and Health in Fairfield, Iowa. The NIH funding has come via the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

By 2004, the National Institutes of Healthmarker (NIH) had awarded more than $20 million in funding for research on the effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on heart disease.

In 2009, the National Institutes of Health awarded an additional grant of $500,000 per year for two years for research on using the Transcendental Meditation technique in the treatment of coronary heart disease in African-Americans. The award was for research in collaboration with the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention and Columbia University Medical School in New York City. The award was from the American Recovery and Investment Act via the NIH-National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Public, private and charter school programs

Since 1994, American schools have included the Transcendental Meditation technique as one of their programs, these schools include the Fletcher Johnson and Ideal Academy Public Charter Schools of Washington DC, and the Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse of Detroit (since 1996).

By 2006, twenty five public, private, and charter schools in the United States had offered Transcendental Meditation to their students. In that same year, the Terra Linda High School in San Rafael in California, canceled plans for Transcendental Meditation classes due to concerns of parents that it would be promoting religion. University of South Carolinamarker sociologist Barry Markovsky describes teaching the Transcendental Meditation technique in schools as "stealth religion". Man Fails To Fly, Sues Camelot Hotel Owner, GTR News Online, Nancy K. Owens



According to a Newsweek article, critics believe that Transcendental Meditation is a repackaged, Eastern, religious philosophy that should not be used in public schools. Advocates say that Transcendental Meditation is purely a mechanical, physiological process. According to Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Transcendental Meditation is rooted in Hinduism and, when introduced into public schools, it crosses the same constitutional line as in the Malnak case and decision of 1979. In May 2008, Lynn said that the Americans United for Separation of Church is keeping a close legal eye on the TM movement and that there are no imminent cases against them. Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute says doing Transcendental Meditation during a school's "quiet time"—which is a short period many schools have adopted that children use for prayer or relaxation—is constitutional.

Schools in other countries, such as the Netherlands, Australia, India, Ecuador, Thailand, China, Great Britain and South Africa, also use Transcendental Meditation as part of their educational programs.

First Amendment lawsuit

In 1979, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the US District Court of New Jerseymarker that a curriculum in the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI)/Transcendental Meditation was religious activity within the meaning of the Establishment Clause and that the teaching of SCI/TM in the New Jersey public high schools was prohibited by the First Amendment. The court ruled that, although SCI/TM is not a theistic religion, it deals with issues of ultimate concern, truth, and other ideas analogous to those in well-recognized religions. The court found that the religious nature of the course was clear from careful examination of the textbook, the expert testimony elicited, and the uncontested facts concerning the puja, but was also largely determined by apparent involvement of government. The court also found state action violative of the Establishment Clause, because the puja involved "offerings to deities as part of a regularly scheduled course in the schools' educational programs".

Relationship to religion and spirituality

Official Transcendental Meditation websites states that the Transcendental Meditation technique is a mental technique for deep rest that is associated with specific effects on mind and body, practiced by people of all religions and that it does not require faith, belief, or a change in lifestyle to be effective as a relaxation technique. Maharishi called the Transcendental Meditation technique "a path to God", and the Transcendental Meditation technique has been described as "spiritual" but not religious, and as a coping strategy for life. According to Time Magazine, Transcendental Meditation owes something to all major religious traditions—Christianity, Judaism and Islam, as well as the Eastern faiths— because at one time or another they have included both meditation and the repetition of a mantra-like word. An article in Body and Mind describes the common misconception that TM has religious connotations – possibly cultish in nature, resulting from the Maharishi’s association with George Harrison, who was an enthusiastic advocate of Indian religions.

Former Maharishi University of Managementmarker Dean of College of Arts and Sciences, and Associate Professor of Education, James Grant, writes in a chapter of the book titled, The University in Transformation, that the Maharishi's techniques for the development of consciousness are non-sectarian and require no belief system. He goes on to say that millions of people from many cultures and many faiths have benefited from these techniques.

Bainbridge found Transcendental Meditation to be a "...highly simplified form of Hinduism, adapted for Westerners who did not possess the cultural background to accept the full panoply of Hindu beliefs, symbols, and practices." Bainbridge describes the Transcendental Meditation puja ceremony as "...in essence, a religious initiation ceremony".

Prayer has been compared with meditation and the specific technique known as Transcendental Meditation (TM). However, “meditational prayer” does not always imply religion.

Author, Roger LeBlanc. writes; "It’s not a religion... The Transcendental Meditation technique is a simple, natural technique practiced by millions of people of all religions, including clergy. Practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique does not require or involve faith or any particular set of beliefs." Practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation technique may use their meditation to supplement other faiths, or they may have no faith at all.

Clergy have varying views when assessing the compatibility of the Transcendental Meditation technique with their religions. Jaime Sin, a cardinal and the Archbishop of Manilamarker, wrote in 1984 that neither the doctrine nor the practice of TM are acceptable to Christians. In 1989, a Vaticanmarker council published a warning against mixing eastern meditation, such as TM, with Christian prayer. Other clergy, including Catholic clergy, have found the Transcendental Meditation technique to be compatible with their religious teachings and beliefs.

Charles H. Lippy, author of Pluralism Comes of Age: American Religious Culture in the Twentieth Century writes that earlier spiritual interest in the Transcendental Meditation technique faded in the 1970’s and it became a practical technique that anyone could employ without abandoning their religious affiliation. Though religious in origin, going back for several thousand years, Transcendental Meditation as introduced to the West is not attached to religion. Rather, it is a means for developing human potential.

References

  1. reprinted from LA Times
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Further reading

  • Denniston, Denise, The TM Book, Fairfield Press, Fairfield, Iowa, 1986 ISBN 093178302X
  • Geoff Gilpin, The Maharishi Effect: A Personal Journey Through the Movement That Transformed American Spirituality, Tarcher-Penguin 2006, ISBN 1-58542-507-9
  • Kropinski v. World Plan Executive Council, 853 F, 2d 948, 956 (D.C. Cir, 1988)
  • Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad-Gita : A New Translation and Commentary, Chapters 1-6. ISBN 0140192476.
  • Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: Science of Being and Art of Living : Transcendental Meditation ISBN 0452282667.


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