Author's Note


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

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Questions and Answers on the Scientific Research

Many people have questions about specific benefits of Transcendental Meditation. The following topics provide a more detailed discussion of the scientific research conducted on Transcendental Meditation. It gives you a concise reference guide to the benefits of the technique in the areas of mental potential, health, relationships, business, and society.

Is there scientific evidence to show that Transcendental Meditation is different from just resting with your eyes closed?

Yes. Research shows that Transcendental Meditation is unique; it is much different from eyes-closed rest.

A comprehensive statistical "meta-analysis" was conducted that compared the findings of 31 physiological studies on Transcendental Meditation and on resting with eyes closed. (A meta-analysis is the preferred scientific procedure for drawing definitive conclusions from large bodies of research.) The study evaluated three key indicators of relaxation and found that Transcendental Meditation provides a far deeper state of relaxation than does simple eyes-closed rest. The research showed that breath rate and plasma lactate decrease, and basal skin resistance increases, significantly more during Transcendental Meditation than during eyes-closed rest. Interestingly, immediately prior to the Transcendental Meditation sessions, meditating subjects had lower levels of breath rate, plasma lactate, spontaneous skin conductance, and heart rate than did controls. This deeper level of relaxation before starting the practice suggests that reduced physiological stress through Transcendental Meditation is cumulative. (American Psychologist 42: 879-881, 1987.)

Are all meditation and relaxation techniques equally as effective as Transcendental Meditation?

No. All meditation and relaxation techniques are not the same. Four studies were conducted that compared findings of research on different meditation and relaxation techniques. These meta-analyses found that Transcendental Meditation is the most effective technique for reducing anxiety; increasing self-actualization; reducing alcohol, cigarette, and drug abuse; and improving psychological health.

  • Reduced anxiety -- A statistical meta-analysis of 146 previously conducted studies indicated that compared with every other meditation and relaxation technique tested to date, Transcendental Meditation is much more effective at reducing anxiety, the most common sign of psychological stress. (Journal of Clinical Psychology 45: 957-974, 1989.)
  • Increased self-actualization -- A second meta-analysis of 42 studies found that Transcendental Meditation was significantly more effective in increasing self-actualization than other meditation and relaxation techniques. (Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 6: 189-247, 1991.)
  • Reduced substance abuse -- A third meta-analysis of 198 studies found that Transcendental Meditation was significantly more effective in reducing drug, alcohol, and cigarette abuse than were standard treatment and prevention programs, including relaxation. (Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly 11: 13-87, 1994.)
  • Improved psychological health -- A fourth meta-analysis of all relevant, previously conducted research -- 51 studies in all -- showed that compared with every other meditation and relaxation technique tested to date, Transcendental Meditation is far more effective at enhancing psychological health and maturity. The studies showed that Transcendental Meditation promotes greater overall self-actualization, as indicated by increased self-regard, spontaneity, inner directedness, and capacity for warm interpersonal relations. (Dissertation Abstracts International 42(4): 1547, 1980.)

Does Transcendental Meditation lower high blood pressure?

Yes. More than 30 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure, one of the most serious risk factors for heart disease. Sixteen studies have clearly demonstrated the positive effects of Transcendental Meditation on hypertension.

For example, a recent study was conducted on 128 inner-city, elderly African-Americans with hypertension. They were randomly assigned to either the Transcendental Meditation technique, progressive muscle relaxation, or a usual-care control group. All subjects followed the same diet and exercise regimen. After 3 months Transcendental Meditation produced an 11-point decrease in systolic blood pressure and a 6-point decrease in diastolic blood pressure, compared to untreated controls, and more than twice the reduction in blood pressure produced by progressive muscle relaxation. (Personality, Elevated Blood Pressure, and Essential Hypertension, Johnson, Gentry, and Julius (eds.). Hemisphere, Washington, D.C., 291-312, 1992.)

Does Transcendental Meditation reduce cholesterol levels?

Yes. Cholesterol is also a major risk factor in heart disease. A longitudinal study showed that cholesterol levels significantly decreased through Transcendental Meditation in hypercholesterolemic patients, compared to matched controls, over an 11-month period. (Journal of Human Stress 5 (4): 24-27, 1979.)

Is there any evidence to show that Transcendental Meditation can lower health care costs?

Yes. Spiraling health care costs in the U.S. pose a dangerous threat to the health and financial well-being of individuals, institutions, and the government. The only permanent solution to the health care crisis is to make people healthier. Transcendental Meditation has been shown to be most effective in promoting health and reducing health care utilization and medical fees, compared to other wellness and health promotion programs.

  • Reduced health care utilization -- A large study of the insurance statistics of 2,000 Transcendental Meditation participants over a 5-year period gives an indication of what could happen if Transcendental Meditation were incorporated into existing health care programs. The study found that the Transcendental Meditation group had 50% less of the medical care utilization, both in-patient and out-patient, compared to controls matched for age, gender, and occupation. The Transcendental Meditation group had lower sickness rates in all categories of disease, including 87% less hospitalization for heart disease and 55% less for cancer. The difference between the Transcendental Meditation and non-Transcendental Meditation groups was greatest for individuals over 40 years of age. (Psychosomatic Medicine 4:, 493-507, 1987.)
  • Reduced health care expenses -- A study of 599 Transcendental Meditation participants in Quebec, Canada, found an average 12% reduction in medical expenses each year over a 3-year period. In the 3 years before starting the technique, the group's medical expenses had been equivalent to the norms for the same age and sex. Medical fees for "high-cost" individuals and older people decreased by 19% annually. (Dissertation Abstracts International 53(12:) 4219-A, 1993.)

What effect does Transcendental Meditation have on aging?

Successful aging is the best indication of how effectively an individual handles the stresses of life. Transcendental Meditation has proven highly effective in promoting successful aging.

  • Younger biological age (1) -- A study comparing people practicing Transcendental Meditation who were an average age of 50-years-old to matched controls on the Adult Growth Examination (a test measuring indicators of biological age: systolic blood pressure, auditory threshold, and near-point vision) found that the biological age of long-term participants in the Transcendental Meditation program was, on average, 12 years less than their actual chronological age. This means that a 50-year-old who has been practicing Transcendental Meditation for 5 years would, on average, have the biological age of a 38-year-old. (International Journal of Neuroscience 16: 53-58, 1982.)
  • Younger biological age (2) -- Higher levels of plasma dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) is a hormonal marker of younger biological age. This hormone was found to be significantly higher for 326 adult Transcendental Meditation technique practitioners than for 972 age- and sex-matched controls. These differences were largest for the oldest age categories. (Journal of Behavioral Medicine 15(4): 327-341, 1992.)
  • Longer life -- Seventy-three residents of homes for the elderly (mean age 81 years) were randomly assigned to one of three treatments which were highly similar in external structure and expectation-fostering features: Transcendental Meditation, mindfulness training in active distinction making, and a relaxation program; while a fourth group received usual care. The Transcendental Meditation group improved significantly more than did all other groups on all the measures tested: systolic blood pressure, mental health, paired-associates learning, two measures of cognitive flexibility, self-ratings of behavioral flexibility and aging, and multiple indicators of treatment efficacy. Moreover, after 3 years the survival rate for Transcendental Meditation was 100%, compared to 65%, 77%, or 88% survival rates for the other treatment groups, respectively, and 63% for the untreated elderly. These results indicate that Transcendental Meditation promotes a longer life and a higher quality of life. (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 57(6): 950-964, 1989.)

Has there been research on the effects of Transcendental Meditation on mental health?

Yes. Transcendental Meditation has been found to improve mental health by reducing biochemical indicators of stress, decreasing anxiety, and enhancing psychological development.

  • Increased field independence -- A study of perception found that after 3 months those who learned Transcendental Meditation increased significantly more than did controls in their ability to perceive the world more accurately under potentially confusing conditions. Psychologists call this ability "field independence" because it indicates the growth of a stable internal frame of reference that makes the individual more self-sufficient and independent of the "field" of the physical and social environment. These individuals have broader comprehension and improved ability to focus and are better able to see another person's perspective, while remaining unswayed by social pressure to do something that they judge to be wrong. (Perceptual and Motor Skills 39: 1031-1034, 1974.)
  • Most effective technique to reduce anxiety -- As previously cited on page 159, a meta-analysis of 146 previously conducted studies on the effects on trait anxiety of Transcendental Meditation, other meditation techniques, and progressive relaxation and other relaxation techniques, found that Transcendental Meditation had a significantly greater effect on reducing anxiety than did all other treatments. This study controlled for a number of possible variables, including population, age, sex, experimental design, etc. (Journal of Clinical Psychology 45: 957-974, 1989.)
  • Most effective technique for enhancing psychological maturity -- As previously cited on page 160, a meta-analysis of 51 studies of different meditation techniques found a significantly larger effect from Transcendental Meditation, compared to other forms of meditation, on a wide range of psychological measures, including anxiety, depression, anger, self-esteem, and internal locus of control. The result was maintained in the studies of highest validity and strongest experimental design. (Dissertation Abstracts International 42(4): 1547, 1980.)
  • Less hospital admissions for psychiatric care -- The Swedish government's National Health Board conducted a nationwide epidemiological study that found that hospital admissions for psychiatric care were 150-200 times less common among the 35,000 people practicing Transcendental Meditation in Sweden, than for the population as a whole. (Suurkula, University of Gothenburg, Vasa Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden, 1977.)

Is there research on the effects of Transcendental Meditation in the schools?

Yes. Over 30 years of experience in schools, colleges, and universities in the U.S. and around the world, and extensive scientific research, have shown that Transcendental Meditation improves basic learning skills, increases intelligence, improves grades, and improves moral reasoning in students.

  • Improved basic learning skills -- A study of elementary school children found that students who practiced Transcendental Meditation over the course of an academic year significantly improved in mathematics, reading, language, and study skills. (Education 107: 49-54, 1986.)
  • Improved intellectual performance and self-concept in inner-city children -- A study of inner-city children found that through regular practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, students increased in analytic intelligence, self-concept, and general intellectual ability. (Presented at the 98th annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C., August 1990.)
  • Increased intelligence -- A study of college students who practiced Transcendental Meditation at Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa, found that they improved significantly on a "culture-fair" (nonverbal) measure of IQ over a 2-year period, while no change in IQ was found in non-meditating college students from another Iowa university over the same period. Subjects' age, education level, level of interest in meditation, father's education level, and father's annual income were statistically controlled for in the study. No other procedure has consistently been found to increase general intelligence in college-age students. (Maharishi International University integrates the arts, sciences, and professions with the study and development of consciousness through the practice of Transcendental Meditation. The University is accredited to the Ph.D. level by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.) (Personality and Individual Differences 12: 1105-1116, 1991.)

What effect does Transcendental Meditation have in a business?

Transcendental Meditation has been used in hundreds of businesses in the U.S. and around the world. Research in several business settings has found Transcendental Meditation to be a highly effective corporate development program.

  • Improved health and increased job performance -- Transcendental Meditation proved highly effective in reducing on-the-job stress and promoting employee health and development, when the technique was offered in the manufacturing plant of a large Fortune 100 company and in a smaller distribution sales company. The study found that managers and employees practicing Transcendental Meditation displayed less anxiety, job tension, insomnia, and fatigue, and reduced cigarette and hard liquor use, compared to non-meditating employees. The study also found the Transcendental Meditation group showed improved health and fewer health complaints, and enhanced effectiveness, job satisfaction, and work/personal relationships. (Anxiety, Stress and Coping: International Journal 6: 245-262, 1993.)
  • Increased job performance -- A second study found that Transcendental Meditation increased job productivity and satisfaction. In addition, relationships with both supervisors and co-workers improved. (Academy of Management Journal 17: 362-368, 1974.)
  • Case history of business success -- A 7-year case study of a chemical manufacturing company found dramatic increases in productivity and net income, and decreases in sick days, correlated with increases in the number of employees in the company practicing Transcendental Meditation. (Enlightened Management: Building High Performance People. Maharishi International University Press, Fairfield, Iowa, 1989.)
  • Improved health in Japanese industry -- The Japanese government's National Institute of Industrial Health, in a controlled longitudinal study with nearly 800 subjects in one of Japan's largest companies, found significant improvements in physiological and mental health in industrial workers who practiced Transcendental Meditation compared to controls. The meditators showed decreases in physical complaints, anxiety, depression, smoking, insomnia, digestive problems, neurotic tendencies, and psychosomatic problems. (Japanese Journal of Public Health 37(10): 729, 1990; Japanese Journal of Industrial Health 32(7): 177, 1990.)

Has research been done on the effects of Transcendental Meditation on traumatic stress?

Yes. In a Vietnam veterans center, 18 men suffering from severe and apparently intractable post-traumatic stress syndrome were randomly assigned to either the Transcendental Meditation technique or psychotherapy (multiple modalities). After 3 months of treatment, the counseling had no significant impact, but Transcendental Meditation reduced emotional numbness, alcohol abuse, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and severity of delayed stress syndrome. Veterans practicing Transcendental Meditation also showed significant improvement, compared to controls, in employment status. (Journal of Counseling and Development 64: 212-214, 1985.)

Has Transcendental Meditation been used to prevent and treat cigarette, drug, and alcohol abuse?

Yes. Cigarette smoking is the largest, non-genetic cause of death in the U.S. (400,000 people per year), and alcohol is the third largest cause of death (100,000 per year). Experts estimate that nearly 80% of crime is drug or alcohol related. Research has found Transcendental Meditation to be highly effective in both the treatment and prevention of substance abuse.

  • More effective than other programs -- As previously cited on page 159, a statistical meta-analysis of 198 studies, which compared all standard treatment and prevention programs for substance abuse (including Alcoholics Anonymous, individual counseling, educational programs, anti-smoking courses, anti-drug programs, and self-esteem training), found that Transcendental Meditation was far more effective than all these other approaches. (Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly 11: 13-87, 1994.)
  • 81% quit or decreased cigarette smoking -- In a prospective study of 324 smoking adults -- 110 who started Transcendental Meditation and 224 matched controls who did not start -- significantly more (51%) of the Transcendental Meditation participants quit smoking, compared to 21% for non-meditating controls. When reduction of smoking (at least five cigarettes less per day -- a 25% average decrease) was considered along with cessation, 81% of the regular Transcendental Meditation participants quit or decreased smoking, compared to 33% for the non-meditating controls. (Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly 11: 219-236, 1994.)
  • 65% abstinence rate in alcoholism treatment -- In a study funded by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 108 transient, chronic alcoholic patients were randomly assigned to learn Transcendental Meditation, standard drug counseling, or two other programs. Transcendental Meditation was significantly more effective than all other treatment programs. For example, after 18 months, 65% of the Transcendental Meditation group were abstinent, compared to 25% for standard drug counseling. (Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly 11: 185-218, 1994.)
  • 89% reduction in use of illicit drugs -- An 18-month study of 115 high school- and college-age drug users in an out-patient drug rehabilitation center in Germany showed that the Transcendental Meditation group had significantly greater reductions in drug usage and improvements in psychological health, compared to matched controls of comparable age, gender, and severity and type of drug consumption who received only standard out-patient drug counseling. After 4 months of Transcendental Meditation, drug use dropped 50%; after 18 months, 89%. (Zeitschrift fur Klinische Psychologie 7: 235-255, 1978.)

Has Transcendental Meditation been used in prisons?

Yes, very successfully.

Currently, about 1.4 million Americans are behind bars, and experts agree that conventional approaches to rehabilitating prisoners have failed. In fact, nearly two-thirds of all inmates who are paroled return to prison within 3 years -- often after committing further violent crimes. In the past 20 years, Transcendental Meditation has been taught to thousands of adult inmates in 18 U.S. correctional institutions and to hundreds of incarcerated juveniles in 8 U.S. facilities. It has also been used in prisons in 12 other countries. Research has found Transcendental Meditation to be very effective in rehabilitating offenders and reducing recidivism (the rate at which offenders return to prison).

  • 33-38% reduction in recidivism -- In a study conducted by Harvard researchers of 133 maximum- security inmates, those who learned Transcendental Meditation decreased significantly in aggression and mental disorders, and increased markedly in psychological maturity, compared to matched controls and matched participants in four other treatment programs. Inmates practicing Transcendental Meditation also had recidivism rates 33-38% less than those of the four other treatment groups and the control group, over a 3 1/2 year period. (Dissertation Abstracts International 43(2): 539-B, 1982.)
  • 35-40% reduction in recidivism -- In a 5-year study of 259 male felons in California who had been paroled from such prisons as Folsom and San Quentin, the Transcendental Meditation group had 35-40% less recidivism than did matched controls. Other programs, including vocational training, psychotherapy, and prison education, did not consistently reduce recidivism. (Journal of Criminal Justice 15: 211-230, 1987.)
  • Large-scale study in Senegal -- In Senegal, West Africa, in 1987, President Abdou Diouf introduced the Transcendental Meditation program into 31 prisons nationwide. More than 11,000 prisoners and 900 correctional officers learned the technique. Violence in the prisons decreased markedly and recidivism rates dropped from 90% to about 8%. The Director of Penitentiary Administration in Senegal Colonel Mamadou Diop credited the Transcendental Meditation program for the dramatic reduction in recidivism. (Total Rehabilitation. Maharishi Vedic University Press, in press.)
  • Comprehensive research review -- A narrative and quantitative review of research projects on Transcendental Meditation in eight correctional settings indicated that regular practice of Transcendental Meditation consistently leads to positive changes in health, personality development, and behavior, as well as lower recidivism, among inmates. (International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice 11: 111-112, 1987.)

Is there evidence that people practicing Transcendental Meditation have a positive effect on society as a whole?

Yes. More than 40 studies have shown that group practice of Transcendental Meditation and the more advanced TM-Sidhi Program reduces social stress, as indicated violence, crime, and international conflict in society and improves economic vitality and governmental efficiency. (For a discussion of the mechanics of this effect, please see Chapter 7, "Reducing Crime in Society and Creating World Peace.")

How did scientists measure this? To evaluate the potential impact of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Program on society, researchers assessed many variables, including crime rate, violent fatalities (homicides, suicides, and motor vehicle fatalities), armed conflict, economic indicators, and broad quality-of-life indices, which include the above variables as well as rates of notifiable diseases, hospital admissions, infant mortality, divorce, cigarette and alcohol consumption, and GNP.

The results indicated that the effects for each of these variables, or for overall indices, consistently changed in the direction of improved quality of life when a sufficiently large group of people were practicing the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Program in society.

The following are summaries of four studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

  • Decreased crime rate in 24 U.S. cities: Twenty-four cities that reached 1% of their populations practicing the Transcendental Meditation program in 1972 were found to have significant reductions in crime trend during the 6-year experimental period from 1972-1977, compared to 24 control cities matched for total population, college population, and geographic region. Even when statistically controlling for specific demographic factors known to affect crime, such as median years of education, stability of residence, and pre-intervention crime rate, the crime trends in the 1% cities were still significantly lower. (Crime and Justice IV: 26-45, 1981.)
  • Decreased crime rate in 160 U.S. cities: A study of a random sample of 160 U.S. cities found that increasing the numbers of Transcendental Meditation participants in the 160 cities over a 7-year period (1972-1978) was followed by reductions in crime rate. The study used data from the FBI Uniform Crime Index total and controlled for other variables known to affect crime. Causal analysis supported the hypothesis that Transcendental Meditation caused the reduction in crime. (Journal of Mind and Behavior 9: 457-486, 1989.)
  • Decreased crime rate in Washington, D.C.: A study of weekly data from October 1981 through October 1983 found that increases in the size of a large group practicing the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Program in Washington, D.C., were followed by significant reductions in violent crime. Weekly violent crime totals in Washington decreased 11.8% during the 2-year period. Time series analysis verified that this decrease in crime could not have been due to changes in the percentage of the population who were of young-adult age, nor Neighborhood Watch programs nor changes in police polices or procedures. (Journal of Mind and Behavior 9: 457-486, 1989.)
  • Reduced armed conflict and improved quality of life in the Middle East: This study found that increases in the size of a group of individuals in Jerusalem practicing the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Program had a statistically significant effect on improving the quality of life in Jerusalem (automobile accidents, fires, and crime) and the quality of life in Israel (crime, stock market, and national mood measured through news content analysis) and on reducing the war in Lebanon (war deaths of all factions and war intensity measured through news content analysis). The effects of holidays, temperature, weekends, and other forms of seasonality were explicitly controlled for and could not account for these results. As in many other studies, the pattern of results supported the hypothesis that the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Program group caused the reduction in armed conflict and the improvement in the quality of life. (Journal of Conflict Resolution 32: 776-812, 1988; Journal of Conflict Resolution 34: 756-768, 1990.)

The accuracy of the results of these and other studies was strengthened through the use of sophisticated methods, including:

  • statistically controlling for a broad range of demographic variables, such as population density, median years of education, age, etc.;
  • applying causal "cross-lagged analysis" methods, which indicated that increasing numbers of people practicing Transcendental Meditation is followed by corresponding improvements in society;
  • employing "time-series analyses" to control for seasons, trends, drifts, and rival hypotheses, and to demonstrate temporal relationships among variables, supporting the hypothesis that Transcendental Meditation caused these beneficial changes;
  • creating large groups of Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Program participants in various populations to demonstrate positive changes on specific social indicators, such as crime, and predicting that these changes would occur.

Moreover, the results of the studies assessing the effect of group practice of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Program on society are highly statistically significant. The probabilities that these positive effects could have been due to chance are very small.

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