Author's Note

Introduction

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3
What is Stress?
Reducing Stress
Slowing Aging Process
Solution to Health Costs
Science Charts

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Site Home Page

 

 

C H A P T E R 3  (cont)

Healthy Mind / Healthy Body

Transcendental Meditation over Time -- Slowing Down the Aging Process

We know that stress-normal daily stress and severe traumatic stress -- is at the basis of almost all diseases and disorders. We also know that stress greatly accelerates the aging process. Nearly 15 years ago, researchers began to study the effects of Transcendental Meditation on aging. Not surprisingly, considering the role of stress in aging, researchers found that long-term practice of Transcendental Meditation can promote a significantly younger biological age.

Chronological Age/Biological Age

To understand how this could happen, first it helps to understand a little about the aging process.

People age at different rates. According to most theories, the causes of aging are complex. They include heredity, the stress of daily living, and prior illnesses. But it all adds up to wear and tear on the system. For example, Charles is 48 years old according to his birth certificate, but his doctor knows otherwise. His doctor knows that because of intense job stress, Charles has the physiology of an average 60-year-old. The doctor recommends that Charles cut back on his workload and stop smoking, and he prescribes special medication for his high blood pressure.

Paul, on the other hand, is 49 years old and in good shape. Paul's doctor says that he has the physiology of a man 5 years younger. He gets a clean bill of health.

There is a difference between chronological age and biological age. Chronological age is fixed; it's your age based on your birth certificate-the number of years you have lived. Biological age isn't fixed; it is an indication of your overall state of health compared to the norm in the general population.

Scientists can use several tests, such as measurements of systolic blood pressure, auditory threshold, and near-point vision, to distinguish an individual's biological age from his actual chronological age.

Research on Transcendental Meditation and Aging

The first scientist to study the effects of Transcendental Meditation on aging was Dr. Robert Keith Wallace, the same physiologist who pioneered Transcendental Meditation research as a graduate student at UCLA in 1968. Twelve years after his first Transcendental Meditation study was published in Science, Dr. Wallace published his research on Transcendental Meditation and aging in the International Journal of Neuroscience (16: 53­58, 1982).

12 Years Younger

Dr. Wallace found that subjects with an average chronological age of 50 years, who had been practicing Transcendental Meditation for over 5 years, had a biological age 12 years younger than their chronological age. That means a 55-year-old meditator had the physiology of a 43-year-old.

Several of the subjects in the study were found to have a biological age 27 years younger than their chronological age. This study has since been replicated several times. Other studies have also shown the beneficial effects of Transcendental Meditation on the aging process.

  • A higher level of plasma dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) is a hormonal marker of younger biological age. A study found DHEAS 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.)
  • A study randomly assigned residents of 8 homes for the elderly (average age 81 years) to one of the following programs: Transcendental Meditation; an active thinking (mindfulness) program; a relaxation program; or a control group with no treatment. The Transcendental Meditation group improved most on a wide range of physical and mental health measures. In addition to reporting that they felt younger, the Transcendental Meditation group actually lived longer. After 3 years, all members were still living, in contrast to lower survival rates for the other experimental groups, and a 63% survival rate for the 478 other residents who did not participate in the study. (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(6): 950-964, 1989.)

Are these findings surprising? "No, not when you consider that all the major factors associated with longevity, such as hypertension and cholesterol, have been shown to improve with the regular practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique," Dr. Wallace says.

"Transcendental Meditation has been shown to significantly improve cardiovascular health, work satisfaction, positive health habits, physical function, happiness rating, self-health rating, intelligence, and mental health. The result is a younger biological age."


"I'm never tired since I started meditating," says Ann Hurley, 75. "I've got a lot of energy. I work at my son's law office, and I run circles around the two women in the office. It's two stories, and I run up and down the stairs all day. One of the women said to me, 'Don't you ever get tired?' I stopped and thought, and I realized that this hasn't happened to me since Transcendental Meditation. I'm not tired anymore."

Ann worked for DuPont for 33 years before taking an early retirement in 1983. Then, in 1987, she went to work for her son in Wilmington, Delaware. She started by filling in as a temporary receptionist over the lunch hour, and now she works from nine o'clock in the morning until five or six o'clock at night, doing filing, legal work, and accounting. She brings extra work home and does accounting on her computer. She started meditating in 1988.

"Transcendental Meditation has made my mind clearer. Now I've got this desire to study; I want to know more. Before I just goofed off like everybody else. Now people ask me, 'Why do you read all the time?' I say, 'Transcendental Meditation has woken up my mind. I want to know more about everything.'

"I'm enjoying life, really enjoying life. That's what I do now. I go to work and I go on trips and I look forward to the next day and how beautiful it's going to be, which I never did before. Transcendental Meditation has changed my whole outlook on life-that life is really worth living."

An Effective Solution to Spiraling Health Costs

What are the combined benefits of reduced stress, better health, and a younger biological age? Among the many advantages is a dramatic reduction in health care use -- and with it, an effective answer to the crisis of spiraling health care costs.

A 5-year nationwide study of more than 2,000 Transcendental Meditation practitioners found that the Transcendental Meditation group made 55% fewer health insurance claims than did the population norms. The group had less than half of the hospital

admissions and outpatient visits of other professional groups. They also had lower sickness rates in all categories, including 87% less hospitalization for heart disease and 55% less for cancer. In addition, people practicing Transcendental Meditation who were over 40 years of age had an even higher percentage reduction in insurance utilization compared to the norm for their age group (Psychosomatic Medicine 4: 493-507, 1987).

On the basis of this insurance study, and hundreds of other findings on the technique, physicians and other health care professionals now see Transcendental Meditation as a practical, cost-effective solution to the health care crisis.


"We are trying to solve the health care crisis by rearranging who pays for the sickness," says Hari Sharma, M.D., F.R.C.P.C. "What we need to do is keep people from falling sick in the first place. That is true health care reform; then we'll save money in the best possible way by keeping people healthy."

Dr. Sharma is Professor of Pathology and Director of Cancer Prevention and Natural Products Research at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. He is a consultant to the National Institutes of Health, Alternative Medicine Section, and has lectured on preventive medicine to medical audiences around the world, including the World Health Organization.

"In truth, the health care crisis is a crisis of stress. There's an epidemic of stress, both in individuals and in society as a whole. Stress breaks down physical and mental health in the individual and creates biochemicals that are destructive to the physical body.

"In multiple published research studies, Transcendental Meditation has been shown to be the most effective technique for reducing stress and rebalancing the biochemicals in the body to produce improved physical and mental health. This has been corroborated by research showing that Transcendental Meditation reduces health care utilization by 50%."

Dr. Sharma is the author of Freedom from Disease-How to Control Free Radicals, a Major Cause of Aging and Disease. He practices Transcendental Meditation and says that the technique should be widely applied as part of reforming America's health care system.

"Transcendental Meditation is a major preventive technology. Like everything else in prevention, Transcendental Meditation should be covered by health care providers. That way we can prevent forthcoming disorders that are extremely costly-not only financially, but also in terms of human pain and suffering. Transcendental Meditation would help the individual, society, and the federal government. It would help everyone."


"I used to get real stressed in college. I knew that medical school would be even more stressful. Transcendental Meditation has been perfect for me. It's so relaxing. It's a very efficient way for me to get re-charged, be able to spend more time studying, and get more out of my day."

-- Sarah Church, first-year medical student, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta. Ms. Church has been practicing Transcendental Meditation for 6 months.


"More bounce in my step. Good health. Good humor. Good relations. I enjoy my church more. I haven't been to a doctor -- except to take life insurance exams -- since I started meditating 22 years ago."

-- Sam Marasco, Sr., 67, Advertising Sales Manager at the San Diego Sports Arena, San Diego. Thirty-three members of Mr. Marasco's extended family have learned Transcendental Meditation, including his 95-year-old mother-in-law, Grandma Macri.



The following charts represent just a few of the numerous research studies conducted on the physiological effects of Transcendental Meditation, and their benefits to health.

[ Top of Page | Chapter 4 ]