Learning About Transcendental MeditationTranscendental meditation is a deceptively simple meditation technique that uses a mantra — a repeating word, phrase or sound — to help a person clear their mind and attain a deep state of relaxation or awareness. If mindlessness is our automatic reaction to everyday events and interactions with others, transcendental meditation seeks to go beyond such reactions,

to experience the source of thought — pure awareness, also known as transcendental consciousness. This is the most silent and peaceful level of consciousness — your innermost Self. In this state of restful alertness, your brain functions with significantly greater coherence and your body gains deep rest.

Transcendental meditation is practiced twice daily for 20 minutes at a time. Transcendental meditation (TM) is one form of meditation that’s been in practice in the U.S. now for nearly 50 years. As many forms of meditation have a fair amount of research conducted on them, apparently so does TM. While not many of the studies done on TM are randomized controlled trials, some are.

So is the most recent study that examined the effects of transcendental meditation. It examined the brain waves via EEG of participants practicing TM. During the 3-month study, researchers found students could more highly activate the brain’s “default mode network,” a theorized natural “ground state” of the brain. It’s an interesting hypothesis, but I’m not entirely sure what to make of it.

So I went to Wikipedia to see if it could be of any assistance. Oops!

Although Wikipedia articles are not supposed to be openly biased or hostile, it’s clear that whoever wrote the section on “Health effects” in TM research has an axe to grind. The entire section is written by cherry-picking research to support the authors’ point of view that TM has no research basis. Here’s a simple but emblematic example of the sloppy writing here:

A 2003 review that looked at the effects of TM on cognitive function said that many of the 700 studies on TM have been produced by researchers directly associated with the TM movement and/or had not been peer reviewed. [106]

Perhaps the citation is wrong, but the citation points to a review of the research into the cumulative effects of TM only. The researchers say, “Most [studies they looked at] were excluded because they used no controls or did not randomize subjects between interventions” and the main finding was that, “The claim that TM has a specific and cumulative effect on cognitive function is not supported by the evidence from randomised controlled trials.” Strangely, the main finding is not reported in the Wikipedia article, only secondary comments made by the authors. But it’s no wonder the research section of this article makes little sense, as a quick look at the Discussion tab makes clear feuding editors battling for control about tone and focus.

I don’t know what to make of transcendental meditation personally, but I find studies like the recently published one interesting. I know people who use it and swear by its positive effects (but I also know people who use other techniques and methods and swear by them as well). I suspect some of the skepticism comes from the pseudo-religious nature of technique, or the fact that it costs money to learn it. But in my experience, many things worth learning cost money (look at my graduate education, for instance). My only concern is that if it is something that is “simple, natural, effortless, and easily learned,” why does it cost $1,500 and an entire day to learn?

I’ve read enough to consider trying it now for some time, but I really think that virtually any meditation, twice daily, is going to help a person become more introspective, relaxed, and mindful.

Read the full news article: Transcendental Meditation Resets Brain

Learn more about: Meditation techniques of TM

 


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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Mar 2010
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2010). Learning About Transcendental Meditation. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/03/06/learning-about-transcendental-meditation/

 

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