Meditation womanI’ve written much about the benefits of meditation, from stress management to mood stability, from increased creativity to breakthroughs in psychotherapy.

Mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation are all the rage right now, and they seem the therapy of choice for many of our ills.

But it’s a lot of work.

5 Comments to
Mindfulness & Meditation: Resting in Stillness

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  1. Transcendental Meditation brings significant benefits in all areas of life. People look forward to their 20 mins of meditation because it is so enjoyable to practice. Twenty mins is only a chore when it is boring or difficult. Check out tm.org.

  2. TM is a lot more and a lot less than you seem to think it is. TM’s effects at the level of how the brain functions, are radically different than mindfulness or concentrative techniques, even ones that are deliberately designed to be “like” TM, such as Benson’s Relaxation Response.

    For relatively low-stress people, the difference between TM and other forms of meditation may not be readily apparent, but for people with severe stress disorders, like PTSD, the difference can be overwhelmingly dramatic.

    And for certain categories of people, for which practices like mindfulness and concentration may be completely inappropriate, TM may well prove to be exceedingly beneficial.

    Consider Austism Spectrum Disorder, which may be found in as many as 1 out of every 54 boys born in the USA. A recent review of all studies on EEG and autism showed that the main pattern of EEG found in people with ASD actually resembles the changes that take place DURING mindfulness and concentration practices. This suggests that such practices are completely inappropriate for individuals with autism.

    http://www.jneurodevdisorders.com/content/pdf/1866-1955-5-24.pdf

    On the other hand, the the EEG associated with TM turns out to be exactly the opposite of that found in autistic patients, suggesting that TM may prove to be very therapeutic for many such individuals.

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10339-009-0343-2

    The first study above also mentions that people with Autism Spectrum Disorder show a markedly reduced level of long-distance connectivity in the brain. Recently published research on many forms of meditation OTHER THAN TM also found that most forms of meditation reduce the level of long-distance connectivity in the brain, making their effect similar to that which is considered abnormal when found in patients with ASD:

    http://www.amaye.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/med-connectivity-EEG-tomog.pdf

    The above researchers were recently given a live demo of how fast and how effectively TM establishes long-distance connectivity in the brain, and are conducting their study again, this time using TM practitioners, so that they can compare the results. Based on published research on EEG, researchers on TM expect that this new study will show that TM has exactly the opposite effect from other forms of meditation with respect to long-distance connectivity.

    Research on ASD and the resting network of the brain –the so-called “default mode network”– has found that there is a marked abnormality in how the DMN functions in patients with ASD, especially the connectivity to and activity of, the medial Prefrontal Cortex:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3058935/pdf/nihms210802.pdf

    This turns out to be exactly the same area mostly like to show reduced activity and connectivity due to the practice of mindfulness and concentrative practices:

    http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/2/4/313.abstract

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22446298

    http://www.pnas.org/content/108/50/20254.full.pdf

    And yet, this is the same area most likely to show enhanced activity during TM practice:

    http://www.lib.okayama-u.ac.jp/www/acta/pdf/60_1_51.pdf

    The ability to directly correlate the physical activity of the brain in specific illnesses with the effects of different kinds of meditation practices opens up an entirely new avenue of research on the effects of meditation and will help guide how such practices are evaluated and prescribed in the future.

  3. As a long time practitioner of TM…with a full to bursting life, I have to simply say this; my 20 minute meditation practice saves my life…seriously.

    Once I began practicing, I just made time to do it – only 20 minutes in the am and again the afternoon – it wasn’t a hardship, maybe took a little educating of my friends and fam, but it was so easy. The benefits and ease truly made it an essential part of my life.

    Yes we value from stopping for a moment to connect to the moment AND yes we all need, can and deserve to create a time and space to sit and meditate…for the sake of our health and well being and for those we love.

  4. You say there’s a lot of work. Work! What work? There is no work in transcendental meditation. It is effortless. It is the most natural thing you can do. Our inner nature, does it. As the founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi said, “we are just busy doing nothing”. Well, he was entitled to say nothing. Because what we do to is so small, so insignificant.

  5. The Transcendental Meditation technique is fundamentally different because:
    —it is easily learned from certified teachers trained by one man, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi;
    —relaxation is typically apparent after the first 20 minute session;
    —it is effortless. TM does not require concentration, contemplation, or any sort of mind control. During TM there is no goal. No attempt is made to achieve a certain result. It is a specific, systematic practice which anyone who can think can do.
    —because TM works and is effortless, employing only what the mind does naturally—effortless thinking—it is easy to stay with it, to make it a part of your daily life.

    Just about everyone has 20 minutes available twice daily, in the morning before the day begins and in the evening after the day’s activity has wound down. What the TM technique adds to your life far exceeds the time needed to practice it. What you gain from the practice you will carry with you for the rest of your life, an inner comfort sought by all and gained by all too few.

    Now’s the time.

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