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Research into Transcendental Meditation

Scientific Research

Research into Transcendental MeditationTranscendental Meditation, the cornerstone of Consciousness-based Education, has been scientifically validated in over 350 studies, including those in educational settings.

These studies quantify the effects both during, and as a result of, this simple mental technique. Many have appeared in peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals.

Research on Transcendental Meditation

Over the past 10 years the editors and reviewers of the International Journal of Neuroscience have accepted several papers on Transcendental Meditation because they have met the rigorous standards of scientific publication. IJN is honoured to have two Nobel laureates on its editorial board, and has a distinguished group of scientists from leading universities on every continent who judge the scientific value of the papers submitted for consideration.”
—Dr. Sidney Weinstein, then Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Neuroscience

Mental Potential

Eppley K.R. et al. Differential effects of relaxation techniques
on trait anxiety: A meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology 45: 957-974, 1989.

Hand and computer searches located studies on the effects of relaxation techniques on trait anxiety. Effect sizes for the different treatments (e.g., Progressive Relaxation, EMG Biofeedback, various forms of meditation, etc.) were calculated. Most of the treatments produced similar effect sizes except that Transcendental Meditation had significantly larger effect size (p less than .005), and meditation that involved concentration had significantly smaller effect. Correlations with effect size were calculated for many variables, e.g., population, age, sex, experimental design, duration and hours of treatment, pretest anxiety, demand characteristics, experimenter attitude, type of publication, attrition, etc. Only a few variables (mainly population, duration, hours, and attrition) significantly influenced effect size. Controlling for possible confounding variables did not alter the overall conclusions. The difference in effect size between treatments was maintained both when only published studies were included and when only the studies with the strongest design were included. Possible explanations for the findings are examined.

So KT. – Three randomized experiments on the longitudinal effects
of the Transcendental Meditation technique on cognition.
Intelligence 2001 29:419-440

Improved Cognitive Performance and Reduced Anxiety through TM Practice Compared with a Traditional Contemplation Technique, Napping and Usual Schooling.

Three controlled longitudinal studies on 362 students in Taiwan randomly assigned subjects to the Transcendental Meditation program, napping, usual schooling (no special treatment), or to a contemplation meditation technique in which the subjects recited the word “Tao”, which has a well-known meaning in the Chinese culture. All students had usual school classes. In addition, the experimental groups (TM technique, tradition meditation, or napping) practiced their assigned technique daily during school for approximately 20 minutes and a second time at home in the afternoon.

Study 1 (N = 154, mean age 16.5, males and females) found that after six months the TM group increased on all seven measures—field independence, creativity, general fluid intelligence, practical intelligence, speed of information processing (shorter Inspection Time) and decreased on state and trait anxiety—compared to the no-treatment and napping groups, with the exception that the comparison of the TM group with the napping group did not reach statistical significance for general fluid intelligence. The napping group did not differ from the no-treatment group on any measure.

Study 2 (N = 118, mean age 14.6, males and females) found that after six-months the TM group improved more than the traditional contemplation technique group on five of the measures— creativity, practical intelligence, speed of information processing (shorter Inspection Time) and state and trait anxiety. The TM group improved more than the no-treatment group on all seven measures, as in study 1. The contemplation meditation group improved more than the no-treatment group on two measures, field independence and speed of information processing (Inspection Time).

Study 3 (N = 99, mean age 17.8 years, males) found that after a year the TM group improved more than the no-treatment group on all seven measures, replicating studies 1 and 2.
Univariate testing showed that the TM practice produced significant effects on all variables compared to no-treatment controls (Ps ranged from .035 to <.0001). Contemplation improved 2 variables inspection time and embedded figures, the TM technique was superior to contemplation on the other 5 variables.

Kember P. The Transcendental Meditation technique and postgraduate
academic performance. British Journal of Educational Psychology
1985 55:164-166

20 postgraduate male students in an industrial engineering and production management course were randomly and evenly allocated to a transcendental meditation (TM) or control group to investigate the results of 6 mo of TM instruction on academic performance. Subjects’ academic performance was assessed via 21 standard course examinations; 9 examinations were taken pretreatment and 12 were taken post treatment. Results indicate that TM Ss, as compared to controls, improved in academic performance after TM instruction

Travis F et al. ADHD, brain functioning, and Transcendental Meditation practice.
Mind & Brain, The Journal of Psychiatry 2011 2(1):73-81

This random-assignment pilot study investigated effects of Transcendental Meditation (TM) practice on task performance and brain functioning in 18 ADHD students, age 11–14 years. Students were pretested, randomly assigned to TM or delayed-start comparison groups, and post-tested at 3- and 6-months. Delayed-start students learned TM after the 3-month post-test. Three months TM practice resulted in significant decreases in theta/beta ratios, increased theta coherence, a trend for increased alpha and beta1 coherence, and increased Letter Fluency. The delayed-start group similarly had decreased theta/beta ratios and increased letter fluency at the 6-month post-test, after they practiced TM for 3 months. Also, all students significantly improved on five ADHD-symptoms over the six months of the study, as reported in the parent’s survey. These findings warrant additional research to assess the impact of TM practice as a nondrug treatment of ADHD.

Nidich S et al. Academic achievement and Transcendental Meditation:
a study with at-risk urban middle school students.
Education 2011 131(3):556-564

A total of 189 students who were below proficiency level at baseline in English and math, were evaluated for change in academic achievement, using the California Standards Tests (CST). All students were from the same school and continued with the school’s standard curriculum and instruction. Ninety-seven percent were racial and ethnic minority students. The Transcendental Meditation program was practiced at school twice a day as part of the school’s Quiet Time program for three months prior to post-testing. Results indicated improvement for meditating students compared to controls on English scale scores (p = .002) and math scale scores (p < .001). A greater percentage of meditating students improved at least one performance level in math and English compared to controls (p values < .01). A matched-control subgroup yielded similar results.

Barnes VA et al. Impact of stress reduction on negative
school behaviour in adolescents.
Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2003 1:10

The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of stress reduction via the Transcendental Meditation program on school rule infractions in adolescents.

Forty-five African American adolescents (ages 15 – 18 years) with high normal systolic blood pressure were randomly assigned to either Transcendental Meditation (n = 25) or health education control (n = 20) groups. The meditation group engaged in 15-min sessions at home and at school each day for 4 months. The control group was presented 15-min sessions of health education at school each day for 4 months. Primary outcome measures were changes in absenteeism, school rule infractions and suspension days during the four-month pretest period prior to randomization compared with the four-month intervention period. Results: Comparing the pretest and intervention periods, the meditation group exhibited a mean decrease of 6.4 absentee periods compared to an increase of 4.8 in the control group (p < .05). The meditation group exhibited a mean decrease of 0.1 infractions over the four months compared to an increase of 0.3 in the control group (p < .03). There was a mean reduction of 0.3 suspension days due to behavior-related problems in the meditation group compared to an increase of 1.2 in the control group (p < .04).

These findings demonstrate that the Transcendental Meditation program conducted in the school setting has a beneficial impact upon absenteeism, rule infractions, and suspension rates in African American adolescents. © 2003 Barnes et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


Anderson J.W., et al. Blood pressure response to Transcendental Meditation:
a meta-analysis. American Journal of Hypertension 21 (3): 310-6, 2008.

Prior clinical trials suggest that the Transcendental Meditation technique may decrease blood pressure of normotensive and hypertensive individuals but study-quality issues have been raised. This study was designed to assess effects of Transcendental Meditation on blood pressure using objective quality assessments and meta-analyses.

PubMed and Cochrane databases through December 2006 and collected publications on Transcendental Meditation were searched. Randomized, controlled trials comparing blood pressure responses to the Transcendental Meditation technique with a control group were evaluated. Primary outcome measures were changes in systolic and diastolic blood pressure after practicing Transcendental Meditation or following control procedures. A specific rating system (0-20 points) was used to evaluate studies and random-effects models were used for meta-analyses.

Nine randomized, controlled trials met eligibility criteria. Study-quality scores ranged from low (score, 7) to high (16) with three studies of high quality (15 or 16) and three of acceptable quality (11 or 12). The random-effects meta-analysis model for systolic and diastolic blood pressure, respectively, indicated that Transcendental Meditation, compared to control, was associated with the following changes: -4.7 mm Hg (95% confidence interval (CI), -7.4 to -1.9 mm Hg) and -3.2 mm Hg (95% CI, -5.4 to -1.3 mm Hg). Subgroup analyses of hypertensive groups and high-quality studies showed similar reductions.

The regular practice of Transcendental Meditation may have the potential to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure by approximately 4.7 and 3.2 mm Hg, respectively. These are clinically meaningful changes.

Barnes V.A., et al. Impact of Transcendental Meditation on
ambulatory blood pressure in African-American adolescents.
American Journal of Hypertension 17: 366-369, 2004.

The objective of this study was to determine the impact of stress reduction on blood pressure (BP) in adolescents by the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program. African-American adolescents (aged 16.2 ± 1.3 years) with high normal systolic BP were randomly assigned to either 4-month TM (n = 50) or health education control (n = 50) groups. Ambulatory 24-h BP measures were recorded at pretest, 2- and 4-month post-tests, and 4-month follow-up. Greater decreases in daytime systolic BP (P < .04) and diastolic BP (P < .06) in the TM group compared with the control group across the visits demonstrate a beneficial impact of the TM program in youth at risk for the development of hypertension.

Nidich SI, Rainforth MV, Haaga DA, Hagelin J, Salerno JW, Travis F,
Tanner M, Gaylord-King C, Grosswald S, Schneider RH.
A randomized controlled trial on effects of the Transcendental Meditation
program on blood pressure, psychological distress, and coping
in young adults. American Journal of Hypertension 2009 22(12):1326-1331

Psychological distress contributes to the development of hypertension in young adults. This trial assessed the effects of a mind-body intervention on blood pressure (BP), psychological distress, and coping in college students.

This was a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of 298 university students randomly allocated to either the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program or wait-list control. At baseline and after 3 months, BP, psychological distress, and coping ability were assessed. A subgroup of 159 subjects at risk for hypertension was analyzed similarly.

Changes in systolic BP (SBP)/diastolic BP (DBP) for the overall sample were -2.0/-1.2 mm Hg for the TM group compared to +0.4/+0.5 mm Hg for controls (P = 0.15, P = 0.15, respectively). Changes in SBP/DBP for the hypertension risk subgroup were -5.0/-2.8 mm Hg for the TM group compared to +1.3/+1.2 mm Hg for controls (P = 0.014, P = 0.028, respectively). Significant improvements were found in total psychological distress, anxiety, depression, anger/hostility, and coping (P values < 0.05). Changes in psychological distress and coping correlated with changes in SBP (P values < 0.05) and DBP (P values < 0.08).

This is the first RCT to demonstrate that a selected mind-body intervention, the TM program, decreased BP in association with decreased psychological distress, and increased coping in young adults at risk for hypertension. This mind-body program may reduce the risk for future development of hypertension in young adults.

Alexander CN et al. Transcendental Meditation, self-actualization and
psychological health: a conceptual overview and statistical meta-analysis.
Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 1991 6:189-247

This was a meta-analysis of all studies on the effects of meditation and relaxation techniques on self-actualization (42 studies). The study compared the Transcendental Meditation technique to other meditations (Zen, Relaxation Response, mindfulness training, yoga, or mantra meditation) and other relaxation techniques (progressive relaxation and miscellaneous relaxation techniques). The Transcendental Meditation technique was more effective than other techniques on overall self-actualization, as well as on the two main components of self-actualization, Time Competence and Inner Directedness. Increased Time Competence indicates the degree to which one is “present-oriented” instead of being preoccupied with the past or anxious about the future. Increased Inner Directedness indicates that the individual’s source of direction in daily life comes primarily from an inner sense of self, rather than from external influences. The effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on these qualities may be due to reduction of anxiety and enhanced relaxation and coherence.

Interview with Dr. Hans Selye
When you say that the effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique are the opposite of those resulting from stress, you mean that the results are the opposite of those produced when demands are made upon the body?
Dr. Selye: “Research already conducted shows that the physiological effects of Transcendental Meditation are exactly the opposite to those identified by medicine as being characteristic of the body’s effort to meet the demands of stress.”
“The research shows this for metabolism, breathing, skin resistance, blood lactate, brain waves and the cardiovascular system. The same way, the therapeutic effects of Transcendental Meditation on bodily derangements is most evident in the conditions known as ‘diseases of stress’ or ‘diseases of adaption’—especially in mental, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and hypersensitivity ailments—ailments caused by inappropriate responses to the stresses of everyday life.”
“I would refer to it as a method which so relaxes the human central nervous system that it can live with stress better, that it doesn’t suffer from stress, without losing all it’s useful effects. Transcendental Meditation prepares the nervous system for all activity. It’s the nervous system, after all, that is the major source of pleasant stress or distress, of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. And I think that if you can influence the nervous system through Transcendental Meditation so that it can really relax, really be at its best in responding non-specifically to any demand, that is an ideal solution.”

Hans Hugo Bruno Selye (1907-1982) is known as “the father of stress.” As early 1926, still only in his second year of medical school, Dr. Selye began developing his now-famous theory of the influence of stress on people’s ability to cope with and adapt to the pressures of injury and intense experience. Through his life-long study and research he concluded that stress plays some role in the development of every disease and that failure to cope with stress can result in “diseases of adaptation” such as ulcers, high blood pressure and the many other diseases that are caused or complicated by stress.
Dr. Selye held three doctorates (M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc.) and was 43 times a Doctor Honoris Causa. Selye wrote some 39 books and more than 1,700 articles on stress and related problems. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize 10 times.

For more information about scientific research: www.tm.org/research-on-meditation

For more information about TM: www.t-m.org.uk or telephone 01695 51213