Scientific Research on the Transcendental Meditation program:
The Brain and Mental Potential
This research list compiles summaries, abstracts, and results on mental potential, out of the 435 original studies and reviews of research published in independent peer-reviewed journals or other edited scientific publications from 1970 to the present.
Relation between psychedelic and transcendental experiences.
Travis F. International Journal of Psychological Studies 2022 14(4):31-37. doi.org/10.5539/ijps.v14n4p31
The experience of Transcendental Consciousness transforms one’s sense-of-self from being identified with thoughts, feelings, and outer behavior to being identified with inner Being (Travis et al., 2004). A ten-year longitudinal study of effects of Transcendental Meditation practice on scores on the Loevinger’s Sentence Completion test, the gold standard of ego development, reported a full stage growth of ego development over that decade in the meditating subjects compared to students from three matched colleges (Chandler et al., 2005). The literature does not report adverse reactions from Transcendental Meditation practice in normal or clinical populations.
Success of Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy Does Not Mean that All Psychedelic Experiences Are Safe and Useful
Psychedelic experiences are dependent on the set and setting. A therapeutic setting can be comfortable, secure, and non-threatening with interpersonal support throughout the session. A skilled therapist in a supportive setting can direct the strong waves of emotion and felt sense of deep meaning that occur during psychedelic experiences to help the client change habitual patterns of thinking and behaving. This is a key point: Psychedelic experiences have not been clinically beneficial in and of themselves, but rather as an integral element of therapy. Casual use of psychedelics in uncontrolled settings could lead to extreme fear, anxiety, and mental instability. Even micro-dosing is reported to result in positive experiences half the time and negative experiences the other half. In addition, psychedelic-assisted therapy involves a single psychedelic experience rather than multiple psychedelic sessions over months or years.
Consciousness-Based Education: effects on brain integration and practical intelligence.
Travis F, Collins J. In MR Gurubatham, GA Williams (eds), Workplace Innovations: Advancing Innovation and Sustainable Outcomes in International Graduate Education (pp.144-159). Hershey, Pennsylvania: IGI Global, 2021. doi.10.4018/978-1-7998-5514-9.ch009
Temporal and spatial characteristics of meditation EEG.
Travis, F. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. APA PsycNET American Psychological Association 2020. This article discusses the importance of decisions made about the temporal and spatial characteristics of EEG during recording and analysis of meditation practices. Issue: A recent meta-analysis averaged EEG in the alpha1 and alpha2 bands to characterize mindfulness practices. This ignored known differences in cognitive processing associated with these two bands, and so confounded their conclusion about brain patterns during mindfulness. Another paper averaged EEG from central electrodes, which reflect activity of motor cortices, and frontal electrodes, which reflect activity of the frontal association cortices, to characterize Transcendental Meditation practice. This averaged the signals from motor and frontal cortices, which respond to different behaviors, and so confounded any conclusion about the nature of brain patterns during Transcendental Meditation practice. Also, both of these papers reported power-derived measures. This misses the connectivity information that is captured in coherence analysis. Conclusion: Meditation researchers should (a) investigate narrow frequency bands, especially theta1, theta2, alpha1 and alpha2, which are known to reflect different cognitive processes, (b) average EEG over theoretically known spatial areas, and (c) employ power as well as coherence analysis to more accurately define different categories of meditation practices and more reliably apply meditation practices to specific subject populations.
Growth of higher states of consciousness in TM subjects
Travis F. Long term changes in experienced yoga practitioners: growth of higher states of consciousness in TM subjects. In S Telles, N Singh (eds), Research-Based Perspectives on the Psychophysiology of Yoga (pp.43-59). Hershey, Pennsylvania: IGI Global, 2018. doi:10.4018/978-1- 5225-2788-6.ch003
The long-term individual benefit of regular experience of the state of Yoga was growth of higher states of consciousness. This research extends our consideration of effects of the experience of Yoga to include the effects we have on the environment. We are not billiard balls colliding over time. We do not live in a classical existence. Rather, we are part of a larger system that is effected by the condition of every person in that system. This experience of Yoga is not a luxury and should not be isolated to a few individuals. Yoga and meditation practices are a means to transform the individual and thereby transform the society, creating a better quality of life on earth for everyone.
Eﬀect of meditation on psychological distress and brain functioning: A randomized controlled study.
Fred Travis, Laurent Valosek, Arthur Konrad IV, Janice Link, John Salerno, Ray Scheller, Sanford Nidich. Eﬀect of meditation on psychological distress and brain functioning: A randomized controlled study. Brain and Cognition 125 (2018) 100-105.
Background: Psychological stability and brain integration are important factors related to physical and mental health and organization eﬀectiveness. This study tested whether a mind-body technique, the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program could increase EEG brain integration and positive aﬀect and decrease psychological distress in government employees.
Method: Ninety-six central oﬃce administrators and staﬀ at the San Francisco Uniﬁed School District were randomly assigned to either immediate start of the TM program or to a wait-list control group. At baseline and four-month posttest, participants completed an online version of the Proﬁle of Mood States questionnaire (POMS). In addition, a subset of this population (N=79) had their EEG recorded at baseline and at four-month posttest to calculate Brain Integration Scale (BIS) scores.
Results: At posttest, TM participants signiﬁcantly decreased on the POMS Total Mood Disturbance and anxiety, anger, depression, fatigue, and confusion subscales, and signiﬁcantly increased in the POMS vigor subscale. TM participants in the EEG-subgroup also signiﬁcantly increased in BIS scores. Compliance with meditation practice was high (93%).
Conclusion: Findings indicate the feasibility and eﬀectiveness of implementing the TM program to improve brain integration and positive aﬀect and reduce psychological distress in government administrators and staﬀ.
Default mode network activation and Transcendental Meditation practice: Focused Attention or Automatic Self-transcending?
Frederick Travis PhD, Niyazi Parim MA. Default mode network activation and Transcendental Meditation practice: Focused Attention or Automatic Self-transcending? Brain and Cognition 111 (2017) 86–94. This study used subjective reports and eLORETA analysis to assess to what extent Transcendental Meditation (TM) might involve focused attention—voluntary control of mental content. Eighty-seven TM subjects with one month to five years TM experience participated in this study. Regression analysis of years TM practice and self-reported transcendental experiences (lack of time, space and body sense) during meditation practice was flat (r = .07). Those practicing Transcendental Meditation for 1 month reported as much transcending as those with 5 years of practice. The eLORETA comparison of eyes-closed rest/task and TM practice/task identified similar areas of activation: theta and alpha activation during rest and TM in the posterior cingulate and precuneus, part of the default mode network, and beta2 and beta3 activation during the task in anterior cingulate, ventral lateral and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices, part of the central executive network. In addition, eLORETA comparison of rest and TM identified higher beta temporal activation during rest and higher theta orbitofrontal activation during TM. Thus, it does not seem accurate to include TM practice with meditations in the category of Focused Attention, which are characterized by gamma EEG and DMN deactivation. Mixing meditations with different procedures into a single study confounds exploration of meditation effects and confounds application of meditation practices to different subject populations.
Comment on ‘‘Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-Being”
David W. Orme-Johnson, PhD and Vernon A. Barnes, PhD. Comment on ‘‘Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-Being’’. THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE Volume X, Number X, 201X, pp. 1–4, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (DOI: 10.1089/acm.2016.0273). Conclusion: We have shown that TM is effective in reducing anxiety in populations undergoing clinical treatment, but the results are much more robust when all studies are included. We suggest that future systematic reviews and meta-analyses of psychological variables such as anxiety, depression, and anger further investigate the role of pretreatment levels in inﬂuencing the magnitude of outcomes and consider grouping studies according to pretreatment levels. We also suggest that future reviews of behavioral interventions on psychological.
The Effect of Coherent Collective Consciousness on National Quality of Life and Economic Performance Indicators—An Analysis of the IMD Index of National Competitive Advantage
Guy Hatchard, Kenneth Cavanaugh. The Effect of Coherent Collective Consciousness on National Quality of Life and Economic Performance Indicators—An Analysis of the IMD Index of National Competitive Advantage. Journal of Health and Environmental Research. Special Issue: Maharishi Vedic Science: Creating a Sustainable Future. Vol. 3, No. 3-1, 2017, pp. 16-31 (doi: 10.11648/j.jher.s.2017030301.12).The scores of New Zealand and Norway on the IMD Index of National Competitive Advantage increased significantly when they passed the predicted coherence group threshold in 1993 (1% of a population practicing the Transcendental Meditation program or the √1% practicing the advanced TM-Sidhi program in a group) when compared to 44 other developed nations as shown by cross-country panel regression analysis robust to serially correlated errors, heteroskedasticity, and contemporaneous correlation of residuals (p < 0.000000000000003). Subsidiary analysis and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data confirmed that the changes were unusually broad-based (p <.000000065), sustained, and balanced in nature with five years of high growth, low unemployment, and low inflation. Taken as a whole, the findings suggest a prescription for balanced and sustained growth based on a method to enhance quality of life and innovation among the population.
EEG microstates during different phases of Transcendental Meditation practice
Pascal L. Faber, Frederick Travis, Patricia Milz, Niyazi Parim. EEG microstates during different phases of Transcendental Meditation practice. Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017.Two phases of Transcendental Meditation (TM)—transcending and undirected mentation—were compared to each other and to task-free resting using multichannel EEG recorded from 20 TM practitioners. An EEG microstate analysis identiﬁed four classes of microstates which were labeled A, B, C and D, based on their similarity to previously published classes. For each class of microstates, mean duration, coverage and occurrence were computed. Resting and transcending differed from undirected mentation with decreased prominence of Class A and increased prominence of Class D microstates. In addition, transcending showed decreased prominence of Class C microstates compared to undirected mentation. Based on previous ﬁndings on the functional signiﬁcance of the microstate classes, the results indicate an increased reference to reality and decreased visualization during resting and transcending compared to undirected mentation. Also, our results indicate decreased saliency of internally generated mentations during transcending compared to undirected mentation reﬂecting a more detached and less evaluative processing. It is proposed that the continuous cycling through these two phases of meditation.
The Contribution of Proposed Field Effects of Consciousness to the Prevention of US Accidental Fatalities
Kenneth L. Cavanaugh and Michael C. Dillbeck. The Contribution of Proposed Field Effects of Consciousness to the Prevention of US Accidental Fatalities. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 24, No. 1–2, 2017, pp. 53–86. This research tests the hypothesis that practice of a subjective procedure, the Transcendental Meditation (TM) and TMSidhi programmed by a group of a theoretically predicted size would be sufficient to increase conscious alertness in the larger population, as measured by reduced rates of motor vehicle fatalities and fatalities due to other accidents. Monthly data for 2002–2010 from a prospective quasi-experiment was analyzed using intervention analysis to test for decreased trends in accident rates during the intervention period 2007–2010. Controlling for pre-intervention trends, seasonality, and autocorrelation, significant shifts in trend, at the predicted time and in the predicted direction, were evident in both series. These trend shifts indicated an average annual decline of 5.24% in motor vehicle fatalities controlling for vehicle miles travelled, and 3.38% in other accidental fatalities. The mechanism for these collective effects, apparently independent of behavioral interaction, is discussed in light of possible alternative hypotheses.
DISASTER RELIEF FOR THE JAPANESE EARTHQUAKE–TSUNAMI OF 2011: STRESS REDUCTION THROUGH THE TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION TECHNIQUE.
MITSUNOBU YOSHIMURA AND ETSUKO KUROKAWA, TAKAYUKI NODA, YASUO TANAKA, KOJI HINENO, YUJI KAWAI, MICHAEL C. DILLBECK. DISASTER RELIEF FOR THE JAPANESE EARTHQUAKE–TSUNAMI OF 2011: STRESS REDUCTION THROUGH THE TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION TECHNIQUE. Psychological Reports: Mental & Physical Health 2015, 117, 1, 1-11, © Psychological Reports 2015. This study examined changes in self-reported stress symptoms after instruction in the Transcendental Meditation® technique among 171 residents of two cities (Sendai and Ishinomaki) directly aﬀected by the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster compared with 326 non-disaster Tokyo participants previously tested before and after learning the technique and a no-treatment control group ( n = 68). The participants completed a rating checklist of mental and physical symptoms. Disaster area participants who learned the Transcendental Meditation® technique in contrast to controls showed a signiﬁcant drop in total symptom score from pre-test to post-test (eﬀect size = −1.09). Results were comparable for an ordinal measure of symptom intensity. The ﬁndings suggest the potential value of this procedure for relief from disaster trauma.
Practicing Transcendental Meditation in High Schools: Relationship to Well-being and Academic Achievement Among Students
Staci Wendt & Jerry Hipps & Allan Abrams & Jamie Grant & Laurent Valosek & Sanford Nidich. Practicing Transcendental Meditation in High Schools: Relationship to Well-being and Academic Achievement Among Students. California Association of School Psychologists 2015, Published Online 22 July 2015. The Quiet Time program provides a 15-min period at the beginning and end of the school day where students may practice Transcendental Meditation (TM) or another quiet activity such as reading silently to oneself. This study examined the impact of participating in Quiet Time on ninth-grade students (n=141) by comparing their outcomes to those of a group of ninth-grade students (n=53) attending a school that did not participate in Quiet Time. Students in both groups completed an assessment battery in early October 2012, shortly after which treatment students learned TM, and again in May 2013. Analysis of covariance was used to analyze the differences between the treatment and comparison groups. Results indicated that students who participated in Quiet Time scored significantly lower on anxiety (p<0.05) and higher on resilience (p<0.05) at follow-up than comparison group students. Within the treatment group, students who spent more time meditating also had higher resilience scores and higher instruction time. After participating in Quiet Time, students self-reported increases in their sleep, happiness, and self-confidence.
The mental health and emotional well-being of young people is of concern worldwide (Blancoetal.2008; Goreetal.2011). Psychological distress, generally characterized by symptoms of anxiety, depression, and anger or hostility, has been linked to poor social functioning and day-to-day living (Bayram and Bilgel 2008), risky behaviors, and physical illness in students (Adams et al. 2008). Further, psychological distress has been identified as a precursor to more serious mental health disorders (Kessler et al. 2007). Students globally report significant levels of psychological distress (Dyrbye et al. 2006; Verger et al. 2009). A large body of research has shown that stress compromises cognitive functioning, behavior, and emotional and physical well-being (Kutash and Schlesinger 1980) and negatively impacts student learning. It has been found that in addition to community environmental and social stressors, school experiences can also be stressful (Lowry et al. 1999). The fields of cognitive and behavioral neuroscience have clearly delineated the impact of brain functioning on thinking, emotion, and behavior (Laird et al. 2009). Research conducted over the past 40 years has demonstrated that the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique, because of its effects on improving physiological functioning, has wide-ranging benefits. These include improved health (Paul-Labrador et al. 2006), decreased psychological distress (negative emotions) (Eppley et al. 1989; Nidich et al. 2009), increased social and emotional learning competencies, enhanced self-actualizing abilities (Alexander et al. 1991), increased intelligence and creativity (So and Orme Johnson 2001), reduced substance abuse (Alexander and Rainforth 1994), and greater work productivity (Frew 1974). A program with the ability to significantly reduce stress and promote healthy brain functioning has important relevance to education, both as a means to achieve schools’ primary aim of promoting learning and schools’ more general aim of promoting healthy human development. Initial research findings on TM for students have been very positive at multiple school levels. Research conducted at the secondary school level found significant reductions in psychological distress, including anxiety in students practicing the TM program compared to controls (Elder et al. 2014). At the middle school level, meditating students scored significantly higher than control students on the California Standards Tests (CSTs) in several content areas (Nidich et al. 2011). Other school research on the TM program has indicated higher graduation rates and lower school dropout rates (Colbert and Nidich 2013), reduced negative school behavior (Barnes et al. 2003), and improved physical health (Barnes et al. 2004). At the college level, a randomized controlled study found significant reductions in students’ mood disturbance, anxiety, and depression and increases in emotional and behavioral coping ability for students practicing TM compared to students who were not using TM (Nidich etal. 2009). Finally, are centmeta-analysis (Orme-Johnson and Barnes 2013)indicated TM’s positive effects on anxiety. One program that is aimed at reducing stress and promoting healthy brain functioning is the Quiet Time program (https://www.davidlynchfoundation.org/schools.html). The Quiet Time program includes a twice-daily 15-min period where students engage in quiet activities, such as sustained silent reading or TM. The purpose of Quiet Time is to reduce stress, enhance health and well-being, and increase readiness to learn. Although not all students participate in TM during Quiet Time, all students are given the option of practicing TM during this time. The Quiet Time program offers TM because of the extensive body of research documenting the effectiveness of TM for reducing stress and improving mental health (Walton et al. 2004) and for positively impacting brain functioning by promoting higher frontal electroencephalographic (EEG) coherence and brain integration (e.g., Dillbeck et al. 1981; Travis 2002). TM has also been shown to increase executive functioning (e.g., Dillbeck 1982; Travis et al. 2011). The rationale underlying the Quiet Time program recognizes that student learning and behavior and teacher and administrator ability to teach and lead can be improved by enhancing neurophysiological functioning. With the objective of decreasing psychological distress in students and improving student mental health outcomes, the Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education (CWAE) partnered with a large urban west coast school district to implement the Quiet Time program in several of the district’s middle and high schools. The current research builds on the school district’s experience with the Quiet Time program by examining its efficacy with high school students. In the current study, the psychological and academic outcomes for a group of students who practiced TM in Quiet Time at one high school were compared to the outcomes of students attending a demographically similar high school in the same school district that had yet to implement the program.
Time perception, mindfulness and attentional capacities in transcendental meditators and matched controls
Schötz, E., et al., Time perception, mindfulness and attentional capacities in transcendental meditators and matched controls, Personality and Individual Differences (2015), (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2015.10.023). Only a few studies have investigated the sense of time in experienced meditators. In the current case–control study, we investigated whether 20 practitioners in transcendental meditation (TM) showed differences in the perception of time as compared to20 matched controls. Perception of time was assessed with a battery of psychophysical tasks including duration reproduction and time estimation tasks in the milliseconds-to-minutes range as well as with psychometric instruments related to subjective time and assessments concerning the subjective passage of time. Attentional capacities were measured with the Attention Network Test. Trait mindfulness was assessed with the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory. Results indicate that the TM meditators performed more consistently in the duration reproduction tasks in the multiple seconds’ range and responded more accurately in the time estimation tasks in the minutes’ range as well as in the duration discrimination task than controls. Self-rated mindfulness was more pronounced in meditators, while attentional capacities did not differ. In conclusion, experts in TM performed more accurately in psychophysical time perception tasks and had higher mindfulness than non-meditating controls. Whether these differences are causally related to the practice of meditation should be investigated in future studies.
Travis F. Brain functioning as the ground for spiritual experiences and ethical behavior. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin 2009 78(5):26-32 The author contends that brain functioning is fundamental to both spiritual experiences and the complex decisions that law enforcement officers must make every day. In addition, he explores how spiritual experiences can reverse the negative impact of noxious ones on brain functioning and enhance individual well-being.
Travis F. Comparison of coherence, amplitude, and eLORETA patterns during transcendental meditation and TM-Sidhi practice. International Journal of Psychophysiology 2011 81(3):198-202 This random-assignment study compared coherence, amplitude, and eLORETA patterns during practice of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) and the TM-Sidhi programs. The TM technique involves systematic transcending of contents of experience to a state of pure consciousness. The TM-Sidhi program involves sanyama—the simultaneous experience of dhārānā (fixity), dhyāna (transcending) and samādhi (pure consciousness). Thirty-two channel EEG was recorded from experienced TM subjects randomly assigned to two consecutive 10-min TM sessions or to a 10-min TM session followed by 10-min TM-Sidhi practice. Compared to TM practice, TM-Sidhi practice was characterized by higher frontal alpha1 and beta1 amplitudes, and eLORETA-identified sources of alpha1 EEG in right- hemisphere object recognition areas including the right parahippocampus gyrus, right fusiform gyrus, lingual gyrus, and inferior and medial temporal cortices. These cortical areas are involved in specific/holistic representation of words. The observed brain patterns support the descriptions of sanyama as including both specificity (sutras or verses), as suggested by higher frontal beta1 EEG amplitude and by eLORETA sources in right-hemisphere object- recognition areas, and holistic experience (pure consciousness) as suggested by higher frontal alpha1 EEG amplitude. These EEG patterns fit the complex description of sanyama.
Travis FT, Brown S. My brain made me do it: brain maturation and levels of self-development. In AH Pfaffenberger, PW Marko, T Greening (eds), The Postconventional Personality: Perspectives on Higher Development. (pp. 23-38) New York: SUNY Press, 2011 Research at the Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition has focused on investigating brain patterns of higher states of consciousness in meditating individuals. These experiences are suggestive of the fourth tier of human development, as defined in Cook-Greuter’s (2000) full-spectrum model of development. Her model comprises the three tiers investigated in life-span development and quantified by Loevinger’s Sentence Completion Test (SCT)-pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional and a fourth tier that is post-representational. Pre-conventional and conventional tiers include development from infancy to adulthood. At the post-conventional tier, individuals question norms and assumptions; they are aware of interpretation as an inevitable aspect of all meaning-making. They consider networks of interacting variables and multiple points of view. Post-representational stages are post-symbolic, non-discursive, and involve ego transcendence. Post-representational experiences can be considered to be higher than post-conventional in that they (a) are at least as far beyond conceptual or representational thought as symbolic representation is beyond the sensorimotor domain; (b) require major neurophysiological maturation; (c) resolve the fundamental and epistemological constraint that the reflective knower cannot know himself or herself; (d) not only are nonrepresentational but post-representational; and (e) are functionally higher-more adaptive and stable, more equilibrated, and characterized by more veridical perception (Alexander et al., 1990). Although Western culture prizes linear, discursive, rational thought, meditation traditions from the East-the Vedic tradition of India (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, 1969, hereafter referred to as Maharishi), and the Buddhist traditions of Tibet (Zelazo, Moscovitch, & Thompson, 2007), China (Austin, 2006), and Japan (Shear, 2006)-provide systematic meditation procedures that lead to post-representational experiences. For instance, in the Buddhist tradition, a meditative state is described as simple awareness without active focus or discursive thought (Lutz, Dunne, & Davidson, 2007); and in the Vedic tradition, an experience during practice of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique occurs that is called pure consciousness-where consciousness is open to itself (Maharishi, 1999). Pure consciousness is beyond the division of subject and object. It is completely differentiated from all active levels of mind, including the individual ego, and is described as the absence of time, space, and body sense with an expanded sense of self-awareness (Maharishi, 1969; Travis & Pearson, 2000). These postsymbolic experiences are direct modes of experience in which knower and known merge, and the personal self-sense is transcended.
Nidich S, Mjasiri S, Nidich R, Rainforth M, Grant J, Valosek L, Chang W, Zigler RL. Academic achievement and Transcendental Meditation: a study with at-risk urban middle school students.
Education 2011 131(3):556-564 The Transcendental Meditation program was practiced at school twice a day as part of the school’s Quiet Time program for 3 months prior to post-testing. Results indicated improvement for meditating students as 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). Retrieved from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3673/is_3_131/ai_n57274904/?tag=mantle_skin;conten
Mason LI, Orme-Johnson DW. Transcendental consciousness wakes up in dreaming and deep sleep.
International Journal of Dream Research 2010 3(1):28-32 Researchers present evidence in support of a model of consciousness that includes lucid dreaming, witnessing/transcendental consciousness during dreaming and witnessing/transcendental consciousness during deep sleep. Due to the potential for confusion between subjective reports of lucid dreaming and witnessing dreaming or witnessing sleep the authors suggest researchers screen for them all. The authors review electrophysiological findings in the night sleep of subjects reporting a peaceful inner awareness- witnessing/transcendental consciousness during dreaming and deep sleep and the implications for lucid dreaming research. Findings included EEG tracings of theta alpha (7-9 Hz) simultaneously with delta during deep sleep stages 3 and 4, decreased chin EMG, and highly significant increased theta2 and alpha1 relative power during stage 3 and 4 sleep as compared to controls. The authors discuss alpha synchrony during witnessing deep sleep and gamma during lucid dreaming. Maharishi’s (1969) model predicts that experiences of transcendental consciousness will occur in meditation (referring specifically to Transcendental Meditation), also during waking activity, later during dreaming and finally even during the inertia of deep sleep. In this model one method of increasing and stabilizing experiences of transcendental consciousness is through habituation processes, from alternating regular meditation with regular waking activity as well as having adequate rest at night. According to this model when transcendental consciousness is experienced continuously especially during deep sleep then a new so called higher state of consciousness has been achieved.
Travis FT, Haaga DH, Hagelin JS, Tanner M, Arenander A, Nidich S, Gaylord-King C, Grosswald S, Rainforth M, Schneider RH. A self-referential default brain state: patterns of coherence, power, and eLORETA sources during eyes-closed rest and the Transcendental Meditation practice. Cognitive Processing 2010 11(1):21-30 In this random assignment study, patterns of alpha1 power, coherence, and eLORETA distinguished TM practice from eyes-closed rest. The areas of alpha1 activation during the TM practice overlapped areas in the default mode network, suggesting a relation between TM experiences, self-referential experiences and intrinsic default modes of brain function. The subjective experiences during Transcendental Meditation practice may be as foundational to the eyes-closed resting default state, as eyes-closed rest is to normal task-oriented cognitive activity. Activation of a default mode network (DMN) including frontal and parietal midline structures varies with cognitive load, being more active during low-load tasks and less active during high-load tasks requiring executive control. Meditation practices entail various degrees of cognitive control. Thus, DMN activation patterns could give insight into the nature of meditation practices. This 10-week random assignment study compared theta2, alpha1, alpha2, beta1, beta2 and gamma EEG coherence, power, and eLORETA cortical sources during eyes-closed rest and Transcendental Meditation (TM) practice in 38 male and female college students, average age 23.7 years. Significant brainwave differences were seen between groups. Compared to eyes-closed rest, TM practice led to higher alpha1 frontal log-power, and lower beta1 and gamma frontal and parietal log-power; higher frontal and parietal alpha1 inter-hemispheric coherence and higher frontal and frontal-central beta2 intra-hemispheric coherence. eLORETA analysis identified sources of alpha1 activity in midline cortical regions that overlapped with the DMN. Greater activation in areas that overlap the DMN during TM practice suggests that meditation practice may lead to a foundational or ‘ground’ state of cerebral functioning that may underlie eyes-closed rest and more focused cognitive processes.
Travis FT. Relationship between meditation practice and transcendent states of consciousness.
Biofeedback 2009 Research demonstrates that transcendental experiences during the Transcendental Meditation technique are characterized by distinct subjective and objective patterns. Subjectively, the framework for understanding waking experience— time, space, and body sense— is absent during transcendental experiences. Physiologically, breathe patterns, autonomic patterns, EEG patterns, and patterns of cerebral metabolic rate distinguish transcendental experiences from eyes-closed rest. Transcendental experiences give a broader perspective of life. They foster the development of an inner anchor of self-awareness that allows anyone to better deal with high stress and demanding situations. Developing one’s sense of self is the basis for recovery from mental instability, substance abuse, addictions and criminal behavior.
Harung H, Travis F, Blank W, Heaton D. Higher development, brain integration, and excellence in leadership. Management Decision 2009 47(6):872-894 This paper reviews research linking leadership to a key and previously under explored variable — the level of integration of psycho-physiological functioning or the leader’s degree of self-development. A model of human development is presented, which covers the psychological, physiological, and sociological dimensions of leadership. Three research projects on world-class leaders, including top-level managers, support our hypothesis that leadership ability is closely related to self-development — we found that higher integration of the electrical brain activity, more mature moral reasoning, and more frequent peak experiences characterize the more accomplished performers. The Brain Integration Scale presented here may be a reliable objective instrument for assessing an individual’s leadership and performance capacity. The high frequency of peak experiences and their relationship to top performance make such gratifying inner experiences important for the business community. This research suggests that practical methods for psycho-physiological refinement — such as the widely researched Transcendental Meditation technique — can be useful in developing more effective leadership.
Herriott EN, Schmidt-Wilk J, Heaton DP. Spiritual dimensions of entrepreneurship in Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program practitioners. Journal of Management, Spirituality & Religion 2009 6(3):195-208 A qualitative study explored features of personal development in a group of entrepreneurs who were long-term practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program. Subjects reported that their meditation practice enabled them to cultivate inner experiences, which they described as being anchored to an unshakeable, transcendental inner spiritual core. These entrepreneurs reported that this inner experience led to enhanced intuition and to broad awareness that embraced the wider interests of the community and environment. Findings are discussed with reference to prior scholarship about spirituality in entrepreneurs. This exploratory study contributes to understanding the mechanics through which spiritual values and behaviors might become more fully realized in the workplace.
Travis F, Haaga DA, Hagelin J, Tanner M, Nidich S, Gaylord-King C, Grosswald S, Rainforth M, Schneider RH. Effects of Transcendental Meditation practice on brain functioning and stress reactivity in college students. International Journal of Psychophysiology 2009 71(2):170-176 This randomized controlled trial investigated effects of Transcendental Meditation (TM) practice on Brain Integration Scale scores (broadband frontal coherence, power ratios, and preparatory brain responses), electrodermal habituation to 85-dB tones, sleepiness, heart rate, respiratory sinus arrhythmia, and P300 latencies in 50 college students. After pretest, students were randomly assigned to learn TM immediately or learn after the 10-week posttest. There were no significant pretest group differences. A MANOVA of students with complete data (N=38) yielded significant group vs treatment interactions for Brain Integration Scale scores, sleepiness, and habituation rates (all pb.007). Post hoc analyses revealed significant increases in Brain Integration Scale scores for Immediate-start students but decreases in Delayed-start students; significant reductions in sleepiness in Immediate-start students with no change in Delayed-start students; and no changes in habituation rates in Immediate-start students, but significant increases in Delayed-start students. These data support the value of TM practice for college students. Significant differences in Brain Integration Scale scores, sleepiness, and habituation rates were seen after 10 weeks of Transcendental Meditation practice. Lower sleepiness and faster habituation rates were negatively correlated with higher scores on the Brain Integration Scale. This study reports effects of Transcendental Meditation practice compared to wait-listed controls. This study is the first random assignment study of effects of Transcendental Meditation practice on brain and physiological functioning in college students. These results replicate increases in Brain Integration Scale scores reported in a one-year longitudinal study using participants as their own controls (Travis and Arenander, 2006), and in a six-month longitudinal study comparing students practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique to matched controls (Travis, 2002). These two earlier studies tested students at Maharishi University of Management, where twice-daily meditation practice is part of the curriculum. The current random-assignment study extends these findings to include effects of Transcendental Meditation practice in meditating students following a more typical college curriculum. The variables that changed significantly are functionally related. The Brain Integration Scale includes broadband frontal coherence. Prefrontal executive areas control electrodermal habituation (Hugdahl, 1998; Critchley et al., 2000). The efficient physiology responds initially to any novel stimulus, but then stops responding, once the stimulus has been recognized as being non-threatening. The posttest was recorded one week before the end of the term. It was a time of high pressure and stress for the students. While the Delayed-start participants showed the expected increased in sympathetic reactivity under high stress, the sympathetic reactivity of the meditating students remained low. Transcendental Meditation practice seemed to buffer effects of the high stress of finals’ week. This replicates findings of faster habituation rates and also faster recovery from stressful stimuli in TM participants (Orme-Johnson, 1973), and fMRI findings of lower thalamic and lower total brain activation during a temperature stress in long-term TM participants (Orme-Johnson et al., 2006). Prefrontal cortices also guide timing and magnitude of brain preparatory responses (Gomez et al., 2007). Higher preparatory responses during simple trials reflect efficient use of resources— participants knew the correct response after the first stimulus, and so could begin preparatory processes. In contrast, during the choice trials, participants did not know the correct response after the first stimulus and so should remain balanced. The control group had higher preparatory responses during the choice trials, which did not indicate efficient use of brain resources.
Tanner MA, Travis F, Gaylord-King C, Haaga DAF, Grosswald S, Schneider RH. The effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on mindfulness. Journal of Clinical Psychology 2009 65(6):574-589 Mindfulness is associated with low levels of neuroticism, anxiety, and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of self-esteem and satisfaction with life (Brown & Ryan, 2003). As part of a 3-month randomized wait list controlled trial of the effects of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program on university students (N5295), we examined the impact of TM practice on mindfulness as measured by the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS; Baer, Smith, & Allen, 2004). A repeated measures ANOVA on total KIMS scores showed a significant time treatment interaction, with the TM participants reporting greater increases in mindfulness than the wait list participants. All KIMS sub-scales were positively intercorrelated at pretreatment, and there were no differences over time or as a function of treatment condition in sub-scale intercorrelations. Therefore, previously published findings of a positive correlation between subscales measuring the skills of observing and accepting without judgment one’s inner experiences only among those with meditation experience may have reflected a self-selection effect rather than a change in the relation of these mindfulness components resulting directly from meditation practice. Despite its limitations, we believe that the research reported in this article makes two meaningful contributions. First, it appears that the interrelations among mindfulness components differ for meditators and non-meditators, but this may be a function of interest in meditation rather than a result of the practice itself. Second, the TM program can lead to increased mindfulness.
Grosswald SJ, Stixrud WR, Travis F, Bateh MA. Use of the Transcendental Meditation technique to reduce symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by reducing stress and anxiety: an exploratory study. Current Issues in Education [On-line] 2008 10(2). Medication for ADHD can improve the symptomatology of the disorder for some children, or be marginally or not effective for others; and it can cause life threatening complications. Even for those children who have improvement in symptoms, the improvement is often insufficient. Additionally, it can be hard to obtain consistent drug action throughout the day and into the evening for homework. Importantly, medication does not treat the underlying pathophysiology. The Transcendental Meditation technique is an easily learned and practiced technique. This research suggests that the technique has potential to improve attention, behavior regulation, and executive function by naturally reducing stress and anxiety and improving brain functioning.
Rosaen C, Benn R. The experience of Transcendental Meditation in middle school students: a qualitative report. Explore 2006 2:422-425
Travis FT. From I to I: concepts of Self on an object-referral/ self-referral continuum. In AP Prescott (ed.), The Concept of Self in Psychology. New York: Nova Publishing, 2006 Concepts of self in the 100-year history of psychology can be placed along an object-referral/self-referral continuum. For instance, William James’s self-as-known, or “me,” is more object-referral and his self-as-knower, or “I,” is more self-referral. Current neural imaging studies have investigated 3rd person-perspectives of self (object-referral) and 1st person-perspectives of self (self-referral). The object-referral/self-referral continuum is based on analysis of individuals practicing the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique. This meditation technique from the Vedic tradition of India takes the attention from surface perception and thinking, to more abstract levels of thought, to a level of pure self-awareness at the source of thought. Our research has yielded subjective and objective markers of the experience of pure self-awareness or content-free self-awareness. Subjectively, pure self-awareness is characterized by the absence of time, space and body sense. Time, space and body-sense are the framework for waking experiences. During the experience of pure self-awareness, this framework that gives meaning to waking consciousness is absent. Objectively, pure self-awareness is characterized by spontaneous periods, 10-40 sec long, of slow inhalation along with heightened brain wave coherence. These data support the Vedic descriptions of pure self-awareness as “the fourth”—a state of consciousness in addition to waking, dreaming and sleeping. Our research has also yielded subjective and objective characteristics of the permanent integration of pure self-awareness with customary experiences during waking, dreaming, and sleeping. This state has been traditionally called enlightenment. A content analysis of inner experiences of these subjects and two comparison groups has yielded descriptions of the ends of this object-referral/self-referral continuum. On the object-referral end, individuals described themselves in terms of cognitive and behavioral processes. They exhibited lower values of the consciousness factor, lower frontal EEG coherence during tasks, lower alpha and higher gamma power during tasks, and less efficient cortical preparatory. In contrast, individuals reporting the experience of enlightenment described themselves as an abstract continuum underlying thought, feeling and action— self-referral descriptions. The experience of self-awareness has been written with a capital “S”—Self— to differentiate from more active experiences. These subjects exhibited higher values of the consciousness factor, higher frontal coherence, higher alpha and lower gamma power during tasks, and heightened cortical response to tasks. This object-referral/self-referral continuum describes the progressive de-embedding of the Self from the machinery of perception, thought, and behavior. In the coming century, psychology should take advantage of meditation technologies—technologies of consciousness—to explore more expanded experiences of Self to understand who we are and what it means to be fully human.
Yamamoto S, Kitamura Y, Yamada N, Nakashima Y, Kuroda S. Medial prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex in the generation of alpha activity induced by Transcendental Meditation: a magnetoencephalographic study. Acta Medica Okayama 2006 60(1):51-58 Previous EEG studies have shown that transcendental meditation (TM) increases frontal and central alpha activity. The present study was aimed at identifying the source of this alpha activity using magnetoencephalography (MEG) and electroencephalography (EEG) simultaneously on eight TM practitioners before, during, and after TM. The magnetic field potentials corresponding to TM-induced alpha activities on EEG recordings were extracted, and we attempted to localize the dipole sources using the multiple signal classification (MUSIC) algorithm, equivalent current dipole source analysis, and the multiple spatio-temporal dipole model. Since the dipoles were mapped to both the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), it is suggested that the mPFC and ACC play an important role in brain activity induced by TM.
Chandler HM, Alexander CN, Heaton DP, Grant J. Transcendental Meditation and post-conventional self-development: a 10-year longitudinal study. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 2005 17(1):93-122 This study explored the effects of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique on self-development as measured by Loevinger’s Washington University Sentence Completion Test of ego development, McAdam’s measure of intimacy motivation and Rest’s measure of principled moral reasoning. Ten-year longitudinal data indicated that TM participants increased markedly in ego development in contrast to three control groups matched for gender and age over the same time period (N=136, p<.0001). At posttest 38% (N=34) scored at or beyond the Autonomous level, versus 1% of controls (p=<.0001). TM participants also increased to very high levels of moral reasoning (p=.002) and intimacy (p=.02). The findings suggest that post-conventional development is stimulated by systematically transcending representational thought to experience pure consciousness.
Warner TQ. Awareness and cognition: the role of awareness training in child development. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 2005 17(1):47-64 This study examined the role of awareness in cognition and the impact of training awareness. Two groups of children ages 5 to 11 were studied (N=126). One group received training in the form of either the Transcendental Meditation technique or the Word of Wisdom technique, a related technique for children under ten years of age (N=60). The main variable were two mental capacities defined in terms of awareness. Working Memory and Attention, and Cognitive Competence, defined in terms of Piaget’s conservation tasks. Working Memory and Attention are two capacities acknowledge to be fundamental to human thinking. The importance of this study’s findings cannot be overstated when we examine them in the light of two developmental phenomena. One development between the ages of 5 and 10 is normally very rapid, as seen for example in conservation performance. Two all attempts to facilitate cognitive growth consist of lengthy and elaborate intervention procedures such as conservation training and educational enrichment programs. This study indicates that the already rapid cognitive development can be further enhanced through simple procedures that take only a few minutes twice a day. This is an astounding finding, even if we consider only the most researched variable, the verbal IQ where age was partialed out (p=<.0001).
Alexander CN, Kurth SC, Travis F, Alexander VK. Effect of practice of the children’s Transcendental Meditation technique on cognitive stage development: acquisition and consolidation of conservation.
Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 2005 17(1):21-46 The results of this study on cognitive stage development in children practicing the Maharishi Word of Wisdom technique are striking. These findings suggest that practice of the Word of Wisdom technique may accelerate the rate of acquisition and especially consolidation of conservation in childhood. The transition period in the mastery of consolidation of conservation – horizontal decalage – was substantially reduced in these children. The results of this study clearly indicate that children’s practice of the Word of Wisdom technique is positively related to performance on a series of cognitive development tasks measuring conservation. All three experimental hypotheses were supported. First, the children practicing the Word of Wisdom technique, appeared to begin acquisition of conservations skills at an earlier age than controls. Second, a significantly greater proportion of the Word of Wisdom group exhibited full consolidation of conservation, as indicated by complete mastery of the conservation series. Finally, significantly fewer of the Word of Wisdom children displayed horizontal decalage as indicated by a transitional score on the conservation series. The performance of the children practicing the Word of Wisdom technique suggests phase transitions between stages rather than prolonged temporal displacement. A striking implication of this accelerated consolidation finding is that optimization of the natural growth process in childhood through the practice of the World of Wisdom technique may result in a substantial foreshortening, and in some cases, possible elimination of the developmental “irregularity” of horizontal decalage. Given that virtually all of the children who were practicing the Word of Wisdom technique were fully conserving by age 5.08 years and that complete conservation does not typically occur until 11 or 12 years of age, the strongest possible interpretation of these data would suggest that practice of the Word of Wisdom technique may accelerate consolidation of conservation by as much as 5 to 7 years in comparison to the larger population. This cross sectional study examined cognitive stage development in 47 children practicing the Word of Wisdom technique and in 47 matched controls.
Nidich SI, Schneider RH, Nidich RJ, Foster G, Sharma H, Salerno J, Goodman R, Alexander CN. Effect of the Transcendental Meditation program on intellectual development in community-dwelling older adults. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 2005 17(1):217-226 This study examined whether practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique can have a beneficial effect on the intellectual development of elderly adults. Participants (N=41) were 18 older adults who were long time practitioners of the TM program and 23 non-meditating controls, between the ages of 60 and 74. Findings indicate that those practicing the TM technique exhibited significantly higher levels of fluid reasoning, verbal intelligence, long term memory and speed of processing than controls. Further analysis showed significant correlations with lipid peroxide level for both reasoning ability and memory, suggesting a possible link between cognitive functioning and free radical activity in the elderly.
Dixon C, Dillbeck MC, Travis F, Msemaje H, Clayborne BM, Dillbeck SL, Alexander CN. Accelerating cognitive and self development: longitudinal studies with preschool and elementary school children.
Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 2005 17(1):65-91 This study suggests that the Word of Wisdom technique and the Transcendental Meditation technique positively impacts general intellectual performance, psychological differentiation, analytical ability and self-concept in 4-11 year olds. Practice of these techniques appears to enhance the natural development consolidation of the child’s awareness at a deeper level of mental functioning – the thinking level versus the level of perception.
Travis FT, Munly K, Olsen T, Sorflaten J. The significance of Transcendental Consciousness for addressing the ‘hard’ problem of consciousness. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 2005 17(1):123-135 This paper considers the implication of experiences during practice of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique on the so called “hard” problem of consciousness: Why perceptual and cognitive functions are accompanied by (inner) conscious experience. TM practice leads to the experience of self-referral awareness – silent pure consciousness without customary processing and content. Pure consciousness is described as silent, unbounded and by the absence of time, space and body sense. Physiologically this experience is associated with high EEG coherence, breath quiescence, autonomic orienting, and increases in the frequency of peak EEG power. Pure consciousness may be a foundational state that adds the quality of “conscious” to experience when it combines, through the “beam” of attention, with perceptual, cognitive and affective processes.
Nidich RJ, Nidich SI, Alexander CN. Moral development and natural law. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 2005 17:137-149 This paper describes Lawrence Kohlberg’s Stage 7, a cosmic perspective stage of moral development, and the natural law theories of Spinoza and others which influenced Kohlberg’s work. Solutions to what Kohlberg calls Stage 7 questions are only resolved when oneself and the universe are experienced as one fundamental wholeness. It clarifies and extends Kohlberg’s work through a consideration of Maharishi’s Vedic Science. This theory underscores the importance of the direct experience of the Self, the home of all the laws of nature, through the application of Maharishi’s Vedic Technologies of Consciousness. Research is presented that shows that the direct experience of the Self-Transcendental Consciousness-as indicated by high EEG coherence is associated with Stage 7 moral thinking. Maharishi’s Vedic Science delineates in specific detail the sequential, experiential development of higher states of consciousness, which culminates in a fully unified cosmic perspective at the level of Unity Consciousness. The research cited in this paper indicates that there are neurophysiological correlates to the experience of higher states of consciousness and to Kohlberg’s Stage 7 moral development stage. These studies along with the reported experiences of higher states of consciousness described in this paper, indicate that one can have direct experience of these levels of life, which are associated with higher EEG brainwave coherence.
Schmidt-Wilk J, Orme-Johnson DW, Alexander V, Schneider RH (eds). Maharishi’s Vedic psychology and its applications: honoring the life work of Charles N Alexander PhD. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 2005 17(1)1-620 2005 Applications of Maharishi Vedic Science to: Developmental Psychology; Health and Aging; Business Management; Collective Consciousness and Peace Studies; Public Policy, including Reducing Health Care Costs, Fulfilling Criminal Justice System Rehabilitative Ideal ; and new health-related applications including, Maharishi Sthapatya Veda, Maharishi Rejuvenation Program and Maharishi Gandharva Veda Music
Travis FT, Arenander A, DuBois D. Psychological and physiological characteristics of a proposed object-referral/self-referral continuum of self-awareness. Consciousness and Cognition 2004 13(2):401-420 This research extends and confirms recent brainwave findings that distinguished an individuals sense-of- self along an Object-referral/Self-referral Continuum of self-awareness. Subjects were interviewed and were given tests measuring inner/outer orientation, moral reasoning, anxiety, and personality. Scores on the psychological tests were factor analyzed. The first unrotated PCA (Principle Component Analysis) component of the test scores yielded a ‘‘Consciousness Factor,’’ analogous to the intelligence ‘‘g’’ factor, which accounted for over half of the variance among groups. Analysis of unstructured interviews of these subjects revealed fundamentally different descriptions of self-awareness. Individuals who described themselves in terms of concrete cognitive and behavioral processes (predominantly Object-referral mode) exhibited lower Consciousness Factor scores, lower frontal EEG coherence, lower alpha and higher gamma power during tasks, and less efficient cortical preparatory responses (contingent negative variation). In contrast, individuals who described themselves in terms of an abstract, independent sense-of-self underlying thought, feeling and action (predominantly Self-referral mode) exhibited higher Consciousness Factor scores, higher frontal coherence, higher alpha and lower gamma power during tasks, and more efficient cortical responses. These data suggest that definable states of brain activity and subjective experiences exist, in addition to waking, sleeping and dreaming, that may be operationally defined by psychological and physiological measures along a continuum of Object-referral/Self-referral Continuum of self-awareness. Non-TM Group: Self is identified with thoughts, feelings and actions; Short-term practitioners of the TM technique: Self is the director of thoughts, feelings, and actions; Long-term practitioners of the TM technique reporting pure consciousness underlying waking, dreaming and sleeping: Self is independent of and underlying thoughts, feelings and actions
Schmidt-Wilk J. TQM and the Transcendental Meditation program in a Swedish top management team.The TQM Magazine 2003 15(4):219-229 The TQM Magazine 2003 15(4):219-229 Drawing on a case study of a Swedish top management team whose members were practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation1 (TM1) technique, this article argues for developmental maturity as an important causal factor for effective Top Quality Management behaviors and success. It suggests that, the practice of the TM technique promotes the psychological maturation that allows a greater range of appropriate behaviors. Increased maturity permits expression of more effective cognitive, affective, and team behaviors, as indicated by improved team functioning and successful planning.
Sridevi K, Krishna Rao PV. Temporal effects of meditation on cognitive style. Journal of Indian Psychology 2003 21:38-51
Benn R. Transcendental Meditation (TM) and emotional functioning in fifth grade students. Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies 2003 8:480-481 This study examined the effects of Transcendental Meditation (TM) on social-emotional development and academic performance in early adolescence. Meditation was hypothesized to increase positive affect, decrease negative emotions and improve academic performance in middle school students. Forty-four African-American fifth-grade students enrolled in a charter middle school were randomized into two groups. One group of students was instructed in TM and subsequently practiced meditation for 10 minutes, two times a day during the school day with teachers and students in older grades. At the time of school-based meditation, the control group of students remained in their classrooms with their teachers and had assigned free time. Study participants completed self-report survey scales that assessed emotional well-being, emotional intelligence, anxiety and anger at baseline, three, nine and 15 months post-instruction in meditation. Participants’ grades for academic subjects and study habits/behaviors were coded from student records at semester time points that closely paralleled study assessment intervals. Multiple regression models were fitted to each outcome measure, controlling for the main grouping variable (mediation or not) as well as all other covariates of interest (e.g. free and reduced lunch, gender). For the 15-month academic measures, a linear regression model with normal error was used, and for non-academic measures, a repeated measures regression model with normal error was employed with an exchangeable correlation structure.
Travis FT, Tecce J, Arenander A, Wallace RK. Patterns of EEG coherence, power and contingent negative variation characterize the integration of transcendental and waking states. Biological Psychology 2002 61(3):293-319 Long-term meditating subjects report that transcendental experiences (TE), which first occurred during their Transcendental Meditation (TM) practice, now subjectively co-exist with waking and sleeping states. To investigate neurophysiological correlates of this integrated state, we recorded EEG in these subjects and in two comparison groups during simple and choice contingent negative variation (CNV) tasks. In individuals reporting the integration of the transcendent with waking and sleeping, CNV was higher in simple but lower in choice trials, and 6-12 Hz EEG amplitude and broadband frontal EEG coherence were higher during choice trials. Increased EEG amplitude and coherence, characteristic of TM practice, appeared to become a stable EEG trait during CNV tasks in these subjects. These significant EEG differences may underlie the inverse patterns in CNV amplitude seen between groups. An ‘Integration Scale,’ constructed from these cortical measures, may characterize the transformation in brain dynamics corresponding to increasing integration of the transcendent with waking and sleeping. This description of the co-existence of two qualitatively different states*/a silent continuum of inner awareness along with the ‘flurry’ of daily activity*/is consistent with EEG patterns of subjects reporting this integrated experience. For example, when these subjects are asleep, higher alpha EEG amplitude, which is indicative of wakefulness, is observed during Stage three and four delta sleep (Banquet and Sailhan, 1974; Mason et al., 1997). Also, during eyes-open resting, increased alpha EEG coherence is seen in subjects reporting more frequent TE compared with subjects reporting less frequent experiences (Travis, 1991). Thus, self-reports of integration of the transcendent with waking and sleeping states correlate with objective reports of the integration of EEG patterns normally seen during TE in meditation (high frontal alpha EEG power and coherence (Travis, 2001; Wallace, 1970)) with those seen during waking (low voltage, mixed frequency) and sleeping (delta activity). In summary, these data suggest that distinct patterns of EEG coherence, EEG amplitude, and late CNV amplitude are associated with the progressive integration of the transcendent with waking and sleeping states. These results indicate the efficacy of objective measures for characterizing the growth of subjective experiences. The brain-based Integration Scale, resulting from this research, is a preliminary scale. It accounted for 55% of the variance in-group membership.
Travis FT. Autonomic and EEG patterns distinguish transcending from other experiences during Transcendental Meditation practice. International Journal of Psychophysiology 2001 42(1):1-9 This study compared EEG and autonomic patterns during transcending to “other” experiences during Transcendental Meditation (TM) practice. To correlate specific meditation experiences with physiological measures, the experimenter rang a bell three times during the TM session. Subjects categorized their experiences around each bell ring. “Transcending” compared to other experiences during TM practice, was marked by (1) significantly lower breath rates (2) higher respiratory sinus arrhythmia amplitudes (3) higher EEG alpha amplitude and (4) higher alpha coherence. In addition skin conductance responses to the experimenter initiated bell rings were larger during transcending.
Heaton D, Harung HS. Awakening creative intelligence and peak performance: reviving an Asian tradition. Chapter in J Kidd et al. (eds), Human Intelligence Deployment in Asian Business. London: Macmillan, and New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001
So KT, Orme-Johnson DW. Three randomized experiments on the holistic longitudinal effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on cognition. Intelligence 2001 29(5):419-440 Three studies on 362 high school students at three different schools in Taiwan tested the hypothesis that regular practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique for 15-20 minutes twice a day for 6 to 12 months would improve cognitive ability. The same seven variables were used in all studies: Test for Creative Thinking-Drawing Production (TCT-DP); Constructive Thinking Inventory (CTI); Group Embedded Figures Test (GEFT); Univariate testing showed that TM practice produced significant effects on all variables compared to no-treatment controls (Ps ranged from .035 to <.0001). Napping for equivalent periods of time as TM practice had no effect. Contemplation meditation improved inspection time and embedded figures, but not the other variables. The TM technique was superior to contemplation meditation on five variables. The effect sizes for TM practice were in the order of the variables listed above.
Travis FT. Transcendental Meditation technique. In WE Craighead, CB Nemeroff (eds), The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology and Behavioral Science, 3rd edition (pp.1705-1706). New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2001
Description of TM Practice
TM practice is a dynamic process characterized by: (a) movement of attention from the active, surface level of thinking and perception to the more silent and abstract levels of thought; (b) transcendence of the subtlest thinking level to a state of fully awake self-awareness (called Transcendental Consciousness, or Atman, in Sanskrit); and (c) movement of attention back to more active levels (Wallace, 1986). These three phases, which can by physiologically distinguished (Travis & Wallace, 1997), cycle many times in each TM session, and define a state of “restful alertness”—deep rest for the body and increased alertness for the mind. The state of restful alertness releases mental & physical stress.
Transcendental Consciousness is the defining experience of TM practice. Phenomenologically, Transcendental Consciousness is characterized by “silence”, “unboundedness,” and “the absences of time, space, and body-sense” (Travis & Pearson, 200). Transcendental Consciousness is described as a state of self-awareness (subjects are awake during this state and can describe its nature afterward) without customary waking processing and contents.
This description of Transcendental Consciousness is admittedly outside of the usual paradigm of waking experiences. Since William James, the prevailing Western view has been that conscious awareness is always mixed with “mental-instances” in consciousness (Ferrari, 1998)—that is, consciousness is never found without its processes or objects of experiences. However, the experience of Transcendental Consciousness cannot be disregarded simply because it is outside current paradigms. It is a direct experience—not merely a conceptual reality—with defining physiological characteristics: (a) apneustic breathing (slow prolonged inhalation) for 10 to 40 sec (Kesterson & Clinch, 1989); (b) autonomic orienting at the onset of breath changes (Travis & Wallace, 1997); (c) increased EEG coherence; and (d) 1.0 Hz increases in the frequency of peak power (Travis & Wallace, 1997).
These unique subjective and objective markers of Transcendental Consciousness support its description as a fourth major states of consciousness (Maharishi, 1963), in addition to the three commonly experienced states of waking, sleeping, and dreaming. Repeated experience of Transcendental Consciousness, followed by daily activity, leads to the integration of this silent alert state with ongoing waking, sleeping, and dreaming processes, forming a sequential unfolding of three higher states of consciousness (Maharishi, 1963). Initial findings suggest unique EEG patterns (Mason et al., 1997) and unique cortical preparatory response patterns (Travis & Tecce, 1998) in subjects reporting the experience of cosmic consciousness, the first of these three higher states.
Comparison with Other Practices
Some researchers have questioned whether effects produced during TM practice are common to all meditation and relaxation techniques (Holmes, 1984). Using objective quantitative methods, five meta-analyses suggest that TM practice is fundamentally different from other techniques. Compared to eyes-closed rest, other meditation techniques, and relaxation responses, these meta-analyses found that TM practice results in: (a) significantly larger reductions in anxiety (N= 141 studies) (Eppley, Abrams, & Shear, 1989); (b) significantly lower breath rates, skin conductance levels, and plasma lactate levels (N= 31 studies) (Dillbeck & Orme-Johnson, 1987); (c) significantly higher levels of self-actualization (N= 42 studies) (Alexander, Rainforth, & Gelderloos, 1991); (d) significantly greater reductions in the use of illegal drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes (N= 198 studies) (Alexander, Robinson, & Rainforth, 1994); and (e) significantly greater reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure (Barnes, Schneider, Alexander, & Staggers, 1997).
Application to Individual and Society Issues
TM practice has practical benefits for:
Health. In comparison to matched controls, TM subjects (N= 2,000) showed 50% lower inpatient and outpatient medical use over a 5-year period, and lower sickness rates in 17 disease categories, including 87% fewer hospitalizations for heart disease (Orme-Johnson, 1987).
Elderly care. A randomized study with 73 institutionalized elderly people (81 years of age) indicated that practice of the TM technique reduced blood pressure and cognitive decline (over 3 months) and mortality rate (over 15 years) compared to mental relaxation, mindfulness training, or no treatment (Alexander et al., 1996).
Prison rehabilitation. California inmates (N= 259) who learned the TM technique had a 40% decrease in recidivism rate over a 5-year period compared to controls matched on social history and on use of training programs while in prison (Bleick & Abrams, 1987).
Business. A 5-month longitudinal study (N= 800) conducted by the Japanese National Institute of Health found that employees practicing the TM technique showed significant decreases in physical health complaints, anxiety, insomnia, and smoking compared to controls from the same industrial site (Haratani & Henmi, 1990).
Travis FT, Olson T, Egenes T, Gupta HK. Physiological patterns during practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique compared with patterns while reading Sanskrit and a modern language. International Journal of Neuroscience 2001 109(1/2):71-80 This study tested the prediction that reading Vedic Sanskrit texts, without knowledge of their meaning, produces a distinct physiological state. We measured EEG, breath rate, heart rate and skin conductance during: (1) 15-min Transcendental Meditation (TM) practice; (2) 15-min reading verses of the Bhagavad Gita in Sanskrit; and (3) 15-min reading the same verses translated in German, Spanish, or French. The two reading conditions were randomly counterbalanced, and subjects filled out experience forms between each block to reduce carryover effects. Skin conductance levels significantly decreased during both reading Sanskrit and TM practice, and increased slightly during reading a modern language. Alpha power and coherence were significantly higher when reading Sanskrit and during TM practice, compared to reading modern languages. Similar physiological patterns when reading Sanskrit and during practice of the TM technique suggest that the state gained during TM practice may be integrated with active mental processes by reading Sanskrit.
Nidich SI, Nidich RJ, Alexander CN. Moral development and higher states of consciousness. Journal of Adult Development 2000 7(4):217-225 This paper discusses possible relationships between the cognitive–moral development theory of Lawrence Kohlberg and Charles Alexander’s life-span model. Central to Alexander’s model is the role which levels of mind and higher states of consciousness play throughout the general periods of development. Parallel to Kohlberg’s cosmic perspective Stage 7—which goes beyond the representational logic and reasoning identified by Piaget’s highest stage—are the post-representational stages of development, described by Vedic psychology and Alexander’s model as ‘higher states of consciousness’—transcendental consciousness, cosmic consciousness, God consciousness, and unity consciousness. At the highest level of consciousness, unity consciousness, cognitive development becomes complete with the ultimate identity of human intelligence with nature’s intelligence, allowing life to be lived in its greatest fulfillment. Research indicates that EEG brainwave coherence is associated with the development of higher states of consciousness and Kohlberg’s Stage 7. Studies on the Transcendental Meditation (TM) and TM-Sidhi programs as effective technologies for promoting moral development are further discussed.
Schmidt-Wilk J. Consciousness-based management development: case studies of international top management teams. Journal of Transnational Management Development 2000 5(3):61-85 Training in meditation is being introduced into corporations worldwide, yet analyses of programs are rare. Case studies document the experiences of members of three top management teams who learned the Transcendental Meditation® program in corporate-supported programs and suggest a new trend in management development: Consciousness-Based℠ Management Development. This psychophysiological approach, which allows managers to access inner latent capacities, appears to meet criteria described in the literature for an effective management and team development program. The comprehensive changes reported are said to result from unfolding the organizing power of Natural Law in the awareness of the manager.
Orme-Johnson DW. An overview of Charles Alexander’s contribution to psychology: developing higher states of consciousness in the individual and the society. Journal of Adult Development 2000 7(4):199-215 This paper reviews over 80 publications of Charles N. (“Skip”) Alexander. Skip theoretically showed that the four higher states of consciousness described by Maharishi’s Vedic psychology logically extend the developmental sequence delineated by 20th century psychology. His empirical research found that the Transcendental Meditation® technique provides the direct experience of transcendental consciousness (the first higher state, which is the silent basis of the mind) and that this practice accelerates development in children, “unfreezes” development in prison inmates, advances ego development in adults, increases productivity in businesses, decreases blood pressure, increases longevity, effectively treats substance abuse, and reduces prison recidivism. Skip and colleagues were the first to discover the EEG signature of cosmic consciousness (the second higher state), and he showed that developmental advances in individuals impact the larger society via a common field of collective consciousness, including decreasing armed conflicts and improving the quality of life.
Schmidt-Wilk J, Heaton DP, Steingard D. Higher education for higher consciousness: Maharishi University of Management as a model for spirituality in management education. Journal of Management Education 2000 25(5):580-611 The system of education at Maharishi University of Management (MUM) provides a model for management educators seeking to understand and teach spirituality. It locates transcendental consciousness—“pure spirituality”—at the basis of the universe and the human mind, experienced through the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program. Disciplines are taught as expressions of one unified field of consciousness. This integrated approach develops students who express “applied spirituality”— acting for the positive transformation of the quality of life for all. Research on educational outcomes at MUM gives evidence of cognitive, affective, and moral development in students. The authors offer suggestions for educators at other institutions.
Jhansi Rani N, Krishna Rao PV. Effects of meditation on attention processes. Journal of Indian Psychology 2000 18:52-60
Lyubimov NN. Changes in electroencephalogram and evoked potentials during application of a special form of psychological training (meditation). Human Physiology (Fiziologiya Cheloveka) 1999 25:171-180
Sridevi K, Krishna Rao PV. Temporal effects of meditation and personality. Psychological Studies1998 43:95-105
Sheppard DH, Staggers F, John L. The effects of a stress management program in a high security government agency. Anxiety, Stress and Coping 1997 10(4):341-350 The data suggests that a significant reduction in trait anxiety and depression values occurred over the three month treatment period in the group practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique. There was also a significant drop in state anxiety from baseline in the TM group. After a three year lapse without ongoing program or instructor support, state anxiety, trait anxiety, depression and self-concept all measured significantly improved in the TM group. There was also a significant drop in state anxiety from baseline in the TM group.
Orme-Johnson DW, Zimmerman E, Hawkins MA. Maharishi’s Vedic Psychology: the science of the cosmic psyche. In HSR Kao, D Sinha (eds), Asian Perspectives on Psychology (pp.282-308). New Delhi, India: Sage Publications, 1997 This 27-page book chapter is an overview of Maharishi’s understanding of higher states of consciousness, presented as a system of psychology, Maharishi’s Vedic Psychology. It addresses the need to answer fundamental questions about the nature of the self, its relation to the universe, its stages of evolution, and the practical implications of developing consciousness for all areas of life. It reviews precedents in Eastern and Western cultures, the modern social sciences, and quantum physics for the view that the fundamental reality of natural law is an infinite field of consciousness, what Maharishi calls the Cosmic Psyche. It proposes that the Cosmic Psyche is also the fundamental level of the human mind, experienced by the individual in the silent level of transcendental consciousness, which can be systematically accessed through Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation program (TM). It reviews research on the physiological uniqueness of transcendental consciousness as a highly coherent, restfully-alert fourth major state of consciousness, distinct from waking, dreaming, and sleep. It outlines how Maharishi’s Vedic Psychology delineates a systematic sequential unfolding of three stabilized higher states of consciousness—Cosmic Consciousness, God Consciousness, and Unity Consciousness—for a total of Seven States of Consciousness. It presents scientific evidence that the growth of higher states of consciousness by means of TM practice is due to normalizing stresses in the nervous system during the deep rest TM provides. It presents evidence that the growth of higher states of consciousness is the logical extension of the developmental sequence described by 20th century psychology. The chapter concludes by presenting Maharishi’s theory and research on collective consciousness, including over 50 studies showing that when as few as 1% of a population practice the TM program, or the square root of 1% the more advanced TM-Sidhi program, that negative trends in society, such as crime and war, decrease.
Mason LI, Alexander CN, Travis FT, Marsh G, Orme-Johnson DW, Gackenbach J, Mason DC, Rainforth M, Walton KG. Electrophysiological correlates of higher states of consciousness during sleep in long-term practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation program. Sleep 1997 20(2):102-110 Experiences of Pure Consciousness During Sleep: Increased EEG Theta/Alpha Power During Deep Sleep; Decreased EMG Activity During Deep Sleep; Increased REM Density During REM Sleep; More Frequent Reports of Higher States of Consciousness This study found that the experience of pure consciousness during sleep, among participants in the the TM and TM-Sidhi program, was associated with increased EEG theta/alpha power during deep sleep, decreased EMG activity during deep sleep, increased REM density during deep sleep, and more frequent reports of higher states of consciousness. Long term practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program with self reports of higher states of consciousness during sleep displayed a unique EEG signature of simultaneous theta/alpha during delta of stage 3 and stage 4 deep sleep, along with decreased EMG and increased REM density during REM periods.
Jhansi Rani N, Krishna Rao PV. Meditation and attention regulation. Journal of Indian Psychology 1996 14:26-30
Schmidt-Wilk J, Alexander CN, Swanson GC. Developing consciousness in organizations: the Transcendental Meditation program in business. Journal of Business and Psychology 1996 10(4):429-444 A review of research and case studies on the application of Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation Program in the workplace indicates improved employee health, increased job satisfaction, improved job performance and productivity, and improved organizational performance and climate. These results are discussed in terms of the development of consciousness of the individual and the organization.