START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

The Science Behind Transcendental Meditation

The Science Behind Transcendental Meditation

The recent death of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi brought an avalanche of attention to the man and the spiritual practice, Transcendental Meditation (also known as TM), that he made famous. The guru had many celebrated followers, including the Beatles, and his pop icon status brought him controversy along with celebrity. Over the years he was charged with building a cult (a familiar charge for spiritual teachers) and with the perhaps even more egregious sin, for a guru, of parlaying his insights into a sizable business empire.

Over the years, advocates have touted TM’s ability to improve physical and mental health and social behavior. They don’t stop there with their claims: They also believe it can help create, ahem, world peace. What does the science say about these claims? Are they the delusions of true believers or do they have real merit?

As it happens, TM may be the most researched meditative technique of all time. More than 500 studies have been conducted on its physiological, psychological and sociological impacts. It turns out that the health benefits are pretty unequivocally substantial. Here’s a sampling of research findings:

Physical Health
Studies suggest that TM promotes the regulation of cortisol and other hormones associated with chronic stress, and that it also regulates serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood. It has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia, anxiety and cholesterol levels. TM also reduces the incidence of illness and associated medical expenses.

Cognitive Function
Although the evidence is a bit more mixed here, the preponderance of studies suggest that TM increases intelligence and creativity.

What about the more extravagant claim that TM can contribute to world peace? Batty as it sounds, there’s a method to this madness. Advocates claim that if you gather a large number of TM practitioners in a single space and have them meditate actively, a mood of orderliness and harmony is radiated to the broader community. The result: The negative energy of conflict and unhappiness is swept away by all those good vibrations.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was so persuaded that this was the only effective path to world peace that he dubbed negotiation a “very childish approach.”

Believe it or not, there’s research supporting the claim that mass meditation can reduce violence. TM advocates cite more than 40 studies as validating this claim. In one representative study, group TM practice was found to improve “the quality of life in Israel as measured by improvement on an index consisting of reduced crime rate, reduced traffic accidents, reduced fires, the reduced number of war deaths in Lebanon, increases in the national stock market, and improvements in national mood.”

Needless to say, there are skeptics, especially about the more improbable claims that are made for TM. Be that as it may, the science strongly suggests that TM is good for your body and your mind.

Whether it’s good for the world—whether it’s the best path to world peace—well, that’s another question.

Read more: Spirit, Guidance, Inspiration, , ,

By Cark Frankel, Care2 Green Living contributing writer

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

Carl Frankel

Carl Frankel is a journalist and author who has been writing about green business, green products, and integral living for the past 20 years. He has published and written a newsletter on green products and green consumerism (Green MarketAlert), served as North American editor for a magazine on socially responsible business (Tomorrow Magazine), and authored one book on green business (In Earth's Company) and another on integral living (Out of the Labyrinth).

7 comments

+ add your own
7:37AM PST on Dec 29, 2011

do you still have to pay a bunch to learn how to do it?

2:34PM PST on Dec 26, 2009

I love to meditate.....it doesn't have to be TM..... to bring benefits. I need to be reminded to do it, so thanks for the good article.

6:10AM PST on Dec 17, 2009

Whoo hoo - love it!

1:49PM PST on Nov 30, 2009

Thanks for the info.

10:38PM PDT on Apr 6, 2008

Yes, there is natural-stress-relief.com

They offer great online support, and it's pretty much identical to TM.

In fact the people who run it are former TM teachers. I think it cost me about $30

10:37PM PDT on Apr 6, 2008

Yes, you can go to natural-stress-relief.com/

It's pretty much identical, with a great online support system. I think it cost me about $30..


6:22AM PDT on Apr 2, 2008

I've studied many forms of meditation and yoga. I've wanted to study TM for years but found that the cost was prohibitive locally for me (Atlanta). Does anyone know of a reasonably priced option?

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

As a working mother & wife and now former caregiver, I can attest to the truth of this article. …

Broccoli... yum!

thanks very informative article

Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.