The TM technique is unique—in practice and results. Numerous independent scientific studies and meta-analyses have found that the many different kinds of practices called 'meditation' do not all produce the same effects as one another—or the same holistic benefits associated with the TM technique.
While almost all meditation practices are beneficial, research comparing the TM technique to concentration practices, mindfulness meditation, contemplation, relaxation techniques, common mantra meditation, Zen, biofeedback and others has found the TM technique more effective at reducing stress and anxiety, lowering high blood pressure, facilitating cognitive growth, decreasing substance abuse, improving psychological health and developing self-actualization. (See comparative studies and reviews: http://www.tm.org/research-meta-analyses)
No other form of meditation has been found in long-term studies to reduce heart attack and stroke (study>). The TM technique is the only meditation practice recommended by the American Heart Association for reduction of hypertension—based on the Heart Association's own research into the effects of TM, mindfulness and various other practices.
Other methods of meditation engage the mind differently and require varying degrees of effort. The TM technique is an effortless process of transcending, allowing the mind to spontaneously settle inward, beyond mental activity, to the deepest, most peaceful and revitalizing state of awareness—the state of inner wakefulness or restful alertness, one's inmost Self.
Why pay for TM when other meditations are cheaper or free?
The TM technique is not just a practice of watching your breath, concentrating or contemplating. It's an effortless, natural technique for transcending, for going beyond thought to tap your deepest inner reserves of creativity, intelligence and well-being, directly enlivening your body's innate healing mechanisms. It's easy to learn but requires a qualified teacher.
Transcendental Meditation is taught by teachers whose training is as rigorous, committed and specialized as the training I underwent to become a licensed physician. These teachers offer a tested and proven gift of preventive health care, an authentic technology for developing consciousness. I'd say their service to society is at least as valuable as that of doctors or other highly trained professionals.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary is Medical Director of Wellspring Neurology at Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego, California.
David Orme-Johnson, PhD: The generic word 'meditation' refers to a general set of practices—many of them only loosely related, if at all—not to an agreed upon practice with recognized industry standards or procedures. As one would expect, there is a great range of results among the various meditation practices. As a researcher, I have seen some programs showing great promise, and others, well, not so much. The truth is, not all meditation practices are equal—at least according to science.
My work has focused primarily on the Transcendental Meditation technique, and we have seen some very exciting results over the past 40 years.
The American Heart Association, for example, recently issued a scientific review for doctors, recommending the TM technique, specifically stating that other practices have not been found to reduce high blood pressure(1).
Recent studies have shown that not all meditation techniques improve PTSD symptoms or depression(2), whereas the TM technique has been found to be highly effective in this area(3,4) Research shows that certain types of meditation actually worsen the cardiovascular system's reaction to stress(5), whereas the TM technique is found to improve it(6).
There is considerable evidence that TM practice reduces medical care utilization and costs(7,9), and a recent 10-year randomized controlled trial showed that the TM technique decreased heart attacks, strokes, and death by 48% compared to controls(10). No other meditation technique has been found to show these long-term effects.
After more than four decades of research on different types of meditation, there is now sufficient evidence for health professionals to distinguish between the effectiveness of the various meditation practices, and to truly take an evidence-based approach in prescribing meditation to their patients.
David Orme-Johnson is one of the principal researchers in the world on meditation and its effects, having published over 100 studies, mostly in peer-reviewed journals. He has been asked to review the meditation research on chronic pain and insomnia by a National Institutes of Health Technology Assessment conference, and has traveled to over 56 countries to speak on meditation research to scientific conferences, the press, program directors, government officials, members of Congress, parliaments, heads of state, and the United Nations.
REFERENCES: 1. Brook RD, Appel LJ, Rubenfire M, et al. Beyond medications and diet: Alternative approaches to lowering blood pressure : A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association 2013(61).
2. Kearney DJ, McDermott K, Malte C, et al. Effects of participation in a mindfulness program for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder: A randomized controlled pilot study. J Clin Psychol 2012;69(1):14-27.
3. Brooks JS, Scarano T. Transcendental Meditation and the treatment of post-Vietnam adjustment. J Couns Dev 1985;64:212-215.
4. Rees B, Travis F, Shapiro D, Chant R. Reduction in post traumatic stress symptoms in Congolese refugees practicing Transcendental Meditation. Journal of Traumatic Stress 2013:1-14.
5. Grant C, Hobkirk A, Persons E, et al. Cardiovascular reactivity to and recovery from stressful tasks following a mindfulness analog in college students with a family history of hypertension. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2012;18:1-6.
6. Barnes VA, Treiber FA, Davis H. Impact of Transcendental Meditation on cardiovascular function at rest and during acute stress in adolescents with high normal blood pressure. J Psychosom Res 2001;51(4):597-605.
7. Orme-Johnson DW. Medical care utilization and the Transcendental Meditation program. Psychosom Med 1987;49:493-507.
8. Orme-Johnson DW, Herron RE. An innovative approach to reducing medical care utilization and expenditures. The American Journal of Managed Care 1997;3(1):135-144.
9. Herron R, Hillis S. The impact of the Transcendental Meditation program on government payments to physicians in Quebec: An update. Am J Health Promot 2000;14(5):284-293.
10. Schneider RH, Grim CE, Rainforth MA, et al. Stress reduction in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease: Randomized controlled trial of Transcendental Meditation and health education in Blacks. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes 2012;2(5).
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