Myth #3: Simple relaxation will give the same benefits as TM

Decades of peer-reviewed scientific research has shown that the physiological state commonly experienced during the Transcendental Meditation technique is a much deeper, more coherent state of relaxation than the rest gained during ordinary eyes-closed rest (or the so-called “relaxation response”) — with the TM technique producing significantly greater decreases in oxygen consumption, respiratory rate, heart rate, muscle tension and blood pressure, and a greater increase in skin resistance — indicating a more relaxed state (American Psychologist [42] 879-81, 1987).

Research has also shown that simple relaxation, even when practiced twice daily for 20 minutes, does not produce the same benefits as TM practice. For example, the TM technique has been found to reduce anxiety more than twice as much as ordinary relaxation (Journal of Clinical Psychology [45] 957-974, 1989). Randomized clinical trials on relaxation and meditation techniques found that the TM technique was the only mind-body practice to produce significant reductions in blood pressure for hypertensive patients (Current Hypertension Reports 9 (6): 520-528, 2007)

A 2013 report from the American Heart Association confirms that the Transcendental Meditation technique lowers blood pressure more effectively than other techniques of relaxation and meditation, and recommends the TM technique for the prevention and treatment of hypertension. Report from the AHA's journal Hypertension: "All other meditation techniques (including mindfulness) received a 'no benefit level of evidence.’ Thus, other meditation techniques are not recommended.” 

The Transcendental Meditation technique provides the experience of a unique state of physiological functioning, distinct from ordinary relaxation in many ways. Not only do many beneficial physiological changes occur during TM practice that are not present during ordinary rest or the relaxation response, but some of the physiological changes associated with the TM technique are in the opposite direction of ordinary relaxation — such as increased cardiac output (despite decreased heart rate), increased blood flow to the brain, and increased EEG coherence throughout the entire brain (American Journal of Health Promotion, 12, 297-299; 1998).

The Transcendental Meditation technique allows awareness to transcend thinking and settle deeply inward, to the most creative, blissful, and peaceful level of the mind — the state of pure consciousness or transcendental consciousness. This inner experience of consciously transcending mental activity, to a state of inner wakefulness, is very different from the subjective experience of ordinary relaxation.

Hundreds of scientific research studies support the principle that it is the transcending process during TM practice and not just mere relaxation that produces TM’s wide range of benefits for mind, body, and behavior — effects not found to result from the relaxation response or ordinary eyes-closed rest.

Back to Myths

Most Popular