Transcendental Meditation Benefits on Addiction
When asked to condemn the use of recreational drugs in the 1960’s, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of TM, refused to do so. He explained that drug users were the same as everybody else in that their primary motivation for everything they did was the desire for happiness. All that was needed to relieve their resulting addiction, he said, was to point out to them that they were looking in the wrong place.
Also during the 20th century, the visionary psychologists James, Jung and Maslow, recognised the possibility of experiencing a ‘transcendental’ level of the mind, and that this can profoundly impact the quality and meaning of life.
The ancient traditions of both East and West, have long maintained that the deepest need of humanity is to “know the Self”, this level of universal consciousness, one’s own essential Being, which is a state of pure happiness. The Eastern traditions, as Maharishi so clearly stated, had also pointed out that all cravings (or addictions) are misguided expressions of this fundamental desire for the experience of our own ultimate blissful nature.
“Within a week [of learning TM] I stopped drinking, the last habit I picked up under the pressure of my work. Two weeks later I quit smoking…I didn’t need the taste, I began to feel extraordinarily well” Dr Deepak Chopra (from his book “Return of the Rishi”)
By providing a natural, effortless experience of the sufferer’s innate inner happiness, Transcendental Meditation not only gratifies this unconscious craving for direct Self-knowledge, but also holistically nourishes the levels of ego, feelings, thought and action that spring from this source. It is therefore capable of simultaneously relieving problems related to substance abuse on all these more manifest levels of life. It is not in itself a rehabilitation programme, but a means for self-development which results in a decrease of psychological problems. Reduced drug abuse is an automatic side effect. Since TM strengthens the individual and produces an overall and stable state of well-being, it naturally removes the need and craving for drugs.
“After my first weekend retreat as a new meditator I gave up smoking and found the taste of alcohol distasteful…It created within me a heightened sense of awareness and a deep internal cleansing.” Bee Roberts
From the physiological perspective, chronic stress causes long-term imbalance in the body, which creates ongoing psychological distress and reduces ability to cope. Substance abuse can be viewed as ‘self-medication’ in an attempt to feel better by restoring balance to the nervous system, but unfortunately it gives rise to further imbalance and consequent dysfunction in the longer term. TM provides deep relaxation that naturally produces the balancing effect sought by the sufferer, making the use of drugs unnecessary, and with time naturally redundant.
There have been many individual studies and reviews of the benefits of TM for mental health and reduced substance use (tobacco, alcohol, and non-prescribed drugs) in a wide variety of settings, both in general populations and amongst heavy users.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of 198 studies (including 19 on TM) found that TM produced sustained and highly significant reductions in smoking, alcohol and drug use, with effect sizes nearly twice as large as those for other treatments including standard therapies, other forms of meditation, relaxation, education, anxiety management, counselling, biofeedback, hypnosis, and acupuncture. Over 18-24 months, abstinence ranged from 51% to 89% for people practicing TM, compared to 21% for conventional programmes. Also, reductions in smoking and alcohol consumption with TM increased gradually over time and initial marked reductions in illicit drug use were sustained, in contrast to high early relapse rates with standard programmes in both.
The research indicates that TM simultaneously deals with several physiological and psychological factors underlying addiction, providing not only immediate relief from distress but also long-term improvements including well-being, self-esteem, and empowerment. [Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 1994].
Please note: TM is not a replacement for your prescribed treatment, although it is likely to reduce your reliance on it over time. Always take medical advice and never decrease any medication unless advised by your doctor to do so
“Not one GP, Neurologist, Psychologist, anti-depressant, and dare I say friend or family member, has given me the tools I need in the same way TM has; sleep is much better, management of stress levels, general health, motivation, coping power, quality of life. I could go on and on. I wholeheartedly recommend this course to all.” Alice Crimini