Transcendental Meditation Benefits
Because TM is a natural, spontaneous process, the benefits of transcendental meditation are automatic, starting start right from the very first day, with most people noticing something tangible before the end of the course.
The benefits of Transcendental Meditation cover every aspect of life. Millions of people practicing TM around the world testify to its wide-ranging benefits, supported by more than 650 scientific research studies spanning more than 40 years.
A good indicator of the overall effect of TM on health was provided by a study of data from a major US health insurer which compared the use of healthcare over 5 years by 2000 of their subscribers practising TM with a similar matched group of non-meditators (Psychosomatic Medicine, 1987).
The findings attracted the following comment from Dr James Le Fanu in his regular column in the Sunday Telegraph:
“The overall benefits of transcendental meditation are so staggering as to be almost unbelievable – in one 5 year study, half the number of inpatient admissions to hospital (87% fewer for heart disease and nervous system disorders) … These findings are remarkable.”
Both hospital admissions and outpatient visits were 50% lower in meditators. In the over 40 age group, the reduction was more than 70%. Hospital admissions for medical and surgical conditions were 60-70% lower in the TM group, with reductions in all 17 categories studied, e.g. admissions were 87% less for heart and blood vessel disorders and neurological problems, 55% less for tumors, and 73% less for respiratory disorders. Results were much higher in a later 11 year study when TM practice was combined with an Ayurvedic healthcare programme, with hospital admissions more than 90% less than controls in most categories of illness.
Imagine – if just sitting quietly in a comfortable chair for a few minutes of very enjoyable deep relaxation every day could leave you feeling physically and mentally refreshed, with a calmer and more alert mind, increased energy and clearer thinking. And as a result you found that that you could achieve more with less effort and that work, recreation, and relationships were more rewarding.
Stress negatively affects everything we do when we are caught up, mentally, physically and emotionally, in constant activity. It is now widely recognised that stress aggravates every disease and disorder. Therefore a technique which provides deep physiological rest, the complete antidote to the stress response, will affect every aspect of life in a positive way, allowing access to a deep inner peace and happiness. Read more about how Transcendental Meditation alleviates stress here.
TM has been found to have a positive impact on:
All of the benefits that we see occuring within and between individuals from the practice of TM cannot help but create benefits within the workplace. People of all professions rediscover their natural ability to remain calm under pressure, free from tension and fatigue and at the peak of their mental clarity and performance, which has encouraged companies such as Sony, General Motors, IBM and Toyota to make transcendental meditation available to their staff.
Research specifically in workplace settings has indicated that TM practice within organisations can significantly improve relationships with supervisors and co-workers, increase job satisfaction, performance and productivity, reduce job related worry and tension, and improve ability to make decisions. These benefits have been found in employees at every level of the organisation [e.g. Academy of Management Journal, 1974].
Employees practicing TM have also shown significantly greater improvements than matched control subjects on general health and reductions in physiological arousal, anxiety, job tension, insomnia, fatigue, and consumption of cigarettes and alcohol (Anxiety,Stress, and Coping, 1993).
“Having a stressful job I realised I had to do something…for me TM has been exceedingly useful. I can work much more effectively when I practise regularly…and I find I have more time for family and leisure” Dr Thomas Setterfield, GP
Stress negatively affects our creativity. Stress hormones released during the fight or flight response disrupt the rational part of our brains and can cause negative thinking which can block our creativity. Our vision also becomes tunneled (to be able to focus on a crisis), which affects our ability to see multiple options. Research also indicates that areas of the brain associated with executive decision making are affected, potentially leaving us in habitual behavioural loops and being caught up in detail rather than exploring other options.
Since TM disolves accumulated stress from the nervous system, it is no surprise that research has found the practice to significantly improve creativity, e.g. through measures of originality and flexibility and on verbal fluency [Journal of Creative Behaviour, 1979]. Studies have shown that when we meditate our brainwave functioning begins to mirror that of moments of peak performance and gradually this becomes our naturally functioning state. This helps us achieve enhanced creative thinking at all times.
“I would not ever be without my TM…Since I’ve meditated I’ve written books and got published. I could never reach my creativity before TM. Now, I meditate then write and it just flows.” Alexandra Massey
Our brains are in a constant state of development. We need a healthy brain to think and act successfully. However prolonged stress not only affects our health and drains our energy, but it can actually kill brain cells and shrink the brain’s main memory structures, affecting attention, memory, organisation and integration.
The deep rest of mind and body during TM dissolves the build up of stress and tiredness, leaving you feeling more refreshed and settled and with a clearer mind. Also, unique to this technique, widespread brainwave coherence has been shown to be created, making the brain healthier and able to function together as a whole. When frontal brain areas are more coherent, the executive functions with which they are associated (e.g. decision making, planning, short-term memory, moral reasoning) are enhanced. We start to be able to achieve more optimal functioning and reach our full potential.
Research has indicated that the practice of TM can significantly increase ‘field intelligence’ (associated with greater organisation of mind and clarity of thought, improved memory, increased creative expression, and increased ability to assimilate and structure experience) [Perceptual Motor Skills, 1986], improve short-term memory [Memory and Cognition, 1982], and increase creative thinking [Journal of Creative Behaviour, 1979].
Research in educational settings has found TM practice to improve academic performance (Education, 1989) and accelerate cognitive development, improved concept learning, and improved focus and attention in children (Journal of Social Behaviour and Personality, 2005). Additionally, the children practicing TM showed increased emotional regulation, and improved well-being and behaviour, decreased absenteeism, rule-breaking, and behaviour-related suspensions (Health Quality of Life Outcomes 2010). Masters degree students swere found to significantly improve in performance on their standard examinations after six months (British Journal of Educational Psychology, 1985).
“It cleared my thinking so incredibly quickly … clarity of thought. Now I can not imagine my life without TM.” Ken Darlington
Stress lowers our energy levels because during the fight or flight response, not only is much of the energy stored in our cells released, but we exhaust our adrenal glands through the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. These responses create energy required in the short-term, but as we wind down leave us tired and ‘wired’, and in the longer-term exhausted.
As soon as we begin to practice TM, the body is able to start to let go of stress and fatigue from the nervous system by gaining deep rest in meditation. At the same time, sleep starts to improve as a result. Consequently, people very quickly start to find themselves feeling lighter, more refreshed and energised throughout the day.
Research has found increased energy, decreased fatigue, and improved sleep to be just a few of the benefits of practicing TM over time [e.g. Anxiety,Stress, and Coping, 1993[.
“Each day I keep growing stronger in energy due to the accumulative effects of daily TM practice. I now have the inner space to realise my full potential … it’s been nothing short of miraculous.” Tim, Edinburgh
“TM has been exceedingly useful … I find that my energy levels increase substantially … I’ve also noticed a reduction in fatigue, better sleep” Dr Thomas Setterfield, GP
Higher States of Consciousness
We are all very familiar with three states of consciousness – waking, dreaming and sleeping. Each state of consciousness has its corresponding unique state of physiology. During TM we temporarily experience a fourth state of consciousness called ‘transcendental consciousness’ – characterised by distinct physiological and mental phenomena of restful alertness – full self-awareness yet without our usual mental activity. This unique state has been observed in neural imaging patterns and EEG research by decreased activity in the thalamus (the part of the brain which sends signals to all other areas of the brain), and increased activity in the frontal and parietal cortices (both involved in attention). It is this state which allows the stress in the nervous system to dissolve, improves the connections between areas of the brain, and develops brain functioning, thereby producing health and well being. With regular practice this state begins to be experienced increasingly out in activity, gradually becoming permanently established.
A stressed body is unable to let go of past experience, causing a build-up of blocked energy in the nervous system, sometimes referred to as ‘cellular memory’. This build up of further stress in the system with its attendant painful memories creates an over-reactive fight or flight response. Whenever those with whom we interact trigger this, we may become emotional, aggressive or irrational, and tend to be in the habit of accusing others of ‘making us stressed’.
We may also get caught up in repetitive, negative relationship patterns, all of which allow the stress to accumulate further. But when, through TM we allow the nervous system to let go of the build up of blocked negative energy known as stress, with it goes our unwanted emotional negativity. A positive cycle emerges where our emotions get triggered less frequently, resulting in less negative impressions accumulating, and we become more pleasant to be around, more engaged, more tolerant and compassionate for those around us.
When we are happy and healthy we have more time and energy to give to others. Many meditators report this, both in their family and work relationships.
Research found that both workers and management in a heavy industry showed significant improvements in both personal and work relationships [Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 1993]
“My wife says that the change in me has been amazing and that I am a completely different person to live with and to be around. She claims I am far more contented and happy, and a lot less argumentative. Hence her decision to want to learn TM for herself.” Steve Martin
Well-being, Personal Growth & Quality of Life
The TM technique, in line with yoga’s long tradition, is not intended primarily as a treatment of illness and disease, but rather as a means of enhancing growth of human awareness to its highest state. Modern day psychology talks of the concept of ‘Self-actualisation’, which refers to realising more of one’s inner potential, expressed in every area of life. A statistical meta-analysis of 42 independent studies indicated that the effect of TM on increasing self-actualisation is markedly greater than that of other forms of meditation and relaxation [Journal of social behavior and personality, 1991].
Meditators find themselves consistently performing better at home, work, and recreation. Thought patterns that previously held them back begin to diminish and they feel freer to be themselves. Sensory experience is enhanced. Artists report increased appreciation of colour and musicians an extra delight in sound. Many others report taste and smells coming to life. Increased enjoyment of sex is common and fertility has been known to improve. People of all professions rediscover their natural ability to remain calm under pressure, free from tension and fatigue and at the peak of their mental clarity and performance.
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Please note: Always take medical advice. TM is complementary to all healthcare approaches, often producing wonderful benefits naturally. However it is not a replacement for your prescribed treatment. Always take medical advice and never decrease any medication unless advised by your doctor to do so.