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Research and Meta-Analyses

Comparative Research on Different Systems of Meditation
and Other Self-Development Techniques

Summary: Objective scientific experiments and reviews of large bodies of research have found that the Transcendental Meditation program is more effective than other forms of meditation and relaxation, including Zen, yoga, mindfulness, concentration meditation, progressive relaxation, EMG biofeedback, and hypnosis.

Scientific research now clearly shows that different procedures of meditation and relaxation often have very different effects on specific variables. Such differences should not be unexpected, given the differences between the procedures themselves. Compare, for example, respiration research on procedures that focus on breathing and procedures that ignore it, and stress-level research on procedures that require effort and concentration and procedures that emphasize effortlessness.

The most rigorous type of scientific experiments for evaluating the effects of meditation and relaxation techniques is randomized controlled trials. Randomized controlled trials have shown the Transcendental Meditation program to be more effective than other methods of meditation, relaxation, and stress reduction for decreasing blood pressure, arterial sclerosis, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and anxiety; and for increasing cognitive flexibility, intelligence, creativity, field independence, practical intelligence, and speed of cognitive processing. more

Meta-analyses are an objective means of drawing conclusions about an entire field of research, and are based on all the studies on the subject including those that show negative results. Meta-analyses have found that the Transcendental Meditation program is superior to ordinary rest; that it is more effective in reducing anxiety than other meditation and relaxation techniques; more effective in increasing self-actualization than other meditation and relaxation techniques; and more effective in reducing drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and cigarette use than other standard treatments. All these changes can be seen to result from the state of deep relaxation and brain wave coherence that the Transcendental Meditation program specifically produces.

Reference: Orme-Johnson, D. W., & Walton, K. G. (1998). All approaches to preventing and reversing the effects of stress are not the same. American Journal of Health Promotion, 12, 297–299.

Randomized Controlled Trials Comparing the Transcendental Meditation program with Other Meditation and Relaxation Techniques

Randomized Trial 1 – Reduced Aging
Summary: This study of the elderly found that the Transcendental Meditation technique decreased the feeling of being “old,” improved cognitive flexibility, decreased blood pressure, and increased longevity more than mindfulness training* and considerably more than a mental relaxation technique..

In a study of the elderly (mean age 81 years), the Transcendental Meditation group improved more than a mindfulness training group in active distinction-making (MF), a mental relaxation program (MR) modelled after the TM technique, or a no-treatment control group (NT) on the following measures: systolic blood pressure (with an average 12 mm Hg reduction), paired-associates learning, two measures of cognitive flexibility, mental health, self-ratings of behavioral flexibility and aging, and multiple indicators of treatment efficacy. After three years, the survival rate for the meditators was 100%, compared to 65%–87.5% for the other groups. The survival rate for the 478 non-treated subjects was only 62.6%.

Reference: Alexander, C. N., Langer, E. J., Newman, R. I., Chandler, H. M., and Davies, J. L. (1989). Transcendental Meditation, mindfulness, and longevity: an experimental study with the elderly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57 (6): 950–964.

Randomized Trial 1a – Feeling Less Old
Summary: A randomized controlled trial of the elderly (mean age 81 years) found subjects who practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique for three months rated themselves as feeling “less old” than elders who practiced mindfulness and relaxation techniques. .

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These subjective reports are supported by objective findings that the elders who practiced the TM technique showed improved cognitive abilities, lower systolic blood pressure, and a higher survival rate than comparison groups.

Reference: Alexander, C. N., Langer, E. J., Newman, R. I., Chandler, H. M., and Davies, J. L. (1989). Transcendental Meditation, mindfulness, and longevity: an experimental study with the elderly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57 (6): 950–964.

Randomized Trial 1b – Improved Cognitive Performance
Summary: Objective measures of cognitive ability indicated that, after three months, the elders who practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique showed greater cognitive flexibility and improved associate learning compared to subjects who practiced mindfulness and relaxation techniques..

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Cognitive flexibility indicates the ability to learn something new that is different from old verbal habits, and associate learning is the ability to memorize difficult new associations. Both these changes indicate a more youthful mind.

Reference: Alexander, C. N., Langer, E. J., Newman, R. I., Chandler, H. M., and Davies, J. L. (1989). Transcendental Meditation, mindfulness, and longevity: an experimental study with the elderly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57 (6): 950–964.

Randomized Trial 1c – Decreased Systolic Blood Pressure
Summary: After three months, systolic blood pressure was significantly lower in the elders practicing the Transcendental Meditation program compared to the mindfulness and relaxation groups..

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Reduced blood pressure suggests that the mind-body relaxation gained during TM practice carries over to a more relaxed physiology outside of meditation.

Reference: Alexander, C. N., Langer, E. J., Newman, R. I., Chandler, H. M., and Davies, J. L. (1989). Transcendental Meditation, mindfulness, and longevity: an experimental study with the elderly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(6): 950–964.

Randomized Trial 1d – Increased Longevity
Summary: At the three-year follow-up, 100% of the elders practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique were still alive. Survival rates for the other treatment and control groups were significantly lower..

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The survival rate was 87.5% for the mindfulness group, 65% for the relaxation response group, 77.3% for the no-treatment group, and 62.6% for other subjects in the nursing homes who did not participate in the experiment. Daily reduction of stress through the Transcendental Meditation technique results in a longer, happier life.

Reference: Alexander, C. N., Langer, E. J., Newman, R. I., Chandler, H. M., and Davies, J. L. (1989). Transcendental Meditation, mindfulness, and longevity: an experimental study with the elderly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(6): 950–964.

Randomized Trial 2A – Decreased Blood Pressure
Summary: The Transcendental Meditation technique was found to reduce high blood pressure in middle-aged people to a significantly greater degree than progressive relaxation and health education..

Inner-city African-American elderly with borderline hypertension were randomly assigned to either the Transcendental Meditation technique, Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR), or a health education usual-care control group (HE). All subjects received the same diet and exercise recommendations. Three months of TM practice produced an 11 mm Hg decrease in systolic blood pressure and a 6 mm Hg decrease in diastolic blood pressure, which were significantly larger than the reductions produced by Progressive Muscle Relaxation or usual-care. This study was subsequently published in Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association. The Sixth Joint National Committee on the Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNCVI) cited this research on the TM technique as the only properly controlled trial of stress reduction that has shown effectiveness in reducing blood pressure among people with hypertension (JNCVI, 1997).

Reference: Schneider, R. H., Staggers, F., Alexander, C. N., Sheppard, W., Rainforth, M., Kondwani, K., Smith, S., King, C. G. (1995). A randomized controlled trial of stress reduction for hypertension in older African Americans. Hypertension, 26 (5): 820–827.

Randomized Trial 2B – Decreased High Blood Pressure in Subgroups at Risk for Heart Disease
Summary: The Transcendental Meditation technique was found to decrease blood pressure in both men and women, as well as in individuals who are risk for heart disease because of obesity, alcohol use, psychosocial stress, high salt diet, physical inactivity, or the presence of multiple risks..

Alexander et al. (1996) found that, after three months, both females and males practicing the TM technique exhibited greater reduction in blood pressure than control subjects receiving health education. The males practicing the TM technique also exhibited greater reduction in systolic blood pressure than males who practiced Progressive Muscle Relaxation.

The study also found that the Transcendental Meditation program was effective for treating hypertension in patients at risk for heart disease in six categories: obesity, excessive alcohol use, high salt diet, psychosocial stress, physical inactivity, and multiple risks. The universality of the TM technique’s effectiveness across gender and risk subgroups supports the view that it creates coherence at fundamental, holistic levels of the mind and body.

Reference: Alexander, C. N., Schneider, R. H., Staggers, F., et al. (1996). Trial of stress reduction for hypertension in older African Americans (part II): sex and risk subgroup analysis. Hypertension, 28: 228–23.

Randomized Trial 3 – Decreased Blood Pressure through the Transcendental Meditation technique Compared to Progressive Relaxation and Health Education: One-Year Replication
Summary: Whereas the previous study found that three months of practice of the Transcendental Meditation program reduced blood pressure in patients at risk for heart disease, this study found that the practice continued to reduce blood pressure after one year compared to health education and Progressive Muscle Relaxation..

A powerful way to establish the validity of a scientific finding is replication, which means to repeat the study with different subjects in a different situation. Whereas the previous study found that practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique reduced blood pressure over a 3-month period, the present study found that it reduced blood pressure over a 12-month period in elderly African Americans compared to health education and Progressive Muscle Relaxation. In addition, this study found that the TM group significantly reduced use of antihypertensive medication. These findings indicate potential usefulness of the TM technique as an adjunct in the long-term treatment of hypertension in African Americans.

Reference: Schneider, R. H., Alexander, C. N., Staggers, F., Orme-Johnson, D. W., Rainforth, M., Salerno, J., Sheppard, W., Castillo-Richmond, A., Barnes, V. A., Nidich, S. I. (2005) A randomized controlled trial of stress reduction in the treatment of hypertension in African Americans over one year. American Journal of Hypertension, 18 (1): 88–98.

Randomized Trial 4 – Decreased Mortality through the Transcendental Meditation technique Compared to Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Health Education Control, Mindfulness, Relaxation, and Usual Care
Summary: A long, healthy life is perhaps the ultimate proof of an individual’s ability to cope with stress. This 18-year study found that the Transcendental Meditation program significantly reduced mortality (death rate) from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and from all causes, compared to Progressive Muscle Relaxation, health education, mindfulness, relaxation and usual care..

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This study (1) followed the mortality rates for elderly white and African American men and women with stage 1 or 2 hypertension (mean age 72.0 ± 10.6 years) who had participated in two randomized controlled trials on hypertension (2-4). The original studies had found that TM practice reduced blood pressure relative to control groups (Progressive Muscle Relaxation, health education control, mindfulness, relaxation, and usual care). This study followed the mortality data from the National Death Index for these 202 individuals over an average of 7.6 ± 3.5 years, maximum of 18.8 years. After three years, the TM group had a 91% decrease in rate of all-cause mortality compared to combined controls, and after ten years it had a 40% reduction. Over the entire course of the study, the TM group had a 23% reduction in all-cause mortality, a 30% reduction in cardiovascular mortality, and a 49% reduction in risk of death from cancer compared to combined controls. The reduction of death from all causes and from the two major causes of death in the U.S. supports the view that the level of mind-body integration achieved through TM practice is greater than that achieved by the other meditation and relaxation techniques studied.

References:
1. Schneider, R. H., Alexander, C. N., Staggers, F., Rainforth, M., Salerno, J. W., Hartz, A., et al. (2005). Long-term effects of stress reduction on mortality in persons ≥55 years of age with systemic hypertension. American Journal of Cardiology, 95 (9): 1060–1064.

2. Schneider, R.H., Staggers, F., Alexander, C., Sheppard, W., Rainforth, M., Kondwani, K., Smith, S., King, C. G. (1995). A randomized controlled trial of stress reduction for hypertension in older African Americans. Hypertension, 26: 820–827.

3. Alexander, C. N., Schneider, R., Staggers, F., Sheppard, W., Clayborne, M., Rainforth, M., Salerno, J., Kondwani, K., Smith, S., Walton, K., Egan, B. (1996). A trial of stress reduction for hypertension in older African Americans (part II): sex and risk factor subgroup analysis. Hypertension,  28: 228 –237.

4. Alexander, C. N., Langer, E. J., Newman, R. I., Chandler, H. M., Davies, J. L. (1989). Transcendental Meditation, mindfulness, and longevity: an experimental study with the elderly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,  57: 950 –964.

Randomized Trial 5 – Reduced Carotid Atherosclerosis through the Transcendental Meditation technique Compared to Health Education
Summary: Thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) can cause strokes in the brain as well as restrict blood supply to other organs, which may damage or kill them. This study found that compared to health education, the Transcendental Meditation program significantly decreased the blockage of the carotid arteries, which provide the main blood supply to the brain..

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This randomized controlled trial evaluated the effects of the TM program on carotid intima-media thickness in hypertensive African American men and women, aged > 20 years, over a six- to nine-month period. The TM group showed a significant decrease in thickness of 20.098 mm (95% CI 20.198 to 0.003 mm) compared with an increase of 0.054 mm (95% CI 20.05 to 0.158 mm) in the control group (P < 0.038, 2-tailed). The study indicates that relaxation and stress reduction through the Transcendental Meditation program is associated with reduced carotid atherosclerosis compared with health education in hypertensive African Americans.

Reference: Castillo-Richmond, A., Schneider, R. H., Alexander, C. N., Cook, R., Myers, H., Nidich, S., et al. (2000). Effects of stress reduction on carotid atherosclerosis in hypertensive African Americans. Stroke, 31: 568–573.

Randomized Trial 6 – Decreased Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder through the Transcendental Meditation technique Compared to Psychotherapy
Summary: Approximately 8% of U.S. adults suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal, such as violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat. The Transcendental Meditation program was found to significantly reduce PTSD symptoms in Vietnam veterans compared to usual-care psychotherapy. .

A study of Vietnam War veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder randomly assigned subjects to either the Transcendental Meditation program or psychotherapy. The comparison subjects receiving psychotherapy were of similar age and background, and were undergoing similar life-problems as those who received the Transcendental Meditation program. Yet the TM group showed significant improvements compared to controls on all measures—decreased anxiety, decreased alcohol use, decrease marital problems, decreased startle response, decreased emotional numbness, and improved employment status.

The study clearly showed that the forms of psychotherapy commonly used at that time to treat post-traumatic stress disorder did not have the same effects as the Transcendental Meditation program.

Reference: Brooks, J. S., and Scarano, T. (1986). Transcendental Meditation in the treatment of post-Vietnam adjustment. Journal of Counseling and Development, 64: 212–215.

Randomized Trials 7–9 – Improved Cognitive Performance and Reduced Anxiety through TM Practice Compared with a Traditional Contemplation Technique, Napping, and Usual Schooling
Summary: A series of three studies conducted on high school students in Taiwan found that 6–12 months of the Transcendental Meditation program improved cognitive performance and decreased anxiety compared to napping, a contemplation meditation technique, or school as usual..

Three controlled longitudinal studies on students in Taiwan randomly assigned subjects to the Transcendental Meditation program, napping, usual schooling (no special treatment), or to a contemplation meditation technique in which the subjects recited the word “Tao,” which has a well-known meaning in the Chinese culture. All students had usual school classes. In addition, the experimental groups (TM technique, contemplation technique, or napping) practiced their assigned technique daily during school for approximately 20 minutes and again at home in the afternoon.

Study 1 on 154 male and female students, mean age 16.5 years, found that after six months the TM group improved on field independence, creativity, general fluid intelligence, practical intelligence, speed of information processing (shorter Inspection Time), and decreased on state and trait anxiety, compared to the no-treatment group. They also improved on all measures except general fluid intelligence compared to the napping group. The napping group did not differ from the no-treatment group on any measure.

Study 2 on 118 male and female students, mean age 14.6 years, found that after six months the TM group improved more than the traditional contemplation technique group on five of the measures: creativity, practical intelligence, speed of information processing (shorter Inspection Time), and state and trait anxiety. The TM group improved more than the no-treatment group on all seven measures, as in study 1. The contemplation meditation group improved more than the no-treatment group on two measures: field independence and speed of information processing (Inspection Time).

Study 3 on 99 male students, mean age 17.8 years, found that after 12 months, the TM group improved more than the no-treatment group on all seven measures, replicating studies 1 and 2.

Reference: So, K. T., & Orme-Johnson, D. W. (2001). Three randomized experiments on the holistic longitudinal effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on cognition. Intelligence, 29: 419–440.

Randomized Trial 10 – Increased Field Independence through the Transcendental Meditation technique Compared to Sitting Quietly
Summary: A random assignment study found that compared to ordinary rest the Transcendental Meditation program increased field independence, which is a perceptual measure of broad comprehension along with the ability to focus attention sharply..

In this study, 40 males and females who were interested in learning the Transcendental Meditation technique (mean age 24.7 years), were randomly assigned either to learn the TM technique right away or to postpone learning until after the experiment. The TM group meditated 20 minutes twice a day for three months, and the wait-list control group sat quietly every day on the same schedule. Both groups were tested before and after the three month period by testers who did not know which group they were in. The result was that the TM group increased more than the wait-list control group on all three measures of field independence, autokinetic perception, rod and frame test, and embedded figures test. Improved autokinetic perception indicates more stable attention. The embedded figures test is similar to finding a needle in a haystack. Increased ability on it indicates a greater ability to focus attention on a given task while maintaining broad awareness of the perceptual field. Improvement on the rod and frame test indicates the ability to orient oneself in space on the basis of one’s stable internal frame of reference independently of external spatial cues. An example would be an airplane pilot being able to keep his orientation in a spinning plane. These findings suggest the development of a more stable mind on the basis of which attention is more focused and purposeful, and less distracted.

Reference: Pelletier, K. R. (1977). The effects of the Transcendental Meditation program upon perceptual style: Increased field independence. In: Orme-Johnson, D. W., Farrow, J. T., eds. Scientific research on the Transcendental Meditation program: Collected papers, Vol. 1: 337–345. Rheinweiler, W. Germany: MERU Press.

Meta-Analyses Comparing the Transcendental Meditation program with Other Meditation and Relaxation Techniques

Meta-Analysis 1 – Decreased Physiological Stress Markers through the Transcendental Meditation technique Compared with Ordinary Rest
Summary: The Transcendental Meditation technique produces a more rested physiology than ordinary relaxation..

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This meta-analysis systematically compared 32 independent physiological studies on the Transcendental Meditation technique with just sitting and resting with the eyes closed. It found that the TM technique had a greater effect on decreasing the rate of breathing than ordinary rest, which indicates deeper relaxation. TM practice also produced a greater reduction in plasma lactate level, which indicates more rapid recovery from fatigue and exertion. The TM technique had a much larger effect on basal skin resistance, indicating greater relaxation and recovery from stress than ordinary rest. TM subjects also showed initially deeper relaxation before the meditation period (the baseline period) than controls, suggesting that the TM technique has cumulative benefits on stress reduction.

Reference: Dillbeck, M., and Orme-Johnson, D. (1987). American Psychologist, 42, 879–881.

Meta-Analysis 2 – Decreased Trait Anxiety through the Transcendental Meditation technique Compared to Other Meditation and Relaxation Techniques
Summary: Trait anxiety is one’s typical state of anxiety, and decreased trait anxiety is a key indicator of psychological relaxation. The Transcendental Meditation technique was found to reduce trait anxiety more than a variety of other meditation and relaxation techniques..

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This meta-analysis compared all meditation and relaxation techniques on which trait anxiety had been studied, 146 independent outcomes. The subject populations included in the study were college, high school, adult, psychiatric or drug abuse patients, children, adult prisoners, juvenile offenders, and the elderly. Subjects with initially high and low levels of anxiety were also studied. The techniques studied were the Transcendental Meditation technique, Progressive Relaxation (PR), Benson's Relaxation Response technique, concentration meditation, Sanskrit mantra meditation with permissive attitude, EMG biofeedback, and placebo techniques. The meta-analysis found that the Transcendental Meditation program had more than twice the effect size on reducing trait anxiety as all other treatments. Concentration meditation which was less effective than a placebo, indicating that concentration and control of the mind can exacerbate anxiety.

Of all the techniques studied, only the Transcendental Meditation technique showed a positive correlation between the reduction of anxiety and length of time that the technique had been practiced. These results indicate that it is the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique per se that causes the reduction in anxiety, not some other factors.

Reference: Eppley, K., Abrams, A., Shear, J. (1989). Differential effects of relaxation techniques on trait anxiety: a meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45 (6): 957–974.

Meta-Analysis 3 – Increased Self Actualization through the Transcendental Meditation technique Compared to Other Meditation and Relaxation Techniques
Summary: Self-actualization is the development of the unique potential of the individual. This meta-analysis found that the Transcendental Meditation technique increases self-actualization more than other meditation and relaxation programs..

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This was a meta-analysis of all studies on the effects of meditation and relaxation techniques on self-actualization (42 studies). The study compared the Transcendental Meditation technique to other meditations (Zen, Relaxation Response, mindfulness training, yoga, or mantra meditation) and other relaxation techniques (progressive relaxation and miscellaneous relaxation techniques). The Transcendental Meditation technique was more effective than other techniques on overall self-actualization, as well as on the two main components of self-actualization, Time Competence and Inner Directedness. Increased Time Competence indicates the degree to which one is “present-oriented” instead of being preoccupied with the past or anxious about the future. Increased Inner Directedness indicates that the individual’s source of direction in daily life comes primarily from an inner sense of self, rather than from external influences. The effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on these qualities may be due to reduction of anxiety and enhanced relaxation and coherence.

Reference: Alexander, C. N., Rainforth, M., & Gelderloos, P. (1991). Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 6, 189–247.

Meta-Analysis 4 – Reduced Alcohol Abuse through the Transcendental Meditation technique Compared to Peer Influence Programs, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Programs, Preventive Education, and Relaxation Techniques
Summary: The Transcendental Meditation technique was more effective in reducing alcohol use than peer influence, DUI programs, preventive education, and relaxation techniques, including biofeedback, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, clinically standardized meditation, and Relaxation Response..

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Chronic stress causes long-lasting neurochemical and endocrine abnormalities, which prolong psychological distress and impair coping abilities. Substance abuse can be seen as an attempt to restore balance to the system through self-medication. Unfortunately, the abused substances give rise to further dysfunction and imbalance in the long run. The Transcendental Meditation program provides a state of mind-body relaxation that naturally optimizes the psychophysiology, thus removing the impetus for artificial attempts to do so through drugs. (1)

Evidence for this is from a meta-analysis of alcohol treatment programs. It found that the Transcendental Meditation technique (14 studies) was more effective than relaxation techniques (11 studies) and other standard treatment programs. (2) The results of standard treatments, as shown in the chart, are from published meta-analyses in the literature. The results held up when only the best designed studies (N = 8) were included, and the effects were stronger for serious users than for casual users. This suggests a pattern of positive treatment effect that cannot be attributed to weak designs of studies or studies focusing on more casual users.

References:
1. Alexander, C.N., Robinson, P., & Rainforth, M. (1994). Treating and preventing alcohol, nicotine, and drug abuse through Transcendental Meditation: A review and statistical meta-analysis. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 11, 13–88.
2. Walton, K. G., Levitsky, D. (1994). A neuroendocrine mechanism for the reduction of drug use and addictions by Transcendental Meditation. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 11 (1/2): 89–117

Meta-Analysis 5 – Reduced Drug Abuse through the Transcendental Meditation technique Compared to Peer Influence and Preventive Education Programs
Summary: The Transcendental Meditation technique was more effective than peer influence programs or preventive education on reducing drug abuse..

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This meta-analysis of 70 studies evaluated the effects of different programs on reducing use of illicit drugs. It compared the effects of the Transcendental Meditation program, peer influence programs, and preventive education. It found that the effectiveness of the Transcendental Meditation program on reducing drug use was almost twice as much as peer influence programs and six times as much as preventive education programs. The TM program had its strongest effect on populations at risk for drug abuse, such known users and veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This indicates the usefulness of the TM program for addressing serious substance abuse problems.

Reference: Alexander, C.N., Robinson, P. & Rainforth, M. (1994). Treating and preventing alcohol, nicotine, and drug abuse through Transcendental Meditation: A review and statistical meta-analysis. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 11: 13–88.

Meta-Analysis 6 – Reduced Cigarette Use through the Transcendental Meditation technique Compared to Pharmacological Treatment, Individual Counseling, Self-Help Kits, or Unconventional Treatments
Summary: The Transcendental Meditation program was more effective in reducing cigarette smoking than pharmacological treatment, counseling, printed self-help materials, or unconventional treatments, such as hypnosis, acupuncture, or sensory deprivation..

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Cigarette smoking accounts for as many as 30% of all coronary heart disease deaths in the U.S. The more cigarettes smoked, the higher the risk. Moreover, smoking doubles the risk of virtually every disease.

This meta-analysis of 80 studies on programs for reducing cigarette smoking found that the TM program was over twice as effective as unconventional treatments, such as hypnosis and acupuncture. The TM program was also over three times as effective as other programs, including pharmacological treatment, such as nicotine gum, smoking cessation counseling, and printed self-help materials.

Another difference between the TM program and smoking cessation programs is that a person does not have to stop smoking to learn the TM technique, whereas most other programs require quitting smoking at the outset of the program. For most smoking cessation programs, everyone quits at first, then, over the course of a year, about 70% of the people in the program resume smoking. By contrast, with the TM program, smoking gradually decreases over the course of a year of meditating. Reduced smoking through TM practice is the natural result of the regular experience of the healing, coherent rest produced by the TM technique, which progressively normalizes physiological and psychological stresses at the root of various addictions.

Reference: Alexander, C. N., Robinson, P. & Rainforth, M. (1994). Treating and preventing alcohol, nicotine, and drug abuse through Transcendental Meditation: A review and statistical meta-analysis. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 11, 13–88.

Meta-Analysis 7 – Improved Psychological Health through the Transcendental Meditation Technique Compared to Zen and Other Meditation Techniques Designed to Mimic the TM technique (Relaxation Response Techniques)
Summary: The TM technique improved psychological health more than the Relaxation Response or Zen meditation..

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This was a meta-analysis of the effects of different meditation and relaxation techniques on measures of psychological health, including anxiety and depression. The study analyzed 51 studies consisting of more than 9,700 research subjects. It found that the Transcendental Meditation program had twice as strong an effect as the Relaxation Response, which is a variety of relaxation techniques designed to imitate the TM technique. The TM program also had a stronger effect on improving psychological health than Zen meditation. These results were maintained in the studies of highest validity and strongest experimental design.

Reference: Ferguson, P. C. An integrative meta-analysis of psychological studies investigating the treatment outcomes of meditation techniques. (1981). Doctoral thesis, School of Education, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, U.S.A.
Reprinted in part in: Chalmers, R. A., Clements, G., Schenkluhn, H., and Weinless, M., (Eds.) (1989). Scientific research on Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program: Collected Papers, Vol. 3. Paper 272, pp. 2039 – 2048. Vlodrop, Netherlands: MVU Press.

Meta-Analysis 8 – Decreased Blood Pressure through the Transcendental Meditation technique Compared to Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Biofeedback, Relaxation-Assisted Biofeedback, and Stress Management plus Relaxation
Summary: The Transcendental Meditation technique was more effective in reducing blood pressure than a variety of other stress management techniques..

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This meta-analysis of the effects of stress reduction programs on hypertensive patients evaluated high-quality randomized studies that controlled for placebo effects. To be included, a study had to meet the following criteria:

  • The study controlled for attention from trainers and expectation of benefits.
  • The study had reliable blood pressure measurement.
  • The personnel measuring the blood pressure did not know whether subjects were in the treatment or control groups.
  • Only techniques evaluated in two or more studies were included.

The meta-analysis located 17 trials with 23 treatment comparisons and 960 participants. The chart shows mean changes in systolic blood pressure (left bar) and diastolic blood pressure (right bar) for each treatment category. The results for blood pressure decreases associated with biofeedback, relaxation-assisted biofeedback, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, and stress management training were not statistically significant; however, the TM program significantly lowered blood pressure by 5.0 mm Hg systolic and 2.8 mm Hg diastolic. Blood pressure reductions of this magnitude predict significant decreases in cardiovascular disease risk. The results of this meta-analysis, along with the results of other meta-analyses, support the view that the Transcendental Meditation program produces a uniquely effective form of mind-body relaxation.

Reference: Rainforth, M. V., Schneider, R. H., Nidich, S. I., Gaylord-King, C., Salerno, J. W., Anderson, J. W. (2007). Stress reduction programs in patients with elevated blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Current Hypertension Reports, 9 (6): 520–528.

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