27 March 2009

Transcendental Meditation reduces college stress

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Patricia Spurio meditates while having her EEG measured

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Dr. Travis points out periods of global alpha coherence recorded during Patricia’s meditation session

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Brain Integration (BI) scores increased significantly after ten weeks practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique

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Meditating students had faster habituation to a loud tone—they were less jumpy and irritable

Dr. Fred Travis Publishes Study with American University on the TM® technique and College Stress


A new study published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Psychophysiology found that students who practice the Transcendental Meditation® technique are more resilient to the acute academic, financial, and social pressures of college life.

“Effects of Transcendental Meditation practice on brain functioning and stress reactivity in college students” is the first random assignment study of the effects of meditation practice on brain and physiological functioning in college students.

The study was a collaboration between the American University Department of Psychology in Washington, DC, and the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management.

The 50 subjects were randomly assigned to a group practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique or a control group. Physiological and psychological variables were measured at pretest, before the students were assigned to their groups. The posttest was 10 weeks later — just before final exam week.

The control data from the study showed the detrimental effects of college life. “The non-meditating control group had lower Brain Integration Scale scores, and an increase in sympathetic reactivity and sleepiness,” said Dr. Travis, who directs MUM’s Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition.

In contrast, the meditating students, had higher Brain Integration Scale scores, more alertness, and faster habituation to a loud tone — they were less jumpy and irritable.

David Haaga Ph.D, professor of psychology at American University and co-author of the study, found the outcome encouraging. “Entering a state of restful alertness could be beneficial for the students in terms of their ability to learn material in class and think more clearly, in ways that any other relaxation procedure might not achieve for them,” he said.

“These results suggest that the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique can be of substantial value for those who face the rigors of an intense and challenging learning/working environment,” Dr. Travis said.

Watch video with Dr. Travis discussing his research.

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