Posts Tagged ‘Automatic self-transcending’

Health India’s Editorial Team says Transcendental Meditation (TM) is taking the world by storm

January 14, 2014

Health India

Transcendental Meditation — a meditation technique that is taking the world by storm

Editorial Team January 14, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Meditation, a simple yet deep-rooted technique that helps you think better, control your emotions with finesse and even makes you a better person. First practiced in India, meditation is a method carried down through the ages. It was first mentioned in the Vedas and is well-known in India as a doorway to nirvana. But now the Americans have woken up to its benefits.

According to study carried out by Fred Travis, director of the centre for brain, consciousness, and cognition at Maharishi University of Management in the US, physiological measures and first-person descriptions of transcendental experiences and higher states have only been investigated during practice of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique.

After analysing descriptions of transcendental consciousness from 52 people practicing TM, Travis found that they experienced ‘a state where thinking, feeling, and individual intention were missing, but self-awareness remained’. A systematic analysis of their experiences revealed three themes – absence of time, space and body sense.

‘This research focuses on the larger purpose of meditation practices – to develop higher states of consciousness,’ explained Travis. With regular meditation, experiences of transcendental consciousness begin to co-exist with sleeping, dreaming and even while one is awake.

This state is called cosmic consciousness in the Vedic tradition, said the paper published in the journal Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Whereas people practicing TM describe themselves in relation to concrete cognitive and behavioural processes, those experiencing cosmic consciousness describe themselves in terms of a continuum of inner self-awareness that underlies their thoughts, feelings and actions, added the paper.

‘The practical benefit of higher states is that you become more anchored to your inner self, and, therefore, less likely to be overwhelmed by the vicissitudes of daily life,’ said Travis. TM is an effortless technique for automatic self-transcending, different from the other categories of meditation – focused attention or open monitoring.

It allows the mind to settle inward beyond thought to experience the source of thought – pure awareness or transcendental consciousness. This is the most silent and peaceful level of consciousness – one’s innermost self, said the study.

Wondering what it is? Here is all you need to know about the TM technique

Transcendental Meditation?

Also called the TM technique, Transcendental Meditation is a simple practice one does for 20 minutes twice in a day. All you need to do is sit comfortably and close your eyes. This meditation technique is not a religion, philosophy or lifestyle, it is simply a way to reach self-development.

This technique allows your mind to settle and gives you a chance to experience pure awareness, also known as transcendental consciousness. It allows you to experience the most silent and peaceful level of consciousness – your innermost self. It also allows your brain to attain deep rest helping you be more efficient and betters your cognitive functions.

Where did this technique originate?

About 50 years ago, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi introduced Transcendental Meditation to the world. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is considered the representative of Vedic tradition in our day and age. This form of meditation helped in restoring knowledge and helps people experience a higher state of consciousness. The most important aspect of this technique is that it is still practiced with the same technique and principles as it was when the Vedas were first written, giving it maximum effectiveness.

How do I learn?

The TM technique has local teachers who will guide you through the process. It consists of seven steps after which one can practice the TM technique on their own.

Benefits of the TM technique

The TM technique is known to calm your mind, directly affecting the stress that your brain experiences on a daily basis. According to the experts, practicing the TM technique regularly helps in developing total brain control, thereby making you more equipped to deal with every day stress. It indirectly reduces the production on hormones that are commonly produced when one is stressed and thereby stops the damage that is normally produced.

Apart from all this, a calm mind and body is the best way to protect your body from cardiovascular stress. The TM technique also has great benefits for students, it helps improve their memory, IQ and helps them fight stress.

With inputs from: IANS

Reference: Transcendental Meditation

Related: Transcendental experiences during meditation practice – paper published in @AcademyAnnals.

Health India also posts: Practice Transcendental Meditation to lower BP, heart and mortality risks.

See more news coverage: Transcendental Meditation and lifestyle changes both stimulate genes that reduce blood pressure and extend lifespan.

@MaharishiU’s Dr. Robert Schneider presents @TMmeditation research to @uiowa Hospitals and Clinics medical staff

January 9, 2014

Doctor touts health benefits of Transcendental Meditation
Written by Sara Agnew, Iowa City Press-Citizen
Jan. 7, 2014 8:55 PM

Dr. Francois Abboud, left, talks with Dr. Robert H. Schneider, who spoke with medical staff at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Tuesday about how the practice of Transcendental Meditation can reduce the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure. / Sara Agnew / Iowa City Press-Citizen

Dr. Francois Abboud, left, talks with Dr. Robert H. Schneider, who spoke with medical staff at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Tuesday about how the practice of Transcendental Meditation can reduce the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure. / Sara Agnew / Iowa City Press-Citizen

If you want to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and lower your blood pressure without taking medication, Dr. Robert H. Schneider has a suggestion: Transcendental Meditation.

Schneider says he has been involved in studies that show this type of meditation can reduce the rate of death from cardiovascular disease by 30 percent and from cancer by 40 percent.

The key is you need to know the “techniques” of Transcendental Meditation to experience the benefits — sitting with your eyes closed for 10 minutes won’t cut it.

That’s the message Schneider shared with about 40 hospital personnel Tuesday during an hourlong presentation called MIND-BODY-HEART: Evidence for Meditation in Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. It was his first visit with staff and doctors at UIHC.

“It was breakthrough,” he said of his visit.

Schneider is director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention and dean of medical programs at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield. As a physician and scientist, Schneider has spent the past 30 years researching evidence-based natural approaches for treating heart disease, high blood pressure, stress and other cardiovascular factors. Over the past 20 years, he has received more than $20 million in research grants from the National Institutes of Health for his natural approaches to treating heart disease.

Much of his work centers on the benefits of Transcendental Meditation.

Schneider said TM is an effortless technique for “automatic self-transcending.” It allows your mind to settle inward beyond thought to experience the source of thought — pure awareness. This is the most silent and peaceful level of consciousness and what many who practice TM call your innermost self.

“It takes a technique that you learn in an eight-hour course,” Schneider said. “Once you have the technique, it happens quite easily.”

Schneider said humans have an “inborn ability” to practice this type of meditation.

“But we have lost this simple and natural technique,” he said.

Schneider said much of his research about the correlation between mind and body were affirmed last June when the American Heart Association announced that Transcendental Meditation is the only meditation practice that has shown to lower blood pressure. In addition, AHA reported lower blood pressure through TM is associated with substantially reduced rates of death, heart attack and stroke.

Ultimately, Schneider said the AHA recommended that TM be recommended for consideration as an alternative treatment for individuals with blood pressure greater than 120/80 mm Hg.

Schneider said he learned about TM 40 years ago as a college student.

“I was always interested in how we can tap into the body’s own cell repair and healing abilities,” he said. “I thought I’d try it and see if it works.”

He read the research and gave TM a try.

“I found I could study better and learn better and had more energy,” Schneider said.

Later, when he was a fellow in hypertension at the University of Michigan Medical School, Schneider took an interest in the connection between the brain and heart.

“I thought maybe we could use the brain to lower blood pressure,” he said.

Schneider believes his years of research on managing the mind-body connection is paying off as organizations such as the AHA begin recognizing the benefits of TM.

During his presentation at UIHC, Schneider highlighted a 2012 study that showed blacks with heart disease who practiced TM regularly were 48 percent less likely to have a heart attack, stroke or die from all causes compared with blacks who attended a health education class over more than five years.

Those practicing TM also “lowered their blood pressure and reported less stress and anger,” Schneider said.

Schneider is interested in researching how TM can be used to help military veterans recover from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dr. Francois Abboud, the namesake of UI’s Cardiovascular Research Center, asked, “How will I know if I am meditating correctly?”

Linda Rainforth, a certified TM teacher from Iowa City, said people who are practicing TM reach a “deep, deep level of silence and stillness” in which they experience an “expansion of the mind.”

One listener wondered whether men or women followed through most consistently in practicing TM during research studies.

“Men and women both get results,” Schneider said. “But in some of our studies, there was slightly more compliance with the women.”

If you go

Learn more about Transcendental Meditation by attending one of the following presentations by certified teachers in TM. All presentations will be at the Iowa City Public Library, meeting room E.
• 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
• 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday.
• 6:30 p.m. Jan. 16.
TM sessions also can be by appointment by calling Iowa City Transcendental Meditation Program at 936-1986, 641-472-0827 or 641-919-7282. For more information, go to www.tm.org.

MUM's Dr. Robert Schneider presenting research at UIMC

Dr. Robert Schneider was also interviewed by Steve Smith on KMCD’s MUM Spotlight Show about the American Heart Association’s recommendation of Transcendental Meditation to lower high blood pressure. He also reported on his visit to UI’s Medical Center. Steve asked some great questions. It was a lively discussion. Listen here: http://fairfieldiowaradio.com/audio/spotlight%201-9.mp3. (20:45)

See Dr. Schneider on New Zealand Television’s Breakfast ONE News describing the value of TM for heart health. http://tvnz.co.nz/breakfast-news/meditating-your-heart-video-5602306

THP: How Meditation Techniques Compare

September 23, 2010

Posted: September 22, 2010 04:50 PM

How Meditation Techniques Compare — Zen, Mindfulness, Transcendental Meditation and more

Meditation shopping? Sounds like an oxymoron, right? Yet millions of Americans are seeking tools to turn within. As a nation we’ve tried to fix our problems with everything from psychotherapy and Prozac to positive thinking and politics. Now people everywhere are ready to close their eyes and take a dive — not to escape, but to more fully be.

Having lectured on meditation for 25 years, I find that audiences no longer need to be convinced of meditation’s practical benefits. But people do often ask, “Aren’t all meditation techniques basically the same?”

Experts in the venerated traditions of meditation have always marveled at the mind’s subtlety, appreciating its keen responsiveness and sensitivity to different mental procedures. Great master teachers of meditation have recognized that the various techniques engage the mind in different ways and naturally produce different results. With advancements in neurophysiology, scientists are now identifying distinctions among varieties of meditation practices.

The Myth of the Relaxation Response

The old “scientific” myth that meditation practices all induce the same, general state of physiological rest — called the “relaxation response” — has been overturned. Though many practices provide relaxation, decades of research show that not all techniques produce the same physiological, psychological or behavioral effects.1

Recently a doctor came to me for meditation instruction. He had learned a “relaxation response” technique in a class on integrative medicine during his training at Harvard. He was attracted to meditation by the promise of deeper insight into consciousness — access to the mind’s hidden, transcendent potentialities. He enjoyed the relaxation technique but yearned for deeper experience and understanding.

Reviewing the science journals, the doctor arrived at the same conclusion reached by leading meditation researchers: the “relaxation” model was based on inconclusive evidence and had never been substantiated. Hundreds of published studies on meditation techniques show varying effects from different practices — ranging from measures of rest much deeper than the “relaxation response” to physiological states no different from sliding back into your easy chair.

The emerging paradigm: three major categories of meditation

Meditation labs have sprung up at universities across the country–places such as Yale, UCLA, University of Oregon, UW Madison and Maharishi University of Management. Their contributions have helped researchers identify three major categories of techniques, classified according to EEG measurements and the type of cognitive processing or mental activity involved:

  • Controlled focus: Classic examples of concentration or controlled focus are found in the revered traditions of Zen, Tibetan Buddhism, Qiqong, Yoga and Vedanta, though many methods involve attempts to control or direct the mind. Attention is focused on an object of meditation–such as one’s breath, an idea or image, or an emotion. Brain waves recorded during these practices are typically in the gamma frequency (20-50 Hz), seen whenever you concentrate or during “active” cognitive processing.2
  • Open monitoring: These mindfulness type practices, common in Vipassana and Zazen, involve watching or actively paying attention to experiences–without judging, reacting or holding on. Open monitoring gives rise to frontal theta (4-8 Hz), an EEG pattern commonly seen during memory tasks or reflection on mental concepts.3
  • Automatic self-transcending: This category describes practices designed to go beyond their own mental activity–enabling the mind to spontaneously transcend the process of meditation itself. Whereas concentration and open monitoring require degrees of effort or directed focus to sustain the activity of meditation, this approach is effortless because there is no attempt to direct attention–no controlled cognitive processing. An example is the Transcendental Meditation technique. The EEG pattern of this category is frontal alpha coherence, associated with a distinct state of relaxed inner wakefulness.4

2010-09-22-graph.jpg
Some techniques may fall under more than one category: Guided meditation is controlled focus if the instruction is, “Hold attention on your breath.” But if the instructor says, “Now just watch your thoughts, letting them come and go,” then you’re probably doing open monitoring–and your EEG would say for sure.

Different practices, different results

Without the scientific research (or until we have a cell phone app for measuring our EEG and biochemistry), meditative states and their effects remain subjective. Brain research, along with findings on psychological and behavioral effects, gives a more objective framework for health professionals or anyone to determine which meditation technique might be most beneficial for a given purpose.

For example, research suggests that concentration techniques may improve focusing ability. A study on advanced Buddhist monks–some of whom had logged more 10,000 hours of meditation — found that concentrating on “loving kindness and compassion” increased those feelings and produced synchronous gamma activity in the left prefrontal cortex — indicating more powerful focus.

The effect of open monitoring or non-judgmental observation is said to increase even-mindedness in daily life; studies on mindfulness-type practices indicate better pain management and reduction of “negative rumination.”

For relief from stress, research suggests that an automatic self-transcending technique might serve you better than a practice that keeps the mind engaged in continuous mental effort. Because of the natural mind/body relationship, the more deeply settled the mind, the more deeply rested is the body. Studies show that the deep rest of “transcending” calms the sympathetic nervous system and restores physiological balance — lowering high blood pressure, alleviating chronic anxiety and reducing stress hormones such as cortisol.

More research is needed to verify benefits of controlled focus, but there are numerous studies on mindfulness practices and automatic self-transcending, with over 600 studies on the Transcendental Meditation technique alone.

As meditation becomes a new frontier of scientific research, more and more people are becoming aware of the mind’s enormous potential for impacting health and wellbeing. I find that most meditators are no longer concerned that a technique might come from the East or have roots in a spiritual tradition–their main concern is that the practice works, and science can help remove the guesswork.

Americans are opting for meditation to counterbalance a life that’s been plugged in, outer directed and over stimulated, and we’re turning to something as simple as our own inner silence.

Whether you’re an athlete aiming for the “zone,” an executive striving for peak performance or a harried mother needing some serenity, a reliable meditation practice can be your best friend.

1. Orme-Johnson, Walton, 1998. American Journal of Health Promotion 2(5), 297-299.
2. Lutz, Greischar, Rawlings, Ricard, Davidson, 2004. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 101,16369-73.
3. Cahn, Delorme, & Polich, 2010. Cognitive Processing 2010 11(1):39-56.
4. Travis et al, 2010. Cognitive Processing 11(1), 21-30.

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Also see: THP: Keeping Your Prefrontal Cortex Online: Neuroplasticity, Stress and Meditation

And: Are all meditation techniques the same?

See this article and infographic on Three Categories of Meditation.


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