Posts Tagged ‘physiology’

New study highlights unique state of “restful alertness” during Transcendental Meditation

March 24, 2018

fMRI shows increased blood flow to frontal areas of brain and decreased blood flow in pons and cerebellum

Summary: A new study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) suggests that Transcendental Meditation is associated with a unique state of “restful alertness.” The study, which monitored blood flow, found that, compared to eyes-closed rest, during Transcendental Meditation there was increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, indicating the sort of alertness also seen in other meditations. However, unlike other meditations, there was decreased activity in the cerebellum and pons, indicating deep rest.

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Mahone - side view fMRI

fMRI images show significant areas of activation during Transcendental Meditation compared to resting with eyes closed. Areas of activation (orange) included the anterior cingulate gyrus and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Areas of deactivation (blue) included the pons and cerebellum. These findings suggest the mind is alert but that mind and body are in a deeply restful state.

The Transcendental Meditation technique is said to lead to a state of “restful alertness,” and now a new study in Brain and Cognition using brain-imaging supports the assertion that during the practice one’s mind is alert but that both mind and body are in a deep state of rest.

Functional magnetic resonance imagining (fMRI) patterns of 16 subjects during their practice of Transcendental Meditation found that, like meditations that involve focused attention or open monitoring, there was increased activity in the areas of the prefrontal cortex related to attention – indicating alertness. However, unlike other meditations, during Transcendental Meditation there was also decreased activity in the areas related to arousal – indicating deep rest.

“Given the wide variety of meditations that are practiced today, it’s important to distinguish among them in order to see the different ways they affect the brain,” said Michelle Mahone, lead author. “It makes sense that different approaches to meditation would use the brain in different ways.”

A state of restful alertness

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who introduced Transcendental Meditation in the West, taught that TM practice leads to this state of restful alertness. And over the past decades, researchers have sought to verify this claim scientifically.

Early research suggested that Transcendental Meditation practice lowers sympathetic nervous activity, as indicated by a reduction in skin conductance and plasma lactate – two physiological markers of sympathetic functioning – and a decrease in breath rate.

“This reduction in sympathetic activation results from gaining the state of restful alertness during Transcendental Meditation practice,” said Fred Travis, a coauthor of the study. “This restful alertness is the key to Transcendental Meditation. It’s a very different kind of rest than sleep. It’s rejuvenating and healing, as evidenced by a wide range of clinical studies, while at the same time it allows the person to experience deeper mental states – with profound implications, such as an ongoing experience of transcendence.”

The restfully alert state gained during Transcendental is more than a concept, Dr. Travis says. “These blood flow patterns give a physiological picture of the reality of restful alertness in the mind and body.”

Increased blood flow to prefrontal cortices

The sixteen subjects, who had been practicing Transcendental Meditation an average of 34 years, were each tested as they meditated for 10 minutes while the blood flow in their brain was monitored by an fMRI scan.

Compared to just resting peacefully with their eyes closed, the fMRI scan found an increase in blood flow in the bilateral anterior cingulate gyrus and bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortices – areas of the brain’s prefrontal cortex associated with attention and executive functions such as decision making, reasoning, working memory, inhibition, and reward anticipation.

Frontal blood flow is also reported during other meditations and indicates that the mind is alert.

Decreased blood flow to pons and cerebellum

However, unlike other meditations, during Transcendental Meditation there was a decrease in blood flow to the pons and cerebellum. The pons modulates the individual’s overall state of arousal and governs breath and heart rates. The decrease in activity in this brain area supports the experience during Transcendental Meditation of a deeply silent mind and rested body.

The cerebellum modulates the speed and variability of information processing, both related to coordination and motor control and to cognitive functions such as attention and language. The decrease in activity suggests that the body reverts to a more automatic mode without the need of cognitive effort to exert control.

Together the decrease in activity in the pons and cerebellum activity suggests an overall reduction in cognitive control and executive processing during Transcendental Meditation – as if the attentional system is at a balance point ready to act when needed, Dr. Travis said.

“By using the mind in a specific way, restfulness follows,” Dr. Mahone said. “While this may seem contradictory, this finding is compatible with other research supporting that meditation could be key to balancing the autonomic nervous system and improving quality of life.”

Natural tendency of the mind

This state of restful alertness is said to result from correct practice of Transcendental Meditation: without effort.

“Transcendental Meditation is effortless because it follows the natural tendency of the mind,” Dr. Travis said. “One begins the practice in a simple way, and then it goes automatically, without any analyzing or intention. Maharishi said that it simply follows the natural tendency of the mind to settle down to quieter states if given the opportunity.”

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About the Transcendental Meditation Technique

Transcendental Meditation® is a simple, natural technique practiced 20 minutes twice each day while sitting comfortably with the eyes closed. It is easily learned, and is not a religion, philosophy, or lifestyle. It doesn’t involve concentration, control of the mind, contemplation, or monitoring of thoughts or breathing. The practice allows the active thinking mind to settle down to a state of inner calm. For more information visit http://www.tm.org.

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“fMRI during Transcendental Meditation practice”
Michelle C. Mahone, Fred Travis, Richard Gevirtz, David Hubbard
Brain and Cognition 123 (2018) 30–33

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Reports: EurekAlert | Health Imaging: fMRI confirms state of ‘restful alertness’ during transcendental meditation | EUPB | Press Locker | Bioengineer.org | Science Newsline: Medicine | INTO.AI | The London Economic | Scicasts | SCIENMAG | The British Psychological Society’s Research Digest wrote an impressive review of the study (April 16, 2018) in their section: Brain, In Brief: First ever neuroimaging study of people in the midst of Transcendental Meditation.

 

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Veda, Consciousness, the Ramayana, and the Self — A New Paradigm Tour Will Visit Ten Cities

April 12, 2012

NEW PARADIGM TOUR VISITS 10 NORTH AMERICAN CITIES

“Veda, Consciousness, the Ramayana, and the Self”

Science and spirituality merge as leading scientists, artists and business leaders present cutting-edge knowledge to Indian Communities Throughout North America

A team of leading scientists, artists and business leaders will tour 10 North American cities this spring, delivering a series of cutting-edge presentations entitled “A New Paradigm: Veda, Consciousness, the Ramayana, and the Self.” The tour includes visits to San Diego; San Francisco; Vancouver; Fairfield, Iowa; Chicago; Toronto; Montreal; Boston; New York; and Washington, DC. www.newparadigmtour.org

The event will explore the meeting point of science and spirituality by presenting pioneering research that reveals the Veda and the Ramayana as blueprints of our body and the entire universe. Extensive research on these breakthrough discoveries has also documented collective benefits for society, including the potential for creating world peace. The event will feature a video presentation of 1,000 Vedic Pandits in Maharishi Vedic City, Iowa, chanting the Veda. Listen: http://bit.ly/vedicpandits.

SPEAKERS

The speakers at this event come from diverse backgrounds. Tony Nader, M.D., Ph.D., neuroscientist and researcher, will headline the event as the keynote speaker with his presentation, “Embodying Totality”.  Dr. Nader received his Ph.D. in the area of Brain and Cognitive Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and completed post-doctoral work at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Nader’s desire to gain a deeper understanding of the human mind and body—of consciousness and physiology—led him to the study of Vedic Science under the guidance of the Vedic sage Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the worldwide Transcendental Meditation movement (TM) http://www.tm.org. Dr. Nader’s discoveries have inspired medical doctors and scientists throughout the world by demonstrating the effectiveness of Vedic sound to heal mind, body and society (for example: Enlivening the Healing Ability of the Body through Maharishi Vedic Sound).

John Hagelin, Ph.D., is a world-renowned Harvard-trained quantum physicist, educator, public policy expert, and leading proponent of peace. Winner of the prestigious Kilby Award, Dr. Hagelin was recognized for his achievements as a scientist in the tradition of Einstein, Jeans, Bohr and Eddington. He is Chairman of the Physics Department at Maharishi University of Management (www.MUM.edu) and will speak on “Consciousness and the Unified Field.”

Ramani Ayer was the first Indo-American CEO of a Fortune 100 company. He was Chairman of the Board and CEO of Hartford Financial Services Group for 13 years, retiring in 2009.  Mr. Ayer will speak on “Enlightened Leadership and World Peace.”

For more information on the speaker profiles see: http://www.newparadigmtour.org/speakers.html

SPECIAL HOLLYWOOD AND BOLLYWOOD GUESTS

Joining these speakers via videoconference will be special guests, Hollywood director, David Lynch, and the Sagar family, of Ramayana fame, from Mumbai. David Lynch is acclaimed as one of the most creative minds in film, art, and music today.  He is also the founder of the David Lynch Foundation www.davidlynchfoundation.org. Ramanand Sagar created the original epic Ramayana series in 1987, inspiring all of India while preserving Vedic values in the culture.  The next generation of Sagars—Prem, Anand, Shiv and Shakti of Sagar Arts—created the 2008 remake of this timeless saga.

THEMES

The speakers will explore three primary themes in the presentation. The first theme explores the cosmic nature of the individual. The sounds of the Veda have been found to be blueprints that structure the physiology on every level.  The brain, the heart and the whole physiology are seen from this perspective as a replica of Veda and the Vedic literature. The practical application of this has been documented by original research conducted by medical doctors and scientists that demonstrates the effectiveness of these Vedic sounds for creating brain coherence and for the treatment of chronic disorders.

The second theme explores the applications of this discovery on the collective level of society.  The presentation will review evidence that large groups of thousands of peace-creating Vedic pandits are capable of changing the destiny of mankind by applying Vedic technologies of consciousness from the deepest level of consciousness—the common unified source of both science and religion. Demonstrating the effectiveness of this approach, the Global Peace Initiative has already established 1000 Maharishi Vedic Pandits in Maharishi Vedic City in Iowa, and 2500 at the center of India in Madhya Pradesh. www.vedicpandits.org

The third theme covers Dr. Nader’s latest book, “Ramayan in Human Physiology,” which will be released on this tour. It describes the profound correlation between the characters, details and happenings of the Ramayana with every part of the human physiology. “It will serve as a revelation to those who desire a greater understanding of the unity underlying all that makes us human,” says Gary P. Kaplan, M.D., Ph.D., Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology at Hofstra University School of Medicine. http://www.newparadigmtour.org/ramayan

RAMAYAN in HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY SEMINARS

In addition to the ‘New Paradigm’ presentations, Dr. Nader will also offer an “Introductory Seminar on the Ramayan in Human Physiology” at each of the locations for those who desire a more in-depth treatment of the correlations between the eternal story of the Ramayana and the structure and function of the human physiology. http://www.newparadigmtour.org/seminars.html

OPRAH, TM, FAIRFIELD, AND VEDIC PANDITS

Oprah Winfrey and her staff all practice Transcendental Meditation. For Oprah’s Next Chapter, she visited Fairfield, Iowa, America’s Most Unusual Town. She also went to Maharishi Vedic City to see the Maharishi Vedic Pandits.  Oprah and her crew were the first ones allowed in to film the Vedic Pandits chanting.

Oprah completed her visit by meditating with the ladies in their Bagambhrini Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge. “It was a powerfully energizing yet calming experience. I didn’t want it to end.” You can see a photo of Oprah meditating in the dome with over 400 ladies and read what she had to say about her experience in the February issue of O Magazine in her column “What I Know For Sure.”

This press release was published in Pravasitoday under Events: http://www.pravasitoday.com/new-paradigm-tour-visits-10-north-american-cities | INDIAWEST: New Paradigm Tour: ‘Veda, Consciousness, The Ramayana, and the Self’| India Tribune (page 4): Meet on ‘Veda, Consciousness, Ramayana and Self’ in 10 North American cities | India Post (page 9): Science & spirituality tour in 10 cities | LoKvani: In Conversation With Ramani Ayer | Chicago Tribune: New paradigm North American tour visits Chicago with pictures from Asian Media USA | India Post: IOWA scholars give scientific exposition of Ramayana (page 13) | hi INDiA: Special Report: Ramayan; A New Vision in Vedas (cover story on pages 20+24) | NewsIndiaTimes: Hundreds Attend Program to Promote Vedic Learning

See website for more details: http://www.newparadigmtour.org, Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/VedaConsciousness, and videos of Dr Nader at: http://www.youtube.com/drtonynader. Also see A report halfway into the New Paradigm Tour: Veda, Consciousness, the Ramayana and the Self. See this New Video: Dr. Tony Nader speaks about the Ramayana in Human Physiology.


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