Posts Tagged ‘quality of life’

New book suggests how governments can use meditation to help defeat the virus of violence

June 20, 2020

Summary: While it is now accepted that Transcendental Meditation (TM) can create peace for the individual, can it do the same for society, and if so, what is the mechanism? In An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence Barry Spivack and Patricia Saunders examine peer-reviewed research suggesting that Transcendental Meditation can influence the collective consciousness of society, leading to decreases in violent crime and war fatalities, and increases in quality of life and cooperation between nations. (Source: EurekAlert!)

An Antidote to Violence

The COVID-19 pandemic has put societies everywhere under extreme stress, and collective stress is often a precursor to outbreaks of violence. Striking features of this global health crisis have been the collective anxiety of the population, the wide variations in the way governments have responded, and the varying degree of their success.

While there is significant scientific research showing that meditation has a positive influence on the health and well being of individuals, is there any evidence that large-scale meditation can can also reduce stress and levels of violence in society?

“Yes” is the surprising inference from the authors of a new book. Published June 26, An Antidote to Violence provides evidence that the level of collective anxiety and tension in society, or incoherence in collective consciousness, is the key element, which determines the success or failure of a government in tackling crime, violence, social unrest and ill-health.

Written for the social scientist and the lay reader alike, An Antidote to Violence offers answers to key questions, including: does group meditation actually influence society? If so, how does it work? What is the evidence? What do skeptics say?

Weaving together psychology, sociology, philosophy, statistics, politics, physics and meditation, the book provides evidence that we have the knowledge to reduce all kinds of violence in society by creating coherence in collective consciousness and thereby neutralizing collective stress.

Barry Spivack and Patricia Saunders describe how a rise in collective tensions spills over into increased social unrest, crime, violence, accidental deaths and hospital emergencies. They examine 20 peer-reviewed studies from over four decades, indicating that it is possible to neutralize or reduce stress in collective consciousness through the practice of Transcendental Meditation (TM) and its advanced programs by a sufficient number of individuals, which is amplified in groups.

Evaluating the Evidence

During the experimental period, U.S. rates of homicides, motor vehicle fatalities, drug-related deaths, violent crime (homicides, aggravated assault, robbery and rape), fatalities due to other accidents and infant mortality, all decreased compared to the baseline period.

These findings are more relevant now than ever before at a time of pandemic, protest, and social unrest. — Barry Spivack

“These findings are more relevant now than ever before at a time of pandemic, protest, and social unrest,” says Spivack, and offers three examples from the studies cited in the book. Each of these experiments consisted of sufficient numbers either meditating on their own or together for a period of weeks or months, and in some cases, years, in societies wracked by violence: on 93 experimental days in Lebanon between 1983 and 1985, Cambodia between 1990 and 2008, and USA between 2007 and 2010 compared with the previous four years. In each case measured statistically, significant drops in violence occurred during the periods when the numbers meditating were above the predicted threshold.

Foreword by Bob Roth | Introduction by John Hagelin

In the Foreword to the book, Bob Roth, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation, and author of the NY Times bestseller, Strength in Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation, writes: “Barry Spivack and Patricia Saunders have opened our eyes to an entirely new vision of possibilities about human potential that is both sweepingly grand but also immediate and practical.”

In the book’s Introduction, Dr. John Hagelin, quantum physicist and International Director of the Global Union of Scientists for Peace, suggests “the existing research, while compelling and rigorous, presents a direct challenge to established mainstream sociological paradigms and may be difficult for some to accept. Even more rigorous and repeated testing of the theories presented here is therefore essential to ensure widespread acceptance of this demonstrated sociological phenomenon.”

Just as we must explore every scientific means for beating COVID-19, so we must follow every lead for defeating the virus of violence. — Tim Ward, publisher Changemakers Books

Changemakers Books publisher Tim Ward was struck by the book’s thought-provoking premise and explained his reasons for publishing it. “While the evidence gathered in this book is striking, more research needs to be done to prove it true. And that’s why I chose to publish An Antidote to Violence. Too much is at stake to let this possibility slip through our fingers. Just as we must explore every scientific means for beating COVID-19, so we must follow every lead for defeating the virus of violence.” 

Barry Spivack was invited to speak about his new book to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Indian Traditional Sciences in the UK, Sunday, June 21, the International Day of Yoga 2020. Speakers will include High Commissioners and Members from both Houses of Parliament. Conference proceedings will be streamed via Zoom, 12 noon to 5 pm, London time (6 am to 11 am CST). Dr. Tony Nader will speak at 12:55 pm (6:55 am CST) and Barry Spivack at 2:45 pm UK time (8:45 am CST). It will also live stream on Facebook under Indian Traditional Sciences.

Research provides evidence consistent with a causal interpretation

The authors emphasize this is the first book that draws on all the peer-reviewed research and looks at the implications of the research as a whole rather than just individual papers. “Compiling so many consistent experimental results may indicate more than a statistical correlation; it justifies further research into a causal hypothesis.”

Establishing causality in the social sciences is difficult. “Nevertheless,” says Spivack, “there are at least 6 reasons why the research provides evidence for the hypothesis that Transcendental Meditation reduces conflict and divisions in society, and improves economic performance, which is consistent with a causal interpretation.”

1) Repetition: There are 20 peer-reviewed studies, which show statistically significant results.

2) There is a dosage effect—the bigger the group the larger the impact.

3) The independent variable—the numbers practicing Transcendental Meditation—often varies at random in these experiments so you get a repeat effect within the same experiment whenever the relevant threshold of numbers is passed within the same study.

4) Studies have controlled for other possible causes in social changes, such as population density, median years of education, per capita income, the ratio of police per population, weather, holidays, seasons, political events, percentages of people in the age range 15-29, of the unemployed, of those below the poverty line, and of people over 65.

5) Normally unconnected variables, such as crime, accidental deaths, infant mortality, deaths from opioids, all move in the same direction at the same time when the relevant threshold of people practicing Transcendental Meditation is surpassed.

6) The independent variable—the numbers practicing Transcendental Meditation and its advanced programs—changes before the dependent variables change, such as crime or war fatalities or the misery index.

What people are saying about An Antidote to Violence

I was initially skeptical that such a simple solution could be effective. However, after examining the evidence, I changed my mind. An Antidote to Violence is a serious and well-researched book that offers an unconventional but effective peaceful solution to violence and terrorism. Lieutenant General Clarence E. McKnight, Jr, Former Director of Command, Control and Communications Systems for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington DC

This book is especially good at discussing the evidence and the alternative explanations that have been advanced for the results. I can recommend the book to all readers with an open mind. Huw Dixon, Professor of Economics, Cardiff University

Barry Spivack and Patricia Saunders address the problems of preventing violence and war with a high level of professionalism, and, by examining a means to achieve sustainable peace supported by long-term research, have created a book that is hugely relevant. Most importantly, they highlight the interdependence of power, violence, security, and individual and collective consciousness. This book will be extremely useful for people of all nationalities, regardless of their status, different religious beliefs, personal preferences and life strategies. The theoretical and methodological principles outlined here deserve to be studied carefully and disseminated in the world. Lieutenant General Vasyl Krutov, former First Deputy Head of the Security Service of Ukraine and First Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine

My most sincere congratulations to the authors for their research and presentation of this book. I hope it will be read and applied by leaders of government and by all in general for the good of society and each person in particular. Lieutenant General José Martí Villamil de la Cadena, former Chief of Staff of the Army and Commander of Ground Theatre Operations, Chief of Staff of the Joint Command, Vice-Minister of Defence, and General Secretary of the National Security Council in Ecuador

Based on hard evidence corroborated by rigorous scientific studies, …the book compiles an array of incredible success stories from all over the world in an easily readable style for all those interested in addressing the monumental challenge of eradicating violence and conflict. Ved P. Nanda, Professor of Law, University of Denver

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RELEASE DATE: June 26 in the UK and July 1 in the US 2020ISBN: 978-1-78904-258-0 | $24.95 | £15.99 EISBN: 978-1-78904-259-7 | $12.99 | £5.79

Changemakers Books is an imprint of John Hunt Publishing www.johnhuntpublishing.com.

EurekAlert: New book shows meditation can aid governmental efforts to bring peace and heal divisions

Updates: In his presentation on the International Day of Yoga, Barry Spivack gave the example of how Mozambique President Jaochim Chissano adopted the widespread use of Transcendental Meditation and what it did for his country. See Ken Wilber said meditation can change the world. Jaochim Chissano showed it could – Steve Taylor.

Yesterday, June 20, co-author and Fairfield resident Patricia Saunders received her doctorate in Maharishi Vedic Science from Maharishi International University. In addition she was honored as the Outstanding Doctoral Student in Maharishi Vedic Science.

On July 8, 2020, David W. Orme-Johnson posted a comprehensive review of the book on Amazon: A thoughtful and well documented account of the greatest scientific discovery of our time.

This section powerfully nutshells an underlying issue, which involves a paradigm shift in the understanding of reality.

The Maharishi Effect is not everyone’s cup of tea, and this is how it should be. Science advances through a dialectic between conservative forces that try to hold on to the prevailing worldview, and evolutionary forces that try to expand knowledge to a more comprehensive framework that encompasses more of reality into a consistent picture, in this case integrating our understanding of the physical universe with consciousness.

The August issue of Enjoy TM News published an article by Harbour Fraser Hodder reviewing the evidence for reducing collective stress in society in An Antidote to Violence: How the TM Program Helps to Bring Peace and Heal Divisions.

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.

Check out this infographic comparing different meditation techniques.

TM Reduces Veterans PTSD Symptoms by 50%

June 1, 2011

Veterans Show a 50% Reduction in PTSD Symptoms
After 8 Weeks of Transcendental Meditation

WASHINGTON | Wed, June 1, 2011, 9:00am EDT

Veterans of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars showed a 50 percent reduction in their symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after just eight weeks of practicing the stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation technique, according to a pilot study published in the June 2011 issue of Military Medicine (Volume 176, Number 6).

The study evaluated five veterans, ages 25- to 40-years-old, who had served in Iraq, Afghanistan or both from 10 months to two years involving moderate or heavy moderate combat.

The study found that Transcendental Meditation produced significant reductions in stress and depression, and marked improvements in relationships and overall quality of life. Furthermore, the authors reported that the technique was easy to perform and was well accepted by the veterans.

The Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) was the primary measure for assessing the effectiveness of TM practice on PTSD symptoms. CAPS is considered by the Department of Veterans Affairs as the “gold standard” for PTSD assessment and diagnosis for both military Veteran and civilian trauma survivors.

The paper’s senior researcher, Norman Rosenthal, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School and director of research at Capital Clinical Research Associates in Rockville, Maryland. Dr. Rosenthal was the first to describe seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and pioneered the use of light therapy as a treatment.

“Even though the number of veterans in this study was small, the results were very impressive,” Rosenthal said. “These young men were in extreme distress as a direct result of trauma suffered during combat, and the simple and effortless Transcendental Meditation technique literally transformed their lives.”

The findings were similar to those from a randomized controlled study of Vietnam veterans conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. In that study, published in the Journal of Counseling and Development in 1985, after three months of twice-daily TM practice, the veterans had fewer symptoms than those receiving   conventional psychotherapy of the day.  In fact, most of the TM-treated subjects required no further treatment.

“Even though the combat experiences of OEF/OIF veterans and Vietnam veterans are quite different, the fact that our study corroborates the results of the previous study tells us that this technique has the potential to be an effective tool against PTSD and combat stress, regardless of combat situation,” explained Sarina Grosswald, EdD, co-researcher on the study.

Rosenthal hypothesizes that Transcendental Meditation helps people with PTSD because regular practice produces long-term changes in sympathetic nervous system activity, as evidenced by decreased blood pressure, and lower reactivity to stress. “Transcendental Meditation quiets down the nervous system, and slows down the ‘fight-or-flight’ response,” he said.  People with PTSD show overactive fight-or-flight responses, making them excellent candidates for Transcendental Meditation.

Rosenthal points out that there is an urgent need to find effective and cost-effective treatments for veterans with combat-related PTSD. “The condition is common, affecting an estimated one in seven deployed soldiers and Marines, most of whom do not get adequate treatment.  So far, only one treatment—simulation exposure to battleground scenes—has been deemed effective, but it requires specialized software and hardware, trained personnel and is labor intensive.

“Based on our study and previous findings, I believe Transcendental Meditation certainly warrants further study for combat-related PTSD,” says Rosenthal.

Rosenthal is the author of a new book, “Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation,” which will be released by Tarcher Penguin on June 2, 2011. For those wanting to interview Dr. Rosenthal, contact his publicist, Dean Draznin Communications, Inc., 641-472-2257, dean@drazninpr.com.

Results of the new “PTSD and Meditation” study will be announced at special presentations: Tuesday evening, June 7, in New York City, and Wednesday evening, June 8, in Washington, DC.

Watch: Reduction of PTSD Symptoms in Veterans with Transcendental Meditation.

FACT SHEET

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • A new report paints a stark picture of the toll on the U.S. military of almost a decade of war: higher stress and lower morale. The report, released Thursday, May 19, 2011, at the Pentagon, relied on questions to soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan in July and August of last year and compared responses with similar surveys in 2005 and 2009. The report noted “significant decline in reports of individual morale” as well as “acute stress rates significantly higher” than in earlier years. Source: CNN: New Pentagon study finds psychological toll from years of fighting.
  • VA’s suicide hotline receives 10,000 calls per month from active and retired servicemen. There are 950 suicide attempts per month by veterans receiving care from the VA. 18 veterans commit suicide each day, 5 of them are under the care of the VA. Source: Army Times: 18 veterans commit suicide each day.
  • The Rand Corporation’s study “Invisible Wounds of War” revealed a disturbing truth about the health of our military as recently as 2008:  Over 300,000 returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD or major depression.  According to the Rand report, these “invisible wounds” take a high toll—impacting veterans’ quality of life, hindering their performance at work, straining their families, and placing them at greater risk for violent and self-destructive behaviors. The economic cost of these disorders is equally great—reaching as high as $6 billion over 2 years. Yet, despite the heavy toll of PTSD and depression, only half of affected veterans seek care, and only a third of those who do, receive adequate treatment. Thus, over 80% of affected veterans remain without needed help.

The Transcendental Meditation Technique

  • The Transcendental Meditation technique is an effortless technique practiced 10-20 minutes twice a day sitting comfortably with the eyes closed.
  • TM is not a religion or philosophy and involves no new beliefs or change in lifestyle.
  • Over 350 peer-reviewed research studies on the TM technique confirm a range of benefits for mind, body and behavior.
  • Several studies have compared the effects of different meditation practices and found that Transcendental Meditation provides deeper relaxation and is more effective at reducing anxiety, depression and hypertension than other forms of meditation and relaxation. In addition, no other meditation practice shows the widespread coherence throughout all areas of the brain that is seen with Transcendental Meditation.
  • The Transcendental Meditation technique is taught in the United States by a non-profit, educational organization.

Source: EurekAlert! Veterans show a 50 percent reduction in PTSD symptoms after 8 weeks of Transcendental Meditation.
The Huffington Post: Top Research Psychiatrist Promotes Meditation for Healing and Transformation.
Fox News.com: Could Transcendental Meditation Help Veterans Suffering From Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
The Epoch Times by Ginger Chan: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Reduced by Meditation.
Insidermedicine: Transcendental Meditation May Help Veterans with PTSD (Video)
ABC News/Health: ABC News: Meditation Heals Military Vets With PTSD
Medical News Today: Veteran PTSD Symptoms Significantly Reduced After 8 Weeks Of Transcendental Meditation
Click here for more articles and news videos on TM and PTSD posted on The Uncarved Blog.


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