Transcendental Meditation


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Scientific research on Transcendental Meditation

According to the TM Organization, independent research studies on Trancendental Meditation have been published in around 150 Scientific Journals and have been conducted by more than 200 Universities.

The TM Organization also claims that the actual research studies on TM are over 600. However, much fewer than that are scientifically valid.
We have a deep respect for the around 50 actual studies on TM (read below). But it’s misleading to claim that there are 600+. First of all, the total number of articles is 430, as documented in “Scientific Research on the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Program: Collected Papers Volumes 1-5” (five volumes have been published, even though the TMO claims they are six).
Many of them are review papers, theoretical papers, or simply fantastic visions. The latter include (for example) paper #99, #101, all the articles between #412 and #430, and all the ones reprinted from the journal “Modern Science and Vedic Science”, which are considered pseudoscience by the scientific community: Dr. John Hagelin lost his international credibility in physics due to paper #429 and #430. As another example, articles about “yogic flying”, such as paper #102, #103 and many others, are actually considered unscientific by the scientific community or by the general public. Other striking examples of unscientific papers are #324 (supposed effect of yogic flying assemblies on the weather), and the many papers (such as #330) about the supposed effect of yogic flying assemblies on stock markets.
Generally, the dozens of articles on the so-called Maharishi Effect are controversial and have been criticized by many scientists. In any case, they cannot be considered reliable studies on the effectiveness of TM.
Other papers are simply translations of existing articles from English to other languages. For example, simple translations comprise most of the papers in German (#167, #169, #172, #174, #175, #187, #189, #290, #338), both the papers in French (#341, #343), one of the two papers in Italian (#342), and the one in Danish (#344).
Of the remaining papers, the total of articles that have been actually published in peer-reviewed journals is around 150, and many of those are quite trivial, such as #43 (about the supposed effect of TM on stutterers), #66 (measuring Rotter’s Locus of Control in students interested in learning TM, which has no follow-up checking), and others.

Said that, we recognize that many scientific articles on TM are really valid.

Scientific research on TM: Full bibliography

Example. A meta-analysis of 76 studies of meditation and relaxation practices was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology (45, 957-974, 1989). Hand and computer searches located studies on the effects of relaxation techniques on trait anxiety. Effect sizes for the different treatments (such as Progressive Relaxation, EMG Biofeedback, various forms of Meditation, etc.) were calculated. Most of the treatments produced similar effect sizes except that Transcendental Meditation had significantly larger effect size.

Another meta-analysis was published in 1991, with similar results (Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 6:189-247, 1991).

A meta-analysis of 597 studies of meditation practices was published in the American Journal of Health Promotion (12:297-299, 1998). This study found Transcendental Meditation to be significantly superior to other forms of meditation and relaxation in a wide range of criteria related to mental and physical health.

However, a recent technique seems to achieve the same results as TM:
Natural Stress Relief technique
Frequently Asked Questions about TM and NSR
Transcendental Meditation & NSR Discussion Forum

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