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Transcendental Meditation: What is it and how does it work?
by Therese Borchard
Psych Central Translate This Article
14 July 2011
On 14 July 2011 Psych Central reported:
Renowned psychiatrist Dr Norman Rosenthal's new book, Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation, presents a comprehensive overview of this simple technique that brings 'a profound state of aware relaxation', in the words of reviewer Therese Borchard. In the treatment of emotional disorders, 'Dr Rosenthal believes that practicing [TM] can be the difference between a life of coping and a life of living', she writes.
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Impressed by Dr Rosenthal's credentials, 'I opened the book and began to read stories that inspired me and gave me hope that one day I might be a meditator too,' writes Ms Borchard, who says she has been trying other meditation techniques without success.
Dr Rosenthal, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School, was formerly a senior researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health. He is renowned for leading the team that identified and described Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and pioneered the use of light therapy to treat it.
Dr. Norman Rosenthal
The review in Psych Central quotes from Transcendence,* in which Dr Rosenthal explains that 'Transcendental Meditation is always taught one-on-one, at least initially, by a teacher who is a longtime meditator trained not only to instruct new students and provide follow-up, but also to customize the approach for each student.'
Ms Borchard's thoughtful review highlights Dr Rosenthal's presentation of brain research distinguishing between different forms of meditation, noting the 'more global effect' found in Transcendental Meditation. In addition, 'a profound gift of TM is that regular practice increases brain wave coherence, meaning that the frequencies of brain waves in different parts of the brain work together,' she writes. 'Electroencephalograms (EEG) indicate that TM calms the brain while organizing the prefrontal brain regions so that meditators can improve their focus, decision-making, and job performance.'
Of especial interest to the reviewer is the book's discussion of Transcendental Meditation in treating emotional disorders such as acute anxiety, major depression, and bipolar disorder, including a study Dr Rosenthal and colleagues conducted with a group of bipolar patients. The review again quotes from the book:
''Several patients reported increased calmness, improved focus, and improved ability to stay organized and set priorities—no surprise, given TM's known effects on the prefrontal cortex. TM helped bipolar patients improve their executive function, just as it did for people with anxiety disorders and ADHD. . . . All in all . . . our study suggests that TM might be very helpful for bipolar patients. In fact, all the clinicians who worked on the study are now referring certain of their bipolar patients, particularly those with residual depression, for TM training—along with their other treatments.''
Dr Rosenthal recommends that the technique be included in the 'mix' of treatment approaches for such disorders, 'especially when conventional approaches prove unsatisfactory'. The review notes, 'Dr Rosenthal believes that practicing [TM] can be the difference between a life of coping and a life of living'.
Ms Borchard recommends reading Transcendence 'for more information on the science and benefits of Transcendental Meditation'.
Click here to read the entire article in Psych Central.
* Tarcher-Penguin 2011, ISBN 9781585428731.
© Copyright 2011 Psych Central
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