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Transcendental Meditation and PTS: Strengthening brain patterns related to safety, stability, wholeness

Operation Warrior Wellness    Translate This Article
2 January 2012

Ask the Experts

Sarina Grosswald, Ed.D.
, is a research investigator at the NIH-funded Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention. She is a principal investigator in a series of trials studying the effects of Transcendental Meditation (TM) on post-traumatic stress (PTS) and resilience among military personnel and veterans.

Q: Can the Transcendental Meditation technique help people of different ages with PTS? 

Dr. Sarina Grosswald:
Yes, the Transcendental Meditation technique works the same for adults as for children. First of all, during the technique, many positive changes take place in the neurochemistry of the brain. The Transcendental Meditation technique has the potential to bring into balance the very neurotransmitters that go out of balance in a person with PTS, such as serotonin.

Research shows that stress and anxiety are greatly reduced with the Transcendental Meditation technique, and the person grows in the ability to manage stress. TM helps reduce the ''fight or flight'' response that is so common in people who have PTS.

Stress also affects memory and attention. With PTS, for example, the person hears a random sound, and if the sound is similar to sounds that they experienced during the traumatic event, the primitive part of the brain reacts and suddenly the whole memory starts coming back, along with extreme stress and anxiety.

In research studies that measure EEG coherence during the practice of Transcendental Meditation, researchers have found that connections are strengthened to the prefrontal cortex, which has the ability to make us feel, ''I know this is a safe situation.'' And over time, the brain patterns change because the connections get strengthened to the prefrontal cortex, which give the message, ''I am safe,'' and the connections to fear and the primitive brain begin to fade.

In other words, ''use it or lose it'' works in your favor here, because if you're not continuing to strengthen the patterns related to re-experiencing stress, but instead you're strengthening the patterns relating to safety, stability, calmness, happiness, and wholeness, then those more healthy patterns become the dominant connections. The others begin to fall away.

What we see is the strengthening of contextual memory, short-term memory, so that more normal memories of day-to-day activity begin to dominate.

Click here for more about Operation Warrior Wellness, including successful results using the Transcendental Meditation technique to gain relief in the epidemic of PTS among veterans returning from combat.

That page includes links to videos from the recent global press conference in Los Angeles, launching Operation Warrior Wellness, the David Lynch Foundation's initiative to grant $1 million to teach veterans Transcendental Meditation.

© Copyright 2012 David Lynch Foundation

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