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Stilling the mental chatter: Transcendental Meditation helps women overcome anxiety
by Linda Egenes

Transcendental Meditation for Women - Blog    Translate This Article
21 December 2013

A writer friend recently asked me if the Transcendental Meditation technique would still the mental chatter that never shuts off in her brain. I said ''yes,'' because quieting the mind is a direct result of transcending.* And it's definitely been my own experience.

Most self-help books will advise you to control negative thoughts—or any incessant brain noise such as obsessing about what other people say or do or what they think about us. Yet as we all know, it's not easy to control thoughts. They pop up whether we want them to or not. Whether we're obsessing on something embarrassing we just said or did, or worse, about something sad or tragic that has happened to us, negative thoughts seem to get louder the more we try to turn them off.

Certainly stress and anxiety play a role in perpetuating negative mind-chatter. And while it's becoming more and more clear that women are more vulnerable to stress than men, it's still not completely clear why this is so. One study published in the online journal Molecular Psychiatry suggested that the female brain is more sensitive to low levels of a stress hormone called corticotropinreleasing factor (CRF) produced at times of anxiety. 

''It has long been recognized that women have a higher incidence of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other anxiety disorders,'' said study researcher Rita Valentino, a behavioral neuroscientist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. ''But the underlying biological mechanisms for that difference have been unknown.''

Whatever the reasons, it's clear that women need a secret weapon to lessen the stress. Life is not slowing down. As women expand their presence in the workforce and even in combat, more than ever before, we need to find a way to lessen anxiety and stress in daily life.

I feel lucky that this technique that I adopted as a daily practice in my youth, which infuses my day with more calm and inner serenity, has turned out to be backed up by science. Now, 40 years after I started meditating, the volume of research indicates that the TM technique is a tried and true way to reduce anxiety. In fact, there have been so many studies on anxiety reduction and the TM technique that a meta-analysis (a survey of all the studies) published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that the TM technique is significantly more effective in reducing trait anxiety than concentration or contemplation and other self-help techniques.

[Editor's note: See related article: Large reductions in anxiety in high-stress groups practising Transcendental Meditation: New published study. A new meta-analysis, published in October 2013 in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2013;19(10):1-12), found that the Transcendental Meditation technique has a large effect on reducing trait anxiety for people with high anxiety.]

Practicing TM has helped reduce my own mental chatter to a startling degree. It didn't happen overnight—but it happened in an easy and spontaneous way. I find myself naturally able to focus on the task at hand without the peanut gallery inside my mind piping up. And the sheer number of negative thoughts has dramatically diminished. It's not that I'm controlling negative thoughts better—they just aren't showing up the way they used to.

* Transcending is the process of the mind settling down to experience quieter levels of the thinking process, eventually going beyond thought to experience pure awareness, the silent, unbounded field of pure consciousness (transcendental consciousness), the basis of the mind's activity. Transcendental Meditation promotes the effortless process of transcending in a systematic, reliable, repeatable manner.

Linda Egenes is a health writer, blogger, and author of six books, including Super Healthy Kids: A Parent's Guide to Maharishi Ayurveda, co-authored with Kumuda Reddy, M.D.

Source: Transcendental Meditation for Women - Blog

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