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National Meditation Month, USA: Brain research identifies three types of meditation
by Global Good News staff writer
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11 May 2010
Every month, more than four million people search the Internet for information about the benefits of meditation. With many types of meditation techniques commonly available, experts advise looking into whether there is scientific research to support claims of spiritual and personal growth, relaxation, and improved health. Please see Part 1 of this article.
In a new study,* scientists have identified three types of meditation practices, distinguished by distinct EEG patterns (brain waves) and corresponding cognitive functions. These findings dispel the common assumption that all meditation techniques are similar and produce the same clinical effects.
Three types of meditation
Focused Attention techniques are characterized by beta/gamma activity in the brain, associated with concentration on an object during the meditation practice.
Open Monitoring techniques, including 'mindfulness' meditation, are characterized by theta activity, and involve dispassionate monitoring of ongoing experiences.
Automatic Self-transcending, characterized by alpha 1 activity, corresponds with relaxation and reduced mental activity. The Transcendental Meditation (TM) Technique is in this category.
A new EEG study has discovered that the practice of Transcendental Meditation helps the brain 'reset' to a natural state of restful alertness. Additional research shows that Transcendental Meditation creates global EEG coherence and develops the total brain. Dr Fred Travis,** a psychologist who has studied brain functioning for nearly 30 years, and his colleague, Dr Harald S. Harung,*** have statistically correlated integrated brain functioning with peak performance and higher states of consciousness.****
Meditation and relaxation
Psychologist David Orme-Johnson, PhD, one of the world's leading researchers of meditation techniques, explains that meta-analysis is used as an objective means of drawing conclusions about an entire field of research, 'including all the studies that show negative as well as positive results'. In comprehensive meta-analyses comparing various meditation and stress-reduction techniques, the Transcendental Meditation Technique is shown to reduce high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and insomnia—results not produced by other techniques. In fact, scientists found that concentration techniques may actually increase anxiety, and some meditation techniques have no more effect than a placebo.*****
'Over the 40 years that I've been interested in self-development, I've tried most of the meditation and relaxation techniques that are out there,' says Dr Orme-Johnson. 'In my experience, none of them do what Transcendental Meditation does. The difference is that TM produces transcending, taking the mind from its active levels to increasingly subtle levels, until it transcends to . . . the inner, silent, unbounded awareness at the basis of the mind.' He describes Transcendental Consciousness as 'the source of bliss, happiness, and creativity'.
Dr Orme-Johnson further states, 'The wide range of benefits of the Transcendental Meditation Program has not been demonstrated by any other meditation or relaxation technique. More than 600 studies conducted in more than 250 universities and research institutions in 33 countries indicate that the Transcendental Meditation Programme improves individual and collective life. No other meditation or relaxation technique can make this claim.'
Learn more about the Transcendental Meditation Technique
Click here to learn more about peak performance and integrated brain functioning.
Watch video interviews of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Founder of the Transcendental Meditation Programme, and read his answers to common questions from the world press about the programme: Click here.
* Travis, F., and Shear, J. (2010, Feb. 16). 'Focused attention, open monitoring and automatic self-transcending: Categories to organize meditations from Vedic, Buddhist and Chinese traditions.' (In press). Consciousness and Cognition.
** Dr Fred Travis is Director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management, USA.
*** Dr Harald Harung is President of Maharishi Vedic Education, Nordic, in Olso, Norway; and Associate Professor at Oslo University College, Norway.
****Harung, H.S., Travis, F., Blank, W., and Heaton, D.P. (2009). 'Higher development, brain integration, and excellence in leadership,' Management Decision, Vol. 47, No. 6, pp. 872-894.
***** Orme-Johnson, D.W., and Walton, K. (1998). 'All approaches to preventing and reversing the effects of stress are not the same.' American Journal of Health Promotion, 12, 297-299.
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