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World Class Brain: Integrated brain functioning, a characteristic of high performers, develops through Transcendental Meditation

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1 June 2020

Research on what's special about the brains of world-class performers

Whether athletes, musicians, executives, or scholars, some people just stand out. And research shows that their brains differ in specific ways from those who are less accomplished.

Dr. Harald S. Harung from Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway, recently discussed the amazing complexity of the human brain and the discovery of Dr. Fred Travis at Maharishi International University (MIU), USA, of a way to use EEG to measure how effectively one's brain functions. This ''Brain Integration Scale'' was originally created—under the inspiration of MIU's founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi—to give a measure of changes in brain functioning with the holistic MIU student growth resulting from their practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique. Recently, the scale was applied to non-meditating world-class performers, investigating if high brain integration tends to be associated with high performance.

Dr. Harung then discussed the activities one might think would lead to world-class performance, such as education, incentives, experience, and practice. But extensive research has found that these factors can only account for a small fraction of the success of high-performing individuals.

An integrated brain is the key, according to three studies by Dr. Harung and Dr. Travis. They studied top Olympic athletes, professional orchestral musicians, and highly successful business executives. These top performers tended to have greater brain integration than those with more ordinary levels of achievement.

The question, then, is how to develop brain integration. Research by Dr. Travis has found that the Transcendental Meditation technique results in substantial brain integration.

The diagram below shows the brain integration of world-class performers compared to those who are average. And by way of comparison, individuals who had been practicing Transcendental Meditation an average of 24 years had almost double the brain integration of the world-class performers.

Dr. Harung explained how transcending through Transcendental Meditation affects the brain, and how this approach to meditation has specific effects not seen in other meditations.

In their short book World-Class Brain: The Edge that Helps Peak Performers Succeed and How You Can Develop It, 2019, Dr. Harung and Dr. Travis offer a readable introduction to the brain, and give an accessible overview of their three studies. They show that brain integration is not only associated with high performance, but also with greater moral reasoning and a higher frequency of peak experiences—glimpses of higher states of consciousness, as outlined by Maharishi.

The book explains in greater detail what brain integration is and discusses ways to develop it, ultimately focusing on the Transcendental Meditation technique as by far the most effective way to develop greater brain integration.

It includes a chapter on peak experiences and higher states of consciousness, and describes Dr. Travis's research on long-term TM meditators experiencing these higher states. The book also makes the point that groups of individuals with greater brain integration can improve the function of organizations. And it explains how, based on scientific research, an entire society can benefit from developing even a few individual brains.

World-Class Brain is available on Amazon, and a more comprehensive book by Dr. Harung and Dr. Travis on world-class performance, titled Excellence Through Mind-Brain Development: The Secrets of World-Class Performers, was published by Routledge in UK, and is available from

Copyright © 2020 Maharishi Vedic University Ltd.

See related articles:
Brain imaging parses Transcendental Meditation practice - Psych Central reports
MUM now offering MBA, Management PhD at university in Shanghai China

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