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Reduced psychological stress in minority students practising Transcendental Meditation: New research published
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16 November 2011
A new study* published in the Journal of Instructional Psychology found the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique significantly decreased psychological distress in public school students. The study, conducted with at-risk minority secondary school students, showed a 36 percent reduction in overall psychological distress. Significant decreases were also found in trait anxiety and depressive symptoms.
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∙ This study evaluated change in psychological distress factors in students practicing the Transcendental Meditation program compared to non-meditating controls. A total of 106 students (68 meditating and 38 non-meditating students), took part in the study. The study included students from four public secondary schools.
∙ Eighty-seven percent were racial and ethnic minority students, including 26% Hispanic, 25% African American, and 19% American Indian.
∙ The Transcendental Meditation program was practiced in class twice a day as part of the schools' Quiet Time program for four months prior to posttesting.
∙ The Transcendental Meditation program was taught in the context of school-wide Quiet Time programs in which students voluntarily chose the Quiet Time program in which they wanted to participate.
∙ Transcendental Meditation is a simple, natural, effortless technique that allows the mind to settle down and experience a silent yet awake state of awareness, a state of ''restful alertness.'' Practice of this stress-reduction program does not involve any change in beliefs, values, religion, or lifestyle.
∙ Compared to eyes-closed rest, research has found that Transcendental Meditation practice is characterized by decreased activation or arousal of the autonomic nervous system, as reflected in decreased breath rate and lower sympathetic nervous system activity. The Transcendental Meditation program has been shown to increase electroencephalographic (EEG) brain integration and coherence, especially in the frontal area of the brain, responsible for higher-order processing.
∙ Other published research on high school and college students has shown reduced psychological distress, improved positive coping ability, decreased blood pressure, reduced cardiovascular reactivity to stressful stimuli, reduced absenteeism, and decreased school suspensions.
∙ Results of the current study indicated significant reductions in overall psychological distress (p=.010) and trait anxiety (p=.035) compared to controls. Within-in group differences in depressive symptoms were found for meditating students (p=.003).
The study was supported by the David Lynch Foundation.
Contact: Ken Chawkin
Tel: +1 641-470-1314
Maharishi University of Management
* Elder, C., Nidich, S., Colbert, R., Hagelin, J. et al. (2011). Reduced psychological distress in racial and ethnic minority students practicing the Transcendental Meditation program. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 38(2), 109-115.
© Copyright 2011 AAAS, the science society.
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