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EEG demonstrations provide concrete evidence of abstract transcendence
by Global Good News staff writer
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16 August 2013
Though electroencephalography (EEG) machines have their limitations, said neuroscientist Dr Fred Travis, he prefers to use them in live demonstrations to make clear the difference in brain activity between daily life and Transcendental Meditation.
Dr Travis is the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, USA. He regularly works with EEG graphs and machines in his research at the university.
Dr Travis describes an EEG demonstration as providing a 'wow factor' that also helps explain a concept, transcendence, which is abstract to most people. During Transcendental Meditation, the mind settles down to experience a unique state of 'restful alertness'—an experience of deep inner silence and peace in which the mind remains alert and awake within itself.
For each lecture, a local practitioner of Transcendental Meditation volunteers to be hooked up to an EEG machine. 'I like to have the person sit and meditate for two or three minutes and the room [becomes] completely quiet.'
He added that the audience watches the EEG graph and before the meditation, the brain waves are fast, variable, and 'all over the place'. But a change is evident when the volunteer begins practising Transcendental Meditation. The brain waves become simple and coherent.
This gives the audience a tangible sense of what it means to be both silent and alert in the state of transcendence. 'Somehow they get it,' said Dr Travis, so that when he uses abstract terms in the rest of his lecture, the audience knows what he is talking about even though the notion of restful alertness is quite foreign in the normal constant activity of waking state.
'So by seeing the EEG, by having that sensory information come through the eyes, I think [audience members] get a felt sense of what transcendence might be.'
Dr Travis used these demonstrations through his recent tour of Australia, to illustrate the scientific validity of the Transcendental Meditation technique. Though the specific topics of his talks varied, his general message was: 'Experience changes the brain. Stress fragments it, transcending integrates, and integrated brain functioning allows you to see the world and make better decisions.'
See related articles:
∙ Meditation helping war veterans: Sydney Morning Herald reports US expert's Australia tour
∙ Dr Fred Travis tours Australia to talk about meditation, consciousness, and the brain
∙ Australia: In Perth, Dr Fred Travis presents on brain activity during Transcendental Meditation
∙ Australia: American brain research expert speaks on improving mental health with Transcendental Meditation
∙ Australia: EEG demonstrations show audiences profound effect of transcending
* During Transcendental Meditation the mind settles down to experience quieter levels of the thinking process, eventually going beyond (transcending) thought to experience pure awareness, the silent, unbounded field of transcendental consciousness, the basis of the mind's activity. Transcending is natural and a universal experience, known to all cultures, however it occurs rarely and usually by chance. Transcendental Meditation provides a systematic method to transcend that anyone can practise.
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