Stress Relief

The Transcendental Meditation technique: overcoming stress and discovering inner energy.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Deep relaxation Scientific research shows that the TM technique provides deeper and more coherent rest than ordinary relaxation—a state of restful alertness that washes away stress and rejuvenates mind and body.
The TM technique has been found to produce a distinct state of silent inner wakefulness along with profound physiological rest. Studies show that the relaxation gained during TM practice is deeper than ordinary eyes-closed rest, with significantly greater decreases in oxygen consumption, respiratory rate, heart rate, muscle tension and blood pressure, and a greater increase in skin resistance—all indicators of profound relaxation.

Opposite of the stress response The physiological response during TM has been found to be the extreme opposite of your body's stress response—reversing the negative effects of stress.

As your mind experiences quieter, subtler levels of the thinking process and then transcends thought altogether, to experience the state of restful alertness or pure awareness, the deep, healing rest that your body gains allows for accumulated knots of emotional and physical stress to dissolve. In this state, while the mind experiences calm, clarity and peace, cortisol and other stress indicators fall markedly, blood pressure tends toward normal. Studies show that the body naturally restores balance where needed.
This more balanced state of mind and body leaves you better prepared to handle day-to-day challenges outside of meditation. Studies show that TM practice produces a healthier response to stress and a reversal of many stress-driven disorders, such as insomnia, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.
There's also a significant "slowing down" of the aging process: a study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience (16: 53–58, 1982) found that people practicing the TM technique for more than five years had biological ages twelve years younger than controls.
A study conducted at Harvard University found that elderly individuals who practiced the TM technique lived significantly longer than controls who participated in other wellness interventions. Such studies have led researchers to conclude that TM practice not only neutralizes the stress response, but produces the distinctive effect of reversing the neuro-physiological basis of aging. (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(6): 950–964, 1989)

Access inner reserves of energy Neuroscientists have found that the TM technique increases use of brain reserves. Studies show that regular practice leads to greater creativity and intelligence, a healthier response to stress, and faster recovery from stressful stimuli.
During the TM technique, the mind accesses the silent, peaceful field of energy, creativity and intelligence that lies deep within human awareness. Neuroscientists have found that during TM practice, the brain draws upon more of its own reserves. EEG and neural imaging research on people practicing the TM technique shows a greater connectivity among the different parts of the brain, and that more of the whole brain is being used—both in and out of meditation.
This increased use of brain reserves is found to directly impact mental performance, increasing one's reaction time, and improving creativity and intellectual performance. The system starts to maintain a more rested, calm and energetic style of functioning even outside of meditation, making us ever more resilient to stress.


Scientific studies

Physiological Indicators of Deep Rest

A meta-analysis found that TM produces a state of rest more than twice as deep as ordinary, eyes-closed relaxation, measured by respiration rate, basal skin conductance and plasma lactate. American Psychologist 42: 879–881, 1987. Chart

Biochemistry of Reduced Stress: Reduced Plasma Cortisol

Significantly decreased plasma levels of cortisol are seen during TM practice, indicating reduced stress in the physiology. Hormones and Behavior 10: 54–60, 1978. Chart

Faster Recovery From Stress

The ability to recover quickly from stress is a sign of the body's flexibility in maintaining balance. The TM technique has been found to create a more rapid recovery from stressful stimuli, reversing the symptoms associated with severe and chronic stress.. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 51, 597-605, 2001. Chart

Normalization of High Blood Pressure

A major comparative study at the University of Kentucky found the TM technique to be the only meditation practice to significantly lower high blood pressure. American Journal of Hypertension 21 (3): 310-6, 2008. Chart


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Gary Kaplan, MD

Gary P. Kaplan, MD, associate professor of neurology at New York University School of Medicine

"People who come to me for relief from stress and stress-related disorders need an effective meditation that's quickly mastered and produces consistent results. Though TM is a mental technique, due to the mind-body relationship the practice has extensive physiological effects. TM allows the mind to settle very deeply inward—in a natural way. TM teachers call this effortless transcending. It's what sets TM apart and why the technique is so beneficial for mind and body, right from the start."