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Meditation Research

A great deal of research has been generated in the 20th Century regarding many aspects of meditation. Like most areas of social and life science, conclusions are not absolute or solid. For every trend in the literature, there stands at least one study showing the opposite. Scientific research would not have proceeded this far, however, were it generally not producing provocative and even startling insights. Results also vary with the method.

The most productive source of research since 1970 has been the Transcendental Meditation Program. We believe much of the effects visible by researchers in TM are enjoyed by practitioners of any of the many non-striving, restful, open methods, including Natural Meditation.

The best research, we suggest, is done quite informally in one's own home, in one's own chair. The reality of meditation's natural healing benefits is not all that hard to demonstrate for oneself.

Excerpt on science from
 A Course in Meditation, 2007

Research on Transcendental Meditation Program

(The text of this valuable and unique compilation has generously been put on the web by Institute of Noetic Sciences.)

The Physical and Psychological Effects of Meditation
A Review of Contemporary Research with a Comprehensive Bibliography 1931-1996

Michael Murphy and Steven Donovan, 2nd Edition
Edited and with an introduction by Eugene Taylor, Ph.D.
Institute of Noetic Sciences, Sausalito, CA 1999

From the Table of Contents: these are the research topics detailed in the book, with a bibliography of about 1600 studies.

 

Physiological
  1. Cardiovascular
    1. Heart Rate
    2. Redistribution of Blood flow
    3. Blood Pressure and Hypertension
  2. Brain (cortical system)
    1. EEG Alpha, Theta, Beta
    2. Hemispheric Synchronization
    3. Dehabituation
    4. Specific Cortical Control
    5. Brain metabolism
  3. Blood Chemistry
    1. Adrenal and Thyroid Hormones
    2. Total Protein
    3. Amino Acids and Phenylalinine
    4. Plasma Prolactin and Growth Hormone
    5. Lactate
    6. White Blood Cells
    7. Red Blood Cell Metabolism
    8. Cholesterol
  4. Metabolic and Respiratory Systems
  5. Other:
    1. Salivary changes
    2. Treatment of Disease
    3. Changes in Body Temperature
    4. Alleviation of Pain
    5. Cancer Treatment
    6. Exceptional Body Control

 

Behavioral
  1. Perceptual and Cognitive Abilities
    1. Perceptual Ability
    2. Reaction Time and Perceptual Motor Skill
    3. Deautomatization
    4. Field Independence
    5. Concentration and Attention
    6. Memory and Intelligence
  2. Rorschach Shifts
  3. Empathy
  4. Regression in the Service of the Ego
  5. Creativity and Self-Actualization
    1. Creativity
    2. Self-Actualization
  6. Anxiety, Sleep
  7. Hypnotic Suggestibility
  8. Anxiety
  9. Psychotherapy and Addiction
    1. Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
    2. Addiction and Chemical Dependency
  10. Sleep
  11. Sex-Role Identification

Subjective Reports

  1. Equanimity
  2. Detachment
  3. Ineffability
  4. Bliss
  5. Energy and Excitement
  6. Altered Body Image and Ego Boundaries
  7. Hallucinations and Illusions
  8. Dreams
  9. Synesthesia
  10. Extrasensory Experiences
  11. Clearer Perceptions
  12. Negative Experiences

 

 

•Meditation creates a unique hypometabolic state, in which the metabolism is in an even deeper state of rest than during sleep. During sleep, oxygen consumption drops by 8 percent, but during meditation, it drops by 10 to 20 percent.

•Meditation is the only activity that reduces blood lactate, a marker of stress and anxiety.

•The calming hormones melatonin and serotonin are increased by meditation, and the stress hormone cortisol is decreased.

•Meditators secrete more of the youth-related hormone DHEA as they age than nonmeditators. Meditating fory-five-year-old males have an average of 23 percent more DHEA than nonmeditators, and meditating females have an average of 47 percent more. This helps decrease stress, heighten memory, preserve sexual function, and control weight.

•Meditation has a profound effect upon three key indicators of aging: hearing ability, blood pressure, and vision of close objects.

•Long-term meditators experience 80 percent less heart disease and 50 percent less cancer than nonmeditators.

•75 percent of insomniacs were able to sleep normally when they meditated.

•34 percent of people with chronic pain significantly reduced medication when they began meditating.

Excerpt from p.8 Meditation as Medicine Activate the Power of Your Natural Healing Force
Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. and Cameron Stauth Pocket Books, 2001

 

 

 

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