Maharishi University of Management

Transcendental Meditation Boosts High School Graduation Rates, As Policymakers Look To Alternatives : US/World : Medical Daily

A large socioeconomic underclass continues to propagate in America with a high school graduation rate of only 69 percent and projections for 12 million students to drop out during the next decade.

  • During the next decade, nearly one in three American high school students will drop out, with some entering prison rather than college. Transcendental meditation may be the key for prevention.

    (Photo : Creative Commons) A new study from Maharishi University of Management claims their transcendental meditation technique boosts rates of high school graduation.

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Aside from the social costs of stunted educations in the developed world, high dropout rates will cost the U.S. economy $3 trillion during that time period, with lower earnings and greater dependence on social welfare programs, in addition to higher crime and attendant rates of incarceration.

However, a new study shows the practice of transcendental meditation — a specific mantra-based form of medication developed in the 1950s — as effective in reducing dropout rates among high school students, compared to other interventions.

In research funded by the David Lynch Foundation, investigators from the University of Connecticut found a 15 percent higher graduation rate among students practicing the meditation technique versus other students, even after eliminating differences in grade-point average. And when examining only the lower-performing students in both groups, the benefits of meditation rose to a 25 percent higher graduation rate.

The analysis included all 235 seniors enrolled in one year at an east coast urban high school.

“While there are bright spots in public education today, urban schools on the whole tend to suffer from a range of factors which contribute to poor student academic performance and low graduation rates,” according to lead author, Robert D. Colbert, an associate professor at the University of Connecticut, told reporters. “Students need to be provided with value-added educational programs that can provide opportunities for school success. Our study investigated one such program, Transcendental Meditation, which appears to hold tremendous promise for enriching the lives of our nation’s students.”

Developed in India by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the meditation technique involves the use of a mantra and is practiced for 15 to 20 minutes twice daily while sitting with eyes closed, and is perhaps the most widely practiced and most researched meditation techniques in the world. More than 340 scientific papers have been published on the subject, including a 2006 study finding improved cardiac risk factors for people with coronary heart disease.

Sanford Nidich, who holds a doctorate in education, works as a professor at Maharishi University of Management, an institution in Iowa dedicated to the study and promotion of the trademarked meditation technique, which is taught around the world by instructors ordained by the organization. “These results are the first to show that the Transcendental Meditation program can have a positive impact on student graduation rates,” he said. “The largest effect was found in the most academically challenged students. Recently published research on increased academic achievement and reduced psychological stress in urban school students may provide possible mechanisms for the higher graduation rates found in this study.”

The research findings point not only to lower secondary school dropout rates but also more college acceptances and a lower rate of incarceration.

The nonprofit Maharishi Foundation USA, which licenses the technique, says it has partnered with other nonprofits to provide full scholarships to more than a quarter-million at-risk schoolchildren, veterans, sufferers of Posttraumatic Stress Syndrome, homeless people, and others.

The organization says more academic studies are planned.

Source: Colbert RD, Nidich S. Effect of the Transcendental Meditation Program on Graduation, College Acceptance and Dropout Rates for Students Attending an Urban Public High School. Education. 2013.

Transcendental Meditation Boosts High School Graduation Rates, As Policymakers Look To Alternatives : US/World : Medical Daily.


Transcendental Meditation significantly reduces posttraumatic stress in African refugees

April 8, 2013 in Psychology & Psychiatry

via Transcendental Meditation significantly reduces posttraumatic stress in African refugees. graph shows the changes in posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms as reflected in scores on the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL) in the two groups. Both groups indicated severe PTS symptoms at baseline. Visible improvements can be seen in the TM group. While a drop in 11 points on this measure is considered clinically significant, TM practice led to three times that drop in PTS symptoms after 30 days practice. The TM group went to a non-symptomatic level after 30-days and remained low at 135-days. Credit: Maharishi University of Management

A significant percentage of veterans returning from wars exhibit symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTS). This is now recognized as a serious health problem, but what about the victims of such violence? Refugees live with the constant reminder of what war has done to their lives and those of their families. A randomized/matched study published today in the April 2013 issue of Journal of Traumatic Stress (Volume 26, Issue 2, pp. 295-298.) measured the severity of posttraumatic stress symptoms in refugees in Africa before and after learning the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique. The reductions were dramatic.

Forty-two refugees from the Congolese civil war, living in Uganda, were assigned to learn TM immediately or wait until after the study. The participants were matched on age, gender and severity of posttraumatic stress symptoms at baseline. All participants were given the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL) at baseline, and 30-day and 135-day after learning TM. PCL scores in the control group trended upward from baseline to the two posttests. In contrast, PCL scores in the TM group went from high at baseline, indicating severe PTS symptoms, to a non-symptomatic level after 30-days TM practice, and remained low at 135-days. “We anticipated improvement, but I didn’t expect this magnitude of change,” said lead author Colonel Brian Rees MD, MPH. “The continued improvement at four months also led us to conclude that TM may be a very worthwhile intervention for anyone suffering from posttraumatic stress.” This graph shows the changes in PTS symptoms in the two groups. A drop in 11 points on this measure is considered clinically significant—visible improvements can be seen. TM practice led to three times the drop in posttraumatic stress symptoms after 30 days practice. “I was surprised to see how quickly TM practice had an effect on posttraumatic stress symptoms in these refugees, who had no home, no job, and very little support from their environment,” said co-author Fred Travis, Ph.D., Director for the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management. “These findings suggest that TM may be an effective antidote to the rising incidence of PTS in the world.” A person with posttraumatic stress may be hyper-vigilant, sleep poorly, distrust others, have memory problems, and have difficulty making decisions and following through. Traumatized populations are challenged both by outer circumstances and by inner conditions to help themselves. Thus, posttraumatic stress symptoms are resistant to change by usual therapy. The state of restful alertness gained during TM practice appears to reverse the damage done by traumatic experiences. Reductions in posttraumatic stress in African refuges replicate findings in previous research with Vietnam veterans and Iraqi/Afghanistan veterans. TM practice was more effective than psychotherapy in reducing anxiety, depression, insomnia, alcohol abuse, posttraumatic stress symptoms, and stress reactivity in 18 Vietnam veterans randomly assigned to group. Three-months practice of TM was also reported to decrease anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress symptoms in veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Findings from these studies support the efficacy of TM practice for reducing posttraumatic stress symptoms. Large-scale studies assessing both quantitative and qualitative measures are warranted to investigate the effects of TM on reducing behavioral, psychological and physiological symptoms resulting from traumatic experiences across cultures. More information: Funding was provided by the David Lynch Foundation.

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Research Comparing The Neural Images Of Three Different Types Of Meditation

About the Author: Fred Travis, Ph.D. is the Director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition, and an Associate Professor of Maharishi Vedic Science at Maharishi University of Management.

There are many systems of meditation that widely differ from one another in their procedures, contents, objects, beliefs, and goals. Given these differences, it is not surprising that research has shown they have different subjective and objective effects. Scientific research on one type of meditation cannot be generalized to effects from any type of meditation.

Let us compare three forms of meditation. Scientific research on the functioning of the brains of practitioners of these techniques have been published in peer-reviewed journals. The three forms in this document are: Mindfulness Meditation (also called Insight Meditation or Vipassana), Tibetan Buddhist Tsonghakapa, and the Transcendental Meditation® technique from the ancient Vedic tradition of India. These three methods have different procedures, different neural images (pictures of the brain or brain functioning), and different EEG patterns (electrical activity of the brain).

Type of Meditation Procedure
Insight, Vipassana, Mindfulness Observation [Reference 1]
Tibetan Buddhism Concentration [2]
Transcendental Meditation Technique Effortless Transcending [3]

Different Neural Images

The neural images of different types of meditation are distinctly different. Brain blood flow and brain metabolic rate can be imaged with modern neural imaging techniques using MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) or PET (Positron Emission Tomography). These data are from independent labs reports and published research.

Type of Meditation: Mindfulness
Neural Images: Thicker right insula, thicker right frontal, thicker sensory [4]
Explanation: Higher gray matter volume—more connections—are reported in areas used in focusing of attention (right frontal areas) and brain areas involved with sensory perception: the right insula (taste and emotionally relevant context), right parietal (touch) and right temporal (hearing). Thicker cortex suggests these local areas are used during Mindfulness.

Type of Meditation: Tibetan Buddhism
Neural Images: Activity in the frontal (left) increases; activity in the thalamus increases; activity in the parietal lobe decreases. [5]
Explanation: In Tibetan Buddhist Tsonghakapa meditation, activity in the frontal lobe increases—this is what happens when focusing. Activity increases in the thalamus, the gateway of activation to the brain. Activity decreases in the parietal lobe (the area of visual attention, spatial orientation, and cross-modal matching)

Type of Meditation: Transcendental Meditation Technique
Neural Images: Activity in the frontal (left) increases; activity in the thalamus decreases; activity in the parietal lobe increases. [6]
Explanation: During the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, frontal lobe activity increases, and so does the parietal lobe. But the thalamus (the gateway of activation to the brain) is less active. This is called restful alertness—pure wakefulness: heightened alertness in the midst of deep silence for mind and body.

The curious reader is invited to read the complete presentation that I gave at the Science of Consciousness conference in Tucson, AZ, April 2006. The complete slideshow also explains in more detail how these three types of meditation compare in terms of brain metabolic rate, and in EEG patterns.


Meditations differ in procedure, in patterns of brain blood flow, brain metabolic rate and EEG patterns. They also differ in reported benefits. One cannot generalize the effects and benefits of one meditation to all meditations.

End Notes

1. Meditation in the Tibetan Buddhism Kargyu tradition has been described as: “Reasoned deconstruction of the reality of objects experienced in meditation, as well as concentrative practices to create moods such as “pure compassion,” “loving kindness” or “no self.” This involves focused attention, and control of the mind. It is a system of concentration.
2. Mindfulness Meditation is described by Paul Grossman as “Systematic procedure to develop enhanced awareness of moment-to-moment experiences.” Mindfulness includes two meditation practices: with eyes closed: attention on breath, and with eyes open: “dispassionate observation of body, senses and environment.” This meditation involves intention or directing of attention to physiological rhythms, inner thoughts, sensations or outer objects.
3. EEG (electroencephalogram) tests show that TM is effortless because it is quickly mastered (there is no difference during the practice of TM in the EEG of someone who has been practicing regularly for 10 years versus someone who has been practicing regularly for 4 months). However, the waking state EEG of these subjects are distinctly different (the more months or years the subject has been practicing the TM technique, the more coherent their EEG pattern while resting with their eyes open).
4. Lazar, S. W., Kerr, C. E., Wasserman, R. H., Gray, J. R., Greve, D.
N., Treadway, M. T., McGarvey, M., Quinn, B. T., Dusek, J. A., Benson, H., Rauch, S. L., Moore, C. I. & Fischl, B. (2005). Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness. Neuroreport, 16, 1893-7.
5. Newberg, A., Alavi, A., Baime, M., Pourdehnad, M., Santanna, J. & d’Aquili, E. (2001). The measurement of regional cerebral blood flow during the complex cognitive task of meditation: a preliminary SPECT study. Psychiatry Research, 106, 113-22.
6. Newberg, A., Travis, F., Wintering, N., Nidich, S., Alavi, A. & Schneider, R. (2006). Cerebral Glucose Metabolic Changes Associated with Transcendental Meditation Practice. Spring meeting, Neural Imaging, Miami, Fl.

Comparing The Neural Images Of Three Different Types Of Meditation.