by Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield, Iowa, USA, The Review
9 December 2016
A new study on Maharishi University of Management (MUM) students by Dr. Fred Travis shows EEG patterns of the Transcendental Meditation technique that distinguish it from other approaches to meditation and that validate the assertion that it's an effortless practice.
"Transcendental Meditation uses a mantra, and for this reason some researchers maintain that it involves focused attention and controlling the mind," Dr. Travis said. "This study supports the experience of people who practice Transcendental Meditation that it's easy to learn and effortless to practice."
There were two key findings that suggest the technique is effortless and natural. First, the students who had been meditating for a month reported the same frequency of experiences of Transcendental Consciousness as those who had been meditating for five years.
"This supports the understanding that Transcendental Meditation uses the natural tendency of the mind to transcend—to move from active thinking to deep, inner silence," Dr. Travis said. "Extensive practice doesn't make a natural process go any better."
The second finding deals with activity in the "default mode network" (DMN), which is a large-scale brain network involving areas in the front and back of the brain that are active when one's eyes are closed and one is following internal thoughts. DMN activity is high when a person just sits with his or her eyes closed, and low when one opens one's eyes and interacts with the world.
The study reports that activity in the DMN remained high during Transcendental Meditation practice. In contrast, it decreases in all other types of meditation—since they involve focus and control of the mind. Indeed, the study found that the default mode network was as high during Transcendental Meditation practice as during eyes-closed rest, which is used as the benchmark for default mode network activity.
However, Dr. Travis found two important differences between Transcendental Meditation and eyes-closed rest. Eyes-closed rest had more beta brain waves in areas of the brain associated with memory and motor aspects of speech production, perhaps reflecting the mental chatter that goes on when one's eyes are closed, Dr. Travis said.
© Copyright 2016 Maharishi University of Management