Those with the highest level of trauma symptoms experienced an even greater reduction in trauma symptoms from the practice of Transcendental Meditation.
by Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield, Iowa, USA, The Review
24 December 2016
A study published earlier this month found that after four months of practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique, inmates at two Oregon prisons had a 47% reduction in trauma symptoms, including anxiety, depression, dissociation, and sleep disturbance, and a significant decrease in perceived stress, compared to non-meditating controls.
The results, published in The Permanente Journal online, showed an even greater reduction of 56% in those with the highest level of trauma symptoms.
According to lead author Sandy Nidich, prisoners have one of the highest rates of lifetime trauma of any segment of society, with recent surveys showing that 85% have been a victim of a crime-related event, such as robbery or home invasion, or physical or sexual abuse.
Trauma is associated with higher rates of recidivism (returning to prison) and mental and physical health conditions, including cardiovascular disease.
"These findings, along with previous published research on veterans, active military personnel, international refugees, and other at-risk populations provide support for the value of the Transcendental Meditation program as an alternative treatment for posttraumatic stress," said Dr. Nidich, director of the MUM Center for Social and Emotional Health.
The study used a randomized controlled design and was conducted at the Oregon State Correctional Institution and Oregon State Penitentiary, located in Salem, Oregon. A total of 181 moderate- to high-risk inmates were assigned to either the Transcendental Meditation group or a non-meditating control group, with all subjects continuing with standard care.
The participants were assessed using two standardized instruments: the Trauma Symptoms Checklist and the Perceived Stress Scale.
"I have watched inmates learn the Transcendental Meditation technique and become more human after a long and isolating period of becoming less human," said coauthor Tom O'Conner, assistant professor of criminal justice at Western Oregon University.
"Transcendental Meditation helps awaken, deepen, and solidify the kind of transformational process that we so badly need in our overburdened and costly correctional system."
Other MUM authors include Randi Nidich, senior researcher at the MUM Center for Social-Emotional Health and Consciousness, and alumna Angela Seng.
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