Transcendental Meditation technique is unique in its ability to systematically allow practitioners to transcend, thus researchers can use TM to study the neurophysiology of transcending.
by Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield, Iowa, USA, The Review
6 February 2015
Maharishi University of Management faculty researcher Fred Travis and 20 top meditation researchers from around the country have now held a series of three meetings with the goal of exploring the future of meditation research and to look into the similarities and differences among the various approaches to meditation.
Dr. Travis was invited to participate because of his numerous studies and because he is the only researcher documenting the experience of higher states of consciousness. The meetings are being held at the Institute of Noetic Sciences and the famed Esalen Institute.
"The first meeting served to break the ice and decide on an angle for collaborative research," Dr. Travis said. "They were very respectful of the research on the Transcendental Meditation technique. In the second meeting, they were very candid and asked pointed questions, such as whether the technique is really effortless and whether pure consciousness is really the experience of awareness without an object of awareness."
In the third meeting, the researchers generated a survey that asks meditators from all traditions to answer 20 questions about their experience during meditation. With some 700 responses so far, the researchers are finding that the transcendent has been experienced across traditions, suggesting that it's an important area of research that needs careful scientific investigation.
Since Dr. Travis is the only researcher with publications that have studied the neurophysiology of transcending, and since the Transcendental Meditation technique is unique in its ability to systematically allow practitioners to transcend, the researchers look to him to help them understand this facet of meditation.
The nine researchers who met in November, many of whom are also practicing clinicians, are now writing a white paper that documents the findings of their questionnaire.
In addition, Dr. Travis is coauthoring a paper with Helane Wahbeh, a professor in the Department of Neurology at Oregon Health & Science University, on Samadhi and how it's described in different traditions.
Another goal of the group is to create a website in which meditators log in to take five to six psychological tests. The website then generates a profile of the meditator that provides a measure of depth of experience, compassion, mindfulness, and higher states of consciousness.
"A real collaborative spirit is developing," Dr. Travis said. "These researchers respect that the Transcendental Meditation technique is unique and needs to be included in the conversation."
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