Scientific research indicates that the Transcendental Meditation (TM) is more effective than standard treatments such as psychotherapy and relaxation techniques in beating trait anxiety, especially in people with the highest levels of stress.
Trait anxiety is deeply ingrained in an individual’s personality and people with the condition deal with stress on a constant and inappropriate basis, while state anxiety is characterized as a temporary change in a person’s emotional state due to an outside factor.
“It makes sense that if you are not anxious to begin with, that [Transcendental Meditation] practice is not going to reduce your anxiety that much,” David W.Orme-Johnson, PhD, an independent US research consultant, said in a press release. “Groups with elevated anxiety received significant relief from [Transcendental Meditation], and that reduction occurred rapidly in the first few weeks of practice.”
Effects of the Transcendental Meditation Technique on Trait Anxiety
In a bid to determine whether TM heals deeply engrained causes of stress sensitivity the researchers carried out a meta-analysis of 16 randomized controlled trials.
It involved 1,295 participants from diverse wakes of life. Experts compared the impact of TM techniques with different control groups (standard treatment, individual and group psychotherapy, and various relaxation techniques) on anxiety levels.
Findings of the study
The analysis revealed subjects following the meditation therapy exhibited significant improvement in their anxiety symptoms.
Those with anxiety levels in the 80th-100th percentile range (veterans with post-traumatic -stress disorder, people with chronic anxiety, and prison inmates) lowered their anxiety to the 53rd-62nd range. Individuals with around the 60th percentile in high stress levels reported a drop to an average 48th percentile after the therapy, researchers found.
Apart from helping beat anxiety, TM enhanced blood pressure, insomnia, family issues, emotional numbness, employment status, and substance abuse, factors that are typically marred by stress.
“Since anxiety is a self-reported measure, one might wonder whether the effects of [Transcendental Meditation] practice or any other treatment program were a placebo effect,” Orme-Johnson said. “Placebos are great. If you give a person a sugar pill and tell them it will reduce anxiety, it probably will, but only for a little while before the effect wears off. But the effects of [Transcendental Meditation] were shown to be lasting and include objective benefits.”
The new study has been published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
Transcendental Meditation was developed and promoted by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a former Hindu ascetic. The movement became popular in the West in the 1960s. Although, the perspective behind it has roots in Vedanta, it is not connected to any religious tradition and is based on specific meditation techniques.
Practice of TM is the mental repetition of a mantra in order to still the activity of thought and experience a deeper level of consciousness. The practitioner finds deep relaxation, which can lead to inner joy, vitality, and creativity.