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Transcendental meditation not just for experts

Transcendental meditation not just for experts

Transcendental Meditation isn’t as hard to learn as people may believe, a new study claims.

The technique refers to a specific form of meditation which involves the use of a sound or mantra, and is practiced for 15–20 minutes twice per day. According to the Transcendental Meditation movement, which was started by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the mid-1950s, it is a method for relaxation, stress reduction and self-development.

In a new study of the practice, researchers at the Maharishi University in Fairfield, Iowa, looked into 87 students who had been doing the technique from one month to five years.

Researchers investigated experiences and brain patterns of the participants as they rested with eyes closed, during Transcendental Meditation practice, and while engaging in a challenging computer task.

They found that individuals practicing Transcendental Meditation for just one month reported the same frequency of Transcendental Consciousness experiences during their practice as individuals 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," said lead author Dr. Fred Travis. "Extensive practice doesn't make a natural process go any better."

The researchers also found that activity in the "default mode network," which is a large-scale brain network involving areas in the front and back of the brain that are active during internal thinking and self-referential activity, such as creating an autobiographical story.

Default mode network activity is high when a person just sits with his or her eyes closed, and low when one opens one's eyes and begins to interact with the world. The study reports that activity in the default mode network remained high during Transcendental Meditation practice.

"Deactivation of the default mode network indicates how much effort we are using," Dr. Travis said. "While people may not have had the experience of effortless transcending and so do not know what it feels like to transcend, they can now see the objective high activation in the default mode network - and see that something different is happening during Transcendental Meditation practice."

The study was published in journal Brain and Cognition.

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