Integrated brain functioning through TM


Brain research has discovered that Transcendental Meditation develops the functioning of the brain in a way that was not known to be possible before. With regular practice of TM brain function improves from the low level of orderliness, integration and coherence found in most people to increasing degrees of orderliness, integration and coherence.

The two diagrams below are the result of computer analysis of the electrical brain activity, so called "brain waves" or Electroencephalogram (EEG). The more of white "waves" the more coherence. For an explanation of the diagrams,

During the EEG session of the beginner (actually the first day of TM) the subject first sat with closed eyes and then started TM. Coherence appeared only during TM and only in the alpha frequency (10 hz), see the left diagram. In the advanced meditator, coherence was even found while eyes were open and it increased when the eyes were closed and even more during meditation. It continued after meditation. Also coherence appeared in all major EEG frequencies, see the diagram at the right side [1].

Longitudinal studies have confirmed that EEG-coherence increases over time during TM as well as in activity. For example Fred Travis at MUM monitored the EEG-coherence during a standard computer task. He made measurements every month during one year after the students learnt TM. He found that the EEG-coherence level during activity increased steadily throughout the year in students practicing TM.

EEG coherence reflects the coordination of brain activity. EEG-coherence correlates with creativity, IQ, and mental health (low level of neuroticism) [2]. In ordinary brains little and sporadic EEG-coherence is seen.


Comment

While significant EEG coherence appears only during TM in those who just learnt TM, it appears to an increasing extent outside TM already after a few weeks or months of practice. Longitudinal reserach indicates a cumulative development of coherence also in activity. Ultimately it is stabilized in activity along with other signs of the presence of transcendental consciousness [3]. This is the case even during sleep [4].

This indicates that the repeated experience of coherent functioning during TM trains the brain to work more and more coherently all the time. The spread of coherence to different EEG frequencies indicates a multifaceted development of the brain. This is because different EEG-frequencies correspond to various aspects of brain function. The increase of coherence in the frontal brain is especially pronounced the more advanced the meditator becomes [3]. The frontal brain is associated a.o. with intelligence, creativity, foresigth, empathy and high ethical standards. Other research has confirmed the growth of these qualities in TM-practitioners.

These findings confirm the age-old Vedic statement that regular experience of transcendental consciousness develops the ability of the brain to uphold this state of consciousness throughout day and night. Ever present transcendental consciousness is the key hallmark of "enlightenment" or higher states of consciousness according to the Vedic tradition which is the origin of the TM-technique.


Objective confirmation of enlightenment

Additional evidence objectively confirming a unique style of brain functioning in enlightened people was recently reported by Travis et al [3]. They found that TM practitioners fulfilling the criteria of enlightenment (including awareness through all stages of sleep) responded in a unique way in choice situations. While the brains of non-enlightened subjects were more or less excited all the time, the enlightened subjects had a low level of excitation until the very moment only when it increased to a level that was appropriate for making a decision. Thereafter it immediately returned to a low level.

This matched their subjective experience of persistent immovable inner calmness, even while engaged in dynamic outer activity. This is another hallmark of enlightenment as described in the age old Vedic scriptures. For a layman summary of this report, go to "Pioneering Study Quantifies Brain Wave Patterns During Higher Human Functioning"

Brain research has thus revealed a profound transformation of the functioning of the brain towards increasing degrees of orderliness, integration, stability and flexibility. It has confirmed that enlightenment is an objectively verifiable state.

Enlightenment need not be a rare condition

Since long it has been believed that enlightenment is a rare condition that only can be achieved with great difficulty by very few of those who aspire for it. However, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the TM-movement, has been maintaining that this belief is unjustified. He has stated that the rarity of enlightenment was the consequence of inefficient meditation techniques because of loss of understanding of vedic knowledge. He has explained that his Transcendental Meditation technique represents a restoration of this ancient knowledge.

With TM, which efficiently provides the experience of transcendental consciousness, enlightenment can become a common condition according to Maharishi. His opinion is now supported by the objective neurophysiological demonstration of increasing development of enlightenment in TM-practitioners including an increasing number achieving this state permanently.

Development in all ages

The development of improved quality of brain functioning has also been demonstrated in the growth of intelligence after the early teens when it normally stops [5]. Improved intelligence was even demonstrated in very old people with the average age of 81 years. Usually the intelligence declines in advanced age [6].

These findings are revolutionary. Brain scientists have so far believed that brain development stops in the teens. The research presented here indicates that in fact the brain can develop in all ages through regular experience of transcendental consciousness. The findings are also revolutionary in the sense that such a profound neurophysiological transformation from a low level to a high level of coherence and integration has not been known to be possible.

Conclusion

Brain research has demonstrated a profound transformation towards increasing orderliness, coordination, integration, flexibility and stability of the nervous system through TM. This culminates in enlightenment, characterized by permanent transcendental consciousness along with waking, dreaming and sleep states.

As TM is unique, there is no scientific basis for assuming that the results are valid for other methods.
 

For more, see the Brain Research Institute.


References

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