Second of Two Parts

Transcendental Meditation is presented to the public as a scientifically verified technique for gaining deep rest and many other benefits, including release of the boundless potential for creativity and intelligence claimed to reside in each person. These claims are supposedly substantiated by the charts and graphs of various research studies on TM arrayed in a fifty-page booklet entitled “Fundamentals of Progress.” This booklet gives the impression that the benefits suggested by these studies are the scientifically established results of the practice of TM. In most cases that impression is misleading. A British neurophysiologist, Dr. Peter Fenwick has put the research on TM in scientific perspective as follows:

All these studies need to be looked upon with reservations. Few include adequate control groups and none that I am aware of have yet used a blind control procedure … Until this sort of study is carried out in meditating groups it is almost impossible to draw any conclusion.
Psychological results are capable of being influenced by many non-specific factors … [London Times Educational Supplement, May 17, 1974].

It does seem that TM is relaxing, and Harvard Medical School cardiologist, Herbert Benson, a pioneer researcher on TM, is convinced that it can reduce blood pressure in persons with hypertension. He has even developed a secularized meditation technique similar to TM that can be self-taught in a few minutes without involvement in any ritual or philosophical explanation. Before we applaud Dr. Benson’s initiative, we must realize that the meditative technique he has abstracted from its religious context has effects on the meditator that are not physiologically measurable. To believe that the psychophysiological ...

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