Project Overview

BACKGROUND

During some previous research, we found out that Transcendental Meditation can, in fact, help students to decrease their stress level significantly as well as some other disorders. There are a lot of different health benefits from this specialized type of meditation, here is a short list of some benefits and advantages. Improves physical and mental health, including the reduction of cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and negative health behaviors; decreases learning disorders such as ADHD; enhances intellectual development and academic achievement, and develops full brain potential.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

studentsThree hundred undergraduate and graduate students from American University and surrounding college campuses will learn the Transcendental Meditation program during the two-year project. The research will evaluate the health and educational outcomes of TM practice in these students, with additional focus on students with learning disorders.

OUTCOME ASSESSMENT

Over the course of the study, the 300 participating students will be measured at baseline and again after six months of practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique. Approximately half the students will learn the Transcendental Meditation technique during the initial semester of the project (Spring 2006), with the other half serving as wait-listed controls during this time period.

Standard measures for all students in the study will include blood pressure, health behaviors (smoking, alcohol, and substance usage), psychological stress, emotional intelligence, practical intelligence, and academic achievement.

Health Measures

Students’ blood pressureBlood Pressure: Students’ blood pressure at each assessment will be measured three times with a mercury sphygmomanometer after five minutes resting without practicing any formal relaxation technique.

Health Behaviors: Smoking, alcohol, and other substance use will be assessed by standard questionnaires used in earlier studies. For alcohol, subjects will be queried by the Weekly drinking Recall (WR) method as to the number of drinks of alcohol consumed during the week prior to completing the questionnaire: 0, 1–4, 5–10, 11–20, and >20 drinks per week.

General Health Questionnaire: The Profile of Mood States will be used to assess depression and psychological stress, including anger, tension, and other factors related to emotional and physical health.

Student Development

Emotional Intelligence: The Constructive Thinking Inventory will be used to assess emotional intelligence and general coping skills.

Neurophysiological Integration

EEG Coherence: Factors from the Brain Integration Report Card, such as global coherence and power, will be used to assess student neurophysiological integration, which has been associated with the development of higher states of consciousness.

Cognitive Intelligence

The Ravens Progressive Matrices test will be used to assess nonverbal cognitive intelligence, or IQ, which has been found to plateau in the 20s.

Attention Deficit Disorder

Attention Deficit DisorderThe Connors Continuous Performance test will be used to assess inattention and impulsivity in a subgroup of ADD students with or without hyperactivity. In addition, students will also fill out a self-rating scale that measures behaviors related to ADHD.

Academic Performance

With appropriate permissions, the grade-point average will be collected for all student participants and pre–post-intervention changes analyzed.

Senior Investigators

American University:

David Haaga, Ph.D.

Department of Psychology

Maharishi University of Management Research Institute:

Robert Schneider, M.D.

Sanford Nidich, Ed.D.

Fred Travis, Ph.D.