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How Transcending Optimizes Your Brain: Revolutionary TM research advanced the science of human potential
by David Orme-Johnson, Ph.D.
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12 September 2017
This excerpt is the beginning of part 3 in Dr. David Orme-Johnson's series on the Scientific Quest for Enlightenment.
What happens to our brains when we practice Transcendental Meditation and transcend? Do we experience a new state of consciousness that's different from waking, dreaming, or sleeping? If so, how does that help us realize our highest human potential?
These were some of the questions that our group of international researchers were trying to answer in the 1970s. Based at Maharishi European Research University (MERU) in the Swiss and French Alps, we were on a quest to create a scientific portrait of Transcendental Consciousness, the state we all experience when we practice the TM technique.
As I reported in part 2, Dr. Keith Wallace's groundbreaking work demonstrated that TM produces a fourth major state of consciousness with unique physiological changes,1-3 and Dr. Demetri Kanellakos' pilot study began showing the wide range of benefits from regularly experiencing this state.4 Now we sought to refine our understanding of the effects of TM on the brain.
Dr. Keith Wallace, Dr. David Orme-Johnson, Dr. Paul Levine, and Dr. Chris Haynes discussing their research in a meeting with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
As you'll recall, Dr. Jean-Paul Banquet visited MERU to share his early results on brainwave patterns during TM with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Founder of MERU, and the scientists there. Jean-Paul described how slow alpha waves from different parts of the brain become more highly synchronous or ''in phase'' with each other.5 That's when Maharishi alerted us to synchrony as the key to understanding the neurophysiology of Transcendental Consciousness.
But there was always a huge gulf between the rapidly evolving insights gained around Maharishi and how other scientists viewed consciousness. In response to our early research, some published studies claimed that Transcendental Consciousness was not a unique state. To provide greater scientific understanding of how brain functioning changes in the fourth state of consciousness, we needed to develop new studies and technologies.
We would show that everyone transcends and experiences Transcendental Consciousness during their TM practice, whether they're aware of it or not. As you'll see, this is the basis for the wide range of mental benefits experienced, including greater intelligence, creativity, moral reasoning, and enlightenment itself. As it turns out, Maharishi guided a ground-breaking research adventure, which was of central importance not only to our scientific pursuit of enlightenment, but also to the field of neuroscience generally.
Global Good News will continue to feature excerpts from part 3 of Dr. Orme-Johnson's series on the Scientific Quest for Enlightenment.
∙ Read Part 1, ''A Scientist's Quest for Enlightenment''
∙ Read Part 2, ''The Remarkable Story of the Scientific Exploration of Enlightenment''
Dr. David Orme-Johnson is one of the principal researchers on the Transcendental Meditation technique worldwide, with over 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals. He served as Director of Research of the International Center for Scientific Research, and Vice Chancellor of Maharishi European Research University. At Maharishi University of Management, Dr. Orme-Johnson was Head of the Psychology Department, Director of the Doctoral Program in Psychology, Co-Director of the Ph.D. program in the Physiology of Human Consciousness, and Dean of Research.
1. Wallace RK. Physiological effects of Transcendental Meditation. Science. 1970;167:1751-4.
2. Wallace RK. The Physiology of Meditation. Scientific American. 1972;226:84-90.
3. Wallace RK, Benson H, Wilson AF. A wakeful hypometabolic physiologic state. American Journal of Physiology. 1971;221:795-9.
4. Kanellakos DP, Lukas JS. The psychobiology of Transcendental Meditation: a literature review. Menlo Park, CA: W. A. Benjamin; 1974.
5. Banquet JP. Spectral analysis of EEG in meditation. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology. 1973;35:143-51.
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SOURCE: Original article in Enjoy TM News includes photos, scientific charts, and references.
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