The Transcendental Meditation programme: its contribution to rehabilitation
Author: G. CLEMENTS , L. KRENNER , W. MÖLK
Pages: 51 to 56
Creation Date: 1988/01/01
The effectiveness of Transcendental Meditation (TM) in the prevention and reduction of drug abuse has been documented in many studies in the last 18 years. The programme is not a rehabilitation programme per se but is a means for self-development. Thus, the resulting decrease in psychological problems and drug abuse is an automatic or secondary consequence of the practice of the meditation technique. Since TM strengthens the individual and produces an overall and stable state of well-being, it naturally removes the need and craving for drugs.
Drug abuse arises from a basic inability to fulfil needs and desires satisfactorily. The probability of taking drugs increases when the holistic growth of life is blocked and the person's creative intelligence cannot express itself fully. The individual experiences a vicious spiral of frustration, tension and diminished creativity.
The individual cannot use her/his own creativity and intelligence to escape from this vicious circle. This is why so many rehabilitation programmes fail when the external support of counsellor, doctor, alternative drug etc. is removed. The inner resources of the individual have not been developed. Restoration of creative intelligence is thus the one ingredient necessary to bring success to any rehabilitation programme.
Transcendental Meditation (TM) as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is a simple, natural, effortless and easily learned technique. It is practised for l5-20 minutes twice daily sitting comfortably with the eyes closed. TM requires neither a special environmental setting nor special equipment, and since it is non-religious, it requires no belief or faith. It is therefore universal in its applicability.
During the practice the mind settles down to a silent yet fully awake state of awareness--transcendental consciousness. This state of consciousness is fundamentally different from waking, dreaming and sleeping states and is accompanied by a distinct set of psychophysiological correlates showing unique deep rest [ 1,2] , relaxation and high orderliness in brain functioning as measured by EEG studie [ 3,4] . This unique state of mind and body has been described as a "ground state" of the system, sharing the holistic properties of ground states of physical systems. In particular, a close relationship has been seen between the characteristics of this state and those of the unified field of all the laws of nature described by recent theories in quantum physics [ 5] . This close connection has provided an understanding of the reason for the holistic improvements resulting from TM.
To date, over 350 research studies have been conducted in research institutions in over 25 countries. Many parameters of mental and physical health show distinct improvements, and there is a holistic development of all aspects of the personality as a result of the practice [ 6-8] . Specifically, a number of studies have provided evidence of benefits in the field of rehabilitation.
The reduction of drug abuse is a natural side effect of the overall development of the person irrespective of the reasons for abusing drugs and irrespective of the particular drugs being abused. Therefore the TM programme leads also to reductions in requirements for prescribed tranquillizers and prescriptions in general and in the use of non prescribed drugs [ 9-17] .
The programme involves no attempt at prohibiting drug use once the TM technique has been learned. It does not interfere with any of the existing rehabilitation programmes and can be implemented at low cost. The practice of TM has also been found useful for the therapists themselves [ 18] .
One of the first research programmes in 1969 found that, of 143 subjects who were regular users of marijuana, hallucinogens or "hard drugs" before beginning TM, 119 discontinued all drug use and 22 reduced drug use by 50 per cent or more, whereas only 2 continued regular use [ 19] .
Similar results were seen in a more comprehensive study on 1,862 subjects [ 20] . In the six-month period before they started TM, about 80 per cent of the subjects had used cannabis. After 6 months of practice, 37 per cent continued to use cannabis. After 21 months, only 12 per cent continued to do so-Comparable changes occurred in the use of hallucinogens, barbiturates, amphetamines and narcotics. These results aroused great interest and many more studies followed and confirmed those findings.
Research published in 1974 [ 21] found a marked decline in the use of cannabis in meditators, while little change occurred among matched control subjects. The degree of decline was correlated with the number of months the persons had been practising TM.
In a prospective study [ 22] , 10 experimental and 10 control subjects, matched for past drug use, were monitored for drug consumption over a three month period. Subjects in the experimental group who were instructed in the meditation technique showed a marked decrease in drug usage, whereas the control subjects maintained a high usage level. Psychological tests of both groups indicated improvements in mental health in the experimental group in comparison to the non-meditating control group.
The preventive effect of TM was reported in a study [ 10] where the use of cannabis by two groups of students, matched for age and sex, was monitored over a six-month period. None of the individuals in either group used cannabis prior to the study. It was found that whereas the number of people in the control group (n=61) using marijuana rose from 0 to 30 per cent during the months of the study, in the TM-programme group (n=71) after four months of meditation only 6.5 per cent were using cannabis.
Institutes in which a majority of the members practise TM are unlikely to be confronted with the problem of drug usage. A large body of research has shown that when 1 per cent of the population is practising TM, or the square root of one per cent is practising the TM-Sidhi programme together in one place, crime, sickness and accident rates of that area are markedly reduced [ 5] , [ 26] .
A prospective one-year study assessed the utility of TM in a drug rehabilitation centre with 76 known drug abuse [ 27] . Total drug consumption was reduced by 57.6 per cent. The use of cannabis products was reduced by 58.2 per cent, amphetamines and barbiturates by 96.3 per cent, opiates by 78.1 per cent and hallucinogens by 90.8 per cent. In a detailed study of the results, the authors found a trend of four phases in the decrease of drug abuse. Due to high motivation, there was a remarkable decrease in drug usage in phase I. When individuals realistically confronted their situation, former conflicts and problems led to a return to limited drug usage in phase II. In phase III and IV drug usage was again reduced due to growing self-confidence and acquired skills in managing problems.
The results of a study investigating the TM programme as an approach to secondary drug prevention [ 11] showed that, after an average of 19 months practising TM, usage levels of all substances (including prescribed tranquillisers and prescriptions in general) declined significantly among TM participants, while those of controls did not. The length of time meditating and regularity of meditation were positively correlated with decreased drug usage.
This was also found in another study [ 28] where subjects who regularly practised TM showed lower drug usage levels than those who were irregular in their practice, even though both groups had shown similarly high usage levels prior to learning the technique.
In over 15 research studies the Transcendental Meditation programme was associated with significant decreases in the use of a variety of substances. Research has also found that TM develops a more orderly style of neurophysiological functioning that enables meditators to respond more effectively to stressful situations.
These results support the hypothesis that the TM programme cultures a balanced state of physiological and psychological functioning, in which potentially detrimental behaviour is naturally avoided. This offers new hope in a field in which the prevailing view is that "nothing works".
The unique and systematic benefits of TM deserve the immediate and serious attention of all those involved in drug rehabilitation and prevention programmes.
Organizations and trained teachers of TM exist in over 100 countries, and special instruction programmes have been designed and utilized in the field of drug abuse. The potential benefit to any country is enormous in terms of the recovery of previously wasted human resources. All organizations working in this area are invited to make use of this opportunity.
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