Saturday, March 20, 2010

Conversation with Dr. Fred Travis about Transcendental Meditation Research

Some of our readers were following a recent conversation with Fred Travis, Ph.D., professor of Maharishi Vedic Science at Maharishi University of Mangement about his recent research on Transcendental Meditation and human brain functioning.

The comments followed John Knapp's post of March 6, 2010 More Doubtful Transcendental Meditation "Research" Clogging the Intertubes

Fred Travis deserves credit for his integrity to participate in discussion with readers of TMFree blog. We can be a trying group!

Some of the comments mysteriously disappeared and others were edited.

Paul Mason, biographer of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, revived the original conversation, reproduced here below, for those who wish to read the conversation. Thanks, Paolo! :

*****************

Dr Fred Travis, author of the paper
1. The study used a random assignment design, the strongest resaerch design that controls for most confounds to study results. I hope people will weigh the study based on it's scientific character.

2. The cost of the article is to the journal. They own the copyrights to the article. Anyone can get this article from their library.

3. David Haaga does not practice TM. He is in the psychology dept at American University. He was Principle Investigator on this study, and monitored each step of the study. He saw this as an oportunity to use the tools of science to investigate TM in an objective way. I hope your readers will also be truly objective, and grade the paper on its own merits--not on biases they may have
Saturday, March 06, 2010, 5:20:40 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

The Watcher
Hi Fred

I agree that just because research is done by the TM movement doesn't mean it's rubbish.

I think we should be objective and see if it gets replicated and added to man's general knowledge about himself and the world.

But I also think that the TMO could be doing more research to actually try and prove more of it's money making "programmes", like yagyas for instance. Or MVVT, surely the biggest load of nonsense you can spend money on? Or Sthapatya ved, are these houses really invincible? Are people really healthier when their front door faces east? All of this would be easy to test.

Or maybe an honest report into the bizarre claims of John Hagelin and his unified field ideas and how he tries to con the unknowledgable into believing there is an actual physics basis to yogic flying or astrology?

Or how about the claims that groups of "coherence creators" reduce negative traits in society as a whole? Aren't you all embarassed at the failure of the invincible America project or are you still claiming it's all a phase transition?

These are all good areas of research Fred, if you are interested in science and think it's a good way of demonstrating the value of things I think you should get on it and let the world know. I suspect you already know that most of the TM programmes are nonsense but as the organisation makes money from them and have a huge amount of belief invested in the vedas it might be embarassing to admit that it's all hot air. Am I right?
Sunday, March 07, 2010, 7:39:07 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit –
ModerateLiked byGinajmknapp53

Gina
Hello Fred!

You would recognize me in person. You are a good caring, committed person trying to make a difference in the world through scientifically documenting your belief system.

How about studying measures of life functionality from prolonged rounding, say after several months or more of rounding, or years on the 'Creating Coherence Program' (CCP)?

e.g - the ability to hold a job (not just live off the family trust fund)
- the ability to maintain long term intimate relationships (Most TM echelon are unmarried. If they have children, the majority of those children use extensive drugs and alcohol to self-medicate as teens, then leave TM)
- the capacity for independent decision making (life style, personal goals, manner of dress, etc)
- the capacity for rational discourse

These are difficult things to study, however many of us have lived and seen greatly diminished life functionality in TM True Devotees (to the points of psychosis and suicides).. thus our participation on this blog.

VERY limited individuality seen in those who've experienced long term rounding. You cannot deny that.

In fact, numbers of long term rounders are unable to hold down jobs and currently live off the Settle's grant program to pay them to continue to round (austensibly to support world peace from hours of daily meditation in the domes). They live in near poverty on a few hundred dollars monthly stipend, while spending hours daily as dome zombies. The grown children of at least a few of those nonfunctional folks have gone by the wayside to society's underbelly.

There would be a statistically significant number of such folks in truly randomized studies of long term rounders.

However the study designs purposely do not include such groups for which such TM casualties would qualify as subjects. Maharishi had dictated to design studies that only demonstrate TM's positive results. Studies and statistics can be designed to only highlight the researchers' desired points.

Years ago I was recruited for TM studies as the researchers considered me a good candidate. The researchers "did not want to include heavy unstressors as subjects since heavy unstressing would alter the results" When in fact, what TMers call "heavy unstressing" would be an important research finding!

g
Sunday, March 07, 2010, 8:14:31 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byjmknapp53Bjarne

Dr Fred Travis, author of the paper
Hi Gina
I am also concerned about the issues you bring up about long rounding.
Thank you for bringing these to my attention again.
All the best
Fred
Sunday, March 07, 2010, 6:46:28 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byjmknapp53ruthGinaBjarne

ruth
Thank you Fred.

I am concerned about the IA program and the grants to support meditators. I understand that the grantor wants the money to go to people who are meditating. However, because money is tied to meditating and there are no regular days off (IA goes on day in and day out without fail) I am concerned that people are doing too much program and may be suffering adverse effects. Is there any research going on concerning the participants in IA? Any efforts to ensure people are not over doing it?
Sunday, March 07, 2010, 11:22:53 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byGina

Dr Fred Travis, author of the paper
Hi Gina
I wanted to expand my response to your points.
First about recruiting people for a study:
All researchers will exclude people from a study. If you are looking at normal functioning you would exclude those with previous psychiatric history, neurologic disorders, or drug history. If you are doing a clinical study, you would exclude healthy people J
(This was brought to my mind today in communicating with a researcher who practices Mindfulness Meditation who is comparing EEG between four different meditations, including TM.)
Second, in your points there is a assumed causality that long rounding may be harmful.
Let’s look at the big picture. NIH Mental Health estimates 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml). Since 25% of the general population has a diagnosable mental disorder, some of them will be coming to TM with that disorder. It would not be that TM caused the disorder; they came with that.
An epidemiology study in Sweden addressed this directly. Since it is socialized medicine they had records of all Swedes who were in psychiatric hospitals. The percent of people in psychiatric hospitals who practice TM was 100 smaller than the percentage of people in practicing TM in the population. This suggests TM does not cause psychiatric problems.
Research is now being done to test effects of TM practice on ADHD (two studies), bipolar disorder and PTSD (in progress now.) The research is being done and will come out.
Bottom line, is to date, there is no systematic research that indicates that long rounding, under proper supervision, causes permanent mental problems.
All the best
Fred
Thursday, March 11, 2010, 10:22:45 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Bjarne
Sorry Fred...Your conclusions are not correct from a strict epidemiological point of view. You are comparing two completely different populations, not in any way whatsoever matched for age, sex, geographical living, work, marriage, number of children, drug and alcohol habbits, social backgrond such as religious views and social standing. This is the most serious fault in your conclusion. Secondly there could be a lot of reasons why in patients at psychiatric hospitals have a history of TM to a lesser degree compared to TMers admitted to psychiatric hospitals. Seriously, a few reasons: 1) they committed suicide 2) due to religious, philosofic or other beliefs, they refused treatment at a psychiatric institiution...just to mension a few bias. But Yes! we do have high standard in our epidemiological research in Sweden due to our healthcare system.
Thursday, March 11, 2010, 11:01:47 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byruth

ruth
I agree with Bjarne's comment. The issue is that there is a lack of research focusing specifically on potential problems with rounding. We have some anecdotal information. This information should be sufficient to at least see that it might be an issue and spend some time, money and effort on teasing out that issue with research to see if there is any correlation between rounding and exacerbation or creation of mental health issues. This issue is separate and apart from whether simple TM (or any relaxation technique) is useful in helping with issues like ADHD or PTSD.
Friday, March 12, 2010, 10:15:59 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Dr Fred Travis, author of the paper
Hi
There has been one paper on Sthapatya Veda--natualistic obervation.
There have been 25 published studies that have investiagted effects of groups practicing TM on measureable indicators. I can email those papers if you would like.

You are right. There are no studies on Yagya, and one on MVVT. Yes they need to be investigated.

All the best
Fred
Sunday, March 07, 2010, 6:31:43 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

The Watcher
We'll leave it in your capable hands then?
Monday, March 08, 2010, 9:12:38 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byGina

JB

Just a little goofing ..... If you do research in a building who's entrance is not facing the correct way, is it a valid experiment? And, when you do an experiment, do you consult an astrologer to see if its a good time to do it? Do researchers wear those burger king hats?
Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 7:48:44 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byBjarneruth

Bjarne
Hahaha!!! Loved it JB. Yes, many researchers outsite wear "burger king hats", just a slightly different design (differrent ego-masks), but many are dedicated and loving people......as in all fields of life. the good and the bad guy´s. Know its like spitting in church, but I know some very nice people, still deep within TMO, they are just temporarily in a fog as I see it......
Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 8:39:14 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byGinaruth

jmknapp53
Dr. Travis,

I want to thank you for taking the time to post your comments here. I believe you will add a lot to the conversation.

I hope to see more of you!

J.
Monday, March 08, 2010, 11:43:13 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Paul Mason aka Premanand
Fred, How can you be sure, either way, that ANYONE is practising TM in your experiments?
This is a serious question.
I mean to say, once someone closes their eyes, how are you to know what they are doing or not doing inside their head?
Furthermore, since the TM mantras are 'secret', and are presumeably not disclosed during research, how would you know that ANY of the participants are practising TM? And even if they were disclosed how could you be sure that the participant was not then swapping the mantra for another, or just thinking about some Hindu deity.
If you do not wish to answer publicly I am quite happy to hear from you by email, at premanandpaul@yahoo.co.uk
Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 10:21:02 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byGina

Mike Doughney
I agree with Paul, that the usual movement-sponsored research on TM avoids this obvious question. Seems to me that the enormous dropout rate known to any TM teacher indicates that the internal experience of TM may be wildly different from person to person, different over time, or even different from session to session. Some small number of people may feel they're experiencing something unusual after learning TM, but many just fall asleep for a while. There is, nor, I think, will there ever be any research focusing on this sort of basic question of what TM actually is when practiced at any one time by any one person.

There are many such areas that I assume are off-limits in TM research formally sponsored by MUM or other organizations that promote TM. I also assume that this is the implementation of a cryptic comment that TM movement lawyer Stephen Druker made to me back in 1979: "We want to make sure that they're going to protect the integrity of our subjects, because one's in a very delicate state when one is practicing these. And also that they've designed the experiment so that they won't disturb the meditative state and test something other than what they're supposed to test." (link) I think the list of things that are "something other than what they're supposed to test" includes anything that might place the efficacy, or for that matter, supremacy of TM over everything else into doubt. His comment implies that "research" involving the TMO carries with it certain a priori assumptions about what questions may be the subject of scientific inquiry.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 3:01:28 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byGina

Dr Fred Travis, author of the paper
Dear Paul

This is a good question.

First, I trust what the person says. After I record EEG, I ask the person to describe this meditation relative to their dialy practice. The meditation in the lab is usually as deep as their daily meditation. I also go over the EEG record with the person so they can see how they brain waves change from eyes open to eyes closed to TM. In this conversation, any issues should come out.

Trust is the basis of any relationship--even in science.

All the best

Fred
Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 6:50:46 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Gina
Fred,

Thank you for the integrity to participate in discussion here!

Questions:

If Maharishi is/ was the expert on his branded Transcendental Meditation, why do you ask meditator's their subjective experiences?
Maharishi himself taught that we should not analyze our subjective meditative experience (although everyone compared "experiences" anyway)

Also, current MUM students emailed us that this website is banned from the MUM Internet server. Why is that?

Can studies be designed to measure endorphin production during meditation?
TM endorphins could meaurably explain various "bliss" experiences, as well as the increased pain threshold found in long term TMers, TM "visions"/ psychosis, and the addictive nature of TM and TMSP found by those who struggled to wean themselves from disocciative high / "witnessing" to integrate into
society.

Your responses are greatly appreciated, Fred.

Thank you,
g
Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 9:33:55 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Paul Mason aka Premanand
Fred, thank you for your candour. I am shocked that at the core of these lab tests on TM meditation there is an absence of objective scientific scrutiny and total reliance on such a subjective quality as 'trust'. I believe the world has been lulled into believing the results of such tests, trusting that scientists use methods far more stringent than taking the participants word for what they are practising. I suspect that if Time Magazine or some such prestigious magazine ran an article on TM science, with our exchange quoted, it would easily persuade readers of the un-scientific nature of these experiments.
I hope you find a way of producing experiments on TM practise based on stronger proof. Good luck.
Paul
Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 1:12:10 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byjmknapp53Guest

JB
Internal subjective practices are like this. If one is doing the Buddhist style Awareness type of stuff how do you know they are not thinking of cheeseburgers the whole time? Or in 8th path style yoga, instead of kriya, one could be thinking of the date last night. I suspect that is one reason that subjective approaches to truth are not "valid" scienctific pursuits. We don't need to revisit discussions of how many angels can dance on a pin.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 10:53:21 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Dr Fred Travis, author of the paper
Paul, if you give a demographic form to a person, do you ask to see their phot ID to check their name? birth certificate to check their birthday? or take a blood sample to extract the DNA and check if the have XX or XY chromosomes? Of course not. All resaerchers trust the people who come into your study--not just TM resaerchers.

If a person says the answer to the math problem they did is "42" do you think they really got "34" and are just lying? Of course not.

All physiological research on subjective experience begins with asking the subject. If you ask people to create a positive mood, and then you ask them to rate how well they did it, do you accept their answer and group the data by the answer? Yes. All researchers start here. You can look at Davidson's work on emotions at Univ of Wisconsin at Madison.

With more resaerch you may be able to identify physiological patterns of the subjective state, and if those patterns are seen whenever the person has the emotion, and those patterns are never seen at anyother time, then you have a physioogical marker of the subjectie experience....but it starts with the subjective experience.
One caveat, on paper and pencil tests, there are questions to see if the person is faking good--called subject reacitivty. So, yes this is an issue. But it is the starting point of science.
Thursday, March 11, 2010, 9:32:14 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Bjarne
Its not so at all in medical research, .......a lot of no trust investigation going on in double blind studies of drug-trials. You cant have such a study published in a high impact journals without no trust cheks. Cheking by bloodsamples the drug concentration in the blod to check compliance. Pauls point is a good one indeed Fred !
Thursday, March 11, 2010, 9:56:44 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byPaul Mason aka Premanand

Paul Mason aka Premanand
Fred, I am not blaming you for the lack of technology in place to enable scientists to 'see' whether someone is meditating or not, but I don't believe you can 'prove' TM until the technology exists. But in the meantime you could try approaching the target from a different direction. Try testing people who claim to experience some of the symptoms of 'enlightenment'' and trying to work out how these symptoms are occuring (without asking the subjects what they are doing, in the first instance). Of course this would not be a specifically TM-orientated experiment so it would have little or no value to those trying to 'sell' TM. However, it would be very, very useful for the scientific understanding of meditation & its effects, which is something quite different I suspect.
Thursday, March 11, 2010, 10:42:10 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

jmknapp53


Dr. Travis,


I've begun reading the papers you kindly sent me. I appreciate your generosity of spirit and willingness to give of your time.


I wish I were more confident of my ability to understand your research, but what little I learned about statistics in graduate school has faded with time.


Nonetheless, I'd like to ask questions about the first paper I've worked through: "Patterns of EEG coherence, power, and contingent negative variation characterize the integration of transcendental and waking states." You are the lead author.


The paper discusses observed EEG coherence in 51 individuals self-reporting transcendence along with waking and sleeping. You specifically identify this as "enlightenment" in your conclusion.


I fear I've misunderstood, but the heart of the reasoning you present seems circular—or more properly "begging the question." It appears the proposition you are attempting to prove is assumed in your premise.


Unless I'm mistaken, some TMers came to you claiming they are enlightened and attributed it to their TM practice. You and your fellow researchers hooked them up to an EEG and found high-amplitude alpha waves and brainwave coherence. You then seem to say that proves they are enlightened.


It seems as if the research has "its outputs feeding back into its inputs." Circular reasoning.


You do not provide any criteria to judge the truth or falsity of their claims. Given the high prestige attributed to individuals who report such experiences in TM culture, it seems possible they could have a high motivation to mistakenly believe this about themselves—or to outright lie.


(A side note, when I participated in research on TM in the 70s, the local center and researchers picked individuals they considered to be "strong, clear" meditators. In other words, they chose subjects they believed would yield the results they wanted.)


Robin Carlsen made such claims of enlightenment, as did Andy Rhymer—both of whom are now disgraced within the TM community. One with a history of child molestation, I believe.


It is reported the Maharishi proclaimed both Carlsen and Rhymer "enlightened." Are we to accept some claims of enlightenment, but not others? If a child molester exhibits EEG coherence, is he enlightened?

If so, what is the actual benefit of enlightenment? Or EEG [...]
Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 7:43:45 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

jmknapp53
(cont.)



The correlation you report doesn't seem to prove causality. We can't know if these individuals had high coherence from birth. Or if it arose due to another cause, such as a strict vegetarian diet, or other confounding factors.


Isn't this a case where researchers have elegantly measured and analyzed data—then drawn conclusions based on flawed premises? Namely, 1) that enlightenment exists, 2) that we can trust an individual's report of enlightenment, and 3) that any differences we measure in them from other populations must be proof of their claims?


How could we then justify your conclusion that "[t]his line of research could dramatically impact our understanding of the possible range of human development"?


We certainly can't prove any of these measured differences result from TM.



I have another question.


The occurrence of alpha rhythms in later stages of sleep has been correlated with sleep disorders..This is a discussion of "alpha-wave intrusion" in layman's terms.


Could you explain how transcendence during stage IV sleep differs from this sleep disorder?



I want to give you kudos, Dr. Travis, for your patience in explaining your work to a skeptical crowd—only a few of whom have scientific training. I certainly don't.


If more TM researchers and representatives were willing to discuss skeptical questions with critics, we might put to rest many doubts dogging the TM Org for decades.


J.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 7:48:00 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Dr Fred Travis, author of the paper John.
1. The paper does not say that TM is a causative factor. Rather it is a naturalistic observation of brain patterns that differentiate indivdiuals reporting the state of enlightenment from short term meditators, who have experienced pure consciousness during TM but not in activity, and non-TM.. A multi-discriminant analysis choose the variables that differentiated groups. So it is not circular. Rather, it was research to identify a number of physiological measures that might mark growth of enlightenment. Later research, then looked over 1 year of TM practice to see if this EEG pattern emerged over time with TM. That paper began to ask if Tm was a causative factor.
2. IN terms of alpha-delta sleep. That is discussed in another paper published in Sleep. Alpha-delta sleep is seen in fibromyalgia--put these individuals do not sleep deeply--they do not show stage 3 and 4. In the inidividuals reporting enlightenment, they had as much delta sleep as any other person, and those individuals did not report any physiological problems.
Hope this answers your questions.
Fred
Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 6:33:02 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Bjarne
Fred and John- EEG and brains are rubbish....here comes the truth....
http://www.youtube.com/v/VbEfentoIJs&feature" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="170" height="140
Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 9:13:08 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byPaul Mason aka Premanand

Paul Mason aka Premanand
Oh Bjarne, well found.
Thursday, March 11, 2010, 1:03:58 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Mike Doughney
Given that Mr. Travis has invited comments, I may go ahead and obtain a copy of the paper via a subscribing local library and write up a review in a full post. In the meantime, I'll point out the obvious.

Like most scientific papers on TM, this is very preliminary research full of speculation. This is easy to see even in the brief abstract available online, in phrases like: "[default mode network] activation patterns could give insight into the nature of meditation practices" and "meditation practice may lead to a foundational or ‘ground’ state of cerebral functioning." I've added emphasis of the words "could" and "may." In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with pointing out why, and in what areas, further study might be worthwhile.

Meanwhile, let's check out the press release issued by MUM: "[TM produces] a unique state of "restful alertness." The frequent claim that TM is "unique" is certainly not supported by the abstract, and I'd make an educated guess that a full reading of the paper would offer no support that the state produced by TM is in any way "unique." Obviously, the study was only concerned with TM and eyes-closed rest. From where does this claim of uniqueness come, other than the decades-long habits of TM salesmen?

Here's another: "Enhances an individual's sense of "self" by activating what neuroscientists call the "default mode network" in the brain." This sentence isn't supported by what's in the abstract, which quite clearly states that the only thing measured during the study was EEG activity, nothing that might measure a person's "sense of 'self."" Again, the press release seems to be based more on the drawings in the "Fundamentals of Consciousness" pamphlet of the mid-1970's than on anything in this study.

This is the fundamental, general problem with research conducted by people associated with MUM and the movement; scientific study is never seen as an open-ended process that leads where it leads. Studies from this crowd are uniformly just part of the set design that's part of the propagandizing and proselytizing about the TM program, and to some degree, self-reinforcement for the people who are still involved with TM after decades of not much being accomplished. The scientific studies offered are almost always preliminary, speculative research, misused by the rest of the organization to attempt to support the usual sales pitch that TM is somehow unique, special, and effective.

The other interesting thing here is how, again, TM movement research seems to gravitate toward certain types of terminology from the scientific community, trying to twist it to apply to TM. Here, the term is "default ground state." People like Hagelin have long attempted to tie TM to some supposed "ground state" of consciousness by way of physics and unified field theory, and today that attempt to twist terminology has been extended to neuroscience through this paper.

What's going on here, at its root, is not science, but a process very much similar to that which we see from the proponents of abominations like "intelligent design." It is the attempt to gain unwarranted and undeserved legitimacy and popularity for a religious system of thought through the misappropriation and misuse of the language, but not the substance, of science. Internally, the terminology for the mechanics of TM and this alleged "ground state" is clearly religious: "Maharishi watered the roots by bringing to... students the Total Knowledge of the Veda with the direct experience of Ātmā and the Realization of Brahman." But that won't fly in a modern secular culture, thus the continued contortions and pretzel-thinking of "TM is not a religion" and the need for research that must reach the a priori conclusion that something unique and profound is happening as a result of TM practice. Problem is, the research never reaches those conclusions, but MUM's PR people will spin and twist research that doesn't say much of anything into what they need to attempt, once again, to promote TM to the outside world.
Saturday, March 06, 2010, 10:19:48 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byBjarnejmknapp53Gina ruth
Just a quick thought and if I have time I will post on the entire study, which I have read. First, the phrase "default mode network" is a term of art. Basicially, it means what is activated in the brain when it is at rest, not focused on external tasks.

The term "ground state" is used in the paper by analogy to physics and is not a defined term in neurology.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 2:01:25 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate Bjarne MD, PhD, GGTW
Also as I stated a short while ago more than 1800 articles are published on the subject meditation if You type "meditation" in the searchfield on PubMed. But most medical researchers are NOT using their publications for promoting results in a PR maschine. Sorry, this is manipulation with onle one purpose....to sell a product through a press-release. Feel ashame! If You use PubMed on the present Journal, one thing is that the journal has a quite low impactfactor another that a number of articles of more importance to the use of meditation are published in the same issue eg:
An investigation of brain processes supporting meditation.

Baerentsen KB, Stødkilde-Jørgensen H, Sommerlund B, Hartmann T, Damsgaard-Madsen J, Fosnaes M, Green AC.
Department of Psychology, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark. klaus.baerentsen@psy.au.dk
Meditation is an ancient spiritual practice, which aims to still the fluctuations of the mind. We investigated meditation with fMRI in order to identify and characterise both the "neural switch" mechanism used in the voluntary shift from normal consciousness to meditation and the "threshold regulation mechanism" sustaining the meditative state. Thirty-one individuals with 1.5-25 years experience in meditation were scanned using a blocked on-off design with 45 s alternating epochs during the onset of respectively meditation and normal relaxation. Additionally, 21 subjects were scanned during 14.5 min of sustained meditation. The data were analysed with SPM and ICA. During the onset of meditation, activations were found bilaterally in the putamen and the supplementary motor cortex, while deactivations were found predominately in the right hemisphere, the precuneus, the posterior cingulum and the parieto-temporal area. During sustained meditation, SPM analysis revealed activation in the head of nucleus caudatus. Extensive deactivations were observed in white matter in the right hemisphere, i.e. mainly in the posterior occipito-parieto-temporal area and in the frontal lobes. ICA identified 38 components including known baseline-resting state components, one of which not only overlaps with the activated area revealed in the SPM analysis but extends further into frontal, temporal, parietal and limbic areas, and might presumably constitute a combination of frontoparietal and cinguloopercular task control systems. The identified component processes display varying degrees of correlation. We hypothesise that a proper characterisation of brain processes during meditation will require an operational definition of brain dynamics matching a stable state of mind.

I find this an example of misuse of research, not with a main purpose of helping fellow humans, but simply to make a profit.
Saturday, March 06, 2010, 10:37:18 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byGinajmknapp53

Bjarne MD, PhD, GGTW
(My new title GGTW, meaning God´s Gift To Women)....see how easy it is to promote Yourself with fancy titles from dubious "Universities" ....fake it until You make it
Saturday, March 06, 2010, 10:48:14 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byGinajmknapp53

ruth
Well, you may be GGTW.
Sunday, March 07, 2010, 10:44:36 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate


Bjarne
Dont think so Ruth, Unfortunately John seem to be a male
Sunday, March 07, 2010, 11:33:45 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

jmknapp53
Now, Bjarne, we both know I'm not God's gift to anyone!



J.
Monday, March 08, 2010, 11:44:57 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate ruth

Monday, March 08, 2010, 1:20:27 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

douglas mesner
One has to wonder why this dippy fool's philosophical ramblings are on the FBI website: http://www.fbi.gov/publications/leb/2009/may2009/brain.htm. I am going to write the FBI and ask that this drivel be removed - I hope others are moved to do the same. In the paper, the lobotomy-eyed, broad-grinning Travis touts the benefits of napping (in the religious context of TM) and concludes: "Research specific to the law enforcement profession has revealed the importance of spirituality to its members.31 Additional studies should be undertaken to help officers remain effective in their work and thrive as human beings throughout their careers." The last thing we need are ineffectual mentally crippled law enforcement officers taking seriously the idea that they can prevent or reduce violence via the Maharishi Effect.
Sunday, March 07, 2010, 8:09:45 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byGinajmknapp53

Dr Fred Travis, author of the paper
Hi
If you would like the paper so that you can be more knowledgeable about the discussion, email me and I'll send it to you.
All the best
Fred
Sunday, March 07, 2010, 6:28:54 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byGinaGuest

Bjarne

Thanks Fred. I will get it for free from my exellent library service at our University Hospital- dont forget Sweden is selecting people for the Nobel-price in medicine
Sunday, March 07, 2010, 8:48:37 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byGina

ruth
Fred, your response is a fair response and I do not support the name calling that sometimes goes on here. I have not read the paper yet that is the subject of John's post so what I say next may not apply to this particular study. The most significant issue I have when brain activity is correlated to meditative states is the problem of determining exactly those correlations mean. Basically, it is a validity problem. As you know, just because research is consistent with an hypothesis doesn't mean that the hypothesis is correct. Bjarne pointed to the problem with his cited study which notes: "We hypothesise that a proper characterisation of brain processes during meditation will require an operational definition of brain dynamics matching a stable state of mind."

I would appreciate it if you would send me a copy of the study at ruthsimplicity@yahoo.com. I am mostly retired so anything that means less work for me is a good thing!

But I will read the paper and I appreciate your stopping by and sharing your views.
Sunday, March 07, 2010, 11:06:43 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byGinaGuest Vaj
Would someone who got a copy of this paper, please send me a copy off-list? Thanks in advance and thanks to Fred for joining in the conversation--EEG and meditation are one of my favorite topics, I can't wait to read it.

V.
Monday, March 08, 2010, 4:46:33 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

douglas mesner
Did Fred join the conversation? Good. Hopefully he doesn't fail to answer the questions posed by our friend "The Watcher" when Watcher suggests "an honest report into the bizarre claims of John Hagelin and his unified field ideas and how he tries to con the unknowledgable into believing there is an actual physics basis to yogic flying or astrology?"

and goes on to ask:

Or how about the claims that groups of "coherence creators" reduce negative traits in society as a whole? Aren't you all embarassed at the failure of the invincible America project or are you still claiming it's all a phase transition?

These are all good areas of research Fred, if you are interested in science and think it's a good way of demonstrating the value of things I think you should get on it and let the world know. I suspect you already know that most of the TM programmes are nonsense but as the organisation makes money from them and have a huge amount of belief invested in the vedas it might be embarassing to admit that it's all hot air. Am I right?"

Is he right, Fred?

But then, Fred goes on to say, "There have been 25 published studies that have investiagted effects of groups practicing TM on measureable indicators."
The Maharishi Effect. Either Fred doesn't take this forum seriously, or he's hopelessly delusional.
Monday, March 08, 2010, 6:16:39 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Mike Doughney
I'll also join the chorus of "please send me a copy" of this paper since I've thus far been unsuccessful at finding it by way of the libraries where I have credentials. mike (at) doughney (dot) net works.

I think that Douglas raises an important point, which I understand as, does Fred take this forum or even more generally scientific endeavors in the same way, or as seriously, as others of us do. After 3 decades plus of this sort of thing, and perhaps complete divergence from basic shared understandings and the common meanings of words that's the product of long-term involvement with the TMO, such interactions can be pointless or absurd.

It's easy to focus on the most recent flurry of press releases, particularly for those unfamiliar with decades of the TM movement's habits of doing this sort of thing over and over. I was around when the TM-Sidhi "flying" was announced, talked about, but still kept under wraps. I caught TM movement lawyer Steven Druker, way back in 1979, insisting that research on gravitational effects of the alleged "flying sidhi." (link) More than 30 years later, research on the most outrageous claims still hasn't materialized, and I think it's safe to say that it won't. All the TM movement's press releases avoid the obvious: the most high-profile, outrageous claims made for TM programs through the years have never been backed up with any research whatsoever.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 2:41:14 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byGina Bjarne
Abstract easily available on PubMed;

Conscious Cogn. 2010 Feb 16. [Epub ahead of print]
Focused attention, open monitoring and automatic self-transcending: Categories to organize meditations from Vedic, Buddhist and Chinese traditions.

Travis F, Shear J.
Center for the Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition, Maharishi University of Management, 1000 North 4th Street, Fairfield, IA 52557, United States; Maharishi University of Management Research Institute, Maharishi Vedic City, IA 52557, United States.
This paper proposes a third meditation-category-automatic self-transcending- to extend the dichotomy of focused attention and open monitoring proposed by Lutz. Automaticself-transcending includes techniques designed to transcend their own activity. This contrasts with focused attention, which keeps attention focused on an object; and open monitoring, which keeps attention involved in the monitoring process. Each category was assigned EEG bands, based on reported brain patterns during mental tasks, and meditations were categorized based on their reported EEG. Focused attention, characterized by beta/gamma activity, included meditations from Tibetan Buddhist, Buddhist, and Chinese traditions. Open monitoring, characterized by theta activity, included meditations from Buddhist, Chinese, and Vedic traditions. Automaticself-transcending, characterized by alpha1 activity, included meditations from Vedic and Chinese traditions. Between categories, the included meditations differed in focus, subject/object relation, and procedures. These findings shed light on the common mistake of averaging meditations together to determine mechanisms or clinical effects. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
PMID: 20167507 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 8:50:07 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate


Bjarne
EEG is a hell of a foggy land in the context of medical research......and You know it Fred. So far I doubt every word in this abstract until I have read the whole paper. Its belittleling ancient Buddhist traditions and meditation...Dalai Lama, seem to me to have pretty good results from his meditations. But on the positive site I notice that finally we might have an explanation to the difference between focus and spaceout...trancesimilar sleepstates?
Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 9:04:10 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Vaj
Douglas, just becasue you don't agree with Fred Travis is no reason to be disrespectful towards him.

Maybe if you posted in a more respectful tone, he'd answer your questions?
Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 9:28:12 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

douglas mesner
I was really just quoting questions from a prior post left by a different person who really didn't take a disrespectful tone at all. So why didn't Fred answer him? I should feel that if Fred had legitimate reasonable answers for such direct questions, he wouldn't be so tender as to leave them unanswered due to objectionable tone. To me, it's not really a discussion when you have a so-called scientist who isn't willing to admit that ludicrous notions like "yogic flight" aren't grounded in reality.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 12:11:59 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byjmknapp53

Gina
Doug asks: "So why didn't Fred answer him?"

TM teachers are trained to dodge questions and not answer them. They only answer what they want to answer. That's Maharishi's way. The hope is that the questioner will forget the original question - not likely to happen with this crowd!

If we continue, and Fred does inward digging to provide answers, Fred may feel some tinges of anxiety. He will term the anxiety "unstressing," return to the domes to Program to settle himself in trance before returning to the conversation.

On the other hand, honest discourse has the risk of exit counseling him. Not likely to succeed after his lifetime of TM-MMY devotion.

From my memory, Fred is one of those smart, well-intentioned TMers that Bjarne mentioned above. He is a True Believer and TM-based brain research is Fred's life.

g
Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 11:31:41 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byBjarne

ruth
My impression is that Fred Travis came to respond specifically to John's blog post and to say don't make assumptions, read the study. He isn't really agreeing to be interviewed on all things TM.



Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 1:48:10 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byGuest

douglas mesner
And I would say his "science" is entirely suspect if he can't answer basic questions about TM's absurd claims, whether this particular study is about Yogic Flight and The Maharishi Effect or not.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 1:59:20 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byGina

Gina
Ruth, you make an important point (as always).

However, Fred's position as a public spokesperson, recruiter, scientist and faculty of TM imply that he is an expert on "all things TM." It's natural that everyone here wants to ask him / confront him with specifics about research and MUM functioning.

We know that Bevan and the Rajas are really the folks to discuss these concerns with. Fred lacks their level of authority in the Movement as he ultimately reports to Bevan and the echelon in Holland.

g
Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 11:36:00 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byjmknapp53

Bjarne
As I learned from MMY....if I am not getting answers from Fred I will call head of department Dr Raja Ram
Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 12:13:51 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byjmknapp53

Tanemon
Above, Gina mentioned some common adverse effects of long-term TM programs and/or rounding. She suggested:
"How about studying measures of life functionality from prolonged rounding, say after several months or more of rounding, or years on the 'Creating Coherence Program' (CCP)?

- the ability to hold a job (not just live off the family trust fund)
- the ability to maintain long term intimate relationships (Most TM echelon are unmarried. If they have children, the majority of those children use extensive drugs and alcohol to self-medicate as teens, then leave TM)
- the capacity for independent decision making (life style, personal goals, manner of dress, etc)
- the capacity for rational discourse"


I certainly did not do as much rounding as many people who became deeply involved with the TMO did, and my life was almost nothing like that lived by many in centers like Fairfield. I did practice TM twice daily for many years, and attended some West-Coast-Canada residence courses where we did some rounding. But I believe Gina's little list (and I'm certain, because she uses "e.g.", that she could have expanded that list) is representative of some of the effects I noticed among some "serious TMers".

What I noticed in myself as adverse results of TM practice might also be items investigatable, by way of research into the common results of TM practice amongst groups of TMers: Periods of inability to concentrate well (while not meditating - i.e., in "everyday life situations". Tendency to dissociate when faced with challenging emotional circumstances. Becoming inefficient or slow at everydays tasks. Possible lowering of I.Q. as measured in a standard test. Spacing-out while driving a vehicle (might be investigated via driving records - police records, insurance records).

I'll attest to having experienced these sorts of things to a greater or lesser degree (it varied) over a period of years. I don't say they are permanent results. For me, they began to slowly diminish as soon as I stopped doing 2x20 TM, and even more quickly when I totally quit doing TM. Further, once I went through a particular therapeutic process, the remaining mental fogginess disappeared and I became happier, more confident, more able, and more energetic.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 5:20:13 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Gina
Tanemon mentioned other common effects seen in long term meditators:

Periods of inability to concentrate well (while not meditating - i.e., in "everyday life situations". Tendency to dissociate when faced with challenging emotional circumstances. Becoming inefficient or slow at everydays tasks.

Decades later, I still dissociate when faced with challenging emotional situations. I can return and address the situation the following day.
I don't know if this tendency comes from TMeditating practice, per se, or also from the first decades of my life under TM cult pressure, judgements, inadequacies (typical cult psycho-emotional "abuse" which created a deeply embedded "KMS" - "Keep Mouth Shut" - response to emotional challenges. Fortunately I am able to hold down a demanding job and raised great kids regardless.

I also failed to mention.. about the endorphin/addiction concern with TM.. in my response to Fred up above in this thread -- endorphin measures could also possibly contribute to understanding the many many TM casualties who are unable to hold down jobs and live now as psychologically disabled on Social Security benefits, for inability to focus. Others are labeled as PTSD after cult life. Then there are the suicides.

And who would write grants for such studies? And who could possibly have access to a cross section of TMers and former TMers for a truly balanced view?
Studying ONLY those in Fairfield is not a balanced sample, since many left FF but are still affected. Others spent little time in FF, but were in TM communities large and small elsewhere. What about Debbie Henning in a mental institution and her late husband, Doug Henning, dead from following Maharishi's advice and therapies?

Since Maharishi dictated to only study positive measures of TM, am sure these considerations would never be studied by MUM researchers.

Even the"Maharishi Effect" retrospective studies only included measurable social indicators which put TM in a positive light; indicators that did not give the desired results were simply dropped from reports.

g
Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 10:34:52 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byjmknapp53

Tanemon
Gina, I guess I'm talking about the effects noticed in TM "bliss ninnies" (as some TM teachers from sothwestern British Columbia, Canada, used to term them). These were people who for a while were smilingly "blissed out" but - in many cases - found that this state led to a functional ineptitude. Then they gradually sank into frustration & sadness, since the feedback to them from the world (the job/career world, the social world) was negative.

Okay, Gina, you lived in FF. I realize that what I'm asking for here would only be casual observation or "anecdotal information," but what proportion of the FF TMer popultion would you say seemed to have slid into this unfortunate state of living? Would you think 20%, or a third, or...??
Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 7:47:43 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byjmknapp53 John Nickson
Fred,

I think it shows courage and integrity for you to take part in discussions on this site-thanks, much appreciated !

John Nickson.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010, 11:35:13 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – ModerateLiked byjmknapp53

ruth
When purusing the comments keep in mind several different studies have been mentioned. The one I read is the one that is the original topic of the blog post and which Travis suggested we read before critiquing.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 4:23:46 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

alex
Dear Fred, I remember your sympatatic face, you didn't change a lot.
But about scientific researches, I have my doubts.
I joined one at the begining of meditating, and was asked to come back for a second one to see how intelligence raised.
Only the positive meditator were invited. In total 4 including me and my husband.
this specific pshych. research was used on a big scale! (4 people!)
I was very positive about my experiences with TM, I didn't stop because of bad experiences. But, as a teacher I saw so many people falling down the rabbit hole!
People who were very dear to me, changed from normal persons into.......????
And I couldn't agree with all the things Maharishi wanted from us to do, to say to meditators etc.who were in really big problems because of the meditation. And checkingnotes is not enough, to help them.

The scientific research branche is wide.
As long as you don't take all the thinks matter to it, into credit, you never get a objective result from it.
See, the scientific research on global warming.
In Tilburg, Holland they did the research which was the ground of all the later research, and the ground of the outcome was that global warming was a great danger to the planet.
Now, they found out, that they did forget a very important thing to take into account.

So... scientific research is mostly very subjective. This scientific research says this, the other says that.
I don't want to offend you or something, but I just wanted to say this to you.
greetings Alex
Thursday, March 11, 2010, 5:42:22 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate alex
ps. Fred, even the preconceived opinion of the researcher has a big impact on the outcoming of that specific research!
Thursday, March 11, 2010, 5:47:23 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

ruth
Fred is aware of this. In the study that was discussed in the original blog post certain controls were used to help minimize researcher expectation by making the researchers blind to who was in what group when reading the EEG results.
Friday, March 12, 2010, 10:21:25 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

alex
as long as they dont know what to take into account with a certain research project, the outcome is not OK, not objective and so NOT thrue.
experience is more valid, it is part of ones live
Saturday, March 13, 2010, 10:54:47 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

alex
and as long as they just take "so called possitive, stable, healthy" people for research, it stinks!
Saturday, March 13, 2010, 10:55:46 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Gina

Hello Fred:

Thank you for your kind response to my questions.

I appreciate your explanation of keeping the TM studies to those who would be, as you described "normally functioning."

For your studies, who defines "normally functioning." I know of some TMers who were in studies but unable to hold jobs, they were living on welfare checks. Is that "normally functioning."?

Regarding possible ill effects from rounding, why have there not been studies done on the effects of rounding? Everyone on rouding courses joke about the "space cases" and "heavy unstressors"... those are insider terms for the obvious problems experienced by other course participants.

Yet, without studies on the effects of rounding, every MUM student spends one out of three months on a rounding program.

BTW, Maharishi once guaranteed Cosmic Consciousness to all MIU graduates, because they would've spent a full year rounding by the time they received their Bachelor's degree. Has Cosmic Consciousness been scientifically defined? ... but I digress...

You wrote : "Let’s look at the big picture. NIH Mental Health estimates 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml). Since 25% of the general population has a diagnosable mental disorder, some of them will be coming to TM with that disorder. It would not be that TM caused the disorder; they came with that."

If that is the case, then the 25% of TMers who have mental disorders should access appropriate mental help without stigma. Yet, Maharishi taught that one should not seek psychological therapy. Maharishi said that therapy "Only spreading the mud." TM was the "best solution to transcend beyond the problem." With transending, the problems were promised to dissolve.

Maharishi, and all TM teachers, teach that TM is the solution to everything. Meditate, attend a course, round, learn the siddhis to gain perfect health, immerse in the absolute, improve mental clarity, reduce blood pressure, bring more bliss, etc. etc.

Yet, those who devotedly practice TM and follow "the knowledge" will then abstain from seeking psychological help when they have anxiety or other problems. All problems are attributed it to "heavy unstressing." "Unstressing" is an unstudied and non-scientific term that is commonly understood amongst TMers to ambiguously refer to any uncomfortable sensation either physical, emotional, or psychological.

Those who really want help, will attend as many advanced TM courses as possible and avoid seeking appropriate therapy or counseling. If anyone claimed to have sought therapy on a course application, they would not be accepted from the course.

In this case, TM and TM programs DOES indirectly further (preexisting?) mental conditions by discouraging appropriate treatment in favor of increased amounts of time spent in trance state, yagyas for treatment, jyotish astrology, unstudied Ayur-Ved therapies and gemstones (all of which profit MVED, of course)

(continues on next comment)
Sunday, March 14, 2010, 9:12:22 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Gina
(continued from above)

The Swedish study which you quote:
"The percent of people in psychiatric hospitals who practice TM was 100 smaller than the percentage of people in practicing TM in the population. This suggests TM does not cause psychiatric problems."

Your conclusion is not logical, as Bjarne referred to in his post above. This is typical TM pseudo-science rationale that does not hold up under scrutiny.

Of course the number of people diagnosed with psychiatric problems will be less in a population that avidly avoids such disgnosis and treatment! As Bjarne stated, the numbers in psychiatric hospitals do not include the suicides, nor those in prison.

Once again, devoute TMers will not seek psychiatric help, thus are unlikely to be diagnosed and find themselves in a mental institution and would not be included in such a count.

I agree wholeheartedly with your statement: "Bottom line, is to date, there is no systematic research that indicates that long rounding, under proper supervision, causes permanent mental problems."

There is also no systematic research to indicate that long rounding does NOT cause permanent mental problems.

How many long term meditators, who left the TMO and have long term problems have you studied? John Knapp, Rick Ross, Steven Hassan (well respected cult experts) and the International Cultic Studies Association have seen hundreds of TM related casulties. Some of us (myself included) have TM casualties in our personal lives.

For example, how many of those who've spent years on the Mother Divine Program or Purusha program would be able to integrate in a non-TM Movement social or work context? Most of those Purusha and Mother Divine course participants would not fit anyone's criteria of "normal functioning" and would thus be excluded from your studies. Yet, their lifestyle is seen as the epitome of TM devotion. Why is that?

Thank you for your kind consideration.

g
Sunday, March 14, 2010, 9:13:22 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Bjarne
Agree Gina! Its worse, its pure unscientific fantacy - nothing to do with epidemiological research. Reasons I stated above. With such conclusions made in public You are soon out of scientific publishing business Fred.....peer reviewers are not that stupid
Sunday, March 14, 2010, 9:54:05 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Gina
Fred,

Oh, and.. you stated that "there is no systematic research that indicates that long rounding, under proper supervision, causes permanent mental problems."

But are there studies that reveal temporary mental problems?

In an earlier comment, you stated that you'd also been concerned about such problems observed with rounding and that it needed to be studies. Now I cannot find that comment. Has it been deleted or perhaps I missed it?

If studies have revealed temporary problems for a small percentage of people while rounding, why should anyone willingly participate in a program that could put them at risk for temporary mental problems?

There should, actually to be ethical, there MUST be longtidunal studies on those who've had negative experiences rounding.

Until those so-called "heavy unstressors" with the tics, psychotic episodes, anxiety and anger bouts are documented and followed, the TM Movement should not be pushing rounding programs to heavily.

It is unwise and unethical to heartily promote a program that so powerfully causes alterations in personality, mood, life direction and "unstressing" until side effects and appopriate recovery therapies are documented.

g
5 days ago, 2:07:40 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Tanemon
How about the "bliss ninny" thing? What concerned me - more than bouts of anger or even temporary psychotic episodes - was the bliss ninny phenomenon. (This is due to the fact that, in my observation, psychotic episodes and bouts of heavy anger haven been rarer.)

What do I mean by "bliss ninny"? This was a term I encountered among western Canadian TM teachers, who would use it off-handedly when not in a public situation. It may have had wider currency. (And, by the way, I was never a TM teacher myself).

The "bliss ninny" is a smiling, satisfied TMer - however, he or she may not be competent at the customary, basic skills needed in modern Western (particularly American or Canadian) society. Bliss ninnies might not be good drivers, good at job skills, good at ordinary day-to-day conversation. Frequently, they can be a shade bumbling or clumsy. Also, they might not be good at dealing with challenging emotions involved in relationships and childrearing. They might not be aware of current events and issues that people in a modern democracy are supposed to be aware of. Charitable people see them as "dear souls" who are "in the clouds" or "in there own world".

Now is this an especially bad thing? Probably not, in he grand scheme of things. But what about the "200% of life"? What about "success in life" - which in the West does not mean simply the metaphysical side, but material competency and everyday comfort as well?

By the way, th really long rounding courses were not necessarily required in order to produce the condition of which I speak.
Yesterday, 11:59:17 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate Tanemon
How about the "bliss ninny" thing? What concerned me - more than bouts of anger or even temporary psychotic episodes - was the bliss ninny phenomenon. (This is due to the fact that, in my observation, psychotic episodes and bouts of heavy anger haven been rarer.)

What do I mean by "bliss ninny"? This was a term I encountered among western Canadian TM teachers, who would use it off-handedly when not in a public situation. It may have had wider currency. (And, by the way, I was never a TM teacher myself).

The "bliss ninny" is a smiling, satisfied TMer - however, he or she may not be competent at the customary, basic skills needed in modern Western (particularly American or Canadian) society. Bliss ninnies might not be good drivers, good at job skills, good at ordinary day-to-day conversation. Frequently, they can be a shade bumbling or clumsy. Also, they might not be good at dealing with challenging emotions involved in relationships and childrearing. They might not be aware of current events and issues that people in a modern democracy are supposed to be aware of. Charitable people see them as "dear souls" who are "in the clouds" or "in there own world".

Now is this an especially bad thing? Probably not, in he grand scheme of things. But what about the "200% of life"? What about "success in life" - which in the West does not mean simply the metaphysical side, but material competency and everyday comfort as well?

By the way, th really long rounding courses were not necessarily required in order to produce the condition of which I speak.
Yesterday, 11:59:37 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate Tanemon
How about the "bliss ninny" thing? What concerned me - more than bouts of anger or even temporary psychotic episodes - was the bliss ninny phenomenon. (This is due to the fact that, in my observation, psychotic episodes and bouts of heavy anger haven been rarer.)

What do I mean by "bliss ninny"? This was a term I encountered among western Canadian TM teachers, who would use it off-handedly when not in a public situation. It may have had wider currency. (And, by the way, I was never a TM teacher myself).

The "bliss ninny" is a smiling, satisfied TMer - however, he or she may not be competent at the customary, basic skills needed in modern Western (particularly American or Canadian) society. Bliss ninnies might not be good drivers, good at job skills, good at ordinary day-to-day conversation. Frequently, they can be a shade bumbling or clumsy. Also, they might not be good at dealing with challenging emotions involved in relationships and childrearing. They might not be aware of current events and issues that people in a modern democracy are supposed to be aware of. Charitable people see them as "dear souls" who are "in the clouds" or "in there own world".

Now is this an especially bad thing? Probably not, in he grand scheme of things. But what about the "200% of life"? What about "success in life" - which in the West does not mean simply the metaphysical side, but material competency and everyday comfort as well?

By the way, th really long rounding courses were not necessarily required in order to produce the condition of which I speak.
Yesterday, 11:59:56 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate Paul Mason
Gina, yes strange how stuff has gone astray, I recall the comment you are referring to, the comment that has gone missing is:-

Dr Fred Travis, author of the paper Hi Gina
I am also concerned about the issues you bring up about long rounding.
Thank you for bringing these to my attention again.
All the best
Fred
Monday, March 08, 2010, 2:46:28


if you want to save these old comments before they disappear, go to:-
http://js-kit.com/api/static/pop_comments?ref=http%3A%2F%2Ftmfree.blogspot.com%2F2010%2F03%2Fmore-doubtful-transcendental-meditation.html&path=%2F4009187032019915116#jsid-1268158862-236
5 days ago, 3:53:50 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Bjarne
Thanks Paul for keeping record of the references, a lot seem to have disappeared lately. Please rejuvenate the comments on old Sigmond, Jung and John
5 days ago, 9:52:26 PM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Bjarne
Gina! The medical journal "Psychiatry" has quite a high impactfactor. The following paper on meditation and depersonalization:


Psychiatry. 1990 May;53(2):158-68.

Depersonalization and meditation.
Castillo RJ.

Department of Anthropology, Harvard University.

From a review of the literature on meditation and depersonalization and interviews conducted with six meditators, this study concludes that: 1) meditation can cause depersonalization and derealization; 2) the meanings in the mind of the meditator regarding the experience of depersonalization will determine to a great extent whether anxiety is present as part of the experience; 3) there need not be any significant anxiety or impairment in social or occupational functioning as a result of depersonalization; 4) a depersonalized state can become an apparently permanent mode of functioning; 5) patients with Depersonalization Disorder may be treated through a process of symbolic healing--that is, changing the meanings associated with depersonalization in the mind of the patient, thereby reducing anxiety and functional impairment; 6) panic/anxiety may be caused by depersonalization if catastrophic interpretations of depersonalization are present.

PMID: 2191357 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]


Publication Types, MeSH

....think the famous Mumbai Yogi Nisargadatta was quite honest when he claimed: "Its no childs play"
4 days ago, 12:35:02 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Gina
Interesting! Thanks, Bjarne and Paolo!

My now-grown daughter always had anxiety in response to TM, even as a child attending Maharishi's elementary school. Needless to say, she does not do TM now, and her younger brothers were never initiated.

Permanent depersonalization = Cosmic Consciousness?
.. always witnessing, not connecting to anything including to one's own identity.
Sad state.
Oh right, even Maharishi said that Cosmic Consciousness can feel empty.. but the next step, God Consciousness (ever the next carrot to lure one onward) would be full of beauty and joy as one experiences the "finest relative."

What mythology!

Thanks for a reference that documents pathology in a small sample, only 6, of meditators experiencing depersonalization.

g
4 days ago, 2:53:04 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Bjarne
I have to say that in general I am not against meditation per se as a valuable form of treatment of stress related disorders. In fact ist becoming mainstream. The initial studies by Keith Wallace with cardiologist Herbert Benson as supervisor were published in very high impact journals such as Lancet and science back in eraly seventies.
Herbert Bensons hypothesis on The relaxation response as the opposite to Hans Selyes stress response as late as 1997 in the science.1997 Dec;278(5344):1694-5 is a major step forward in the understanding of the mechanism in many meditation techniques. In 1997 Benson was since long an outcast in TMO because he is a scientist and not a TB in the moneymaking TMO. There is a need in healthcare of secular meditation techniques. High quality randomized controlled trials with larger subject groups, longer follow up periods and more experienced meditators are crucial in order to evaluate long-term effects AND side effects.
4 days ago, 9:48:10 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate

Bjarne
Fred What is Your opinion on the pioneer work of Dr Herbert Benson?

for info on Dr Benson visit:

http://www.relaxationresponse.org/
4 days ago, 11:47:01 AM– Flag – Like – Reply – Delete – Edit – Moderate Bjarne
....awaiting answers from the MIU reaesrch institution Fairfield, as You know Fred, open, mature discussion is an essential part of research....

Dr. Benson's research in to meditation
began with the Transcendental Meditation
technique, as taught by Maharishi Mahesh
Yogi. But he is maintaining a neutral, objective
position, not aligning with any particular

8 comments:

Vaj said...

It seems common sense that some people are sensitive to a lack of light. That's why some people develop SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. These people can become severely depressed, even suicidal.

Therefore it seems common sense to me that in people who round, or even simply engage in closed-eyes meditation, a certain number, due to the decrease in light through the eyes (and therefore going to the brain), will develop depression or even suicidal tendencies.

Neurologist James Austin discusses the neurochemistry and potential pitfalls of closed-eyes meditation forms in one of his works on the neurological basis for meditative states.

Some meditation traditions even go so far as to recommend that closed-eyes meditation only be used for weeks or a couple of months, before segueing to a more non-dual, open-eyed meditation. Closed-eyes meditation is sometimes likened to a groundhog who withdraws from the world into his hole.

開心唷 said...

I love readding, and thanks for your artical. ........................................

jmknapp53 said...

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Bjarne said...

....honestly John, I thougt it was a good joke about how easy You get a PhD in dubious universities in three months time

Seeker said...

Testing to see if the comment system is working because I've seen no changes in the comments for 3-4 days. What's going on?

Laurie said...

Testing to see if the comments system works.

Seeker said...

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Seeker said...

<span>From FFL: Investigative series on Scientology begins Monday (3/29) by Anderson Cooper on his evening program at CNN.</span>

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