Jan 2, 2013

Maharishi International University Research Update

From TM-EX Newsletter, spring 1991
As the methodology of MIU researchers has improved, some of their
studies report observations that challenge the validity of the TM
movement's doctrinal stance; for example, a Ph.D. thesis (D, MIU,
1989, T735.494, in the MIU library) called The Transcendental Meditation
technique: A new direction for smoking cessation programs. In this
study, 60 percent of smokers who began TM and were still practicing
TM twice daily after 20 months, quit smoking. TM may help someone
to quit smoking if the individual stays with the practice for 20 months

Data also revealed that 20 months after 505 individuals began TM,
29.7 percent were no longer meditating, 38.2 percent were occasional
practitioners, 13.3 percent practiced TM once a day, and only 18.8
percent still practiced TM twice daily as instructed. Some people
have long suspected that it is inaccurate for the TM movement to base
assertions regarding the number of people who practice TM on the numbers
of people who have been instructed. Now there is hard data in the
MIU library that confirms this suspicion--in the MIU library--until
this newsletter is published, that is, because the MIU administration
does have a practice of removing books not supportive of doctrinal
claims made by the TM organization, as was observed and verified by
Albert Miller in 1989.

A second example, a paper by Drs. John Kesterson and Noah Clinch,
which was published in the March 1989 edition of the American Journal
of Physiology (p. R632) reports on the most in-depth study to date
on the effects of TM on respiration (breathing) and metabolic rate
(level of rest). Even using long-term meditators as subjects, including
Purusha [full time male staff] members, the authors had to conclude
that TM resulted in no greater level of rest than was observed in
controls who sat with their eyes closed. Kesterson and Clinch also
state in their paper that TMers reached the deepest levels of rest
while lying down after TM, not while practicing TM.

Maharishi's teaching is at odds with these findings. In Maharishi's
teachings, enlightenment, from a physiological perspective, is said
to be gained by release of stress and normalization of the nervous
system due to deep rest in TM; the rest is said to be unique and deeper
than sleep at night.

If TM doesn't provide any more rest than sitting with eyes closed,
what's the new explanation for how it produces enlightenment on a
physiological level? There isn't one. TM administrators haven't had
to provide a new understanding: Instead they suppressed the findings
of Kesterson and Clinch's study through selective inattention.
These two MIU researchers did find a physiological indicator of TM,
but it is not one that a TM person would expect. In their subjects
practicing TM, but not in control subjects, they observed a slight
decrease in respiratory exchange ration, which indicates a probable
increased retention of carbon dioxide (usually considered to be a
waste product) by subjects during TM.