A recent study found daily Transcendental Meditation practice helps young adults decrease psychological stress and increase coping ability, and for a group of students at high risk for developing hypertension, these changes also were associated with decreases in blood pressure.

The study was conducted at American University (AU) in Washington, D.C. and involved hundreds of meditating university undergraduate and graduate students. The study was published in the American Journal of Hypertension.

The results of the study are now being highlighted on the research page of the official website of the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Those of us who work at universities know that a huge number of students are experiencing more academic, financial, and social stress than ever before, and this pressure frequently leads to serious problems. This experience is borne out by a growing body of research documenting rising stress among college students.

A study conducted at Kansas State Unviversity, which included 13,000 students, found that over the 13-year period of time, the percentage of students with depression rose from 21 percent to 41 percent. The percentage of suicidal students rose from 5 to 9 percent, and students with stress and anxiety problems rose from 36 to 62 percent.

My work in counseling psychology makes me especially concerned about the counterproductive ways that today’s young adults are dealing with this these problems. Studies indicate that 44% of college students are binge drinkers, 10 million students are taking antidepressant medication, student counseling centers are overwhelmed by the rising number of students reporting anxiety disorders, and suicide has risen to be the 3rd leading cause of death among teens.

Can the TM program really help? I think American University’s study provides solid evidence it can.

By the way, the meditating students in this study at AU were also asked to summarize their subjective experiences after a semester of TM practice. Here’s a sample:

Anne-Barton “I’m just as busy as I was last semester, but since I have been practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique, I don’t feel as overwhelmed as I did then. It’s easier to stay organized. I’m more efficient, staying on top of things—both in the big picture and keeping track of the details. I am much happier and freer to take on more things. Also when I make mistakes I’m better able to deal with them practically and emotionally, simply taking corrective steps without beating myself up. My relationships with others are better because my relationship with myself is better.” —Anne Barton-Veenkant, Georgetown University

You can read some of the other experiences these university students had by clicking benefits of the Transcendental Meditation Program here: http://au-tm-study.org/student_benefits.html

Three 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.

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. The control group will then learn the Transcendental Meditation program at the start of the next semester (Fall 2006), with follow-up for approximately one year.

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.

In addition, three subgroups of students (50–60 per subgroup) will be evaluated, respectively, for 1) neurophysiological integration, using EEG brainwave coherence measures, 2) cognitive intelligence, and 3) attention/inattention, using the Connors Continuous Performance Test and self-rating scale, for those students with a recent diagnosis of attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity.

Author's Bio: 

Linda Mainquist has an undergraduate degree from Iowa State University in English. She also has an M.A. in Education from the University of Iowa, an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Naropa University in Boulder Colorado, and an M.S. in Vedic Science from Maharishi European Research University in Seelisburg, Switzerland.

In addition to being a certified teacher of the Transcendental Meditation program, she is a licensed mental health counselor.