Both practitioners and clinicians have been very interested in the benefits of Transcendental Meditation (TM). Research has helped support fear, depression, brain function, PTSD and more. Research has supported its effects. But it was not fully understood the source of those benefits.
A recent new IMT Lucca research in Italy revealed these advantages because of certain brain changes that occur during and after the practice, which bring us closer to an understanding of the brain impact of TM.
Firstly, TM differs from other forms of meditation and attention in that it aims to “entrain the mind to remain in the present moment by paying attention to thoughts and feelings;” while TM is “conceived as to direct your attention inward, out – of-thinking, and without focus or concentration.” Initially, participants completed questionnaires to measure anxiety and stress and how well they handled stress. FMRIs were also conducted to look at improvements in connectivity within the brain and to rest brain activity before and after three months. It was also performed.
The group that started TM practice was predictably less stressful and less nervous. But what was then shown by the fMRI scans was exactly how these changes happened in the brain. “The reduction in the levels of anxiety is linked to specific changes in connectivity between various cerebral zones such as preciseus, left partial lobe and insula which all have an important role in emotional modulation and inward states,” explains Giulia Avvenuti, a doctoral student who is a first author of the study.
“It opens new perspectives to understand brain-mind relations,” adds Pietro Pietrini, PhD, director of IMT and study coordinator, “the fact that TM has measurable effects on” dialogue “among [regulating] brain-mind structures involved in affective conditions.
The investigation shows that only a few months of TM are necessary to produce a positive impact on well-being, plus tangible physical changes in the brain. Although the cost of the TM course is prohibitive, this study shows how the brain is able to change from meditation.