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February 25, 2009

Transcendental meditation and student behavior

We've talked a lot on this blog about student disciplinary problems, but not as much about how to prevent them... Last weekend in Timonium, the results of a national study were released suggesting that transcendental meditation can reduce the behavioral outbursts associated with ADHD. Researchers followed a group of middle school students with ADHD who were meditating twice a day in school. After three months, they found more than a 50-percent reduction in stress and anxiety and improvements in ADHD symptoms. The lead researcher, a cognitive learning specialist from George Washington University, said the effect was "much greater than we expected."

The study is published this month in the journal Current Issues in Education. And here's a video of kids talking about their experience meditating.


Check out some cult sights. TM has been around for a long time and many have considered it "cult-ish" for as long as it has been promoted. TM has been thought by many to create its own "science" and therefore data. I have my ideas but I suggest anyone seriously considering this do their own research. I certainly would not want to see systemic use of any such specific practice. Further, I remember some parents getting concerned when I introduced some basic (very basic!) yoga as a stress reliever.

In my experience you can find people to complain about anything. The spiritual aspects of TM are pretty minor - the idea of sitting still and focusing seems like a natural approach to dealing with ADHD. But really, yoga? How marginal can it be when a record selling video game (Wii Fit) chooses it for its stretching exercise.

I agree that folks will complain. I have found this about books(ex. Harry Potter, graphic novels etc) but especially when someting is unfamiliar.When I tried yoga, it was for the calming aspect and also for exercise during the winter when we could not go outside. As for ADHD kids, I have a son with this diagnosis. Among many other things, I did not sent him to school with 16 oz bottles of soda, gum, candy, etc. I packed nutricious lunches.We took a very "organic" approach.Did it work? Somewhat. He is now a successful adult;still full of energy.His teachers offered a great deal of exercise and a calm.uncluttered environment.Given the large number of kids with ADD and ADHD, why do we fill every inch of the classroom with stuff? Frankly,it would have driven my son crazy.Teachers spend too much time on "decorating", whether it is justified by instruction or just pretty.Marketing/advertising people can tell you that in a very short amount of time, the targeted audience does not even look at or use a "display".

Yes, please do read the published, peer-reviewed research on the TM technique, such as what this article was about, which demonstrate the benefits to students as well as adults.

During the past 36 years, more than 360 scientists at 209 independent universities and research institutions from 29 countries have conducted research on the Transcendental Meditation program.
The research on the Transcendental Meditation program has been published in over 160 peer-reviewed journals and books. Doctoral dissertations on the Transcendental Meditation program have been carried out at 24 independent universities not affiliated with any of the TM organizations.
A good resource is:

For examples:
Increased Creativity. TM practice increases flexibility and originality of pictorial (figural) creativity as well as verbal fluency (49, 55). These improvements in creativity, along with increased field independence and intelligence, indicate a stronger mind that would be less susceptible to control by others.

Increased Self-Actualization. Self actualization is widely held to describe the most self empowered, healthiest, creative people in society (56). A meta-analysis of 42 studies showed that the TM program was three times more effective in increasing self-actualization than other meditation and relaxation techniques (57).

Increased Ego Development and Moral Reasoning. The Loevinger (59) test of ego development provides outer behavioral 'signs' of internal shifts in self-organization to more mature levels. Research has shown that TM practice accelerates development in children, adolescents, and prison inmates, and advances ego development in young adults

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