Transcendental Meditation Lowers Stress and Anxiety

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Mar 04, 2009

Mind-Body-Spirit News

Transcendental meditation may improve mental health by reducing anxiety and somatisation (development of physical symptoms stemming from mental or emotional stress). That was the finding of a study published in Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health (2008; 4 [25]; doi:10.1186/1745–0179–4–25).

Researchers from the University of Tehran, in Iran, designed the study to evaluate whether transcendental meditation [TM] might be a valuable way for Iranian people to cope with anxiety and stress. National surveys have shown that 21% of adults in Iran experience high levels of mental distress.

TM is a meditation style from the East Indian Vedic tradition that uses a technique of concentrating on silent mantra repetition to avoid distraction by unwanted thoughts. The purpose of TM is to quiet the mind and allow the body to achieve a state of deep rest. Herbert Benson, MD, conducted his early studies at Harvard University on the mind-body connection in TM practitioners.

Eighty men and women, ages 20–55, completed the Iranian study. Before and after a 12-week TM course, all subjects responded to a questionnaire that focused on four areas of mental health and stress: depression, anxiety, somatisation and social dysfunction. Data analysis revealed that meditation improved mental health, particularly in the categories of somatisation and anxiety.

The authors conceded that the absence of a control group undermined the certainty of their findings. Additional studies with more rigorous standards are needed.

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About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at