Traditional oriental thinking attracts the growing scientific interest of occidental practitioners. Dr. Pierre Etévenon, head of the Department of Neuro-Psycho-Pharmacology at the French Institute for Health and Medical Research (INSERM), held several conversations and scientific exchanges with the author, and kindly provided copies of some of his works. They are at the basis of the present paper. M. A.
Seven selected hypertensive patients were stabilized on drugs at a research clinic. Subjects learned transcendental meditation (T.M.), were seen weekly, and took their own blood pressure several times daily. After 12 weeks of T.M. six subjects showed psychological changes and reduced anxiety scores. Six subjects also showed significant reductions in home and four in clinic blood-pressures. Six months later four subjects continued to derive psychological benefit and two showed significant blood-pressure reductions attributable to T.M. at home and clinic.
30 college male meditators had a 20-min. meditation followed by a 6-min. waking phase prior to 5-min. continuous practice on the pursuit rotor task. This was followed by a 4-min. rest then a further 2-min. of pursuit rotor practice. A similar group of college males who were non-meditators (N = 30) followed the same procedures except that instead of meditating they sat quietly for the initial 20-min. period.
The purpose of this research was to verify the effect of Zen meditation on personality and values. Two groups of Ss were formed, an experimental group of 9 Ss and a control group of 14 Ss. The California Psychological Inventory and the Study of Values were administered to both groups at the beginning and at the end of the experiment. The EG practised Zen meditation for the 5 months between the two testing sessions. While both groups were equivalent at pretest time, significant differences on the Do and Cs scales of the CPI were found at the posttest.
Thirty-three patients in long-term individual therapy were referred to one of three weekend groups: two experimental (affect-arousing, gestalt therapy) groups and one control (meditation-Tai Chi) group. The impact of the weekend group experience (WGE) on individual therapy was examined six and 12 weeks later. At six weeks the patients in the experimental groups showed, on some measures, a significantly greater improvement in their individual therapy than did controls. By 12 weeks, there were no demonstrable differences.
The authors suggest that Transcendental Meditation offers a great deal of promise for use in helping relationships. They also suggest that the technique might receive wider acceptance if it could be explained in other than a purely philosophical or mystical way. For that reason, in their article they offer a psychological interpretation of the TM process.
Journal of Psychiatric Nursing and Mental Health Services
A procedure is described for teaching patients the use of relaxation as a coping skill. The procedure, called Stress Management Training, combines Progressive Relaxation and Clinical Meditation into a standardized but flexible seven-session protocol. The technique has been used to treat a variety of stress-related medical and psychological problems. The training consists of three components. The first is giving the patient a cognitive understanding of stress and relaxation. The second, teaching the patient to relax by controlling the muscle tension and sympathetic nervous system activity.
It has been shown that it is possible to influence cancer growth by a form of intensive meditation, although it is not yet established whether it can be influenced to the point of cure. In working with these patients it has been observed that the course of the illness has often been influenced by the patient's confusion of the biologically appropriate time for living and the time for dying. Without recourse to any formal psychotherapy, the family physician aware of this reaction may be able to enhance the immune defences and increase the quality of life of such patients.
Meditation training appears to be a promising psychological approach to the control of hypertension. However, most studies to date have had serious deficiencies. This study attempted to correct many of these deficiencies. Forty-one unmedicated hypertensives referred by general practitioners were randomly allocated to three groups. The treatment group (SRELAX) underwent training procedures based on Transcendental Meditation; a placebo control group (NSRELAX) underwent identical training but withou a mantra. Both procedures were compared with a no-treatment control group.
Stress has been shown to lower resistance to disease and thus to have a significant effect on susceptibility to a variety of physical and psychological illnesses. A correlation has also been established between the degree of social stress and an individual's use of medical services. However, the majority of people do not respond to stress in these ways. Social supports (e.g. a caring family) seem to be an important protective factor against the effects of stress.