This anonymous essay was submitted to Open Philanthropy's Cause Exploration Prizes contest and posted with the author's permission.

Thank you for the opportunity to introduce ourselves to the philanthropic community. I am one of the founding board members of the Golden Thread Initiative™ (GTI), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 2019. The inspiration for creating GTI stemmed from a belief in the unique power of women and girls to transform their world. 


We wish to bring attention to the cause of creating world peace through women's education and self-development. We also want to highlight the importance of women and girls having access to effective education and self-development opportunities worldwide. The strategies we propose include elements beyond academics, life skills or technical training: incorporating the study of consciousness in education helps to fulfill a woman’s potential—her holistic wellbeing and spiritual fulfillment. Women’s inner growth then becomes the foundation for progress, harmony and prosperity of any society.

Evidence shows that when women and girls have access to effective education and self-development opportunities, the long-term ripple effects transform their own lives as well as the lives of their family and community. 1

Because the impact of general education for girls and women is seen on a community-wide scale, we can infer that the same dynamics could potentially work on a global scale. Implementing a strategy which focuses on tools for developing women’s full potential—including techniques to maximize brain functioning, develop higher states of consciousness and experiences of personal/spiritual growth—will have an even wider positive social impact. Through women’s interconnections, the effects can spread from local communities to the global world family.

What we’re doing to further this cause:

The mission of the Golden Thread Initiative is to create world peace by increasing access to women’s and girls’ education and self-development programs worldwide. GTI serves as a philanthropic intermediary connecting donors with non-profit organizations around the world that have been vetted for their ability to provide the most effective, life-transforming opportunities for women and girls. 

GTI’s vision is to ensure that evidence-based programs for self-development are accessible to women and girls of all ages, nationalities, ethnicities, education levels, backgrounds and socio-economic status.

Our long-term strategy to accomplish our mission includes:

  • Conducting fundraising campaigns—and facilitating grants, scholarships and project funding—to make these programs available to women and girls on all continents.. 
  • Networking with organizations, thought-leaders and philanthropists who share our vision.
  • Informing the public about the importance of women’s education and self-development and the effective programs which are available. 

Since 2019, GTI has awarded grants/scholarships for women to attend educational and self-development programs administered by various independent non-profit organizations worldwide which provide a safe, blissful, and nourishing environment where women and girls are free to explore the full capacity of their potential. In our grantmaking procedures, we work with grantee organizations to demonstrate measurable outcomes, such as student progress reports, self-reported surveys, and/or data through well-designed research studies. 

We are interested to know from Open Philanthropy what kind of data would be of interest to donors who are inspired by this cause and seeking to invest their charitable giving dollars effectively. 

Importance


There’s a saying that for a forest to be green, every tree must be green. For the concept of world peace to be realistic, every individual must experience peace. People are at peace only when there is progress in their lives, when their creative intelligence is able to flourish. While it would be easy (and obvious) to say that “everyone” would benefit from “world peace”, in order to further this cause, researchers and funders need to focus on strategies that yield outcomes that can be measurable, reliable and effective in all cultures. In other words, universal. 

Evidence indicates that education which improves the lives of women and girls has the greatest social impact.We suggest expanding the scope of education by including programs which develop inner peace and the innate creative intelligence of women and girls, particularly in the most populous regions of the world. For example, we could focus on inner growth for the 189,527,000 women of North America, or the 706,249,000 women of Africa, or the 2,267,674,000 women of Asia (2021 statistics according to www.populationof.net), with priority given to those who are in need of financial assistance to access education and self-development programs. 

Tractability: Women and Community—the Ripple Effect

A common feature of all the programs GTI supports are Consciousness-based Education℠ and the Transcendental Meditation® technique. A large body of published scientific research shows that use of these programs effectively leads to self-development2, greater resilience against stress3 and improved brain functioning4, as well as improved mental and physical health5. GTI secures financial support for programs that, with sufficient funding, are scalable and sustainable and can cause transformation in the lives of women and their communities, especially in places where women are under-resourced.

Giving women the opportunity to develop their mental and physical health and brain functioning automatically leads to more orderliness and peace in society, through the ripple effects of their daily actions in their family, society, and nation. 

Although many studies have been done on the effects of both individual and group practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, measuring the impact per dollar would require collaboration between economists, social science researchers and meditation experts. Having an integrated approach to assessing the short and long-term needs of groups practicing meditation together would ensure that scalable and sustainable programs can be structured, offering the possibility for a systematic approach to creating world peace. 

Neglectedness: What’s missing in current philanthropic strategies

While there are many organizations providing solutions to external problems faced by women—for example, improving access to nutrition, safety, financial security and job skills—the vision of GTI is to empower every woman and girl with tools for inner growth and self-development as the foundation for her success and well-being, no matter what vocation she chooses to pursue.

Whatever we choose to call it—self-development, self-actualization, or enlightenment— it is everyone’s birthright to develop their full potential, to be happy and fulfilled. 

Why is self-development particularly important for women? Women have many roles which require not only skills but inner strength and equanimity. Because a woman’s influence in her family, community and vocation is far-reaching, self-development is not a luxury for a few lucky people. Women’s self-development is a necessity for the flourishing of society. 

In the mid 1940s, psychologist Abraham Maslow developed his theory of Hierarchy of Needs identifying the requirements for a complete and healthy personality. Originally depicted as a five-layered pyramid, the first four layers refer to Deficiency-needs: 1) physiological (food, shelter, etc); 2) safety; 3) relationships/belonging, and; 4) esteem/accomplishment. The 5th level corresponds with Growth-needs which Maslow termed self-actualization, characterized by personal growth and peak experiences.

In later models, he expanded on the Growth-needs, culminating in transcendence (or “self-transcendence”), when a person is motivated by values beyond themselves, including spiritual fulfillment and service to others.

Since the late 1990s, the field of positive psychology has built on Maslow's work by studying the sources of human flourishing, including self-actualization and self-transcendence.

Deficiency-needs are more physically-based. Whereas Growth-needs are also, in fact, basic needs, they support psychological maturation and growth. As we know, the brain and body are connected with the psyche. The ideal growth model would have all of these needs identified and addressed. Because they are not Deficiency-needs and are less easily measured, Growth-needs are often the first to be overlooked or ignored. However, they are extremely important. Just as a spectrum of nutrients are required for good health, our full spectrum of needs must be met in order to develop our full potential as humans. Self-actualization and self-transcendence are what cause a person and a society to thrive and progress. The result of that progress is fulfillment. This is the basis for inner peace and world peace.

GTI believes that well-meaning organizations which support programs benefiting women have been less likely to address the Growth-needs because they may not have been aware of effective strategies or programs to systematically develop full human potential. Also, it is much easier to identify Deficiency-needs such as a lack of food or safety. Considering the evidence that investing in women has a greater positive social impact than generalized funding, the possibility of large numbers of girls and women gaining an education which simultaneously fulfills their basic needs and Growth-needs could have an unprecedented, positive, world-changing impact. Dare we say it? World peace. 

This potential impact deserves sufficient funding to implement the strategies effectively. Fortunately, the costs of implementing Consciousness-based Education and the Transcendental Meditation technique (along with its advanced programs) are relatively inexpensive compared to the costs of crisis management. 

Return on Investment

A prevention-oriented approach strengthens women from the inside so that they can deal with life challenges more effectively. This means that a few hundred dollars (or less in developing countries) spent on teaching the Transcendental Meditation technique to an individual can potentially prevent the need for spending tens of thousands of dollars to treat the effects of poor mental and physical health (see Blue Cross study statistics below5). Since the TM technique is simple and effortless, children can easily learn to meditate and potentially have a lifetime of cumulative benefits8, so the ROI of educating girls in this area can be even greater.

On a larger scale, group practice of an advanced technique of Transcendental Meditation, the TM-Sidhi® Program, has been demonstrated to effectively reduce crime and other negative societal trends. Stated simply, groups of TM-Sidhi practitioners of a sufficient size appear to reduce negative trends in the community around them in a significant, positive and measurable way. Surprising as this may be, I encourage foundations and philanthropists who are interested in this topic to look at the data6

Numerous studies on this phenomenon have primarily involved volunteers who participated in conferences for several weeks or months. If a sufficient number of people trained in the TM-Sidhi program could be funded as professional “peace-creators” (i.e. so that the group and effect would not be temporary) the cost savings to society could be more than 1000x return-on-investment7 when all the different ripple effects are taken into consideration.

Since the concept of world peace is open to interpretation (and there’s little historical evidence it has ever been achieved on a global scale), philanthropists and foundations might wish to fund research which would measure and forecast the impact of women’s education and self-development (in this case, including self-actualization and self-transcendence) on social factors which contribute to world peace, such as a balanced economy, public health and geo-political stability, environmental health, etc.

No studies to date have fully quantified the potential return on investment of this type of balanced approach to women’s self-development and education. This is an area of research that deserves funding, and could have a significant impact on the entire world’s population. 
 

Strategies for implementation: Examples of real and hypothetical grants

Collaborations:

Many existing organizations and governments already have systems in place to address women’s Deficiency-needs (food, shelter, safety etc.). Interested stakeholders (e.g., funders, nonprofit executives, governments, and concerned citizens) could collaborate with these existing organizations to diversify their programs by adding Transcendental Meditation and Consciousness-based Education to their existing curricula, thereby supporting women’s Growth-needs in addition to meeting their basic needs. These TM and CBE programs are offered through certified teachers who have received extensive training, and the technique is taught in the same way worldwide, making it easily replicable and researchable. This collaborative approach would make use of existing networks to more quickly reach a large population. Addressing the full spectrum of womens’ needs could thus strike an ideal balance that would allow many more women to reach their full potential. This balanced inner and outer growth in turn would allow untold economic and social benefits to blossom for everyone else.

Academic scholarships:
In November 2021, GTI launched a campaign to raise money for full academic scholarships for under-resourced women from six countries to attend a 4-year Bachelor of Arts degree program at Rajapark Institute in Thailand and participate in a peace-creating group called the Asian Mother Divine Program (see footnotes). Currently, there are 17 highly-qualified applicants who need funding: seven women from Nepal; two from Mongolia; one from Malaysia; one from Russia; two from Ghana; and four from Thailand*.

 
*The prospective students from Thailand are graduates of the Dhammajarinee Witthaya School, which is run by a Buddhist nun and offers free K-12 education to at-risk girls. Students at the school older than four are instructed in Transcendental Meditation and attend daily group practice. These four young women applying for the BA program at Rajapark Institute wish to return to the school to teach future generations after receiving their Bachelors degrees. This is how GTI envisions creating a ripple effect by supporting women’s personal growth that will transform countless lives for generations.

Many of these BA applicants have stated that upon graduating, they plan to return to their home countries as school teachers with special training in Consciousness-based Education, in order to help create schools for girls.

Professional peace-creating groups of women on every continent:
In its first full fiscal year, 2020-2021, GTI awarded multiple grants to support the work of eight organizations across five continents, including: 

  • Operating funds for six groups of peace-creating professionals called the Mother Divine Program℠ in the Americas, Europe, Thailand, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
  • Funds for upgrading residential and meeting facilities for the Mother Divine Program in the USA and Europe. 

The Mother Divine Program is an in-residence community of women who practice the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique and the TM-Sidhi® Program (an advanced technique of the TM program) in groups. The Mother Divine Program offers women the opportunity to focus exclusively on spiritual development and world peace. The living conditions and daily routine are designed to be ideal for deep meditation and advanced studies in consciousness. To our knowledge, this is the first time in history such an opportunity has been available to women. Since the founding of the Mother Divine Program in 1981, more than 2400 women and girls from 60 countries in theAmericas, Asia, Australasia and Europe have participated in the program. Some joined in the group for a year as their responsibilities or funding allowed, and some have continued for the past 40 years, inspired to make this lifestyle a vocation due to the spiritual fulfillment they experienced.

Aside from their personal benefit of spiritual growth, the members of the Mother Divine Program are deeply committed to serving as professional peace-creators. Intriguing evidence and research shows a strong positive correlation between the size of a group practicing the TM-Sidhi program together and positive societal changes in the geographic region including reduced crime and war6. In other words, the more people practicing the TM-Sidhi Program together, the greater the positive societal influence.

The Mother Divine Program provides a service to society by reducing societal stress. The operating costs of the program (e.g. housing, meals, etc.) are covered either by the participants’ own funds or by financial support from donors who value the role of the Mother Divine Program. Many more women are interested in participating in the Mother Divine Program, and potentially making it a vocation, but lack the financial resources to do so. 

Increasing the opportunity for more women to participate in the Mother Divine Program and pay them a professional salary will give women from all socio-economic levels an opportunity to participate in the professional peace-creating groups—creating a larger, sustainable impact in society—while also growing in spiritual fulfillment.

Continuing education or short courses:
GTI has also provided grants to help women attend the Transcendental Meditation Teacher Training course, learn advanced Transcendental Meditation techniques, and attend short courses and retreats with the Mother Divine Program. These short courses expand the number of women that can take advantage of these self-development opportunities.

The women who have received grants and attended courses funded by GTI are now continuing to pursue more educational opportunities and leadership training. As one grant recipient we’ll call Wendy stated, “The knowledge and experience I gained continues to support me exponentially toward fulfilling my life purpose. Not only do I feel an infinite reservoir of creative potential within me, I am more integrated in my daily activities and feel more connected to the laws that govern life.” 

Support generated by Open Philanthropy and other philanthropists and foundations who share this vision can catalyze a shift toward global peace through the personal transformation and growth of women like Wendy.

Feasibility and/or pilot studies:

Funders, researchers, governments and business leaders who are interested in exploring the ideas presented here could contact us (Golden Thread Initiative) for a proposal to determine what is needed to sustainably fund a professional peace-creating group, offering “coherence as a service” to society. Please contact us via www.goldenthreadinitiative.org.


Additional information on the programs we propose implementing on a global scale for this cause of creating world peace through women’s and girls’ education and self-development: 
Transcendental Meditation®
The Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique is a simple, natural and effortless mental technique. It is practiced by millions of people worldwide of all ages, vocations and social conditions. TM is not a religion and is practiced by people of many religions. Decades of research verify its benefits for mental and physical health and even its effectiveness at developing the qualities identified with self-actualization, fulfillment and peak performance. 
See TM-Women.org and TM.org for more information.

The TM technique comes from an ancient tradition of knowledge of human potential called the Vedic Tradition. Often considered a spiritual tradition, a more complete analysis reveals that it is a holistic scientific tradition that has led to fundamental concepts in physics, mathematics, medicine, the social sciences, and architecture. The Vedic tradition utilizes various mental and physical techniques to develop human potential including Yoga, Ayurveda (a natural, holistic system of health care) and the TM technique.

The Mother Divine Program
The Mother Divine Program℠—communities of women around the world practicing the TM technique and its advanced programs—offers educational opportunities for women and girls ranging from weekend retreats to year-long enrichment courses and academic degree programs. The Mother Divine Program is administered by independent non-profit, nonsectarian organizations based in the USA, Europe, Asia and New Zealand. The name Mother Divine reflects the universal qualities inherent in women of all walks of life that touch the lives of their families, communities and society as a whole.

Currently courses are offered at small residential campuses on five continents including North America, South America, Europe, Asia (Thailand), and Australasia (New Zealand).

The core groups of the Mother Divine Program are full-time participants practicing the most advanced techniques of TM and modalities such as Yoga and Ayurveda (natural healthcare).

Consciousness-based Education
Consciousness-Based Education features academics or fields of study in a healthy living environment and stress-free routine including the Transcendental Meditation technique. Currently this program has been implemented in over 800 educational institutions in 67 countries, with over 1,000,000 students (Source: CBE website).

Network of interest:
Organizations addressing this cause of creating world peace through women’s and girls’ education and self-development, some of whom Golden Thread Initiative may partner with:

https://www.motherdivinenz.org/

Additional organizations involved with Consciousness-Based education and the brain-based approach to peace:

Please see references below, highlighting some of the published research in these areas.

References:

1 Girls’ Education
Harvard Kennedy School, Investing in Girls’ Education
https://www.hks.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/centers/mrcbg/programs/cri/files/report_40_investing_in_girls.pdf
 

2 Self-development

Travis FT, Arenander A, DuBois D. Psychological and physiological characteristics of a proposed object-referral/self-referral continuum of self-awareness. Consciousness and Cognition 2004 13(2):401-420 Participants in the Transcendental Meditation program, particularly those reporting stabilized experience of Transcendental Consciousness, displayed a more abstract definition of self, greater inner orientation, higher principled moral reasoning, lower state and trait anxiety, greater emotional stability, greater extroversion, greater agreeableness, and greater openness to experience, as well as higher scores on a consciousness factor derived from multiple personality tests. This research extends and confirms recent brainwave findings that distinguished an individual's sense-of-self along an Object-referral/Self-referral Continuum of self-awareness. 

McCollum B. Leadership development and self development: an empirical study. Career Development International 1999 4(3):149-154 Employees who learned the Transcendental Meditation program showed a significant increase on five scales of leadership behavior after eight months, in contrast to control employees from the same company.  Considering vision, creativity, empowerment, and role modeling, the people practicing the TM technique grew significantly more in leadership behaviors for all variables. The need for effective leadership development programs was never greater than it is today.  As companies continue to increase their demands for self-reliance, creativity and cooperation, individuals at all levels of the corporation need to grow in leadership. 

Travis F. Transcending as a driver of development. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2016. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13071 This paper draws from three different bodies of research to discuss the hypothesis that age-appropriate experiences enhance brain and cognitive development throughout the lifespan. These age-appropriate experiences could be considered as the drivers of development at each age, including drivers to foster development beyond adult abstract thinking, as described in Piaget’s formal operational stage.We explore how a nurturing caregiver is the driver in the first 2 years of life, how language learning is the driver from 3 to 10 years, and how problem solving is the driver in the teenage years. To develop beyond adult rational thinking, we suggest that the driver is transcending thought, which can result when practicing meditations in the automatic self-transcending category, such as Transcendental Meditation

Greater resilience against stress

Goldstein L, Nidich SI, Goodman R, Goodman D. The effect of transcendental meditation on self-efficacy, perceived stress, and quality of life in mothers in Uganda. Health Care for Women International 2018 39(7):734-754. doi.org/10.1080/07399332.2018.1445254 <http://doi.org/10.1080/07399332.2018.1445254> Abstract

Vulnerable women living in poverty in Uganda, who are primarily single, illiterate mothers, face high levels of physical and psychological stress. Our study assessed the impact of the Transcendental Meditation® (TM®) technique on self-efficacy, perceived stress, and mental and physical quality of life of these women. Significant improvements were shown in self-efficacy (p < .001), perceived stress (p < .010), and mental and physical well-being (p < .010). Compliance with TM home practice was >88%. 

This is the first controlled study to demonstrate the effect of TM in the daily lives of mothers living in impoverished conditions. These findings taken as a whole have important implications for developing self-efficacy, improving mental and physical quality of life, and reducing stress in the lives of these vulnerable women. PMID: 29494787 DOI: 10.1080/07399332.2018.1445254

Walton KG, Fields JZ, Levitsky DK, Harris DA, Pugh ND, Schneider RH. Lowering cortisol and CVD risk in postmenopausal women: a pilot study using the Transcendental Meditation program. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2004 1032:211-215 This study showed reduced cardiovascular risk factors and levels of the stress hormone cortisol in post-menopausal women.

Alexander CN, Schneider RH, Staggers F, Sheppard W, Clayborne BM, Rainforth MV, Salerno J, Kondwani K, Smith S, Walton K, Egan B. Trial of stress reduction for hypertension in older African Americans: II. Sex and risk subgroup analysis. Hypertension 1996 28(2):228-237 More Ideal Levels of Blood Pressure in Hypertensive Subjects who Learned the Transcendental Meditation Program: Reduction of HIgh Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure Found for both Men and Women, and both High and Low Psychosocial Stress Subjects: Reduction of High Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure Irrespective of Score on Five other Measures of Risk for High Blood Pressure, Obesity, Alcohol Use, Physical Inactivity, Dietary Sodium-Potassium Intake and Index of all Risk Factors Combined. 

 

 4 Improved brain functioning

Travis F, Grosswald S, Stixrud W. ADHD, brain functioning, and Transcendental Meditation practice. Mind & Brain, The Journal of Psychiatry 2011 2(1):73-81  This study suggests practicing transcendental meditation (TM) improves brain function and reduces symptoms among students diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Travis F, Haaga DA, Hagelin J, Tanner M, Nidich S, Gaylord-King C, Grosswald S, Rainforth M, Schneider RH. Effects of Transcendental Meditation practice on brain functioning and stress reactivity in college students. International Journal of Psychophysiology 2009 71(2):170-176 This randomized controlled trial investigated effects of Transcendental Meditation (TM) practice on Brain Integration Scale scores (broadband frontal coherence, power ratios, and preparatory brain responses), electrodermal habituation to 85-dB tones, sleepiness, heart rate, respiratory sinus arrhythmia, and P300 latencies in 50 college students. 

 

This study is the first random assignment study of effects of Transcendental Meditation practice on brain and physiological functioning in college students. These results replicate increases in Brain Integration Scale scores reported in a one-year longitudinal study using participants as their own controls (Travis and Arenander, 2006), and in a six-month longitudinal study comparing students practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique to matched controls (Travis, 2002). These two earlier studies tested students at Maharishi University of Management, where twice-daily meditation practice is part of the curriculum. The current random-assignment study extends these findings to include effects of Transcendental Meditation practice in meditating students following a more typical college curriculum. 

 

Travis F, Valosek L, Konrad IV A, Link J, Salerno J, Scheller R, Nidich S. Effect of meditation on psychological distress and brain functioning: a randomized controlled study. Brain and Cognition 2018 125:100-105. doi.org/10.1016/j.bandc.2018.03.011 <http://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandc.2018.03.011> Abstract

This study tested whether a mind-body technique, the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program could increase EEG brain integration and positive affect, and decrease psychological distress in government employees: central office administrators and staff at the San Francisco Unified School District 

TM participants significantly decreased on the POMS Total Mood Disturbance and anxiety, anger, depression, fatigue, and confusion subscales, and significantly increased in the POMS vigor subscale. TM participants in the EEG-subgroup also significantly increased in BIS scores. Compliance with meditation practice was high (93%).

 

Improved mental and physical health

 

Nidich SI, Fields JZ, Rainforth MV, Pomerantz R, Cella D, Kristeller J, Salerno JW, Schneider RH. A randomized controlled trial of the effects of Transcendental Meditation on quality of life in older breast cancer patients. Integrative Cancer Therapies 2009 8(3):228-234 A randomized controlled trial examined effects of the TM technique on quality of life and mental well-being in 130 women with breast cancer (stages II to IV, average age 63.8 years). Compared to controls, subjects practicing TM showed improvements in overall quality of life, emotional well-being, social well-being, and mental health.

 

Schneider RH, Alexander CN, Staggers F, Orme-Johnson D, Rainforth M, Salerno J, Sheppard W, Castillo-Richmond A, Barnes VA, Nidich SI. A randomized controlled trial of stress reduction in African Americans treated for hypertension for over one year. American Journal of Hypertension 2005 18(1):88-98 Psychosocial stress has been implicated in the disproportionately higher rates of hypertension among African Americans. This randomized controlled trial compared the effects of two stress reduction techniques and a health education control program on hypertension during a period of 1 year in African-American men and women (N = 150, mean age 49 plus or minus 10 years, mean blood pressure (BP) = 142/95 mm Hg) at an urban community health center.

 

Schneider RH, Grim CE, Rainforth MV, Kotchen T, Nidich SI, Gaylord-King C, Salerno JW,  Kotchen JM, Alexander CN. Stress reduction in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease: randomized, controlled trial of Transcendental Meditation and health education in blacks.  Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes 2012 5(6):750-758   In this trial, the TM program was associated with 48% risk reduction in the composite of mortality, nonfatal MI, and nonfatal stroke in African American men and women with CHD over an average of 5.4 years follow-up. These results were confirmed by independent data analysis. This was a randomized controlled trial of 201 African American men and women with coronary heart disease (CHD) who were randomized to the TM program or health education. The primary endpoint was the composite of all-cause mortality, myocardial infarction, or stroke. Secondary endpoints included the composite of cardiovascular mortality, revascularizations, and cardiovascular hospitalizations; blood pressure (BP); psychosocial stress factors; and lifestyle behaviors. 

 

Bai Z, Chang J, Chen C, Li P, Yang K, Chi I. Investigating the effect of transcendental meditation on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Human Hypertension 2015 29 :653 – 662.   doi:10.1038/jhh.2015.6 Twelve studies with 996 participants were assessed to examine the effect of TM on BP outcomes. The studies suggested that the reduction of systolic BP and diastolic BP was significantly different between TM groups and control groups, with approximate reductions of 4.26mmHg and 2.33mmHg, respectively, among participants in TM groups. This indicates that TM may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by significantly reducing BP. 

 

Werner OR, Wallace RK, Charles B, Janssen G, Stryker T, Chalmers RA. Long-term endocrinologic changes in subjects practicing the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program. Psychosomatic Medicine 1986 48(1/2):59-66 Long term practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program showed increased efficiency and stability of endocrine functioning.

 

Monahan R. Secondary prevention of drug dependency through the Transcendental Meditation program in metropolitan Philadelphia. International Journal of the Addictions 1977 12(6):729-754 Marked reductions in the use of prescribed tranquilizers, tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and in total number of prescriptions received, were found to result from participation in the Transcendental Meditation program. Former users of alcohol, cigarettes, or illegal drugs achieved remarkable abstinence records. For most substances the amount of decrease was positively correlated with degree of participation in the program and the length of time meditating. 

 

Aron EN, Aron A. Transcendental Meditation and marital adjustment. Psychological Reports 1982 51(7):887-890  This study found increased marital satisfaction and adjustment in couples who practice the TM technique. Married women who had learned the Transcendental Meditation technique showed greater marital satisfaction than matched non-meditating controls. This result was significantly greater in women who were regular in their practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique.

 

Societal benefits from practice of Transcendental Meditation and/or the T.M.-Sidhi program group practice

 

Dillbeck MC, Cavanaugh KL. Societal violence and collective consciousness: reduction of US homicide and urban violent crime rates . SAGE Open 2016 6(2):1-16. doi:10.1177/2158244016637891 This research tests the hypothesis that group practice of the Transcendental Meditation® (TM) and TM-Sidhi® program by a group of sufficient size is associated with reduced rates of homicide and violent crime. Data from a prospective quasi-experiment were analyzed using intervention analysis or interrupted time series analysis. Dependent variables are time series of the U.S. monthly homicide rate as well as violent crime rate from a sample of 206 cities. The binary intervention variable is based on the size of the largest U.S. TM-Sidhi group. Intervention effects were analyzed by time series regression using a broken-trend intervention model. As hypothesized, there was a statistically and practically significant shift in trend in the direction of reduced rates for each of the variables beginning with the onset of the intervention period. Diagnostic tests indicate that key statistical assumptions of the analysis are satisfied. Alternative hypotheses are considered for the apparent effect of macro-level social behavioral change without micro-level behavioral interaction. (*Mother Divine Program groups were present at this assembly.)

 

Dillbeck MC, Cavanaugh KL. Group practice of the Transcendental Meditation ®  and TM-Sidhi ®  Program and reductions in infant mortality and drug-related death: a quasi-experimental analysis. SAGE Open 2017 7(1):1-15. doi:10.1177/2158244017697164. These two studies tested the prediction that the group practice of a procedure for the development of consciousness, the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program, by a sufficiently large group of individuals would be sufficient to reduce collective stress in the larger population, reflected in two stress-related health indicators, infant mortality rate and drug- related fatality rate. Based on theoretical prediction and prior research, from January 2007 through 2010 (intervention period), this effect should have been measurable. Change in the rates of these two indicators during the intervention period were estimated from 2002 through 2010 data using a broken-trend (or segmented trend) intervention model with time series regression methods. The changes in trend were both statistically and practically significant, indicating an average annual decline of 3.12% in infant mortality rate and 7.61% in drug-related fatality rate. Diagnostic tests are satisfactory and indicate that it is unlikely that the statistical results are attributable to spurious regression. The mechanism for these collective effects is discussed in view of possible alternative hypotheses.  (*Mother Divine Program groups were present at this assembly.)

 

Dillbeck MC, Cavanaugh KL, Glenn T, Orme-Johnson DW, Mittlefehldt  V. Effects of Transcendental Meditation and the TM-Sidhi program on quality of life indicators: consciousness as a field. The Journal of Mind and Behavior 1987 8(1):67-104 At the metropolitan and state levels, time series intervention studies found reduced crime in Metro Manila, Philippines, in New Delhi India and in Puerto Rico during periods in which large groups had assembled in these locations for conferences involving daily practice of the TM-Sidhi program.  Other intervention studies in Metro Manila and Rhode Island found similar improvements in holistic indices of quality of life composed of available social indicators. (*Mother Divine Program groups were present at each of these assemblies.)

 

Walton KG, Cavanaugh KL, Pugh ND. Effect of group practice of the Transcendental Meditation program on biochemical indicators of stress in non-meditators: a prospective time series study. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 2005 17(1):339-376 This study investigates a proposed psycho-neuroendocrine mechanism that may help to explain, at least in part, the observed reductions of behavioral indicators of social stress reported in other studies on the group practice of the TM and TM-Sidhi program. An increase in the day to day size of the group for the afternoon session was a significant predictor of reduced cortisol excretion later that night in a group of 6 non-practitioners living and working up to 20 miles from the group (p=.004) 

 

Dillbeck MC. Test of a field hypothesis of consciousness and social change: time series analysis of participation in the TM-Sidhi program and reduction of violent death in the US. Social Indicators Research 1990 22(4):399-418 Improved Quality of National Life:  Improvement on a Weekly Index Including Motor Vehicle Fatalities, Homicide, and Suicide (United States 1982-1985).  Since 1982 the size of the group practicing the TM-Sidhi program in Fairfield, Iowa has periodically exceeded the square root of 1% of the U.S. population.  A detailed analysis of the U.S. quality of life using time series intervention and transfer function analysis during 1979 to 1985 found reduced weekly fatalities due to violence on weeks immediately after the size of the TM-Sidhi group exceeded the square root of one percent of the U.S. population.  This analysis showed that two-thirds of the observed decrease in U.S. fatalities from 1979 to 1985 could be attributed to the group practice of the TM-Sidhi program.

 

Cost benefits of implementing Transcendental Meditation and alternative health modalities

 

Orme-Johnson DW, Herron R. An innovative approach to reducing medical care utilization and expenditures. American Journal of Managed Care 1997 3(1):135-144 This study showed a 57 per cent reduction in medical expenditure in subjects practicing the TM technique and other aspects of Maharishi’s Vedic Approach to Health (N=693). This study of Blue Cross statistics compared utilization rates for the employees of an academic institution in Iowa practiced the TM technique and other aspects of Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health with 12 other small private colleges in Iowa for 4 years (M aggregated group size=4,148) and with Blue Cross norms (N=600,000).  The mean hospital admission rates per 1,000 for cardiovascular disease over the 4 year period were 8.4 for the norm, 8.7 for other colleges, and 0.66 for the TM group, a 92% difference. This study of insurance data indicated that individuals participating in the Transcendental Meditation Programme, and also in many cases other approaches of Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health, showed substantially lower medical utilization and medical expenditure rates for all age groups and disease categories, in comparison to norms and matched controls.

 

 8 Benefits of Consciousness-based Education for children

 

Dixon C, Dillbeck MC, Travis F, Msemaje H, Clayborne BM, Dillbeck SL, Alexander CN. Accelerating cognitive and self development: longitudinal studies with preschool and elementary school children. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality 2005 17(1):65-91  This study suggests that the Word of Wisdom technique and the Transcendental Meditation technique positively impacts general intellectual performance, psychological differentiation, analytical ability and self-concept in 4-11 year olds. Practice of these techniques appears to enhance the natural development consolidation of the child’s awareness at a deeper level of mental functioning - the thinking level versus the level of perception. Two longitudinal studies of elementary school students found improvements in cognitive factors underlying performance on mental tests among students who learned the Transcendental Meditation Technique, or Maharishi's Word of Wisdom Technique, for those under 10 years of age.

 

Grosswald SJ, Stixrud WR, Travis F, Bateh MA. Use of the Transcendental Meditation technique to reduce symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by reducing stress and anxiety: an exploratory study. Current Issues in Education [On-line] 2008 10(2).  Medication for ADHD can improve the symptomatology of the disorder for some children, or be marginally or not effective for others; and it can cause life threatening complications. The Transcendental Meditation technique is an easily learned and practiced technique. This research suggests that the technique has potential to improve attention, behavior regulation, and executive function by naturally reducing stress and anxiety and improving brain functioning.

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