Meditation 'leads to longer life'
Guardian, Monday 2 May 2005
The Beatles were right: researchers have found that hanging out with the Maharishi may make you live longer.
A new study shows that Transcendental Meditation, a relaxation technique developed by the Indian guru and made famous when the fab four dabbled with it in the late 60s, can reduce death rates by nearly a quarter.
Robert Schneider, who led the research, said: "The study found that in older people with mild high blood pressure, those practising Transcendental Meditation had a 23% lower risk of death from all causes."
The study was funded by the US government and the results appear in the American Journal of Cardiology. The study pooled the findings of two previous trials that followed 202 elderly people in the US over 18 years. Some practised Transcendental Meditation, while others tried different techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation.
The Transcendental Meditation group had 30% fewer deaths from heart disease and 49% fewer from cancer.
"Although the sample [size] was relatively modest, these preliminary results suggest that an effective stress reducing intervention may decrease mortality," researchers said.
Previous research has found that Transcendental Meditation can lower stress hormone levels and blood pressure. "This study builds on that and shows the final outcome of these physiological and psychological changes is a longer life span," said Dr Schneider, who heads the centre of natural medicine and prevention at the Maharishi University of Management in Iowa.
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005