Is TM the same as relaxing?

Steven Rector, M.D.
Rector, M.D.

Dr. Steven Rector has practiced emergency medicine for 18 years in Iowa and Georgia. A Diplomate of the American Board of Emergency Medicine, he graduated from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 1984 and completed his residency in emergency medicine at the University of Missouri in Kansas City from 1985 to 1988.

“Not according to the science. A wide range of beneficial physiological changes commonly occur during the Transcendental Meditation technique, changes that distinguish the practice from mere relaxation and other forms of meditation. Studies indicate that TM practice produces a state of rest much deeper than sitting with eyes closed, and also much deeper than other meditation practices. Research consistently shows a natural decrease in breath rate during the TM technique, 25% greater than controls, and an increase in basal skin resistance (a standard measure of relaxation) up to 70% higher.

“Physiological indicators of deep rest also include marked changes in respiratory volume, minute ventilation, tidal volume, blood lactate and heart rate. Studies suggest that this unique state of physiology helps regulate cortisol and other hormones associated with chronic stress—and also healthier regulation of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood.

“Even more significant, EEG measurements show high levels of alpha coherence over the entire brain—increased integration and orderliness of brain functioning—further differentiating the Transcendental Meditation technique from ordinary relaxation and other meditation practices.”