Effect of meditation on psychological distress and brain functioning: A randomized controlled study

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Abstract

Background:

Psychological stability and brain integration are important factors related to physical and mental health and organization effectiveness. 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.

Method:

Ninety-six central office administrators and staff at the San Francisco Unified School District were randomly assigned to either immediate start of the TM program or to a wait-list control group. At baseline and four-month posttest, participants completed an online version of the Profile of Mood States questionnaire (POMS). In addition, a subset of this population (N=79) had their EEG recorded at baseline and at four-month posttest to calculate Brain Integration Scale (BIS) scores.

Results:

At posttest, 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%).

Conclusion:

Findings indicate the feasibility and effectiveness of implementing the TM program to improve brain integration and positive affect and reduce psychological distress in government administrators and staff.

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