Excellence in Action resulting from students optimizing brain functioning


Research studies have shown that as brain integration increases through Transcendental Meditation, so does intelligence, creativity, learning ability, moral maturity, grade point average, emotional stability, self-esteem and at the same time, anxiety declines, social behavior improves, and reaction time becomes faster.



This is your brain on college
by Craig Pearson, Ph.D., at Enlightenment, The Transcendental Meditation Magazine
Agust 2013

In 2005, Psychology Today published an article entitled “The Perils of Higher Ed.” The statement beneath the title reads, “College life can be downright detrimental. Sleep deprivation, a bad diet, and binge drinking can lead you to memory loss, alcoholism, and even Alzheimer’s.”

Here are some of the things we learn from the article:

80% of undergraduates and medical students at Stanford University qualified as sleep-deprived, according to a survey conducted there—and sleep plays a crucial role in learning and memory.

50% of students eat too much fat, and 70-80% eat too much saturated fat, according to a survey at Tufts University—and, as the article states, “They may literally be eating themselves stupid. Researchers have known since the late 1980s that bad eating habits contribute to the kind of cognitive decline found in diseases like Alzheimer’s.”

44% percent of today’s college students drink enough to be classified as binge drinkers, according to a nationwide survey of 10,000 students done at Harvard University—and we now know that even limited overindulgence with alcohol can produce long-term negative effects on the brain. According to the National Mental Health Association, even one night of heavy drinking can impair your ability to think well for up to 30 days.

The USA Today article comments, “All this news makes you wonder how anyone’s ever managed to get an education.”

And the article doesn’t mention stress, anxiety, and depression:

More than 29% of college freshmen reported often feeling overwhelmed by school, and emotional health is at a record low, according to a UCLA study. [More]

Nearly 45% of women and 36% of men reported feeling so depressed it was difficult to function, according to a National College Health Assessment. [More]

College is supposed to be about learning. We know the factors that impair learning—stress, loss of sleep, alcohol, poor diet. Ironically, these are just the things that characterize the culture on many college campuses.

What happens to brain functioning?

An interesting experiment was conducted at American University in 2006. At the beginning of the spring semester, 50 students were tested on a number of measures, including brain functioning.

The brain function measure looked at brain integration. Brain integration refers to the communication and coordination among the parts of the brain. As in an orchestra or a basketball team, optimal performance depends on optimal coordination among the parts.

Of the 50 students at American University, half were randomly assigned to learn the Transcendental Meditation technique, while the other half served as the control group, doing nothing except going about their day-to-day college activities.

They were retested three months later, toward the end of the semester, a time of rising stress. The results were striking:

The Transcendental Meditation group showed significantly increased brain integration. The TM students reported feeling fresh and happy, and measurements found they were less sleepy and better buffered against stress.

In the control group, students reported feeling frazzled, and brain integration had actually deteriorated—after just 12 weeks of a “normal” college experience. [1]

Why is this important for students? Research studies have shown that as brain integration increases, so does intelligence, creativity, learning ability, moral maturity, grade point average, emotional stability, self-esteem. As brain integration increases, anxiety declines, social behavior improves, and reaction time becomes faster.

In other words, the more coherent and integrated your brain functioning, the better everything gets.

The Transcendental Meditation group also became healthier, as another study revealed. Blood pressure decreased among those at risk for hypertension, and they showed reduced psychological distress and improved ability to cope with stress. They also increased in mindfulness—the ability to focus attention in an accepting, nonjudgmental way on whatever you are experiencing. [2]

A university where everyone meditates

As these studies and many more indicate, if you are a college student, learning and practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique is one of the best investments you can make. It can help you avoid the damaging effects of college and get more out of your college education.

You may also be interested in knowing that there is one university that has taken brain integration seriously—a university where, in fact, every aspect of student experience has been tailored to support students’ rapid personal growth, good health, and deep learning.

Maharishi University of Management (MUM) is the world pioneer of Consciousness-Based education. At its foundation is the Transcendental Meditation program. All students, faculty, and staff practice this simple, natural, effortless technique of meditation to promote development from within—growth of intelligence, creativity, better health, and more.

But MUM is serious about the students’ growth, so it doesn’t stop there.

Almost everyone understands that you are what you eat—and so MUM offers the healthiest diet of any college in the country. Meals are all vegetarian and freshly prepared at each meal. We grow much of our produce in our own greenhouse and gardens. Milk and yogurt come from a local organic dairy.

Students have a balanced daily schedule, with structured time for morning and afternoon meditation and a good balance between class and free time. Classes run from 10:00 to 12:00 in the morning and from 1:00 to 3:15 in the afternoon.

One of the most important things you can do to promote good health, well-being, and optimal learning is to get enough sleep. This means not just getting enough hours but getting those hours at the optimal time for the body, in accord with its natural, 24-hour cycle (the body begins preparing for sleep at around 9:30). At MUM, students are encouraged to go to bed by 10:00. Homework assignments can typically be completed in 60-90 minutes, so no one has to stay up late.

Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs are not permitted on our campus.

Most of us know how stressful it can be to take four or five courses at once. Your attention is scattered in multiple directions, term papers and finals pile up at the same time. How much authentic learning results from cramming?

At MUM, students take one course per month. This means immersing yourself in what you’re studying—which is the easiest and least stressful way to learn. You never have more than one paper and one exam at a time. Courses end on Thursday afternoon of the fourth week, leaving Friday, Saturday, and Sunday free between each block—three free days for rest, relaxation, and recreation, mini-vacations sprinkled through the year.

Healthier when you graduate

MUM uses the Duke Health Profile, developed at Duke University, to measure changes in our students’ overall health during their years here. We have found that students are actually healthier when they graduate—physically, mentally, and emotionally—than when they enroll.

As for brain functioning, MUM students can also take advantage of the Brain Integration Progress Report, to see for themselves how their brain functioning becomes more coherent and integrated during their years here—the foundation for success and fulfillment in whatever path you choose to pursue.



© Copyright 2013 Maharishi Foundation USA, a non-profit educational organization.


"The potential of every student is infinite. The time of student life should serve to unfold that infinite potential so that every individual becomes a vibrant centre of Total Knowledge."—Maharishi

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