Dr. Travis suggests that a further stage of cognitive development can be achieved and that the driver is transcending thought, which can result when practicing meditations in the automatic self-transcending category, the main practice in this category being the Transcendental Meditation technique.
by Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield, Iowa, USA, The Review
12 June 2016
A new paper by Maharishi University of Management Professor Fred Travis in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences discusses how specific experiences help promote cognitive development at various stages as one grows, culminating in the experience of transcendence as a driver of further development once an individual reaches the adult stage of rational thought.
Citing research on cognitive development, Dr. Travis outlines how nurturing caregiving is crucial in the first two years, and how language learning is the driver of cognitive development for ages three to 10. During the teen years, problem-solving has been shown to be the driver.
In Piaget's classic model of cognitive development, the final stage is adult abstract reasoning, which is characterized by hypothetical deductive reasoning.
However, Dr. Travis suggests that a further stage of development can be achieved and that the driver is transcending thought, which can result when practicing meditations in the automatic self-transcending category, the main practice in this category being the Transcendental Meditation technique.
Building on research of the late Skip Alexander, Dr. Travis suggests that to go beyond hypothetical deductive reasoning, one needs to transcend language. Quoting Dr. Alexander, Dr. Travis writes, "An intervention to transcend language may be as necessary to cultivate higher states of consciousness beyond ordinary waking, as language learning was to developing adult thinking."
Dr. Travis writes that in practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique, one transcends thinking and explores the source of thoughts. And just as research has shown that any experience changes the brain, so does this experience of transcending thinking "change one's experience of inner self and therefore transform how one experiences the world."
He then cites studies showing that the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique does indeed have an effect on cognitive development.
Research on children has found greater psychological differentiation, general intelligence, self-concept, analytical ability, and general intellectual performance compared to controls.
Studies on adults have found growth in ego development, higher moral reasoning, a more stable sense of self, greater openness to experience, and lower anxiety.
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