The Experience of Transcendental Meditation in Middle School Students: A Qualitative Report
EXPLORE: The Journal of Science and Healing
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: n/a
Source ID: shanti-sources-21228
Zotero Collections: Psychology and Contemplation
Abstract: Background Transcendental Meditation (TM), a sitting meditation technique designed to quiet the mind and induce physical and mental relaxation, has been widely studied in adults. Objective Our objective was to explore systematically the first-person experience of young adolescents who practice TM. Design A descriptive, qualitative study using semistructured interviews. Setting Middle school setting. Participants Participants included 10 seventh grade students who have practiced TM for a one-year period of time. Results Themes described by students resulting from meditation included the following: (1) an increasing state of restful alertness; (2) improvement in skills indicative of emotional intelligence (self-control, self-reflection/awareness, and flexibility in emotional response); and (3) improvement in academic performance. The state of restful alertness induced by meditation appeared central to facilitating growth in social-emotional capacities, academic performance, and flexibility in emotional response. The inner state of restful alertness provided students with greater capacity to expand their ways of looking inwardly at themselves and their relationships with others (emotional intelligence) as well as focusing their attention on controlling their behavior and keeping on task in school. Conclusions Students described beneficial effects of TM: an increased state of restful alertness and greater capacity for self-reflection, self-control, and flexibility as well as improved academic performance. The state of restful alertness induced by meditation may facilitate the growth of social-emotional capacities necessary for regulating the emotional labiality and interpersonal stress of adolescence. Future empirical validation is needed to analyze systematically the impact of this practice on students’ social-emotional and cognitive development and to determine whether its practice can serve as a protective function for helping students successfully meet the challenges of adolescence.