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TM Findings and Others

There is a wealth of research on TM, Transcendental Meditation. In a rewarding study Jean Paul Banquet finds:

Several investigators have reported changes in the EEG of normal adults induced by yoga meditation: Das and Gastaut (1957) recorded fast frequencies during deep states of meditation. Anand et al. (1961) pointed out the prominence of alpha activity associated with the absence of reaction to external stimuli. More recently Wallace (1970) remarked the appearance of theta waves in the frontal area during the practice of Transcendental Meditation (TM). The purpose of this study was to seek further evidence of EEG alterations to determine whether meditative states can be distinguished from other states of consciousness. To test this hypothesis we compared twelve subjects practising TM, as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1966), with adequate controls. Methods of classical electroencephalography [EEG] were combined with computerized spectral analysis and correlated with subjective data. (Banquet 1973, 143)

Banquet sums up the findings:

Classical EEG combined with spectral analysis was performed on a group of subjects during Transcendental Meditation (TM). The findings were compared with those obtained in a resting control group.

(1) Alpha rhythm increased in amplitude, slowed down in frequency and extended to anterior channels at the beginning of meditation.

(1) In a second stage, theta frequencies different from those of sleep diffused from frontal to posterior channels. They took the form of short theta periods or longer rhythmic theta trains.

(1) Rhythmic amplitude-modulated beta waves were present over the whole scalp in a third stage of deep meditation by advanced subjects.

(1) The most striking topographical alteration was the synchronisation of anterior and posterior channels.

Therefore EEG records from meditators practising TM distinguish the meditative state from other states of consciousness. The combination of sequential EEG changes in relation to topographical alterations produces a particular pattern. (Banquet 1973, 150)

Banquet shows that during Transcencental Meditation the "wirings" of the brain change. That is, brain cells get electrically charged and decharged at different speeds and in different patterns (brain waves) that, further, get synchronised too. The strength (amplitudes) of the brain waves and brain synchronisation from TM are very interesting. A suggestion: A better-working brain should yield better grades and much else of value - and that is neatly confirmed through many separate studies by others. [◦David Lynch Foundation, TM research] - ]◦Meditation brainwaves etc.]

Research into a form of kriya yoga

"There is kriya and there is kriya." (1) The kriya yoga system of Self-Realization Fellowship is an abridged and simplified kriya system, where formerly vital parts are left out. (2) The kriya yoga of Satyananda Yoga is quite laborious (. Swami Satyananda (1923–2009) learnt it from his guru, Swami Sivananda (1887–1963).

จจ There is an unspecified kriya yoga in Das and Gastaut's ground-breaking kriya yoga study from the 1950s. The investigation was carried out in India. There are many lines of transmission in the kriya yoga world, and there are differences among several of them. Some branch out. Das and Gastaut do not specify which kriya methods they measured effects of, and which line of kriya transmission they were into, so it could be anybody's guess which kriya system and which line of transmission went into the study.

Research findings by the Scandinavian psychologist Erik Hoffmann Ph.D. show facets of how Satyanda kriya yoga works. Dr. Hoffman and his team assumed that the brain waves before and after Satyananda kriya would be considerably different, and so it was. [Link]. Hence, Satyananda kriya works on the brain wave patterns in the ways in the reference. It is the form of kriya that was handed over to Swami Satyananda (1981, 2001) from his guru, Swami Sivananda, and modified by Satyananda:

  1. The findings tell that also Satyananda kriya affects the brain.
  2. Erik Hoffmann, Ph.D., the kriya researcher of the novel study is an internationally renowned brain researcher. What is at at the heart of sound research and sound study; is skill in getting and handling and presenting relevant data. The quality of kriya studies rests on his competence and the measurement devices, most of all.
  3. Dr Hoffman studied Satyananda kriya as taught in the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation school of independent teachers. It is like an umbrella with independent schools and teachers in Germany and Scandinavia. Further, in a study it is not the funding channels but the professionalism of the work that matters the most. The integrity of a study tends to rest with the one accountable for it - in this case a mature, international researcher and associate professor, Erik Hoffmann, Ph.D. etc. Also, one should be fit or competent to receive and assimilate the data as well. The research by Hoffmann (Ph.D.) has a neutral tone and tells about measured facts etc. [1].
  4. What is called Yoga Nidra (yoga "sleep") in the Hoffman study is a a deep relaxation technique. The book Yoga Nidra (2001) by Satyananda describes it. There are other sources too, and information on the Net.
  5. The kriya-teaching school of yoga and meditation in question is not a cult. Satyananda kriya teachings are in the public domain. This kriya is described in details in books (Satyananda, 1981, 2001).

Sivananda kriya and Satyananda kriya

Swami Satyananda writes:

Swami Sivananda received initiation into kriya yoga from Babaji, but he did not teach these techniques to anyone himself. At the time I was leaving the ashram, however, he taught me all the techniques in not more than twenty five minutes. (Satyananda 1988, 89)

Sivananda tells about pranayama in his Tantra Yoga, Nada Yoga and Kriya Yoga (2011), but very specific or decisive kriya details are not given in the book. Satyananda, however, explains how kriyas are done in the massive A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya (1981) and the corollary book Kundalini Tantra (2001).

Suspect kriya

Formerly in India, Yogananda's simplified kriya for Americans was not thought to be good. Such sentiments among many Indian kriya yogis may be not have changed. It seems plausible that Gas and Dastaut studied some other system of kriya yoga than Yogananda's in the light of:

Yogananda adopted a few different methods . . . however, it is not possible through these new methods to fully attain that which is spoken of in the scriptures in terms of Kriya Yoga. (Dasgupta 2006, 109)

Dasgupta explains how Yogananda did away with the sitting posture and the "tongue-lifting", kechari mudra. Both are said to be indispensable for meditation the kriya way (ibid).

Yogananda gave instructions for higher Kriyas even without Khechari ["yogic tongue-lifting"]. In the perspective of pure Kriya practice, this is not proper; and furthermore, the purpose of practicing higher Kriyas cannot be brought to fruition without Khechari . . . From the second Kriya onward, all of the higher Kriyas must be performed with Khechari Mudra. Without Khechari, neither "Thokar" Kriya nor "Omkar" Kriya can be performed. (Dasgupta 2006, 109-10)

That is how Yogananda's biographer Dasgupta sees it. One of Yogananda's disciples, Norman Paulsen, learnt to think otherwise. He excelled in managing his tongue in that yogi way, but says he was informed to teach Kriya without kechari mudra, for "tongue lifting" was not indispensable - So it took someone who was able to put his tongue in his nose to stand up and say the feat is not necessary. [More]

We may allow for differences of opinion and stick to our best.

Core Kriya

The core of a kriya yoga system is the gentle, simple ujjayi pranayama. Variants of it are described in detail in Prana and Pranayama (2011) by Swami Niranjanananda of the Satyananda line. He writes:

Ujjayi is a deep breathing practice which is perfected by relaxing the breath rather than forcing it. It is the one pranayama that may be practised in any position - standing, sitting or prone. Ujjayi is also known as the psychic breath, as it induces a meditative state and leads to very subtle states of mind. It is an indispensable part of many meditative techniques such as . . . kriya yoga. (2011, 251)

Swami Niranjanananda teaches variants of ujjayi also (2011, 251-256).

The British James Hewitt describes ujjayi in a comprehensive work termed The Complete Yoga Book (1991, 102-04)

Further

Eihei Dogen (1200-53) of Soto Zen holds it helps to align to the realization state. It can be done in various ways.

The way of yoga is of awakening from concepts through deep meditation. ◦Transcendental Meditation, TM, is for that - too.

TM brings many benefits as time goes by in addition to the pleasure of meditation and of lessening stress at the moment. Books William F. Sands' book, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and His Gift to the World. (MUM Press, 2012), Norman Rosenthal's Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation (London: Hay House, 2011), and Jack Forem's Transcendental Meditation: The Essential Teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (London: Hay House, 2012).

Several TM research findings summarised: [◦David Lynch Foundation - meditation research]

Studies into effects of different forms of meditation: [◦Brainwaves]

  Contents  


TM research, Jean Paul Banquet, Good Transcendence, Kriya yoga findings, Niranjanananda, Literature  

Banquet, Jean Paul. Spectral Analysis of the EEG in Meditation. Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 1973, 35: 143-151.

Forem, Jack. Transcendental Meditation: The Essential Teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Rev. ed. London: Hay House, 2012.

Hoffman, Erik. Mapping the brains activity after Kriya Yoga. Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School Reading Room, in Haa, Sweden. N.d. Online article.

Olsen, Per (Peo). Lægevidenskabelig og psykologisk forskning på Yoga & Meditation: Generelle virkninger og behandlingsmuligheder . . . (Medical and Psychological Research on Yoga and Meditation: General Effects and Treatment Possibilities . . . New ed. Copenhagen: Forlaget Bindu, 1978.

Rosenthal, Norman E. Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation. London: Hay House, 2011.

Sands, William F. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and His Gift to the World. Fairfield, IA: Maharishi University of Management Press, 2012.

Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. Early Teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati: Lectures and Satsangs Given by Swamiji during the First International 9-Month Yoga Teachers' Training Course Conducted at Bihar School of Yoga in 1967. Paperback ed. Munger, Bihar: Bihar School of Yoga, 1988.

Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. Kundalini Tantra. 8th ed. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 2001.

Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 1981.

Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. Yoga Nidra. 6th ed. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 1998.

Sivananda, Swami. Tantra Yoga, Nada Yoga and Kriya Yoga. 8th ed. Uttar Pradesh, Shivanandanagar: The Divine Life Society, 2011.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Divine Romance. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1993.

Note

[1] Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School: Yoga, Deep Relaxation and Meditation. Håå Course Center, Hamneda, Sweden.
[www.yogameditation.com/index.shtml] Accessed 7 Sept 2010.

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