Transcendental Meditation

Dr. Schneider explains a 60% cut in death rates

Robert Schneider is a US doctor who, over the past quarter of a century, has been researching the impact of meditation on patients with heart disease.

heart disease stroke mortality meditation - the heart brain connection

Dr. Robert Schneider

Most recently, he wrapped up a 10-year study of African-American men which found that the incidents of death from heart attack or stroke for those patients who regularly practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique were cut by a stunning 60%.

On the road in New Zealand – talking to doctors at universities in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch – Dr Schneider gave an interview to the national broadcasting company, Radio New Zealand, to shed light on his scientific findings. The interview was recorded on November 6, 2013.

The key to it all: the Heart-Brain Connection

When asked how he had become involved in doing research on cardiovascular disease and meditation, Dr Robert Schneider told,

death heart disease stroke transcendental meditation dr. schneider“When I went into medicine about 30 years ago, I trained in conventional medicine – in hypertension, preventive cardiology etc. It became very apparent to me – and actually it was also the specialty of my deparment where I trained at the University of Michigan – that there is a heart-mind connection.

There the idea was that the mind, the brain through stress can contribute to hypertension and heart disease – those were the days of type A behaviour and its relationship to heart failure. They mapped out [at the university] the neurological pathways between the heart and the brain. I thought, “If the brain can have a negative influence on the cardiovascular system, why couldn’t we use the brain a positive influence?“

I looked at the literature, at the scientific studies – there were a few studies at that time – and I began to do more and develop a co-operation across the US. With the US government support we did a lot of trials using experimental methods, and found that yes, you can use the mind-heart connection to reduce stress and reduce those contributions to heart disease.”

An up-to-date, rigorous look at heart disease and death

Dr Schneider then went on to explain the framework of the recent research study with 200 heart disease patients of African-American origin:

heart disease death rates meditation - dr. schneider article in circulation

The results of the study were published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes as “Stress reduction in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.” 2012; 5: 750-758

“The study in which we looked at reductions in death rates from heart disease and stroke, was in a group of patients who had coronary-artery disease, they all had blockages in their arteries – so they were all prone to heart attacks or strokes. In other words, to an early death.

These individuals were African-Americans. In the United States, people with African ancestry have significantly higher rates of cardiovascular disease than the general population – may-be due to higher rates of stress due to social conditions. So we focused intentionally on a particularly high-risk group, both in terms of their demographics and the state of their disease.

All [the subjets] volunteered for the study. A half were randomly assigned to Transcendental Meditation practice in addition to the usual medicine; the other half received a Health Education class where they learned conventional approaches to changing their lifestyle: low-fat diet, excercise and so on. The two courses were matched in time and intention and homework practice. So everyone got something, and had a reasonable possibility of gaining benefit from either of the two interventions.

They continued to see their doctors, and we just followed them over the course of next 5 years – looked at their hospital records and saw how long they lived up until their heart failed.”

Stunning results: Transcendental Meditation drastically reduces death rates for patients with heart disease. But why, really?

The results of the research project were remarkable, with death rates for patients assigned to the Transcendental Meditation group slashed on average (in comparison to the non-meditating group) by 48 per cent. Moreover, the mortality rates for regular practitioners – those who meditated at least once a day over the 5 year period – were reduced by an even more bewildering 60 per cent.

This is how Dr. Robert Schneider explains these results:

“When we look at scientific studies on the changes in the brain – which is where [the whole healing process] probably begins, and then goes out to the heart and the rest of the body – then during that transcending form of meditation, there appear high levels of brain-wave coherence or orderliness. You can see it, measure it, calculate it, show it statistically. This high level of brain-wave coherence is a neuro-physiological signature of the state of restful alertness.

The current bio-medical model is that this orderliness of the brain is associated with orderliness or self-repair in the rest of the body, because the brain influences the heart and the rest of the body a lot. So Transcendental Meditaiton is a technique for restoring balance in the cardiovascular system.”

Watch Dr. Robert Schneider’s interview with New Zealand’s TV One TVNZ “Breakfast” morning news show:

Listen to the full interview,

Watch a video of a Dr. Schneider’s lecture,
uploaded by Maharishi Australia: