Transcendental Meditation

STUDY: Stress relief following the Japanese earthquake-tsunami of 2011

A study on 171 residents of two cities in Japan affected by the 2011 tsunami and earthquake found that those who practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique had a significant reduction in stress.

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Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami: A magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake off the coast of Japan that occurred on 11 March 2011. Being the most powerful earthquake ever recorded to have hit Japan, it triggered tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 40.5 metres (133 ft) and travelled up to 10 km (6 mi) inland. Over 17,000 people died in the disaster which damaged close to a million buildings.

Published in Psychological Reports: Mental & Physical Health, the study used a checklist of mental and physical symptoms and found a significant drop in total symptom score from pre-test to post-test.

“This was an extremely stressful time in Japan, with nearly 20,000 people losing their lives and 138,000 buildings destroyed,” said Michael Dillbeck, MUM trustee and a coauthor of the study together with six Japanese researchers.

“Participants in the study were those living in the two cities closest to the epicenter.”

Bringing down the stress levels of survivors

While other studies have shown reductions in stress, this is the first study to examine the effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on individuals who are adjusting to life after a natural disaster.

The subjects were instructed between two and eight months after having experienced the earthquake. Their reduction in symptoms was assessed between 6 and 10 days after learning the Transcendental Meditation technique.

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Those in the most extreme stress category went from about 40% at pre-test to just 5% at post-test among the disaster-area participants who learned the Transcendental Meditation technique while the control group went from 9% at pre-test to 10% at post-test.

Article by Jim Karpen, MUM