Don’t Worry, Be Happy!
That title of a popular song some years ago summed up the ideal of human existence. But for many people in the modern world a life lived in various degrees of anxiety is an everyday reality. Anxiety is a state of inner unrest or uneasiness often described as ‘nervousness’. Worry, jitteriness, sweating, an increased heart rate, rapid breathing and other adverse feelings and symptoms commonly accompany anxiety.
Experts in this field of study view anxiety in two ways:
1. State Anxiety. This is a temporary emotional state that nearly everyone experiences from time to time when confronted by a challenging situation such as having your young child run onto a busy road.
2. Trait Anxiety. A consistent personality attribute in which people are ‘on edge’ all the time even though there may be no apparent reason for it.
As we know, prescription drugs are handed out on a large-scale basis in the western world to try to improve the quality of life for people who are constantly anxious. With the TM technique there is a better way suitable for everyone and without adverse side effects. Since the 1960s, Transcendental Meditation has been shown to most effectively bring the mind and body back to an ideal state of functioning. The evidence of this is both experiential and clinical.
First let us consider this report from a woman who had suffered pervasive anxiety all her life. She describes her first experience with the TM technique:
“It was wonderful. I never experienced anything quite like it. Now I understand what it means to be fully relaxed and what it means to be able to look at the world through clear eyes instead of seeing it as so tension-filled all the time. I felt better the rest of that day than I have felt in years. If meditation can help me eventually be like that most of the time, I could not ask for more. No medication that I have taken, and I have taken lots, helped me to feel that way.”
It is worth noting that unlike medication, hypnosis and psychotherapy, TM is entirely under the control of the individual using the technique. If he or she feels better, it will not be due to a pill or relationship with a therapist, but to a natural process triggered by his or her own efforts.
Even by the late 1980s there had been much research conducted regarding anxiety and different modalities for alleviating it. In 1989 a statistical meta-analysis conducted at Stanford University of all available studies (146 independent outcomes) was published. It indicated that the effect of Transcendental Meditation on reducing trait anxiety was much greater than that of all other meditation and relaxation techniques including progressive muscle relaxation. Journal of Clinical Psychology 45 (1989) 957-974
A most interesting fact of this study was that TM was not only more than twice as effective in reducing trait anxiety than other systems, but that these other programmes did not even register results greater than the Placebo effect.
How It Works
Trait anxiety is commonly regarded as a measure of how stressed an individual may be. Stress is the medical term for wear and tear in the central nervous system due to pressure and strain that is more than the system can process. Whilst medication may suppress the symptoms of accumulated stress, the only thing that can properly get rid of it is the body’s own self-repair systems. They in turn need a sufficiently deep level of bodily rest in order to do the job. TM is primarily a mental technique practiced sitting comfortably with eyes closed for 20 minutes twice a day but it has the astounding ‘side effect’ of giving the body a level of rest far deeper than sleep.
In such a blessed state of repose, accumulated stress is smoothly alleviated. With each TM session the mind and body are able more and more to function how they should naturally. That means a calmer person with a vital body and a happy mind … an individual much more able to follow the advice in the song – Don’t Worry, Be Happy.