The current study found significant support for the prediction that practice of these meditation techniques by a group of a theoretically predicted size would help decrease the rising monthly trend of drug-related fatalities by countering what the American Psychological Association and World Health Organization have termed an “epidemic of stress” that helps to fuel drug misuse and other negative public health trends. Support was also found for the prediction that the improved trend would be reversed when the meditation group fell below the required size.
According to government statistics, the U.S. has been experiencing a sustained epidemic of drug-related mortality, with U.S. drug-related fatalities reaching record highs in 2021. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that total drug-related fatalities surpassed 100,000 in 2021more than double the total for gun-violence deaths and motor vehicle fatalities combined. Since 1999, more than one million Americans have died from drug overdose, more than total U.S. battle deaths in all U.S. wars.
These rising trends in drug overdose deaths are associated with high U.S. national stress levels as measured, for example, by data from a 2022 public opinion poll conducted for the American Psychological Association (APA). According to the APA survey, stress levels have been pushed to alarming levels by a succession of events including a global pandemic, inflation, financial worries, a cascade of collective traumas from repeated mass shootings, and the war in Ukraine.
To help counteract the pervasive negative effects of U.S. stress levels on public health, an initiative was launched at Maharishi International University (MIU) in Fairfield, Iowa USA to increase the size of a group practicing the TM and TM-Sidhi program together.
During the five-year baseline period of the social experiment (2002-2006), the monthly drug-related fatality rate reported by the CDC rose in a steep trend, accompanied by a pattern of seasonal fluctuations around the trend. The blue line shows the “counterfactual” forecast of the fatality rate after the baseline period, predicting what may have happened to the rate if the baseline trend had continued during 2007-2016.
Benefits of Transcendental Meditation
As hypothesized, the rising baseline trend was reduced (flattened out) during the five-year “demonstration period” of the study 2007-2011 when the size of the MIU group was above or near the theoretically predicted level required to influence public health trends: the square root of 1% of the U.S. population, 1,725 at that time. The theoretical perspective underlying this research predicts that this size of the group is necessary to sufficiently relieve stress and tension in U.S. “national consciousness” in order to promote measurable improvement in stress-related national public health trends.
The authors define national consciousness (or “collective consciousness”) as the wholeness of consciousness of all the members of the nation or social group. Stress and tension in individual consciousness is said to contribute to stress in collective conscious, and vice versa. Common expressions referring to the concept of a collective consciousness, include “national mood” in public opinion polling, “investor sentiment” in finance, or “employee morale” in business.
Segmented-trend regression analysis found that the reduction in fatality rate trend during the demonstration period was highly statistically significant (two-tailed p-value
As hypothesized, after the demonstration period the fatality rate began to increase again during the study’s five-year follow-up period, 2012-2016, when, due to decreased funding, the size of the group fell increasingly below the required size. In the first follow-up subperiod (2012-2014) the fatality rate trend increased significantly relative to the demonstration-period trend (p-value
During the second follow-up subperiod 2015-2016, the fatality rate trend increased further (p-value
The study estimates that 34,194 (6,839 per year) drug-related fatalities may have been averted as a result of the decline in drug-related fatality rate during the demonstration phase. Because the fatality rate remained below the projected baseline trend until the end of 2016, another 52,115 deaths may have been averted during the follow-up phase. Thus, a total of 86,309 fatalities may have been prevented during the combined demonstration and follow-up periods.
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