Electrophysiological correlates of higher states of consciousness during sleep

 

Sleep. 1997 Feb;20(2):102-10.

 Mason LI, Alexander CN, Travis FT, Marsh G, Orme-Johnson DW, Gackenbach J, Mason DC, Rainforth M, Walton KG.

Maharishi University of Management, Department of Psychology, Fairfield, Iowa 52557, USA.

 

 

 

 

Standard ambulatory night sleep electroencephalograph (EEG) of 11 long-term practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program reporting “higher states of consciousness” during sleep (the experimental group) was compared to that of nine short-term practitioners and 11 non-practitioners. EEG tracings during stages 3 and 4 sleep showed the experimental group to have:

 1) theta-alpha activity simultaneously with delta activity and

 2) decreased chin electromyograph (EMG) during deep sleep (p = 0.002) compared to short-term practitioners. Spectral analysis fast Fourier transform (FFT) data of the first three cycles showed that:

 3) the experimental subjects had significantly greater theta 2 (6-8 Hz)-alpha 1 (8-10 Hz) relative power during stages 3 and 4 than the combined control groups [t(30) = 5.5, p = 0.0000008] with no difference in time in delta;

4) there was a graded difference across groups during stages 3 and 4 in theta 2-alpha 1 power, with experimentals having greater power than short-term practitioners, who in turn had greater power than non-practitioners [t(30) = 5.08, p = 0.00002]; and

 5) experimentals also had increased rapid eye movement (REM) density during REM periods compared to short-term practitioners (p = 0.04). Previous studies have found increased theta-alpha EEG activity during reported periods of “transcendental consciousness” during the TM technique. In the Vedic tradition, as described by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, transcendental consciousness is the first of a sequence of higher states. The maintenance of transcendental consciousness along with deep sleep is said to be a distinctive criterion of further, stabilized higher states of consciousness. The findings of this study are interpreted as physiological support for this model.

 

 

Psychophysiological correlates of the practice of Tantric Yoga meditation

Archives of General Psychiatry.

1978 May;35(5):571-7.

Corby JC, Roth WT, Zarcone VP Jr, Kopell BS.

 

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Autonomic and electroencephalographic (EEG) correlates of Tantric Yoga meditation were studied in three groups of subjects as they progressed from normal consciousness into meditation. Groups differed in their level of meditation proficiency. Measures of skin resistance, heart rate, respiration, autonomic orienting responses, resting EEG, EEG alpha and theta frequencies, sleep-scored EEG, averaged evoked responses, and subjective experience were employed. Unlike most previously reported meditation studies, proficient meditators demonstrated increased autonomic activation during meditation while unexperienced meditators demonstrated autonomic relaxation. During meditation, proficient meditators demonstrated increased alpha and theta power, minimal evidence of EEG-defined sleep, and decreased autonomic orienting to external stimulation. An episode of sudden autonomic activation was observed that was characterized by the meditator as an approach to the Yogic ecstatic state of intense concentration. These findings challenge the current “relaxation” model of meditative states.

 

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