Transcendental meditation, mindfulness, and longevity: an experimental study with the elderly

Author: Alexander CN//Langer EJ//Newman RI//Chandler HM////
Department of Psychology, Maharishi International University, Fairfield, Iowa 52556
Conference/Journal: J Pers Soc Psychol
Date published: 1989
Other: Volume ID: 57 , Issue ID: 6 , Pages: 950-64 , Special Notes: Clinical Trial Randomized Controlled Trial , Word Count: 140

Can direct change in state of consciousness through specific mental techniques extend human life and reverse age-related declines? To address this question, 73 residents of 8 homes for the elderly (mean age = 81 years) were randomly assigned among no treatment and 3 treatments highly similar in external structure and expectations: the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program, mindfulness training (MF) in active distinction making, or a relaxation (low mindfulness) program. A planned comparison indicated that the 'restful alert' TM group improved most, followed by MF, in contrast to relaxation and no-treatment groups, on paired associate learning; 2 measures of cognitive flexibility; mental health; systolic blood pressure; and ratings of behavioral flexibility, aging, and treatment efficacy. The MF group improved most, followed by TM, on perceived control and word fluency. After 3 years, survival rate was 100% for TM and 87.5% for MF in contrast to lower rates for other groups.