Breath suspension during the transcendental meditation technique

Author: Farrow JT//Hebert JR
Conference/Journal: Psychosom Med
Date published: 1982
Other: Volume ID: 44 , Issue ID: 2 , Pages: 133-53 , Word Count: 231

We observed, over four independent experiments, 565 criterion-meeting episodes of breath suspension in 40 subjects practicing the Transcendental Mediation technique (TM), a simple mental technique involving no breath control procedures. The frequency and length of these breath suspension episodes were substantially and significantly greater for TM subjects than for control subjects relaxing with eyes closed. Voluntary control of respiration was most probably eliminated as an explanation of ths phenomenon by the experimental design and by the use of a variety of nonintrusive respiration transducers, including a two-channel magnetometer, an indirect but accurate means of monitoring respiration. Many TM subjects report experience of a completely quiescent mental state characterized by maintained awareness in the absence of thought. Eleven TM subjects were instructed to press an event mark button after each episode of this pure consciousness experience. The temporal distribution of button presses was significantly related (p less than 10(-10) to the distribution of breath suspension episodes, indicating that breath suspension is a physiological correlate of some, but not all, episodes of the pure consciousness experience. In an extensive study of a single advanced mediator, pure consciousness experiences were also associated with reduced heart rate; high basal skin resistance; stable phasic skin resistance; markedly reduced mean respiration rate, mean minute ventilation and mean metabolic rate; and statistically consistent changes in EEG power and EEG coherence (an indicator of long-range spatial order in the nervous system).