The surge in drug-related deaths began in 1990, fueled by
skyrocketing rates of drug overdose, largely from prescription
painkillers and anxiety drugs. Drug deaths exceeded motor vehicle
accidents as a cause of death in 2009, killing more than 37,000 people a
The rate of US drug-related fatalities fell 30.4% nationwide from
2007 to 2010 due to the reductions in societal stress and increased
alertness in the individuals in society created by a large group
practicing the Transcendental MeditationŽ technique and its advanced
program, the TM-SidhiŽ program, a new study shows.
‘Reduction in drug-related deaths comes from a TM-Sidhi group large enough to create an effect in the environment due to a hypothesized "field effect of consciousness."’
The hypothesis: the reduction comes not from drug abusers using
meditation to get off drugs, but from a TM-Sidhi group large enough to
create an effect in the environment due to a hypothesized "field effect
"It's a bold claim," said lead author Michael Dillbeck, "but there
are now 14 peer-reviewed published studies that suggest that one's
individual consciousness is directly connected to an underlying,
universal field of consciousness, and that by collectively tapping into
that universal field through Transcendental Meditation, we can have a
positive effect on the environment."
26,425 drug-related fatalities averted
The study found that during the four-year period 2007 through 2010
this upward trend in the rate of drug-related deaths was interrupted by a
highly significant shift to a greatly reduced, flatter trend. As a
result, the drug-related fatality rate was reduced 30.4% relative to the
2002-2006 baseline average. The researchers estimated that 26,425
drug-related fatalities were averted by the significantly reduced trend
in fatality rates.
The probability that the reduced trend in rates of drug-related
fatalities could simply be due to chance was reported to be 3.1 in 10
During 2007-2010, the size of the TM-Sidhi group located at Maharishi University of Management
in Fairfield, Iowa, was above or near 1,725 participants, the size
predicted to have a positive influence on the US quality of life. This
predicted threshold represents the square root of 1% of the US
Time series analysis shows a reduction
The researchers first calculated a baseline trend for monthly
fatality rates during 2002-2006, and then used time series intervention
analysis to compare that baseline with the corresponding trend for the
intervention period 2007-2010. A rapidly rising trend in the
drug-related fatality rate (see Figure 1) during the baseline period
leveled out and slowed significantly when the Transcendental Meditation
and TM-Sidhi group exceeded 1,725 participants beginning in January 2007
(vertical dashed line). This flatter trend continued through 2010. (The
irregular ups and downs of the fatality rate shown in the graph are
largely due to seasonal fluctuations around the trend.)
Change produced by enlivening "field of pure consciousness"
How could this change in society be produced by the meditation
practice of participants in the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi
group? Published research has shown that Transcendental Meditation
creates a state of restful alertness, increases brain integration,
reduces individual stress, and enables greater use of one's inner
"These benefits are the natural by-product of the experience during
Transcendental Meditation practice of a silent, wakeful state of the
mind known as 'pure consciousness'," Dr. Dillbeck said.
According to coauthor Kenneth Cavanaugh, the basis for the effect on
society is that pure consciousness has a field-like character and is a
universal field at the basis of everyone's thought and behavior. When
the participants in a group equal to or exceeding the square root of one
percent of the entire population are experiencing pure consciousness
during group practice of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi
program, the field of pure consciousness is enlivened in the entire
"This field effect positively influences the quality of
consciousness in the individuals in society in much the same direction
as that experienced by those practicing the Transcendental Meditation
technique," Dr. Cavanaugh said. "It's as if the non-meditating populace
experienced the same benefits of those meditating."
Reduces social stress
This research tests the hypothesis that practice of the
Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program by a group of sufficient
size will result in reduced stress and increased alertness in the
individuals in society, thus contributing to reduced trends of these two
stress-related public health indicators.
"Chronic stress contributes to increased likelihood of illness as
well as to the use and abuse of illicit and prescribed drugs," Dr.
Dillbeck said. "Stress can reduce the degree of conscious alertness and
vigilance necessary to avoid drug misuse, especially highly potent and
potentially addictive narcotic painkillers."
Alternative explanations ruled out
The prediction of improved public health and reduced illness and
fatalities was lodged in advance with the press and other scientists.
The authors noted that reductions in the trends of both fatality rates
occurred at the predicted time and in the predicted direction, and
neither reduction could be predicted from baseline trends or seasonal
cycles. The researchers also were able to rule out other alternative
explanations. For example, the reduction in drug-related death rates
could not be explained by such factors as unemployment and national
economic conditions, increased public and professional medical awareness
of the hazards of opioid painkillers, and sales of such painkillers.
Reduction in infant mortality
This study of stress-related public health indicators also found
that during the same period the rate of infant mortality was reduced by
12.5%. The researchers found a highly significant shift from a flat or
slightly declining trend in 2002-2006 to a substantially faster
declining trend in 2007-2010. An estimated 992 infant deaths were
averted. The probability that the reduced trend in rates of drug-related
fatalities could simply be due to chance was reported to be less than
2.1 in 100,000.
Third study in a series
The study, titled "Group
practice of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program and
reductions in infant mortality and drug-related death: A
quasi-experimental analysis" was published in the social science journal SAGE Open
, Mar 2017, 7(1).
This article is the third in a series that comprehensively evaluates
the impact of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi group on US
quality of life and public health. The first in the series, published in 2016 in SAGE Open
reported a highly significant 21.2% reduction in US homicide rates
during the same 2007-2010 period, resulting in the prevention of an
estimated 8,157 homicides. A reduction of 18.5% in violent crime rates
in 206 urban areas was also found, thus averting an estimated 186,774
The second article in the series, published in the January/February 2017 issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies
found a highly significant reduction of 20.6% in the rate of US motor
vehicle fatalities and 13.5% in the rate of all other accidental
fatalities during the same experimental period. The study estimates that
19,435 motor vehicle fatalities and 16,759 other accidental deaths were
averted by the significantly reduced trends in fatality rates.
A total of fourteen peer-reviewed articles have now been published
validating the prediction by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Founder of the
Transcendental Meditation program, that a TM-Sidhi group of this size
would lead to reduced societal stress, as reflected in reduced crime,
violence, accidents, illness, and increased positive trends in society.
The authors call for governments to implement and evaluate this approach as the natural next action step.