Practicing transcendental meditation technique for 20 minutes twice a day can significantly reduce trauma symptoms such as unwanted thoughts and help female prisoners find inner peace, finds a study.
Transcendental meditation is a technique for detaching oneself from anxiety and promoting harmony and self-realisation by meditation, repetition of a mantra, and other yogic practices.
The results showed that after four months of practicing the meditation technique, the women inmates had significant reductions in total trauma symptoms, including intrusive thoughts and hyperarousal.
'The study shows a natural and effortless alternative approach to reducing trauma symptoms in women's mental health," said lead author Sanford Nidich, Director of the Center for Social and Emotional Health at Maharishi University of Management in Iowa, US.
Practising the meditation technique allows the mind to transcend to quieter levels and has very specific effects on the body -- effects that are the opposite of the body's hyperaroused state known as the flight-or-fight response.
The system involved in this arousal, known as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, is significantly decreased in its activity, thus helping people not to get affected by stress.
Apart from acting as a stress management tool, the meditation technique can also provide other benefits such as reduced recidivism to improved cardiovascular health, the researchers stated.
For the study, the team encouraged prison inmates to practice transcendental meditation individually in their prison cells twice daily and encouraged them to attend 30-40 minutes group meditation sessions, supervised by a teacher, twice a week over the four-month study period.
The participants reported that transcendental meditation helped them reduce their obsessive-compulsive behaviour, social introversion, anxiety and neuroticism as well as rates of recidivism and increased positive social relations and improved sleep.
The study was published in The Permanente Journal.