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Kesterson, John B
Changes in respiratory patterns and control during the practice of the Transcendental MeditationΠtechnique.

Order No. 8703159

Studies show a drop in metabolic rate (MR) possibly causing a decrease in frequency of breathing (f) and respiratory suspensions (RS) with Transcendental Meditation (TM). Some argue these changes are no greater than those in controls while relaxing. Eighty-four meditators and ten non-meditating controls were tested, some repeatedly, for a number of respiratory variables in a four stage experiment. The first stage examined the meditators for f, end-tidal CO(sub 2) concentrations, and time to onset of breathing changes during TM. Three respiratory patterns appeared: no change in f (Group 1), a large decrease in f (Group 2), and subjects with frequent RS (Group 3). Patterns of respiration were consistent over as many as 7 trials. Group 3 subjects demonstrated a 4 mmHg increase in end-tidal CO(sub 2). Patterns occurred within 3 seconds of cue to begin TM.

In Stage 2 there were no differences in MR between the three groups or between the controls while relaxing and the meditators. MR decreased for all groups even further upon lying down. The respiratory quotient dropped for meditators but not for controls.

In Stage 3 spirometry experiments showed there was a decrease in alveolor ventilation over oxygen consumption for the meditators, producing hypoventilation. Apneusis occurred during suspensions for Group 3 subjects.

In Stage 4 a Group 3 subject showed decreased sensitivity to arterial CO(sub 2) concentrations and increased sensitivity to arterial O(sub 2) concentrations. Arterial O(sub 2) values, measured with an ear oximeter, decreased equally during RS and voluntary breath holds. The subjects with the greatest change in breathing pattern were most alert during meditation, had meditated the greatest number of years, and had the best self- reported experiences during and outside of meditation.

The conclusion was that the drop in MR during TM is probably a consequence of muscular relaxation. Furthermore, the drop in MR does not cause the changes in breathing. Instead, TM invokes a neural mechanism, associated with a change in state of consciousness producing changes in f, RS, hypoventilation, a decrease in RQ and changes in sensitivity to blood gasses. Findings are consistent with a state of restful alertness. Source: DAI, 47, no. 10B, (1986): 4337

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