The season premiere of Mad Men wasn’t the only newsworthy television last night. Oprah Winfrey’s “Next Chapter” also aired on her namesake network, OWN. In it, she revealed her devotion to the practice of transcendental meditation -- a type of meditation that employs the use of a mantra and is known for reducing stress and boosting feelings of well-being.
While there haven’t been sufficiently conclusive large-scale studies on the health affects of transcendental meditation, small observational studies have found several benefits, including anxiety reduction, alleviation of symptoms from post-traumatic stress disorder and improved school performance. One study at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles even found physiological gains, like reduced blood pressure, diabetes and obesity among heart disease patients. HuffPost contributor Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D., a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School has written about the practice's benefits, describing the link between psychological stress and cardiovascular disease:
Researchers have suggested at least six different ways that psychological stress can kill you, all of which involve some sort of damage to the heart or arteries. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) occurs when damaged arteries impact the amount of blood reaching the heart, making it so the heart itself is not getting enough blood. One common cause of CVD is stress.
Winfrey, in conversation with Dr. Oz last year described a more spiritual than bodily fulfillment, saying that the practice of transcendental meditation was part of her overall attempt to "connect with that which is God." Other well-known practitioners have also focused on the spiritual side of TM, as it is known, as early as the 1970s when all four Beatles, Mia Farrow and Clint Eastwood began experimenting with the practice. The Beatles and Farrow even went to live and study in the ashram of TM's creator, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in India. More recently, filmmaker David Lynch -- perhaps Hollywood's most active proponent of TM -- has focused extensively on the health and wellness benefits of the practice, using his foundation to help bring the practice's more therapeutic elements to troubled populations like at-risk school children and Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
So what benefits does Winfrey receive from her practice? And what other celebrities are on board with TM? Click on to find out.
Have you tried Transcendental Meditation?
The media mogul spoke with Dr. Oz about her newfound practice and her visit to Fairfield, Iowa, a town of 9,500 people where an estimated third of the population has a regular meditation practice. CORRECTION: Due to a typing error, an early version of this article stated that Fairfield had a population of 95,000.
Achieving fame and fortune wasn't satisfying, says Brand. Instead, he sought something more substantial than social values like commercialism and celebrity. Transcendental Meditation helped him feel a part of something greater, he reported at a recent press conference for the David Lynch foundation, adding that the practice helps him remain sober.
Moby says that he is drawn to TM because it isn't dogmatic and requires very little formality.
George Harrison's wife Patty introduced McCartney and the rest of the Beatles to Maharishi in the late 1960s. "He made it seem simple, he made it seem very attractive," says McCartney.
The singer discusses how meditation helped her recover and move past her breast cancer diagnosis.