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The biological dimensions of transcendent states: A randomized controlled trial

Administrator Encephalon Inc. / 28 September 2022

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This study evaluated the biological dimension of meditation and self-transcendent states. A convenience sample of 513 participants was drawn from attendees at a 4-day guided meditation workshop. Half were randomly assigned to an active placebo control intervention. All were assessed on a variety of measures, both psychological [anxiety, pain, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), positive emotions, and transcendent states], and physiological (physical functioning). Additional biological assessments including salivary immunoglobulin-A (SIgA), cortisol, and Quantitative Electroencephalography (qEEG) were obtained from subset of the Experimental group (N = 117). No significant difference in psychological symptoms or positive emotions was observed between Experimental and placebo groups at baseline. At post-test, significant improvements were noted in the Experimental group, including a 49.5% median increase in SIgA (p = 0.01), though cortisol remained unchanged. qEEG z-score analysis identified sustained stress reduction, including delta frequency band amplitude increases, high beta decreases, and faster acquisition of sustained alpha states (all p < 0.001). Psychological symptoms also improved on all measures. At 6-month follow-up (N = 140), PTSD and somatic symptoms significantly improved from baseline, and post-test versus 6-month follow-up results indicated significant increases in happiness and spiritual and physical oneness, along with decreases in depressive symptoms. These findings suggest that autonomic self-regulation and transcendent states may be measured in both biological and psychological dimensions and are associated with pervasive health benefits.

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