Ask the Doctors, Specialists answer your questions about the Transcendental Meditation program and health

Ask the Doctors

Answering questions about the Transcendental Meditation program and health

Women Health 17 Jun 2008
Stress, the Transcendental Meditation Technique and Women’s Health by Dr. Lonsdorf

Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf is a Johns Hopkins and Stanford University trained medical doctor. She is author of the bestselling book, A Woman’s Best Medicine, which includes research on the Transcendental Meditation technique, and is a nationally renowned expert in women’s health. Here Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf answers questions on how women can combat stress.

Q: What do you recommend for working women who want to improve their health by reducing stress?

Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf: If you are a woman in the workplace, you know the kind of pressures that women face on the job every day—deadlines, time pressure, learning new technologies, and getting along with co-workers, clients, and the boss. All of these put tremendous pressure on women. In addition, when women go home at the end of the day, they also face another set of responsibilities and stressors. Women take on the bulk of the child rearing responsibilities, organizing schedules, and also doing more of the household chores. In addition, they may care for elderly parents, and try to put a healthy meal on the table night after night. So, at times the stress can be overwhelming, and that can result in fatigue, chronic health problems, and burnout. And many of these stressors are not going away tomorrow. They’re not within your control, and the best that you can do is learn how to deal with them more effectively.

The Transcendental Meditation technique offers something unique in stress management programs. It actually changes the way your nervous system processes stress, allowing it to process stress in a way that is not harmful. As shown in scientific research, with just four months of practice of the Transcendental Meditation program, baseline cortisol levels, meaning the amount of cortisol in the blood day-by-day, drops significantly, by one-third when compared to a control group that simply was instructed about health education or how to management stress better.

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Dec;1032:211-5. Lowering cortisol and CVD risk in postmenopausal women: a pilot study using the Transcendental Meditation program. Walton KG, Fields JZ, Levitsky DK, Harris DA, Pugh ND, Schneider RH. Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention, College of Maharishi Consciousness-Based Health Care, Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield, IA 52557, USA.

Q: Can you tell us more about the effect of cortisol in creating stress?

Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf: Chronic stress typically leads to elevations in the hormone cortisol, which is called the stress hormone, and to elevations in norepenepherine and epinephrine, which are the fight-or-flight hormones. These neurochemicals can be very deleterious to our bodies over time. They cause premature aging and unwanted weight gain. They can lead to memory problems. Reducing cortisol through the Transcendental Meditation technique helps eliminate the negative effects of stress on your health.

What happens is that stress simply becomes less stressful. And that means that work becomes more enjoyable, and research corroborates that job satisfaction improves with the practice of Transcendental Meditation, as does job productivity and relationships with co-workers.

If stress is affecting your life or affecting your health, I strongly encourage that you learn the Transcendental Meditation technique. It’s a gift you can give yourself that will give back to you every day and will also give to the others in your life, both at work and at home.

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