The term meditation can be used in many different ways, according to the technique to which it refers. Transcendental Meditation (MT) is one of these techniques. TM could serve as a model for research on spiritual meditation, unlike the meditation techniques based on secular knowledge. The purpose of the present study is to conduct a bibliographic review to organize scientific evidence on the effects of TM on neurophysiology, neurochemistry, and cognitive and behavioral aspects of its practitioners. To conduct this critical narrative review of the literature, we searched for scientific papers on the PubMed database of the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The keywords used in the search were Transcendental Meditation, Neuroscience of meditation e Meditation and behavior. We selected 21 papers that analyzed different aspects that could be altered through meditation practice. We concluded that TM has positive and significant documentable neurochemical, neurophysiological, and cognitive-behavioral effects. Among the main effects are the reduction of anxiety and stress (due to the reduction of cortisol and norepinephrine levels), increase of the feeling of pleasure and well-being (due to the increase of the synthesis and release of dopamine and serotonin), and influence on memory recall and possible consolidation. Further studies are needed using creative and innovative methodological designs that analyze different neural circuitry and verify the clinical impact on practitioners.
Meditation; Mind-body therapies; Complementary therapies; Neurophysiology