For quite a long time now, I’ve been interested in the effects of distant healing and the ability of people to impact consciousness for the greater good. In my therapy practice in Bryn Mawr, I often can feel the energy shift as clients are making changes. But can we make changes beyond the therapy room? Is what I’m feeling real? I think it is, and that we can, based on what I have read about meditation and the Maharishi effect.

The 1% effect. (No, not that 1%)

One of the most fascinating studies of the impact of group consciousness on the greater whole is the Maharishi Effect. Back in the 1970s, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, developer of Transcendental Yoga and guru to the stars, predicted that if 1% of a population performed Transcendental Meditation (TM), they would produce measurable improvements in the overall quality of life for the entire population. His students began to track the data, and in 1976 published a paper that found a 16% reduction in crime when 1% of the population participated in TM.

If isolated TM practitioners could have such an effect, they wondered, what would be the impact of a group meditating together? Researchers predicted that the coherence generated by a group of TM practitioners working together could impact a group the size of the square of the number of meditators. In other words, two people meditating together could impact a group of four; 100 meditators could impact 10,000; and 1,600 could impact 256 million people― the population of the US at that time.

And so they set out to test their hypothesis, collecting FBI crime data in the US, and other data from around the world, when large TM groups met. Statisticians carefully controlled for other variables, and the findings are remarkable.

Here are some of the highlights (and here’s a link to my primary source):

  • 1980-1981, crime in Delhi decreased by 11% during a TM convention
  • 1984-1985, crime in Manila decreased by 12.5% during a TM convention
  • 1981-1983, Maharishi University opened a campus in DC; violent crime decreased.
  • 1983, a group of meditators met in Jerusalem; crime in Jerusalem decreased 7.4%; crime in Israel decreased 4.1%.
  • The war in Lebanon was also affected, with a decrease in war death and war intensity.
  • 1993, violent crimes decreased during a TM convention in DC and politics functioned better―enough to make a reporter remark, “such a swift reversal of political fortunes is not easy to account for”.
  • 1979-1985, when the group of meditators at Maharishi University in Iowa numbered more than square root of 1% of US population, there was a decrease in violent deaths in the US.
  • TM group participation in Iowa also affected quality of life in Canada, with a marked decrease in violent deaths, cigarette consumption and worker strikes.

Can we start to take advantage of this? Please?

The data are impactful, and I was left wondering ―why did it take me 20 years to hear about it? Why haven’t we capitalized on this effect? And―can we start now? Last summer I held a group meditation on 8/8, the “Lion’s Gate”, as part of the worldwide synchronized meditation for peace.  I think that when enough people tune in, we will make a difference in the world. I’m already marking my calendar for this year’s International Day of Peace, 9/21/2015―and I hope you do, too.

I suspect that it is not TM alone, but any practice that brings people to a calm, heart-centered, spiritual state that can have such an impact. And I intend to find out!