by Jennifer Chase
Meditation is widely recognized as one of the most fruitful, life-enhancing practices you can gift yourself. The science supporting the multitude of mental, emotional and physical benefits meditation provides is overwhelming. But for some reason, most of us just can’t get with the program. It’s like exercise. We know how beneficial it is to our bodies and minds, yet plenty of us can’t seem to embrace the commitment required to yield results.
Perhaps if you were told it could stop crime and save the world, it might persuade you. Sounds far out, sure, but science says it is absolutely possible through what is known as the Maharishi Effect.
The Maharishi Effect is named after Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who often spoke of the natural, peaceful transformation that he believed would take place if just 1% of the population engaged in the Transcendental Meditation technique simultaneously. He began speaking of this as early as 1959, long before the first experiments ever took place. The Maharishi principle states that at least 1% of any population can affect positive change. However, the extended Maharishi Effect introduced a new formula stating that only the square root of 1% of the population is enough to neutralize negative tendencies and affect positive trends.
In 1974, the first experiments ever conducted were taken to 11 U.S. cities where the participating groups reached 1% of the population of each city. Each group practiced the TM (Transcendental Meditation) technique and crime trends dramatically decreased in each city during the time the groups were meditating. This is when researchers named this phenomenon The Maharishi Effect in honor of the man who predicted this effect 15 years earlier.
In late 1983, Maharishi set out to create a congregation of practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program using the extended Maharishi Effect principle. He gathered 7,000 participants, which was the approximate square root of 1% of the world’s population at the time, in order to give the world what he called a “Taste of Utopia.” This study found that on the three occasions the world meditation gatherings approached the 7,000-person threshold required for global coherence, international conflicts decreased by more than 30%, according to a content analysis of the New York Times and London Times. Also, international terrorism decreased by a shocking 72%, referencing data compiled by the Rand Corporation. In addition, the World Index of international stock prices in the 19 major industrial countries increased significantly, indicating increased economic confidence.
Since then, more than 50 studies have been conducted on the Maharishi Effect with varying but similar results. These studies clearly indicate the absolute power of meditation to transform global tendencies.
Another study published in Social Indicators Research, showed an overall 15% drop in violent crime in Washington, D.C. during the duration of this experiment. From June 7 — July 30, 1993, The National Demonstration Project to Reduce Violent Crime and Improve Governmental Effectiveness brought approximately 4,000 participants in the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs to the U.S. capital. A 27-member independent Project Review Board comprised of sociologists and criminologists, representatives from the police department and government of the District of Columbia, along with civic leaders, monitored its progress.
Upon analysis, violent crime such as homicide, rape, and assault, continued to decrease as the meditation group size increased. The maximum decrease was 23.3% when the meditation group was at its largest.
These results are truly inspiring. It is remarkable to observe, through the lens of science, that meditation has such a profound effect; not only on the individual practicing but globally as well. While it may not be an option to participate in large group meditations daily, you can’t underestimate the fact that you are still affecting meaningful change during solo meditation practices. If you don’t already engage in meditation daily, now is the perfect time to start.