Effect of Meditation on Psychological Distress and Brain Functioning

A Randomized Controlled Study



Psychological stability and brain integration are important factors related to physical and mental health and organization effectiveness. This study tested whether a mind-body technique, the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program could increase EEG brain integration and positive affect, and decrease psychological distress in government employees.


Ninety-six central office administrators and staff at the San Francisco Unified School District were randomly assigned to either immediate start of the TM program or to a wait-list control group. At baseline and four-month posttest, participants completed an online version of the Profile of Mood States questionnaire (POMS). In addition, a subset of this population (N = 79) had their EEG recorded at baseline and at four-month posttest to calculate Brain Integration Scale (BIS) scores.


At posttest, TM participants significantly decreased on the POMS Total Mood Disturbance and anxiety, anger, depression, fatigue, and confusion subscales, and significantly increased in the POMS vigor subscale. TM participants in the EEG-subgroup also significantly increased in BIS scores. Compliance with meditation practice was high (93%).


Findings indicate the feasibility and effectiveness of implementing the TM program to improve brain integration and positive affect and reduce psychological distress in government administrators and staff.

Brain and Cognition 2018

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