May 1979

Ananda Marga Meditation-Reply

Author Affiliations

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Stanford University School of Medicine Stanford, CA 94305

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1979;36(5):606. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1979.01780050116020

In Reply.—  We appreciate Dr Elson's thoughtful comments. He suggests that proficiency in Ananda Marga meditation is accompanied by a heightened sensitivity to environmental stimuli and that such a heightened sensitivity combined with the auditory stimuli that our study used would account for the autonomic arousal that we observed in the meditations of the proficient meditators.If yogic meditation, usually typified by a withdrawal of attention from the environment, resulted in heightened sensitivity, one would expect to observe increased autonomic orienting to external stimuli during meditation. In our study, we observed a progressive decrease in cardiovascular and electrodermal orienting responses as proficient subjects practiced meditation. Similar findings have been reported in other studies of proficient yogic meditators.1 2In comparison, our control group of inexperienced subjects maintained a high level of autonomic orienting coincident with the observed progressive autonomic relaxation, suggesting that relaxation and sensitivity to stimulation can be clearly dissociated.

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