Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 44, Issue 1–2, pp 117–135 | Cite as

Sympathetic activity and transcendental meditation

  • R. Lang
  • K. Dehof
  • K. A. Meurer
  • W. Kaufmann


Ten male advanced meditators and ten male long-term meditators subjected themselves four times to slight physical exercise following a period of rest, meditation or reading. Daily urine excretions of catecholamines and VMA were determined in both groups. On the experimental days 4-hour urine specimens, one before and one after the experiments, were again collected for analysis. During the experiments blood pressure and heart rate were measured continuously and blood samples were taken for plasma catecholamine levels immediately before and after the physical exercise.

Daily catecholamine and VMA excretions showed to be higher in advanced meditators. During the experiments the pattern of noradrenaline, adrenaline and VMA excretions were different in both groups, long-term meditators showing a higher adrenaline excretion after exercise.

After the resting period there was in both groups a similar increase of plasma catecholamine levels during exercise. However, after meditation the advanced meditators showed a significant increase in plasma noradrenaline and no further increase in plasma noradrenaline level during the following physical exercise. Also after the reading period differences between both groups in plasma catecholamine levels during exercise could be observed.

In advanced meditators heart rate reduction after meditation was about 9% and diastolic blood pressure was slightly raised. The preceding conditions of rest, meditation or reading had a significant different influence on the behaviour of heart rate and blood pressure during the following physical exercise and this pattern was different for both groups.

It is concluded that the effects of transcendental meditation on the autonomic nervous system are more obvious in advanced meditators. Furthermore, the results show that meditation enhances sympathetic activity. It is suggested that the “transcendental state” seems not to be a mere trophotropic parasympathetic functional state.


Physical Exercise Sympathetic Activity Plasma Noradrenaline Heart Rate Reduction Plasma Noradrenaline Level 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Lang
    • 1
  • K. Dehof
    • 1
  • K. A. Meurer
    • 1
  • W. Kaufmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Medizinische Universitäts-Poliklinik KölnGermany

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