Along with the mounting medical evidence of the various health benefits of meditation, research shows group meditation can actually reduce crime rates in the greater population. With connections which go beyond explanation by other variables, the results show that city-wide crime rates were reduced by small meditating groups of less than one percent of the population — not by holding community-wide meditation sessions or treating criminals with meditation therapy but by meditating on peace and positivity in small groups.
Known as the Maharishi Effect, the idea is that individual brain waves can affect the collective consciousness. Though the exact science to explain how the brain waves of a small meditating group can effect the actions of the greater population is still not known, nearly 50 studies have been done on the subject and have appeared in prestigious publications such as the Journal of Crime and Justice.
The form of meditation used to produce the Maharishi Effect is called the Transcendental Meditation Sidhi Programme. Those who have practiced this deep state of consciousness describe it as uplifting and say they “experience a state of bliss.” Several compare it to a feeling like they are flying, and in the Vedic literature it is even referred to as Yogic Flying. The Yoga Sutra states that “In the vicinity of coherence (yoga) hostile tendencies are eliminated,” and practitioners of this meditation program believe it creates a “unified field” which transforms stressful, negative, and undesirable tendencies in brain physiology.
Whether science is able to prove their beliefs or not, the positivity and well-being spread by followers of the Maharishi’s meditation technique is certainly not a bad thing for society. As many as 7,000 people have gathered at one time to meditate with the Maharishi in the name of world peace.
Some of the most impressive research into group meditation came from Merseyside, England, which shows group meditation was not only able to reduce crime rates, but can save cities millions of dollars. A time series analysis was used to evaluate reduction in crime. During periods when a meditating group slightly larger than the square root of one percent of the population held sessions the monthly data showed a 13.4 percent drop in crime. This was very significant in contrast to the national crime rate which had actually increased by 45 percent.
Even when considering variables such as police practices and economic changes the research still points to a strong correlation between the group meditation and the drop in crime rates. Merseyside went from No. 3 ranking in highest crime rates among the eleven largest Metropolitan Areas in England and Wales in 1987 to the lowest crime rate by 1992. The Merseyside Home Office estimated the reduction in crime saved around £1250 million over the five-year period.
How does the Maharishi Effect reduce crime? Some researchers have proposed that the meditating group is able to increase coherence and decrease stress in the collective consciousness of a society, thus improving something referred to as “informal social control,” which reduces criminal acts. In a review of various research conducted on city, state, national, and international levels, 15 published studies showed strong evidence that group meditation was able to reduce crime rates, and programs like these can easily be replicated elsewhere.
By Mimi Mudd