Excerpts from the Book
Coherence heals. The coherence effect is the healing effect from making the mind and the body function in a more orderly or coherent way. It’s the most important factor in whether we’re healthy, which is starting to be recognized by modern science and for centuries has been known by the most ancient systems of medicine. This book shows the dramatic effects of naturally generating coherence in the mind and body through meditation, diet, detoxification, exercise, and other programs.
Brain wave coherence, for example, is the new frontier in brain science. When studying brain waves, the term “coherence” means that the cells in different parts of the brain are firing at the same time in the same way (more about this in Chapter 2). This is important because one part of the brain is responsible for memory, one for moral reasoning, and several parts for creativity and other functions. Because success requires many different areas of the brain to work together, the different areas need to be communicating with each other. And they communicate by a synchronous, or coherent, firing.
Brain coherence improves mental functioning and is associated with reduced anxiety, depression, PTSD, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other disorders. Conversely, the absence of brain wave coherence is associated with autism, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease. These findings are why researchers today are looking so closely at brain wave coherence.
In addition, when the body has normal levels of coherence, its immune and other self-healing systems repair our DNA, keep germs from entering the body, and kill those germs that do gain entry. Several chapters address how we can maintain or enhance the coherent functioning of the immune and other internal repair systems, which will do a thousand times more to keep us healthy than any pharmaceuticals could.
For years, there has been a growing food is medicine movement, and many people are devoted to staying healthy and even healing disorders through the foods they eat. Again, more scientifically, this is the coherence effect at work.
Approximately seventy-five years ago, physicist and Nobel Laureate Erwin Schrödinger analyzed what it means to be alive. He said the essential component in our food that keeps us from death is its orderliness or coherence. In other words, we feed on orderliness. We feed on the order or coherence in other living systems (plants and animals), and the more orderly our food (we’ll see what that means in the coming chapters), the better off we are.
How do programs to create coherence compare to Western medicine? When we look at how Western medicine seeks to remedy our pains and other disorders, it’s again based on the coherence principle—trying to prevent and overcome disorder and disease by creating order in the diseased part of the physiology. A pharmaceutical approach may sometimes remedy a disorder, but as often as not medicine just treats the symptoms but not the underlying cause of the dis-order. And when several disorders present themselves, the common situation is a patient taking many medications prescribed by many different specialists. But even when the symptoms are addressed, the patient is not healthy if the underlying disorders remain.
This isn’t a book full of platitudes advocating the value of all “natural” health strategies, or all forms of meditation, or all diet or exercise programs. They don’t all produce coherence in the mind and body, they don’t all have significant value, and some are vastly better than others. The book compares the Transcendental Meditation®technique (TM) to other popular meditation or stress reduction practices, including mindfulness, Zen meditation, and meditations learned from an app. We look at the published research on whether the meditation techniques produce brain wave coherence, as well as all studies of which we are aware that compare the practical benefits of TM with other stress reduction or meditation techniques on various measures, including relaxation, anxiety, PTSD, blood pressure, and mental flexibility. In every one of these studies, the benefits from TM far outpaced the other techniques.
The book also contains many personal accounts from those who found their meditation programs too difficult, or boring, or who didn’t get the benefits they were seeking, but then succeeded with TM. And, as these reports indicate, these individuals succeeded beyond their expectations (as legendary television writer Josh Griffith said, “I thought I was a meditator before starting TM. Boy, was I wrong.”). One caveat in these personal reports is that the people we interviewed were TM meditators who were known to be happy with their TM practice (the individuals were not located from a random sample of people who tried various meditation practices). It should be expected that if you interview current TM meditators who at one time tried other techniques, they would report better results with TM. So, while their experiences are genuine, please evaluate these reports with that in mind.
As discussed in Chapter 4, the published reports show that the TM technique develops the kind of brain coherence associated with health and high performance. Above are pictures showing brain wave coherence in different individuals during sleep, and after just four months practicing TM, and then for a particular individual after five years of TM practice.
The peaks show exceptionally strong coherence. There is not much coherence during sleep. There is significantly more coherence in the meditators. Most importantly, the EC section of the five-year meditation picture shows the brain’s coherence with the eyes closed before starting to meditate. This shows that the TM meditator’s brain has become coherent even when he or she is not meditating. This is an important factor that can bring mental performance and health to the next level. We don’t just want coherence when we meditate, we need it all the time for maximum performance and health.
Health professionals apply the coherence principle in the pharmaceuticals they prescribe, but if we want lasting health, we need to apply the principle to those things that really keep us healthy, the everyday things that keep us alive—what we eat, how we eat, our exercise routines, and the quality of our rest and relaxation (meditation). Without a good diet, good digestion, exercise, and adequate rest, no medicines can keep us healthy.
Ancient systems of medicine like Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, and the Greek medicine of Hippocrates were based on creating balance or order inside the human body (for example, the Yin and Yang of Chinese medicine), as well as a balance of the internal and external environments. Maintaining coherence through the daily activities of life has for thousands of years been the cornerstone for health and happiness, and we show how the ancient Ayurvedic system of India works by creating coherence in all of its strategies.
Some of the book’s chapters discuss the science of how a deep inner order or coherence can promote healing or happiness and is a predictor of human development. However, this is not a theoretical or philosophical book. It is primarily a guide to specific pro-grams for enhancing inner coherence. Today, inner coherence can be measured scientifically and should be the criterion for deter–mining the best natural health strategies. And what is crucial is that stress, toxins, viruses, fatigue, and other disordering elements confront us daily. So, the antidote is a daily coherence routine, as we set forth.
One interesting facet of coherence-generating strategies is that they all contribute to the growth of consciousness, giving rise to more settled, clearer thinking, and improved health and happiness. But it’s more than that. As Dr. Nader explains in his Foreword, consciousness is primary to life; everything we do, and everything we are is based on consciousness.
Our background is that we’ve been practicing Transcendental Meditation and studying different meditation techniques for, collectively, almost 150 years, and we’ve all been involved in teaching or studying Ayurvedic health practices since the mid-1980s. We, therefore, approach this subject from both the perspective of science and long years of personal experience.
Finally, the strategies in this book are not the only ones that create inner coherence, but we don’t know of others that work as well. It was suggested that maybe the book promised too much and that our subtitle might be too long. But what we used was actually a truncated version of the subtitle. If we had more space on the cover, we might have called it “Tapping into the Laws of Nature that Govern Health, Strengthen our Immune System, and Promote Happiness, Higher Brain Functioning, Compassion, a Loving Heart, and Higher Values,” or something like that. We think you’ll see the difference it makes when we increase mind and body coherence.
Robert Keith Wallace, Ph.D., Jay B. Marcus, Chris Clark, M.D.