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Our prayers for peace just may have been answered. A new study released by Maharishi University Management on April 14, showed a distinct correlation between large groups practicing advanced Transcendental Meditation and a drop in U.S. crime rate. A series of these studies spanning over the past few decades have shown a continual decline in social violence compared to the baseline crime threshold that was previously observed from 2002–06.
This time, the period between 2007–10 was recorded with a 21.2 percent drop in homicide and 18.5 percent decrease in violent crime rates overall. To give you a better idea of the specificity of this research, scientists estimated that 8,157 U.S. homicides were avoided. The sampling was taken from 206 urban areas around the country, each with a population of over 100,000.
EurekAlert! has more:
Starting in July 2006, advanced meditators assembled at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, to create a group large enough to have this influence on the U.S. as a whole.
Predictions were lodged with the press and other scientists that significant decreases in violent crime would occur when the group reached or exceeded the theoretically predicted threshold of the square root of 1% of the U.S. population. By January 2007 the group exceeded the required size of 1,725 participants, the square root of 1% of the U.S. population at the time, and remained above or near that level through 2010.
“I understand it’s a new hypothesis in the social sciences that meditation could have a stress-reducing and coherence-creating effect in society,” said Michael Dillbeck, the lead author of the study. “But such research is increasingly suggesting that there’s a field effect of consciousness. If you get a large enough group together practicing this technique to experience the field quality of consciousness, these extended ‘field-like’ effects are expressed in society.”
Whenever something devastating happens in the world, millions of people often mobilize on social media to pray for peace and justice for victims and loved ones—and yet, it doesn’t take a cynic to wonder whether or not these intentions are actually helpful. But if meditating en masse can cause a ripple effect of positive vibrations that reverberate throughout the planet and beyond, then perhaps our prayers are really being heard on the deepest, most cellular level, and energetically seeping into and magnetizing toward what needs to be healed.
Not too long ago, this might have been brushed aside as New Age-y or mystical, but now that science and physics are hypothesizing and proving that everything is energy; that everything—including matter—is connected, these ideas don’t seem so far fetched. The theory of the “field of consciousness” was first suggested by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1960, the renowned guru who famously developed the Transcendental Meditation technique.
We all know that meditation is really, really good for us—but how incredible is it that by healing ourselves we might actually have an impact on healing the world, if even only in the slightest. There is something very powerful about mass meditations—something we can feel but struggle to put into words. Over the years, scores of meditators have gathered for peace and justice, from One Million Children in Thailand to modernized groups like The Big Quiet in New York City. So the next time you read or watch something awful happening in the news and you feel helpless, sit down on your cushion—or better yet, gather with a group of friends—and meditate.
Andrea Rice is a Senior Writer for Wanderlust Media. She is also a freelance writer, editor, and yoga teacher. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Yoga Journal, SONIMA, mindbodygreen, AstroStyle, and other online publications. You can find her regular classes at shambhala yoga & dance center in Brooklyn, and connect with her on Instagram, Twitter, and on her website.