New research provides some good news about what is usually a sad topic — depression, a condition that not only obliterates joy but also contributes to cardiovascular disease. In two independent studies, researchers randomly assigned adults age 55 and older who had risk factors for cardiovascular disease to participate in a heart-healthy diet and exercise education group… or to practice Transcendental Meditation (TM) for 20 minutes twice per day. TM is a simple technique in which you silently repeat a mantra to let the mind settle down and reach a state of restful alertness. Participants were assessed with a standard test for depression over nine to 12 months.

Results: Compared with the education group, the TM group had significantly better scores on the depression test. The greatest improvement was seen among TM practitioners who had had significant depression at the start of the study — for them, depressive symptoms were reduced by 48%, on average. Implication: TM provides a double benefit, because preventing or easing depression also may reduce cardiovascular risk.

Editor’s note: These studies looked specifically at TM, not at other meditation techniques, and were conducted by researchers at University of Hawaii, UCLA and Maharishi University of Management (which offers TM classes). For information on TM, visit… to learn about other meditation techniques, visit