Transcendental meditation and five factors relevant to higher education in Cambodia

Fergusson, Lee C. and Bonshek, Anna J. and Boudigues, Monique (1994) Transcendental meditation and five factors relevant to higher education in Cambodia. College Student Journal, 28 (1). pp. 103-107. ISSN 0146-3934


Although Cambodia is a Buddhist country, the routine practice of any form of meditation technique is largely unknown. Therefore, the introduction of the daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique at Maharishi Vedic University (MVU) and its inclusion as an integral part of the curriculum was both innovative and ambitious.

Despite the practice having been systematically and thoroughly investigated as a tool for developing mental potential and improving the health of college students in many countries, its use as a supplement to the more standard educational elements of higher education was extremely novel in Cambodia during the 1990s. However, its inclusion in the curriculum at MVU was fundamentally important, because many of MVU’s students were orphaned as a result of the Khmer Rouge period, many more came to the university from border refugee camps where they had lived for more than a decade, and as a result of these personal histories many students self-reported profoundly disturbed experiences and lives lived with obvious post-traumatic stress disorder, including anxiety, fearfulness, depression, constant and profound sadness, fatigue, fear of the future, and a pervasive inability to sleep.

Given the well-documented evidence associated with the regular practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique since the early 1970s, the inclusion of this form of meditation made eminent sense in trying to ameliorate both the causes and symptoms of these debilitating events and experiences.

Prior to this study being conducted in Cambodia, research in higher education had indicated that practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique is associated with a range of educational outcomes including the grade point average, intelligence, field independence, psychological and physiological health and the moral reasoning of college students. However, at the time of this study being carried out in 1993, research had yet to substantiate its significance for the educational systems of many developing countries, including Cambodia, and no empirical research had been carried out until this time in an institution of higher learning in Cambodia since the 1960s, and hence any evidence of successful student and program outcomes was impossible to unearth. The launch of Maharishi Vedic University thus gave researchers an opportunity to begin identifying those curriculum elements that could help rebuild confidence and understanding of higher education programs in Cambodia.

This study showed that 89% of 95 randomly selected Cambodian undergraduate students at MVU found that practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique was a significant contributor to psychological well-being and cognitive ability, and that meditation was positively correlated with five primary educational determinants, namely: learning ability; attention span; physical health; mental stability; and personality. The authors conclude these outcomes support the conclusion that the Transcendental Meditation technique is associated with factors relevant to higher education in Cambodia.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: c. Project Innovation, Inc.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 21 Aug 2018 01:56
Last Modified: 21 Aug 2018 01:56
Uncontrolled Keywords: transcendental meditation, higher education, Cambodia, learning ability, attention span, physical health, mental stability, personality
Fields of Research (2008): 13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130202 Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy > 390102 Curriculum and pedagogy theory and development

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