Successful cases like Andrew’s and many of the other patients were inspiring for us all, but single case histories, no matter how remarkable, do not constitute scientific proof. The medical science establishment demands a standard of scientific rigour in order to establish the authenticity of any new form of treatment. So after more than two years of the meditation clinic we had enough confidence and had gathered sufficient evidence to embark on a proper attempt to scientifically evaluate the Sahaja Yoga technique.
It so happened that Professor Rai had also looked at the effect of meditation on asthma during his investigation into the Sahaja Yoga effect. So we decided to use his results along with our accumulated experience at the meditation clinic as a basis for an asthma trial here in Australia. In consultation with a number of respected asthma researchers a strategy was devised to compare the effect of meditation against a simple relaxation technique. We wanted to know whether there really was something unique about this process or if it was simply like any other relaxation technique. Our plan involved selecting a large group of people with severe asthma whose condition did not properly respond even to maximum levels of medication. These people were divided into two groups. One group received regular instruction in Sahaja Yoga meditation while the other group was taught a popular relaxation technique. Before, and then after, about 16 sessions, the patients were assessed and the two groups compared to see if there was a difference between the two techniques. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners funded the project and after 18 months it was completed.
The results were surprising! Most of us expected to see no difference at all between the relaxation and meditation groups. Yet the results clearly showed that while both groups did appear to bring about improvements in the way the patients felt, the meditation also showed improvements in the severity of the disease process itself! This effect was not seen at all in the relaxation group and it suggested that meditation can actually influence the disease process.