“TM has helped me to overcome the darkness that once surrounded me daily. It has given me the hope that I had been looking for, and an end to the debilitating symptoms of PTSD. I finally feel peace inside.”

—Debbie Lawless, RPN, Former Case Manager in Community Mental Health and Addictions

Nurses: Overcoming Compassion Fatigue and Building Resilience

Nurses are the largest health professional group in the health system. They are well-educated, highly skilled, and positively regarded by the patients and the families they serve. Studies show a direct correlation between nurse satisfaction and patient satisfaction. The nursing profession attracts individuals who are strong, supportive and want to make a difference in people’s lives. But the Canadian Nurses Association believes burnout and compassion fatigue among nurses could be placing both the patient and nurses themselves at risk.

This is substantiated by research that links fatigue to adverse events for patients and health problems for health system providers. (See the 2010 CNA position statement: Taking Action on Nurse Fatigue.)

Burnout, a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, negative attitudes toward others, and dissatisfaction with one’s job performance, is associated with increased absenteeism and job turnover, alcohol and drug misuse, and lower job performance. Frontline nurses suffer burnout more than their colleagues; this is not restricted to long-time nurses. A 2008 study in Quebec showed that 43% of new nurses reported a high level of psychological distress. Sixty-two percent of respondents intended to quit their present jobs for other jobs in nursing, and 13% intended to leave the profession altogether, with concomitant costs to both the person and the system.

Burnout, especially exhaustion and other psychological distress factors, affects not only job performance but also impacts the physical, mental and emotional health of the individual and the systems within which they work. Burnout is not something that develops suddenly—it is a result of long hours under stressful conditions and is characterized by compassion fatigue and depersonalization. The stress and anxiety inherent in the profession place the professional nurse at high risk not just for burnout but also for personal health issues including diabetes, obesity, hypertension and cardiac disease.

The negative effects of burnout include:

  • Increased physical and emotional symptoms;
  • Increased absenteeism;
  • Increased errors in decision making and routine tasks;
  • Decreased ability to work with colleagues and supervisors;
  • Decreased quality of patient care;
  • Increased cost to institutions.
The Transcendental Meditation technique is a useful tool in any initiative to combat physical and psychological stress. TM has been shown to significantly lower stress, and to help the body and mind recover more quickly from stressful situations. Beyond remediation of the physical and mental symptoms of stress, TM can strengthen and calm the nervous system on a daily basis to bring increased alertness, focus under pressure, and clearer decision making to the working day. Nurses know that external situations are slow to change, but the TM technique allows them to handle challenges in a more focused, efficient and balanced manner. Both the psychological and physical stress involved in the work of nurses can be mitigated through regular practice of TM.

Transcendental Meditation is:


  • Evidence-based—over 675 scientific studies; 406 have been published in independent, peer-reviewed journals or other edited scientific publications;
  • Simple to learn—standardized instruction ensures consistent results;
  • Easy to practice—does not involve concentration or controlling the mind;
  • Confidential and portable—can be practised privately, anywhere, at any time.


Benefits of the regular practice of the TM technique include:

• Enhanced vitality, sleep, insight, and performance;
• Decrease in stress, replaced with calming tranquillity;
• Enhanced relationships with inner peace and more confidence
• Positive views for the future and gratitude;
• Enhanced clarity of thought, efficiency, and being well-rested;
• Feelings of empowerment, productivity, and receptivity to change of perspectives;
• Health was enhanced through self-reflection with calmness and decreased stress;
• Enhanced insight of self, more compassion for and presence with others.

Clinical Nurse Well-being Improved Through Transcendental Meditation:
A Multimethod Randomized Controlled Trial

A recent study on frontline nurses who learned the Transcendental Meditation® (TM®) technique during the COVID-19 pandemic showed rapid and significant improvements in PTSD, anxiety, and burnout over 3 months compared to controls, according to a study published today in the Journal of Nursing Administration.

The objective of this study was to evaluate the impact of Transcendental Meditation on nurses’ multidimensional well-being, conceptualized as the presence of flourishing and the absence of PTSD, anxiety, and burnout.

A total of 104 nurses in three Florida hospitals participated. Validated tools included the Secure Flourishing Index (SFI), PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5), General Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) and Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). Nurses also completed a Demographic Survey and a Meditation Frequency Questionnaire.

Clinical nurses who were randomized to the Transcendental Meditation group took the instruction with certified TM teachers, which included follow-up meetings over a 3-month period. Adherence to the study protocol was notably strong considering the disruption caused by the pandemic. The control group continued with “life as usual” and were offered the TM course at the conclusion of the study.

Based on the statistical analysis there was a 62% decrease in anxiety in the TM group from baseline to 1 month compared to 3% in the controls, and a 54% decrease in the TM group after 3 months compared to 17% in the controls.

PTSD decreased 53% from baseline to 1 month in the TM group compared to 9% in the control group, and 57% in the TM group over 3 months compared to a 17% decrease in the controls.

Burnout (due to emotional exhaustion) decreased by 27% from baseline to 1 month in the TM group compared to no change in the controls, and 24% in the TM group over the 3-month study period compared to no change in controls.

Our Work with Nurses

The Lived Experience of Advanced Standing Program Nursing Students
Practising Transcendental Meditation

The Canadian Women for Wellness Initiative is partnering with the University of New Brunswick School of Nursing in Moncton to measure the effect of the Transcendental Meditation technique on the quality of life of nursing students and faculty. The purpose of this research study is to enhance understanding of the lived experiences of BN Advanced Standing Program (ASP) students who practise TM.

Principal Investigator:
Dr. Catherine Aquino-Russell, RN, BScN, MN, PhD, Professor

Research Question: 
What is the general structural description (or meaning) for BN ASP students practising TM while engaging in teaching-learning processes and managing multiple stressors?

This is a phenomenological study, using Giorgi’s method, which will include students and faculty from both years 1 and 2 of the BN Advanced Standing Program (ASP). This is a large sample size for a phenomenological study, as Giorgi’s method has been described in the literature as having smaller sample sizes (from 1 to 21 participants).

As a result of practising the TM technique the group self-reported:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety;
  • Improved clarity of thought and feeling;
  • Increased appreciation and gratitude;
  • Increased feelings of inner peace and calm;
  • Better work performance;
  • More enjoyment of life;
  • Increased compassion for others.

In the students own words…

“The benefits of this meditation practice far exceeded my expectations… Through this greater understanding of self, I began to feel confident and comfortable enough to deepen my connection with others. I also began to see myself in everyone, the things I loved and even the things I disliked; both of which enabled me to experience a greater appreciation for them. I started to see life through a different lens.”

“I find the twice-daily meditation very relaxing. Afterward my thoughts are somewhat clearer. For example, today I noted improvement in my ability to write feedback/evaluation comments on a student’s performance that I had been struggling with prior to meditation. The words flowed more easily and accurately reflected what I had been having difficulty putting down on paper earlier… I see that my thoughts are clearer and more organized. I do not feel as overwhelmed and pulled in multiple directions as I have in past. … To summarize my feelings, I definitely see the benefits of TM to my sense of thought clarity, confidence, and calm.”
“The benefits of this meditation practice far exceeded my expectations. I assumed I would feel calmer, maybe more focused or well rested. While those things did occur, they were the result of something greater. I found that through taking the time to sit alone in silence with myself, I was able to get to truly know myself, in a way that I wasn’t aware I hadn’t.”
“I began to experience gratitude in ways I could have never imagined. Instead of viewing experiences as something I “had to do”, I began to see them as opportunities that I was fortunate to be blessed with. As I developed a greater sense of inner security, external factors were less daunting. The sense of worry about the future and of the unknown that I was once so familiar with, was replaced with a sense of trust.”
Canadian Womens Wellness Initiative