Be You: Transcendental Meditation helps students succeed in this UK school program

July 25, 2015

I enjoyed watching Be You, an impressive little film documenting the life-transforming power of Transcendental Meditation in one of the schools of the APC, a UK educational alternative for socially-challenged students in need of individual support.

The West Sussex Alternative Provision College is one of four hundred pupil referral units in the United Kingdom, which caters specifically for pupils who are not currently in mainstream education for various reasons. This school offers young people with emotional and behavioral issues a new chance to succeed.

Be You is a start-up, grass-roots, not-for-profit organization founded by Ricky Reemer and Kitty de la Beche. It sets out to transform the lives and prospects of young people who struggle to fulfill their potential within the school system by teaching them valuable life skills and techniques.

The Be You project opened the way for the introduction of Transcendental Meditation to the teachers and pupils in this specialized Unit. With the support of the Be You, the pupils were encouraged to continue their daily practice of TM over a full school year.

A volunteer team climbed Mt Snowdon in order to raise funds for the film project, which was produced by Kitty de la Beche and directed by Nicholai Fischer. Here’s a look at the encouraging results.

Enlightenment Is Sexy, a memoir by Valerie Gangas, is out today, and it’s not just for women!

July 14, 2015

EIS Book CoverA first book from Valerie Gangas, ENLIGHTENMENT IS SEXY: Every Woman’s Guide To A Magical Life, is out today, and it’s not just for women!

Valerie is a great writer. She’s colorful, direct, and pulls no punches. Her effervescent personality shines through the amazing stories she shares with her readers, awakening them to their own inherent greatness.

The book is divided into short easy-to-read chapters packed with practical insightful wisdom. It’s also an inspirational testimony to the transformational power of TM, and I am enjoying reading every word of it!

Valerie sent us this intro to her story.

Awakening to Me

“In 2011, I woke up and realized everything I thought I knew was wrong.”

~ Valerie Gangas

For as long as I can remember, I have been running. Waking up in the morning and running to the gym. Running to the hospital to support my mother, who battled cancer for 13 years. Running to my job, managing an extremely busy Chicago restaurant/bar. Running from boyfriend to boyfriend. Running from one social event to another. Running to deal with the pressures modern women face to be perfect, to get the job done right, to be a caretaker, to look good—let’s face it: to be Wonder Woman.

Then one day, I was forced to stop running.

In late 2010, the restaurant I’d managed for 15 years was sold . . . but it turned out to be a weird sort of blessing, in that I got to spend day and night with my beautiful mother who, by Thanksgiving that year only had a couple of months left on the planet.

All of this time, I had been on a steady diet of double espressos, bottles of Cabernet and late nights eating steaks, cooked rare. (Did I mention I don’t eat meat?)

I was losing my mind as I watched her slowly slip away. I’d had a bad case of insomnia for years, my depression was deepening, and the distractions I’d held up like masks were no longer working well . . . make that, at all.

My mom passed away on January 25, 2011. And my world went black.

After she died, I felt like I’d died right along with her. I was out of a job, suicidal and completely unhealthy. My “diet”—mainly fueled by booze and caffeine—had caught up with me. I was the thinnest I’d been since high school, and my nerves were on fire. And it was like Groundhog’s Day—every night was the same scene. Go to bed, wake up at 3 a.m., stare at the ceiling, my thoughts reeling, feeling like complete crap, until I had to get up a couple hours later. Then my “day cycle” would start again. Down some caffeine, make myself workout (I had to fit in my cocktail dresses, duh!) and then never stop throughout the workday, ‘til I collapsed later that night.

Reflecting back, thoughts of suicide regularly arose in my mind. I didn’t feel like I could go on without my mom, who’d been my best friend. Clearly, I was a broken woman. Yes, I had been seeing a therapist and was trying to get my head above water. But nothing seemed to be working. My suicidal thoughts were getting stronger and stronger. I had gone so far as to ask my aunt and uncle to take my dog (I couldn’t bear messing up her little life), and I didn’t get a new car when my lease was up . . . because people who are going to kill themselves don’t need a car. I also wrote out my will.

Yep, I was gearing up to end my life.

One particularly horrible day I was on my knees in the shower, when I just collapsed and screamed out, “God, Mom, anyone, please help me kill myself or please save me!” In that moment, I completely surrendered. I was nothing. I was no one. And I completely gave myself and my fate over to God.

A week later, a friend suggested I learn Transcendental Meditation (TM). My only hope, at the time, was that I would be able to get some sleep. I hadn’t read anything about meditation, hadn’t thought about it or even wondered about it. But I was in such a dark place, one morning I made the call.

Within days, I borrowed that same friend’s car and drove to a Transcendental Meditation center in Chicago. The home which doubled as a TM center had a feeling of calm I couldn’t quite put my finger on—the air seemed lighter, somehow, and the view was all lake. Even upon entering the center’s lobby, I felt a bit calmer. Huh, I thought, these people who work here are super different. They were so chilled and completely filled with love . . . it was immediately clear to me they were there to help me. My next thought was, I’m here, so I might as well learn how to do this.

I sat down with my teacher and after a short, but beautiful ceremony, I was given my “mantra”—a sound she said my awareness would naturally follow, as it subsided into the depths of silence in my mind. When we both closed our eyes, I easily and effortlessly said the mantra to myself less than five times . . . and just like that, I was gone. I dove into a part of my body and mind I never knew existed—boundless, limitless and totally awesome. Yes-sir, something major had just happened . . . but soon I was discovering I’d only glimpsed the tip of the iceberg.

Driving home down Lake Shore Drive, I immediately began noticing how the world seemed so much different to me than it had on my way to the center. The colors all around me were more vivid, the sounds of the birds felt like sweet music to my ears, I seemed to be connected to all of the trees I saw . . . and above all, I felt happy. But, my mind called out to me, Is this really happening?! Do I really feel happy? How? Why? What the hell?

Fortunately, the essence of that experience stuck and stayed, and I came to find it was in fact “real”—that in twenty minutes, my whole life had changed. I woke up and realized everything I thought I knew was wrong. My life was no longer defined by outer circumstances. I was having a direct experience of what I have come to know as my true Self.

I cannot explain what followed . . . you know, the why of it. Within weeks of learning to meditate, I was standing in front of Oprah Winfrey, explaining how her newfound TM practice was going to make her limitless and boundless. Now, one would think standing in front of one of the most powerful women in the world would cause some serious butterflies in the stomach. But this wasn’t my experience. In that moment, when I stood at the front of the room and described my journey to her, I could only “see” her. The fame and the power didn’t exist. I was only concerned with helping the beautiful human in front of me the only way I knew how . . . with honesty, passion and a dash of humor.

I walked out of Harpo Studios that Friday morning and knew I was about to head down a very different life path. My soul and heart were breaking open and I was watching the right words leave my lips before my mind could even think them. I felt the power of the whole universe in my little body. That day, I decided to give everything I had to try to bring peace and goodness to the world. To do my part.

It has actually taken me the past few years to really understand this new way of living: that is, from the inside out. I felt compelled to write in my journal every night. I mean, the realizations I was having were just too profound not to write them down. I turned what I wrote about into a manuscript . . . and today I am proud to say I have just published my first book, Enlightenment Is Sexy: Every Woman’s Guide To A Magical Life. I’ve also started a brand I love and have continued to speak about consciousness, happiness, freedom, and above all, Transcendental Meditation.

Learning to meditate saved my life . . . but it also gave me more than I could have ever dreamt of: awakening to the real me.

###

George Foster of Foster Covers, with help from wife Mary, designed the colorful cover! Order the book today at http://amzn.com/0996350209. Nice comments on Amazon.

Related: Read an interview with Valerie Gangas at TM Home, and this poem I wrote for her: Scheherazade Incarnate. TM Home also posted this today: Valerie Gangas reveals her top 5 reasons to learn Transcendental Meditation. And Val posted and sent this out. Transcendental Meditation for Women also posted Awakening to Me.

ROOTED in PEACE to play Martha’s Vineyard and an Iowa premiere at Fairfield’s Sondheim Center

July 10, 2015

ROOTED-V.10js_r3More screenings are coming up this summer for Hollywood director Greg Reitman’s documentary feature film.

Martha’s Vineyard Film Society

This month, Martha’s Vineyard Film Society will present ROOTED in PEACE on Wednesday, July 15, 2015, at 7:30pm. There will be a special post-screening Q&A with director Greg Reitman.

Read this interesting interview with Zip Creative’s Joanne Zippel on her blog: Fast Forward Friday with Greg Reitman, published today in advance of the MVFS showing.

Iowa Premiere in Sondheim Center

In early August the film will premiere in Fairfield, Iowa. Read how this Hollywood filmmaker came to Fairfield for a Beach Boys concert, returned for a David Lynch Weekend at MUM, learned TM and more, in the July issue of the Iowa Source in their All About FAIRFIELD section: Getting Rooted In PeaceGreen Producer Greg Reitman Brings New Documentary to Sondheim for Iowa Premiere. Here is a PDF of the print version.

Included in the film are interviews from those visits with filmmaker David Lynch; musicians Donovan and Mike Love; Bob Roth, executive director of the David Lynch Foundation; and Fred Travis, director of Maharishi University’s Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition; as well as historical footage of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation® technique, and Maharishi University of Management.

Blue Water Entertainment and the David Lynch Foundation are presenting the Iowa premiere of this inspirational documentary feature film, Sunday, August 2nd at 7pm in the Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts. There will be a Q&A following the showing with Sundance award-winning Director Greg Reitman and Executive Producer Joanna Plafsky. Joanna is an established international film producer and distributor, and member of the DLF Board of Directors.

Visit the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center website to find out more about Greg and his film, including production stills and the movie trailer, and if you’ll be in town at that time, to purchase tickets. Here is a PDF of the ROOTED in PEACE poster for Fairfield with affordable ticket prices.

The Fairfield Weekly Reader will publish an article on the event July 23rd.

Previous posts about the film can be seen here.

Arrangements are being finalized for the first international premiere, to be announced in the next film post.

Publicist and Poet @KenChawkin featured @TMhome_com. Learning to let go to let magic happen #creativity #TMmeditation

June 30, 2015

I received an email this morning from a member of the TMhome Team, an international Transcendental Meditation news website. I’ve admired their wonderful work over the years representing TM internationally, especially their interesting interviews with famous, and not so famous people who have benefited from this unique meditation practice.

They wrote to say the article they had been putting together about me was now up. As a publicist who is always concerned with properly promoting other people and their work, this was a complete turnaround for me. I very much enjoyed sharing stories with Liisa of how I started TM, my work as a publicist, and the wonders of the creative process writing poetry. So when I read her article I was very moved; she did an excellent job representing me!

The article is currently featured on their home page and under the People section. I invite you to visit their website and enjoy reading it. They also did a lovely job laying it out with personal photos and two of my poems.

I am thrilled to share this milestone with you! Click on the title of the article to take you there.

PR to poetry – how things sometimes happen to Ken Chawkin

Ken Chawkin - TMhome

June 30, 2015

In 1967, Ken Chawkin walked into the local TM centre without any intention of learning Transcendental Meditation. He simply wanted to buy a copy of The Science of Being and Art of Living written by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Frances Knight shows paintings of Vedic Masters and Vedic Dieties at ArtFiftyTwo in Fairfield Iowa

June 29, 2015

I just ordered a print of a new painting of Guru Dev, Maharishi’s master, by Frances Knight. She is in Fairfield, Iowa with her paintings at ArtFiftyTwo in Fairfield, Iowa. The show: Vedic Masters, Vedic Dieties — Paintings and Pastels of Guru Dev, Maharishi, and Vedic Deities — started this weekend, Saturday, June 27, and will continue to Wednesday, July 1. Hours are 1:00 – 4:00  and  7:00 – 9:00.

Artist Frances Knight stands in front of her latest painting of Guru Dev, Maharishi's master. Photo taken by Ken Chawkin at ArtFiftyTwo in Fairfield, Iowa

Vedic portrait artist Frances Knight stands by her latest painting of Guru Dev, Maharishi’s master, at a show of her work in ArtFiftyTwo, Fairfield, Iowa. Photo by Ken Chawkin (June 28, 2015)

FRANCES KNIGHT spent over 35 years creating paintings of Guru Dev under the direction, guidance, and inspiration of His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. She started work on the painting of The Holy Tradition in 1972 and continued to work on it and many other paintings for Maharishi over many years. Her paintings benefit from years of working directly with Maharishi, absorbing the knowledge of how exactly he wanted Guru Dev to be depicted and how Vedic Knowledge can be expressed in visual form. Her deep experience and unique knowledge of Maharishi’s vision for how Guru Dev should be portrayed, gives her paintings a profoundly devotional depth of feeling and lively consciousness. Her original paintings express a powerful darshan that people find deeply moving and inspiring.

Guru Dev represents the Vedic tradition in this age and in making these prints available Frances is inspired to contribute 20% of the net proceeds to support the Maharishi Vedic Pandits in India, who are creating world peace through Maharishi Yagya and Yoga. Visit the Maharishi Vedic Pandits website for more information.

ArtFiftyTwo specializes in creating and marketing archival quality fine art reproductions for artists. Frances has worked closely with ArtFiftyTwo to insure that her reproductions accurately represent the feeling and color balance of the originals. Reproductions are accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist. All of the pieces on display, and more of Frances’ work are available in various sizes and media at her website VEDICART108.com.

Frances is also a highly accomplished landscape painter. She studied in Painting at Camberwell School of Art in London, and won a Commonwealth scholarship for an MFA in India, graduating with a 1st Class First. See her landscape paintings at FRANCES KNIGHT FINE ART.

How to Not Think and Do Nothing in New York

June 19, 2015

In one of the June 2015 issues of New York Magazine, an article appeared in the New York Guides section as The Everything Guide to Doing Nothing; Wake up late, go out never, have someone hand-feed you a banana. Here is the introduction to the collection of articles on how to do nothing in New York, followed by one from the collection of short essays that caught my attention.

It’s not that New York has become any less chaotic, but amid the relentless hustle is a recent move to nada-hood: In the past year, dozens of apps have popped up that make social interaction and trips to Duane Reade less and less necessary. Need toilet paper delivered in an hour? Press a button. Too tired to mop your floors? Enlist the latest iRobot. But why stop there? For when TV plots seem too complicated, Candy Crush too physically taxing, and the newspaper just too damn wordy, there’s now an ever-more-passive alternative. So whether you want to avoid dirty dishes, the treadmill, or your friends, here’s a guide for living your laziest life.

How to Not Think
Transcendental Meditation on the C train.
By David Marchese

A great many extremely successful and presumably fully actualized people, from billionaire hedge-funder Ray Dalio to pop goddess Katy Perry, are advocating these days for the life-changing benefits of Transcendental Meditation. TM, they say, will sharpen your decision-making, unlock your creativity, amplify your you. Science is also onboard. Studies suggest that TM practitioners are at reduced risk for heart attack and stroke. All this from just sitting there and focusing on your secret mantra. When I mention this sort of stuff to people—I’ve been doing TM for six or so years—I normally get an interested nod in return. When I say it involves meditating twice a day for 20 minutes a pop, the nod turns into something more skeptical. Where am I supposed to find the time?

I find it on the C train. As long as your commute is long enough, the subway offers a great opportunity for achieving profound inner stillness. First off, you need to find a seat, which is why I opt for the less crowded local, rather than express, train. Then, with your back straight, head tilted slightly down, and eyes closed, do about 30 seconds of deep breathing before you begin silently repeating your mantra—the secret word, supposedly custom-chosen, that your TM instructor (find a nearby class and instructor at tm.org) will have given you. Don’t try to clear your mind, just favor the mantra. Repeat it. Keep repeating it. Favor it above all other thoughts and sensations. If other thoughts do bubble up—and they will—just come back to the mantra. You’ll be amazed how quickly the ambient MTA blare fades away as you transcend toward pure consciousness. A sort of whole-body inner joy takes over, as if your heart were gently laughing. Hard-core TMers say 20 minutes is mandatory—I use the timer on my iPhone—but if you’re diligent about the mantra, you can transcend after a few minutes, so it’s okay if the train starts running express. Even ten minutes of TM is a nice psychic boon, and, I promise, infinitely more satisfying than another level of Candy Crush.

From The Everything Guide to Doing Nothing in New York Guides of the New York Magazine, published Jun 4, 2015. Illustration by Joe McKendry.

I was in NY recently for my nephew’s film, The Driftless Area, which was being spotlighted at the Tribeca International Film Festival, and wrote this haiku about the city: A NEW YORK HAIKU by Ken Chawkin.

The job of a poet — someone’s gotta do it!

May 27, 2015

The job of a poet is translating what he or she is experiencing into words. If it resonates with other people’s experience, allows them to identify with what’s in the poem in a way they could not have expressed as well with words, and gives them pleasure, then it’s a good poem.

While in NYC recently, my son commented on my m.o. as a poet, how I notice things, name and say what I’m experiencing at the time. So I wrote this simple haiku for him, a sort of job description.

Experiencing
Noticing … Naming … Saying
Job of a Poet

Case in point, when I was returning from Iowa City last week, I dropped in to see Sali. She was still in her bed; they hadn’t gotten her up yet for dinner. I held her hand and spoke to her, telling her how much I loved her. A part of me was noticing how I was feeling, what was happening within and between us. From that experience, I wrote this haiku for her.

The thrill of the heart
Holding hands and loving you
The peace that follows

Some of Mary Oliver’s poems are exquisite: At the Lake, Summer Day, Varanasi, Praying, Wild Geese, and The Journey.

Here are two poems about “The Poet” one I wrote about Bill Graeser, and one Rolf Erickson wrote about me.

I also posted a brilliant poem that Bill Graeser wrote about an unusual poet: What You May Not Know About Frankenstein.

And here is a poem about the experience of listening to Poetry – The Art of the Voice.

Both haiku were written May 18, 2015, in Fairfield, Iowa © Ken Chawkin

Mary Oliver’s transcendent experience at the lake, put into words, might leave you breathless

May 27, 2015

At the Lake

A fish leaps
like a black pin —
then — when the starlight
strikes its side —

like a silver pin.
In an instant
the fish’s spine
alters the fierce line of rising

and it curls a little —
the head, like scalloped tin,
plunges back,
and it’s gone.

This is, I think,
what holiness is:
the natural world,
where every moment is full

of the passion to keep moving.
Inside every mind
there’s a hermit’s cave
full of light,

full of snow,
full of concentration.
I’ve knelt there,
and so have you,

hanging on
to what you love,
to what is lovely.
The lake’s

shining sheets
don’t make a ripple now,
and the stars
are going off to their blue sleep,

but the words are in place —
and the fish leaps, and leaps again
from the black plush of the poem,
that breathless space.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(White Pine)

 Enjoy these other lovely poems by Mary Oliver: Summer Day, Varanasi, Praying, Wild Geese, and The Journey.

Rolf Erickson’s Mirror Lake creates a cosmic connection for the reader.

Former Japan PM to Address Record Number of Graduates @MaharishiU 2015 Commencement

May 15, 2015

Fairfield, Iowa, May 15, 2015

US President Barack and Mrs. Obama with Japan PM Yukio and Mrs. Hatoyama crop

US President Barack and Mrs. Obama with Japan PM Yukio and Mrs. Hatoyama Sept. 23, 2009 (Closeup of Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Dr. Yukio Hatoyama, prime minister of Japan in 2009–2010, will deliver the commencement address on May 23 and will be awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.

“It is an enormous honor to have a former prime minister of Japan speak at our graduation ceremony,” said MUM President Dr. Bevan Morris in making the announcement.

A record number of 391 students, representing 61 different countries, will be graduating at the 2015 commencement ceremony at Maharishi University of Management.

Dr. Hatoyama holds an undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of Tokyo and a PhD in industrial engineering from Stanford. He was a professor of engineering at Tokyo Institute of Technology and at Senshu University.

He was instrumental in forming two political parties in Japan and was credited by Time magazine with helping Japan take steps toward a multi-party system after decades of single-party government under the Liberal Democratic Party. He became president of the Democratic Party of Japan in 2009 and led the party to an electoral victory.

President Morris met Dr. Hatoyama in Tokyo

MUM President Morris met Dr. Hatoyama in Tokyo when he visited Japan in November 2013 and found him to be a “man of remarkable warmth and sweetness, and fascinated by Consciousness-Based education and by Maharishi University of Management.”

Dr. Hatoyama practices the Transcendental Meditation technique, having been instructed by MUM alumnus Shizuo Suzuki, who leads the Transcendental Meditation organization in Japan. Dr. Hatoyama will be accompanied by his wife Miyuki, whom he met when he was at Stanford and who also practices the Transcendental Meditation technique.

The Hatoyamas plan to spend time in the community while they’re here to learn more about MUM, Maharishi School, Maharishi Vedic City, and Fairfield.

Member of a distinguished Japanese family

Dr. Hatoyama is a member of a distinguished Japanese family that has a long history of government service. His great-grandfather was the speaker of the House of Representatives in Japan’s legislature in the late 19th century. His grandfather was prime minister of Japan in the 1950s and helped secure membership in the United Nations for Japan. His father was Japan’s foreign minister. His younger brother served as Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications.

His family also has a long history in higher education. His great-grandfather, after stepping down from government service, became president of Waseda University, and his great grandmother co-founded Kyoritsu Women’s University.

His political career began in 1986, when he was elected to the House of Representatives. He was elected prime minister in 2009, and despite his relatively short time in office, he has a long list of achievements, including greater spending on education and student scholarships and free support services for people with disabilities. Under his leadership, Japanese relations with China became more cordial.

The graduating students

The graduating students include 96 undergraduates and 252 graduate students. Also receiving degrees will be 43 students at Maharishi Invincibility Institute in South Africa who have been enrolled in MUM’s BA in business and MBA programs via distance education.

A total of 158 will be receiving an MS in computer science — the largest academic department at the university. Twenty students will be receiving degrees in the David Lynch MA in Film. Three students will be receiving PhDs, two in management and one in Maharishi Vedic Science. Among undergraduate students, 20 will be receiving degrees in media and communications, and 18 in sustainable living. For more details, see 2015 Graduate Statistics. For those living in or visiting Fairfield, Iowa, Commencement will begin at 1:00 pm CT in the Men’s Golden Dome.

Live-streaming option

If you cannot attend the event, it will be live-streamed over the web at https://livestream.com/mum/graduation2015.

About Maharishi University of Management

Maharishi University of Management (MUM) in Fairfield, IA is a private, accredited university featuring Consciousness-Based℠ education, designed to develop the student’s total potential. The curriculum offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in the arts, sciences, humanities, and business, but also integrates self-development programs. All students, faculty, and staff practice the Transcendental Meditation® technique, which develops integrated brain functioning, promotes wellness, and enhances learning ability and academic performance. Other innovations include taking one course for 3-1/2 weeks with a three-day break between each course, and organic vegetarian meals. Visitors Weekends are held throughout the year. For more information, call the Admissions Office at 800-369-6480 or visit www.mum.edu.

Also posted on PRWEB and MUM Blog.

Radio Iowa reports Former Japanese prime minister to give Maharishi University commencement address.

KTVO-TV3: Students from over 60 countries graduate from MUM (VIDEO)

The Fairfield Ledger: MUM Graduation 2015

MaharishiUniversity: Dr. Yukio Hatoyama MUM Commencement 2015 HD

Great article on TM’s successful resurgence and supportive applications in health and education

April 28, 2015

FORBES: PHARMA & HEALTHCARE 4/27/2015 @ 11:20AM
Contributor Alice G. Walton covers health, medicine, psychology and neuroscience.

Transcendental Meditation Makes A Comeback, With The Aim Of Giving Back

Transcendental meditation (TM) has been having a renaissance in recent years: Celebrities, businesspeople, and regular folk are practicing it in record numbers. Last week, the David Lynch Foundation, the major non-profit champion of TM, hosted an event in New York City at which public figures like Arianna Huffington, Robin Roberts, and Cynthia McFadden discussed the transforming role of TM in their lives. They made compelling arguments for what the practice had done for them, as previously harried and stressed-to-the-max businesspeople – they may still be stressed, but at least they’re able to balance it with a sense of calm. But the Foundation has a larger goal: To bring TM to schoolchildren, domestic abuse survivors, veterans, and prison inmates to help give them tools to process their trauma and reclaim the capacity to live fulfilling lives. And that’s not a bad goal to have.

The TM movement itself has had some bumps in its past. Developed in the 1950s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, it rose to popularity after The Beatles “discovered” and helped propagate it – by the late 70s, 4% of Americans were practicing TM, according to a Gallup poll. Then things started to get shaky – and TM began to be associated with some cultishness. But in the last decade or so, the practice has gained back the respect and indeed acclaim, as people – some very famous ones – began to flock to it for its simple and straightforward method to find inner peace.

The business-meets-meditation stories are everywhere these days. Huffington told the endearing but jarring story of when she’d awoken in a pool of her own blood in her office, having passed out from exhaustion; it was then, she said, that she realized that money and power were only two legs of a three-legged stool – self-care, including meditation, being the other critical leg. And the list of companies that encourage their employees to meditate – by teaching it to them and by providing meditation time and space – is growing. Google, Target, Nike, Aetna, and Goldman Sachs have integrated meditation into their cultures.

But the more pressing focus of the David Lynch Foundation is to give psychological support in the form of TM, at low or no cost, to those who need it most: Veterans, schoolchildren, prison inmates, and women and children who have survived domestic abuse. To be sure, TM isn’t the only meditative practice that’s been used to help these groups of people. Yoga, mindfulness, and other forms of meditation are other increasingly common tools in the “service” arena. But, says Bob Roth, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation, there’s something quite simple and powerful about TM which makes it particularly well-suited to touch people who have been through emotional turmoil, or worse. Perhaps its greatest benefit is that it’s relatively quick to learn and easy to master. No waiting weeks or months of practice before you see results: TM cuts right to the chase, taking only days – or for some, minutes – before one feels reprieve from their painful and overwhelming thoughts.

“With TM, you’re given a mantra – a word with no meaning – and taught how to use it,” says Roth. “The active thinking mind settles down to a state of inner calm without any effort. It’s not clearing your mind, as in focused awareness meditation, and not gently observing thoughts as in open monitoring (which is vipassana, or mindfulness). I can put it even more succinctly: TM uses sounds or mantra that has no meaning as a vehicle to experience a quieter, less agitated thought process.”

With the two classical forms of meditation – focused awareness (samatha) and open monitoring/mindfulness (vipassana) there’s generally more practice involved. With focused awareness, the practitioner uses a mantra or other object of concentration to bring a wandering mind back, again and again. With open monitoring/mindfulness, people observe their thoughts with curiosity and some detachment, so that they eventually lose their charge. Though the former is typically learned before the latter, they ultimately work in tandem and complement one another in practice.

To describe TM’s psychological effects, Roth often uses an ocean analogy: An agitated mind, he says, is like 30-foot surges at the surface of the ocean. Focused awareness tries to stop the waves at the top, he says, while open monitoring tries to observe them until they go away. TM, on the other hand, says Roth, has its practitioners plunge deep below the waves, to a quieter depth that’s perfectly still, and blissful. Roth adds that unlike the two classic forms of meditation, “the third form of meditation, TM, is self-transcending. It’s not concentration, and it’s not simply observing thought. TM creates a specific type of alpha brain waves, which is indicative of a unique state of ‘restful alertness.’”

The practice does seem to be helping a great number of people. Roth says the Foundation has helped bring meditation to half a million school children all over the world, and hopes to bring it to three million adults and children in the next five years. It’s also taught TM to 2,000 veterans and as many female victims of domestic abuse through Family Justice Centers across the country, where it’s offered free of charge. The Foundation has also just begun to teach the perpetrators of that abuse, Roth says. The Foundation can barely keep up with all the requests it has from school systems, family centers, and prisons to teach TM.

“There is no medicine, no wonder drug you can take to prevent trauma and toxic stress. And there is no pill you can take to treat or cure it,” says Roth, “Ambien and Xanax, while perhaps helpful to some, are often abused or mere Band-Aid solutions.” There is some relatively strong evidence that TM can affect the stress response, and much of the scientific support for TM comes from its effects on the cardiovascular system, and blood pressure reduction. “The problem of stress is not going away, it’s getting worse and worse,” says Roth. “TM can be an effective tool. It helps you navigate increasingly stressful times. I’m a skeptical person. There’s nothing to believe in. There’s no buy-in. It just works.”

Read the rest of the article here: http://onforb.es/1IfgdIl


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