PET scans show Transcendental Meditation with cardiac rehabilitation increases blood flow to the heart

December 5, 2019

EurekAlert! Summary: Study finds coronary heart disease (CHD) patients who include Transcendental Meditation (TM) with cardiac rehabilitation (CR) increased blood flow to the heart by 20.7%. This was the first study to show TM significantly enhanced lifestyle modification in patients, and the first to use positron emission tomography (PET) to measure their effect on cardiac function and rehabilitation. The NIH-funded study was conducted at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in collaboration with the Institute of Prevention Research. See EurekAlert! Press Release.

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Can more be done besides diet and exercise to better recover from a heart attack, a stroke, or to prevent one? Scientists from Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the Institute for Prevention Research conducted a study, with and without meditation, to find out.

The study, published in the Journal of Nuclear Cardiology, found that patients with coronary heart disease who included Transcendental Meditation (TM) with their cardiac rehabilitation regime increased blood flow to the heart by more than 20%.

Titled “Effects of cardiac rehabilitation with and without meditation on myocardial blood flow using quantitative positron emission tomography”, the pilot study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, in collaboration with the Institute for Prevention Research. The research involved 56 patients who had coronary heart disease, including recent heart attack, coronary artery bypass, or angina.

First study of its kind

The project was a groundbreaking proof-of-concept study, in that it was the first to combine Transcendental Meditation with other lifestyle treatment modalities, and the first to use positron emission tomography (PET) to measure the effect of lifestyle mind-body modification on cardiac function.

“This was the first study to show that the cardiovascular benefits of lifestyle modification such as structured exercise and dietary counseling may be enhanced by adding Transcendental Meditation in patients with heart disease,” said Robert Schneider, MD, FACC, co-director of the study and medical director of the Institute for Prevention Research. “It also found that the Transcendental Meditation technique alone was able to reverse the effects of coronary heart disease assessed by PET imaging.”

Considered a gold standard for measuring myocardial flow reserve non-invasively, cardiac PET has diagnostic and prognostic significance in coronary heart disease.

Randomized, controlled pilot study

The researchers randomly divided the subjects into four groups: cardiac rehabilitation, Transcendental Meditation, Transcendental Meditation plus cardiac rehabilitation, or usual care.

The results showed that of the 37 patients who completed posttesting, myocardial blood flow increased by 20.7% in the group that did both Transcendental Meditation and cardiac rehabilitation. Blood flow in the group that practiced Transcendental Meditation alone increased 12.8%. Cardiac rehabilitation by itself showed an improvement of 5.8%. And patients who received the usual treatment showed a decrease in blood flow of -10.3%. Also see graph of Changes in myocardial flow reserves for the combined TM and non-TM groups.

Stress reduction therapies in cardiac rehabilitation

“Although this is a preliminary study, it suggests that managing one’s mind-body connection with Transcendental Meditation can improve the function of the heart in cardiovascular patients,” said Dr. Schneider, who is also dean of Maharishi University of Management’s College of Integrative Medicine.

He said that psychosocial stress is known to be a risk factor for coronary heart disease but that stress reduction therapies aren’t usually included in cardiac rehabilitation.

“More research needs to be done, but this study and previous research strongly suggest that medical professionals should consider utilizing this simple yet effective mind-body intervention in their heart health treatment and prevention programs,” Dr. Schneider said.

Possible mechanism

While it’s not known precisely how Transcendental Meditation would increase blood flow, the researchers speculate that it’s a result of improved endothelial-mediated coronary and arteriolar vasomotor function. That is, reduced levels of stress hormones and possibly inflammation may result in improved function of the endothelial cells that line the coronary arteries. They cite research, which has found that modifying risk factors for cardiovascular disease improves blood flow in the heart.

Limitations of the study

While the study suggests that the Transcendental Meditation technique can increase blood flow in cardiovascular patients, carefully conducted clinical trials with larger sample sizes are needed to confirm the benefit.

“This was a first pilot study designed to determine the size of the effect and feasibility,” Dr. Schneider said. “Of the 56 original subjects, only 37 were available for the final posttesting of blood flow after the 12-week study period. In addition, compliance with cardiac rehabilitation was average, with attendance at exercise sessions about 60%. Also, the subjects practicing Transcendental Meditation may have received more attention than the rehabilitation group. This initial study paves the way for full scale clinical trials that will more rigorously evaluate these effects.”

Transcendental Meditation also reduces risk factors for heart disease

Earlier studies have shown that the Transcendental Meditation technique reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and insulin resistance. A 2012 study found a 48% reduction in heart attack, stroke, and death.

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Effects of cardiac rehabilitation with and without meditation on myocardial blood flow using quantitative positron emission tomography: A pilot study https://doi.org/10.1007/s12350-019-01884-9.

PubMed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31529385.

The playful joy of effortless creation displayed by Donna Warwick inspired this haiku turned tanka

November 29, 2019

Author, visual artist, and TM teacher Donna Warwick posts digital paintings on her Instagram as @artsfusionist. She created this painting that expresses the effortless mysterious process of creation. The Absolute becoming Relative. BEing BEcoming. To me it looks like the moment of conception, and also the sprouting of a seed idea. Either way, it’s creation. It inspired me to write this haiku, then extend it to a tanka. Read Donna’s description below.

Effortless Creation

Inspired by a painting by Donna Warwick

I AM THAT I AM
I AM ONE — Become Many
BEING Becoming

I AM therefore I Create
An Idea of My Self

®Ken Chawkin
Nov. 29, 2019

Donna added this description for Thanksgiving Day: Thought and Action:
It is the frictionless flow between thought and action that produces effortless achievement in life. One feels the profound connection between the source of thought and the fulfillment of the action. The sweetest thing is that the result of this is the bliss of experiencing something greater than our small selves. For the true source of all success is not the ego. Nor is it the wide assortment of details about one’s personality/individuality. That is why the experience of unity with unbounded pure consciousness is so fulfilling. Consciousness is that which is shared by all. For me, that experience is one of the natural results of my practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique. On this Thanksgiving I feel waves of gratitude to my TM teacher.

Mary Oliver is the Messenger for Thanksgiving

November 28, 2019

Mary Oliver’s poem, Messenger, was written in her own unique voice, but it must have been influenced by her favorite American poet, Walt Whitman. It’s a perfect poem to share for Thanksgiving, since her poetry is a thanksgiving for being alive in the world, appreciating every living thing in it, and singing their praises. “My work is loving the world…mostly standing still and learning to be astonished…which is mostly rejoicing…which is gratitude…a mouth with which to give shouts of joy.”

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
 
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
 
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
 
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

You can read more about Mary Oliver and her astonishing poetry in this memorial acknowledgment of her poetic legacy to us.

Here is an added footnote: “Attention is the beginning of devotion.”

I remember Maharishi telling us whatever we put our attention on will grow stronger in our life. The cornerstone to Mary Oliver’s appreciation of and love for the natural world around her was the power of her attention. She was awake to everything and was always astonished. Her sustained empathic attention to the land and its inhabitants inspired devotional poetry. In this interview, On Being’s Krista Tippett asks Mary Oliver about the role of attention in her work.

Ms. Tippett: I’d like to talk about attention, which is another real theme that runs through your work, both the word and the practice. I know people associate you with that word. But I was interested to read that you began to learn that attention without feeling is only a report. That there is more to attention than for it to matter in the way you want it to matter. Say something about that learning.

Ms. Oliver: You need empathy with it rather than just reporting. Reporting is for field guides. And they’re great. They’re helpful. But that’s what they are. They’re not thought provokers. They don’t go anywhere. And I say somewhere that attention is the beginning of devotion, which I do believe. But that’s it. A lot of these things are said but can’t be explained.

You can listen to and read a transcript of the whole interview.

A photograph by Julia Preminger of the Catskill Mountains covered in snow inspired this haiku

November 27, 2019

I saw this photograph of an early winter forest scene that Julia Preminger had posted on her Instagram. It inspired me to write this haiku.

Snowy forest winter wonderland in the Catskill Mountains, NY. Photo by Julia Preminger

another winter haiku
based on a photograph by Julia Preminger

white wisps of winter
nature powders her features
we watch in wonder

®Ken Chawkin
Nov. 27, 2019

Here’s an earlier one: this snow buddha photo inspired a winter haiku.

Nathanael Chawkin featured in @PlusPlusHQ IDEAS and @LinkedIn: How to Grow Your People with Peer Coaching and Real-Time Feedback

November 13, 2019

My son is featured in PlusPlus IDEAS. Eaming Wu interviewed Nathanael for the article, How to Grow Your People. It’s also posted on LinkedIn and Medium by PlusPlus Founder and CEO Marko Gargenta.

For a more enlightened approach to corporate development, read how Nathanael Chawkin offers a vision of leadership that extends beyond single leaders implementing their will upon an organization—one in which mutual self-awareness between individuals contributes to a more functional and higher-achieving whole.

Click the title to read whole article. Here are the opening paragraphs, with a few excerpted quotes.

How to Grow Your People: Creating Cultures of Fulfillment with Peer Coaching and Real-Time Feedback with Nathanael Chawkin

Studies show that 7 of 10 workers would trade their current jobs for a position that offered them more fulfillment and meaning—a third would even take a pay cut for that offer. Businesses have been taking notice of these findings from the science of motivation. According to a study by PwC, 79% of leaders know that employee fulfillment is paramount to business success. However, only 38% of these leaders are actually making business decisions according to this metric. 

In other words, businesses know that to attract the best talent and maximize the potential of their employees, they have to create cultures of fulfillment in the workplace. But they are struggling with implementation. 

Nathanael Chawkin, after over six years as an executive coach for an intensive, 52-week integral leadership program, came to see this gap as the difference between what leaders were willing to put into practice themselves and the change they were capable of implementing within their own companies. That’s why he founded Palaestra Leadership in 2016, where he has been on the frontlines of creating cultural change within organizations.

Here are a few quotes from this informative article:

“My whole business is based on the mojo of being ‘on the mat’—building teams who know how to challenge each other through handling conflict and using that to create a whole new level of trust.”

“When you feel psychologically safe enough to take the risk of telling someone the truth about how you see them, of extending yourself for the sake of their personal growth, it is actually the constructive feedback that can make them feel like you really care about them.”

“When employees directly engage in coaching each other, they can learn by doing. You don’t get better by watching me do push-ups. You have to do them yourself to improve.”

“90% of people are willing to coach and be coached,” Chawkin says, citing a study by Imperative. “And that’s how they get a sense of fulfillment.”

I was impressed by this comment posted by Ian Gardner, CEO at Royale EV, one of Nathanael’s clients:

Having worked closely with Nathanael over the last 4 years in both a personal and professional setting I can attest to the power of his process and the pervasive positive impact it has on both company culture and team members personally. I won’t start another company without this commitment being embedded in the culture.

And this one from former associate LeeAnn Mallory, Leadership Coach + Consultant; Organization Alignment Leader; Podcast Host; Board Chair, Conscious Capitalism Dallas:

Nice work, Nathanael! Distributed leadership AND democratized leadership development through peer coaching!

And one by Doug Ortega:

Great insights, by a great coach!  Nathanael, it is great to see your work being manifested in this way.  

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See earlier posts: Nathanael Chawkin talks with @brekkiwithnikki @TOMS Conscious Capitalism Event in LA on how to be authentic through changing perspectives and Great conversation with Nathanael Chawkin on TV Santa Barbara show Rejoice with Pastor Chuk!.

Because of Transcendental Meditation Nick Cave stopped fearing the end of the world and evolved

November 13, 2019

A friend sent me a special post by a famous rocker writing to a fan about his TM practice on his website. I checked online and found last year’s piece by Russell Cunningham, a production editor on sport for the Guardian. This revealing article serves as an appropriate introduction: Nick Cave is showing us a new, gentler way to use the internet.

During these confrontational times, “the quiet reflections of Cave spread peace and compassion and love through a medium renowned for its ability to spread division. In this growing treasure trove of letters to the world, he is showing how to use the web beyond the hubbub of social media, to engage in more reflective and rewarding conversations. That’s no bad thing.”

In issue #69/November 2019 of Nick Cave’s letters, known as The Red Hand Files, the entry is titled: How do I stop fearing the end of the world? He answers a fan’s question: Do you practice meditation? I’ve never read such a profoundly transparent and lyrical testimonial—how TM has evolved him personally and creatively!

He posts a picture of DEMOCRITUS MEDITATING AT THE END OF THE WORLD 1662, and then this answer.

Do you practice meditation?

MATTHAIS, FRANKFURT, GERMANY

Dear Maia and Matthais,

The filmmaker, David Lynch, described the practice of Transcendental Meditation as catching the big fish. I read that he has been practising it since he had a breakdown around the time of making Eraserhead, over forty years ago. He claims he has never missed a meditation. If that is true, I am greatly impressed. The basics of TM are taught during a three session course, at the end of which your teacher gives you a personal mantra. Anyone can do it. It is effortless and there is nothing to get right or wrong. I have been practicing for around six years and found it to be instantly and radically beneficial. So, to answer your question, Maia, from the first time I meditated, I stopped fearing the end of the world.

I found that it also helps with low-level anger, uncommunicativeness, resentments, impatience, passive-aggression, depression, self-obsession, hatred of the world, blaming others, wanting to murder and maim people and a host of other maladies that I had been dragging around and allowing to define me. Meditation modulated my calamitous internal thinking, and the freaked-out tyrant residing in my head that represented the worst possible version of myself was largely deposed.

I also found those big fish down there in the depths, the deep creative ideas which David Lynch talks about, wild, bright and thrilling; but more importantly, I found a fundamental understanding of the next right thing to do, of making the choice of the least destructive course of action.

Unlike some meditation techniques that focus on a life lived entirely within the present moment, Transcendental Meditation seems to radiate backwards and forwards in time, evoking our common humanity and our deep connection to the earth’s inheritance, as it layers us in meaning. It may not hold back the end of the world, but it reduces the element of fear, allowing us to administer to the world more effectively. TM also implements a kind of mysterious reinstating of the soul, a honeying of life, a merciful acceptance of suffering, and reminds us of the incredible privilege it is to be alive.

Love, Nick

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Visit his website for news, tour dates, music, books, films, videos, lyrics, and more: https://www.nickcave.com.

Lost Civilization Re-Emerges: article by William Hathaway on Maharishi’s restoring the technique of meditation, the basis of Vedic civilization

November 5, 2019

Lost Civilization Re-Emerges

Ancient India created a civilization based on Vedic knowledge, which had a global influence, elevating the other cultures it came in contact with. In “Lost Civilization Re-Emerges,” William T. Hathaway traces its rise and fall, and its current regeneration by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who has re-enlivened it by restoring the technique of meditation upon which it was based. Read Hathaway’s full article published on Trans4mind. https://trans4mind.com/counterpoint/index-new-age/hathaway13.html

Some background on “Lost Civilization Re-Emerges”

When William sent me a short description and link to his article I asked him to explain where this idea had come from and why he decided to write about it. He replied:

On my Transcendental Meditation teacher training course in Majorca 1971 Maharishi was asked, “Why are we the ones who are supposed to revive the Vedic knowledge?”

Maharishi looked at the questioner, a young woman standing at a microphone, and smiled. Then he looked out over the 2000 people behind her in the large hall and said with a gentle shrug, “Because we are the ones who lost it.” He gave the word “we” a slight emphasis to indicate it included him.

Maharishi explained that thousands of years ago Vedic civilization began in India then spread over the globe, generating a high quality of life both materially and spiritually. But eventually the knowledge of effortless transcending, which created and maintained this advanced culture, was lost. The consciousness of the people and the quality of their lives declined until humanity veered to its current brink of self-destruction.

We were part of that whole process — the developing and the losing — in many lives. Now it’s our job to restore it through the authentic technique of meditation and create a global age of enlightenment.

“That’s a pretty big job,” the woman said.

“But it’s the only one worth doing,” he replied.

Maharishi didn’t go into details about the ancient civilization because our purpose there was to learn to be TM teachers, and that would take the full two months of the course. I was fascinated by the idea of it, though, so I later delved into it in my spare time from teaching TM and writing books and articles. I found amazing evidence, ignored by conventional academic scholars, that established the existence of that global civilization. I wrote this article to do what I could to bring that evidence to more people and to show them Maharishi and Guru Dev’s crucial role in restoring the authentic Vedic way of life in India and the world.

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About the Author

A former professor in MIU’s MA in Professional Writing program, William T. Hathaway is the author of eight books and was a Fulbright professor of creative writing at universities in Germany. He and his wife, Daniela, direct the TM center in Oldenburg, Germany. His novel of the climate change, Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness, tells of an old woman and a young man healing nature through techniques of higher consciousness. Chapters are posted at https://www.johnhuntpublishing.com/cosmicegg-books/our-books/wellsprings. His peace novel, Summer Snow, is the story of an American warrior falling in love with a Sufi Muslim (and TM teacher) and learning from her that higher consciousness is more effective than violence. Chapters are posted at http://shattercolors.com/fiction/hathaway_summersnow01.htm.

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Conscious Life News chose the top photo to go with their publication of William Hathaway’s erudite article. I added photos of Maharishi and William for this post. See previous articles by William Hathaway here.

Nathanael Chawkin talks with @brekkiwithnikki @TOMS Conscious Capitalism Event in LA on how to be authentic through changing perspectives

October 27, 2019

My son Nathanael Chawkin recently participated in a Forum at the Conscious Capitalism Event in Los Angeles put on by TOMS. While there, Dr. Nikki interviewed him for her Talks Health Podcast. His answer to her question is clear and succinct, using a relevant martial artist example that’s easy to understand on how to receive and give feedback by changing your perspective and becoming more authentic in your communication with others. It’s on his Instagram and YouTube channel. See How to Be More Authentic: Ask For Perspective First – Then Share Your Own! Visit his website for more information www.thepalaestra.com.

When Nathanael talks about being authentic by asking for an other’s perspective first and then sharing your own, it reminds me of Martin Buber’s I and Thou philosophy, where two people meet on the same level of mutual respect. I found this quote, which fits perfectly: When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them. Here is an example in this recent post: Great conversation with Nathanael Chawkin on TV Santa Barbara show Rejoice with Pastor Chuk!

Where’s my ride? Now where did I park?

October 26, 2019

Friday, Oct 25, 2019: I saw this funny short video clip on Twitter today. Don’t know where its origin but it’s very clever. John Buchanan tweeted it as a bit of Friday fun. I agreed and shared it with my mailing list. It’s so good I decided to post it for others to enjoy. Wait for it. Sound on.

PS: I had emailed it with my own subject heading—Ever forget where you parked your car? How about your burro? I was going to use that for the blog post title, along with—There’s one way to find out. But I decided to not give anything away, and to just let viewers innocently find out what was going on for themselves. The unexpected ending was hilarious!

In her poem, Mockingbirds, Mary Oliver teaches us how to listen, and be transformed by wonder

October 22, 2019

Our attention is the greatest gift we can give to someone, or something. It can transform our world. Mary Oliver’s poem, Mockingbirds, teaches us how to listen, and experience the wonders around us.

Mockingbirds

by Mary Oliver

This morning
two mockingbirds
in the green field
were spinning and tossing

the white ribbons
of their songs
into the air.
I had nothing

better to do
than listen.
I mean this
seriously.

In Greece,
a long time ago,
an old couple
opened their door

to two strangers
who were,
it soon appeared,
not men at all,

but gods.
It is my favorite story–
how the old couple
had almost nothing to give

but their willingness
to be attentive–
but for this alone
the gods loved them

and blessed them–
when they rose
out of their mortal bodies,
like a million particles of water

from a fountain,
the light
swept into all the corners
of the cottage,

and the old couple,
shaken with understanding,
bowed down–
but still they asked for nothing

but the difficult life
which they had already.
And the gods smiled, as they vanished,
clapping their great wings.

Wherever it was
I was supposed to be
this morning–
whatever it was I said

I would be doing–
I was standing
at the edge of the field–
I was hurrying

through my own soul,
opening its dark doors–
I was leaning out;
I was listening.

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Mary Oliver left us at the beginning of this year. To learn more about this amazed poet and her amazing poetry, see: RIP: Mary Oliver. Thank you for sharing your poetic gifts with us. They are a national treasure!


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