A white owl hunting in and out of the snow helps Mary Oliver see death as spiritual transformation

January 13, 2018

snowyowl-mandel

White Owl Flies Into And Out Of The Field

Coming down
out of the freezing sky
with its depths of light,
like an angel,
or a Buddha with wings,
it was beautiful
and accurate,
striking the snow and whatever was there
with a force that left the imprint
of the tips of its wings–
five feet apart–and the grabbing
thrust of its feet,
and the indentation of what had been running
through the white valleys
of the snow–

and then it rose, gracefully,
and flew back to the frozen marshes,
to lurk there,
like a little lighthouse,
in the blue shadows–
so I thought:
maybe death
isn’t darkness, after all,
but so much light
wrapping itself around us–

as soft as feathers–
that we are instantly weary
of looking, and looking, and shut our eyes,
not without amazement,
and let ourselves be carried,
as through the translucence of mica,
to the river
that is without the least dapple or shadow,
that is nothing but light–scalding, aortal light–
in which we are washed and washed
out of our bones.

House of Light, 1990 ©Mary Oliver

Seven other poems by Mary Oliver are posted on The Uncarved Blog.

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Rememberances of #TranscendentalMeditation and #MaharishiU founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

January 12, 2018

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

January 12th has been traditionally celebrated as the birthday of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. This year, January 12, 2018, is the centenary of his birth. After taking a Week of Silence at the start of every year, Maharishi would use the occasion of his birthday to inaugurate a new theme for the new year for his worldwide Transcendental Meditation Movement. See a PDF of Maharishi’s Achievements for each year.

For example, on January 12, 1975, after hearing of a few cities in the United States where 1% of the population were practicing TM and the crime rate had gone down compared to similar cities where it had gone up, he inaugurated the year as the Dawn of the Age of Enlightenment, saying, “Through the window of science, we see the Dawn of the Age of Enlightenment.”

You can read more about this in the description I wrote after Sally Peden’s poem, To Jyotir Math, in this post: Sally describes her journey “To Jyotir Math” with Maharishi and scientists who met to tell the Shankaracharya about the dawning of a new age.

On January 18, 2011, The Times of India published an article about Maharishi by Lane Wagger, The Prime Mover of Life. In this article, titled, Transcendental Meditation, Lane Wagger recalls the legacy of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for his centenary year. Don’t know the date and paper it was published in, but here is an image of the article I had converted into a PDF: Maharishi’s Legacy by Lane Wagger. If you open it, go to Tools, Rotate Clockwise, then Zoom up to 110% to read it.

A very beautiful article is A Remembrance of Maharishi by James Powell. Many articles came out after Maharishi’s passing 10 years ago. See A Tribute to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. And Australian Yoga Life Magazine features Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in their Early Pioneers of Yoga series.

Some of my favorites of or about Maharishi are: Les Crane interviews Maharishi Mahesh Yogi | Watch the 1968 film of Maharishi at Lake Louise | The story behind the making of the International History documentary on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi| Peter Wallace’s story of how he met Maharishi.

These remembrances are just a fraction of what he had accomplished. He created schools, universities, revived ancient Vedic medicine, architecture, music, encouraged scientific research on TM, and so much more. Maharishi’s Vedic knowledge and technologies continue to transform millions of people’s lives for the better, and for that we are very thankful. Jai Guru Dev.

Veterans who learn TM find relief from PTSD. New study shows symptoms had reduced by 80% to below the clinical level in one month

January 11, 2018

SUMMARY: A study published in Military Medicine showed that after 30 days of practicing the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique, 80% of the 46 veterans and active-duty personnel no longer had PTSD. All participants had been clinically diagnosed with PTSD using a standard assessment. By comparison, standard treatments for PTSD—prolonged exposure therapy, cognitive processing therapy, and medication—are only partially successful: approximately two-thirds of patients receiving cognitive processing therapy or prolonged exposure still have PTSD after treatment.¹

PTSD Graph (figure 1)

Participants in the study went from an average PCL-5 pretest score of 51.52 (with a score of 33 or above indicating PTSD) to an average posttest score of 23.43 after 30 days of practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM).

Veterans of the war in Vietnam, the Gulf War, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) found significant relief from their symptoms as a result of practicing the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique, according to a new study published in Military Medicine. (PDF

The 41 veterans and 5 active-duty soldiers in the study had been diagnosed with clinical levels of PTSD, as measured by the PTSD Checklist-Civilian (PCL-5). After one month, 87% had a clinically significant decrease of more than 10 points. The reduction was so great that 37 participants (80%) had their symptoms reduced to below the clinical level, meaning that they were no longer considered to have a disorder.

The effect size, which is a measure of the magnitude of a treatment, was 1.91. This is unusually high, with a value of .8 considered to be a strong effect. In addition, the very low p-value (p < 0.0001) indicates these results were probably not due to chance. The study included a 90-day posttest; PTSD symptoms continued to improve.

“It’s remarkable that after just one month we would see such a pronounced decrease in symptoms, with four out of five veterans no longer considered to have a serious problem with PTSD,” said lead author Robert Herron.

More effective than standard treatment

By way of comparison, the standard treatment, which entails veterans attending counseling and re-experiencing their trauma as part of the therapy, is typically only partially successful, with approximately two-thirds still suffering from PTSD after being treated.

“Transcendental Meditation is very easy to do and results come quickly,” said James Grant, Director of Programs for TM for Veterans, which provided partial funding for this study. “TM promotes self sufficiency – it’s a tool that the veteran can use for life, on his or her own.”

In addition, research has shown that Transcendental Meditation has a positive benefit for many of the conditions associated with PTSD, such as high anxiety, insomnia, depression, and high blood pressure.

“Because it works on the neurophysiological level to reduce stress, it has broader impact than cognitively-based therapies,” he said.

Veterans able to help themselves

An interesting facet of the study was that the veterans were recruited through media advertising rather than through a veterans hospital.

“The importance of this study is that it shows that veterans are able to help themselves,” said lead author Robert Herron. “After learning about the opportunity to participate in the study, they went to local Transcendental Meditation centers to be instructed in the practice.”

Dr. Herron said that because of their huge caseload, the Veterans Administration hasn’t been able to help all veterans in a timely manner. And veterans are often in desperate need of help.

Veteran practicing Transcendental Meditation #1.png

Veteran practicing Transcendental Meditation

“The veterans involved were pleased that they were able to do this on their own, and no doubt the VA hospitals appreciate that there are therapeutic approaches that can be undertaken without the costly intensive care of a therapist that treatment typically entails,” he said.

Dr. Grant said some veterans are reluctant to go to counseling because of the perceived stigma, but that there’s no stigma associated with meditation, which is widely practiced by healthy people.

Practiced 20 minutes twice a day

The participants learned the standard Transcendental Meditation technique, which is practiced 20 minutes twice a day. The study found that the veterans who practiced twice a day as recommended had greater benefits than those who practiced once a day.

This approach to meditation, which was introduced in the West by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi beginning in the late 1950s, has been widely researched over the past 50 years, with over 400 peer-reviewed studies. It is unique in that it doesn’t entail contemplation or concentration and is easy to learn and effortless to practice.

“Researchers have been calling for new approaches to PTSD treatments, and Transcendental Meditation seems to be particularly effective,” Dr. Grant said. “Veterans who elect to learn Transcendental Meditation themselves can find significant reductions in PTSD. The results are promising and suggest that this is a treatment modality that deserves more rigorous study as a potential treatment for PTSD.”

DoD supports research on TM

The current study follows four previous studies on veterans that suggested a benefit for PTSD. Because of these promising findings, the U.S. Department of Defense has supported a randomized controlled trial involving 210 veterans that is now nearing completion.

“The evidence is mounting that Transcendental Meditation is an effective treatment for PTSD,” said Colonel Brian Rees, MD, coauthor of the current study. Dr. Rees was the lead researcher on two earlier studies on Congolese refugees suffering from PTSD, and found a significant benefit after just 10 days of TM practice.

Watch a video conference held at the US Institute of Peace on Dec 2016, Exploring the Science of Meditation on Trauma, Stress, and the Brain: Military Panel, where leading experts in the field of military and veteran health discussed the benefits of utilizing TM in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

###

Funding for veterans to learn the Transcendental Meditation technique in this study was provided by Christopher H. Wege and the Wege Foundation of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

To hear veterans talk about the effect that practicing TM had on their lives, watch this video, Real PTS Relief for our Veterans, made by the David Lynch Foundation.

1. Steenkamp MM, Litz BT, Hoge CW, Marmar CR: Psychotherapy for military-related PTSD: A review of randomized clinical trials. Journal of the American Medical Association 2015; 314(5): 489–500. (PDF)

2. Robert E Herron, Ph.D., MBA, Brian Rees, M.D., MPH, MC, USAR (Ret.): The Transcendental Meditation Program’s Impact on the Symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder of Veterans: An Uncontrolled Pilot Study. Military Medicine, 29 December 2017.

Source: EurekAlert!

 

@LynchFoundation’s Bob Roth @meditationbob shares #TranscendentalMeditation stories with @BUILDseriesNYC’s Charles Thorp @charlesthorp

January 9, 2018

Bob Roth Discusses The David Lynch Foundation on BUILD 10.27.17

DLF CEO Bob Roth talks TM on BUILD with Host Charles Thorp

David Lynch Foundation CEO Bob Roth talks TM with BUILD host Charles Thorp

David Lynch Foundation (DLF) CEO Bob Roth joined BUILD Series NYC host Charles Thorp to talk about the work of the global charitable organization. DLF addresses the epidemic of trauma and toxic stress among at-risk populations. It hosted “Change Begins Within: Healing the Hidden Wounds of War,” a benefit dinner and conversation, which featured meditating actors Tom Hanks and Mary Louise-Parker. The proceeds benefited David Lynch Foundation programs, including the Center for Excellence in Military Health, a division of the David Lynch Foundation helping veterans and those in the armed services dealing with post-traumatic stress (PTS). Watch this engaging interview here: https://goo.gl/zpKLwa.

Bob Roth is the most experienced and sought-after meditation teacher in America. Over the past forty-five years, Bob has taught Transcendental Meditation to thousands of people, from billionaire CEOs to combat-scarred veterans, to at-risk students in violence-filled schools, to leading figures in government, business, medicine, media, the arts, and more. In addition to serving as the CEO of the David Lynch Foundation he also directs the Center for Leadership Performance.

Bob Roth’s new book, Strength in Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation, comes out Feb 6, 2018. All of the author’s proceeds will go toward helping combat veterans suffering from PTSD.

Strength in Stillness—The Power of Transcendental Meditation by Bob Roth In Strength in Stillness, Roth breaks down the science behind meditation in a new, accessible way. He highlights the three distinct types of meditation—focused attention, open monitoring, and self-transcending—and showcases the evidence that the third, Transcendental Meditation, is the most effective and efficient way to reduce stress, access inner power, and build resilience. Free of gimmicks, mystical verbiage, and over-inflated research studies, Strength in Stillness is a simple and straightforward guide to calming mind, body, and spirit. Read more here: www.stillnessbook.com.

Growth Haiku written by @kenchawkin and his son Nathanael Chawkin @integralsensei

November 26, 2017

The vegetation in Santa Barbara is varied and lush, with many exotic succulent plants, beautiful flowering bushes, and tall trees. I share my admiration for them as we drive through the city. Nathanael comments: “A tree can only grow as high as its roots go deep.” I write it down and start converting the idea into the first two lines of a haiku. I tell him we need a third line to complete it. After pondering the question for a moment, he recalls a universal phrase from the somatic arts (yoga, dance, martial arts) that his friend and coaching colleague LeeAnn Mallory had shared with him: “Root to rise.” I turn it into the last line to complete this short poem on a basic principle of growth.

Trees for Growth Haiku

Growth Haiku

Trees can only grow
as high as their roots go deep
Root yourself to rise

© Ken and Nathanael Chawkin
Santa Barbara, California
Thanksgiving Day
November 23, 2017

Maharishi always talked about developing 200% of life—100% inner spiritual development and 100% outer material accomplishments. We both say, “Water the root to enjoy the fruit.” Nathanael quotes the SCI Principle, “Outer depends on Inner.” I remember an early analogy: To erect a tall building you have to first dig a deep foundation. It’s similar to: First pull the arrow back on the bow to hit the target. Meditate then act. Established in Being, perform action.

Nathanael does more than just meditate to develop his inner life and establish it on a firmer foundation for living mindfully. Self-inquiry with The Work, various martial arts, and playing classical piano are ways he better understands and integrates himself as a person. He uses an integral approach to inform his work as a martial arts instructor (Integral Martial Arts) and a leadership coach and organizational development consultant (Palæstra).

NB: Nathanael also helped edit this post—a father and son collaboration.

Related: Growth, a spontaneous haiku/tanka @kenchawkin.

Dawn in Santa Barbara — Haiku by @kenchawkin

November 23, 2017

I’m here in Santa Barbara, California visiting my son Nathanael and his girlfriend Evangeline for the Thanksgiving holiday. They live high up in the hills of the Riviera overlooking this beautiful city and the ocean. The panoramic views are spectacular! It’s like living in a constantly changing painting. My first visit a year and a half ago resulted in a spontaneous haiku. Early one morning, Nathanael excitedly invited me out onto the balcony to watch the predawn colors. It inspired this haiku.

Dawn in Santa Barbara inspires haiku

Dawn in Santa Barbara
Haiku by Ken Chawkin

Golden glow of light
Brightening the morning sky
The sun is rising

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ken Chawkin

Nathanael posted 6 photos of that sunrise and of me taking pictures of it posted on his Instagram. Their wonderful friend Jada Delaney also posted photos and a video of that same sunrise on her Instagram.

1st anniversary of my India trip to spread Sali’s ashes on the Narmada River, visit Bijouri campus and Maharishi Vedic Pandits at the Brahmasthan

November 12, 2017

This is the one-year anniversary of the start of my trip to India. A year ago today, I boarded a very long non-stop flight from Chicago to New Delhi. After clearing customs I went to an airport bank to change some money. It took a while, but a driver who had been sent to pick me up waited to take me to a Holiday Inn, where I finally crashed. The next morning another driver took me to the airport for a flight to Jabalpur. My sister and brother-in-law where there to welcome me when I arrived, which was very nice. We then traveled to the holy Narmada River, to fulfill the prime purpose of my long journey.

As it turned out, November 14, 2016 was a very significant day in three major religious traditions at this celebratory time of year. We hired a boatman, and after some special prayers, I spread Sali’s ashes on this peaceful celestial river as he rowed the boat towards and around a small temple at the foot of the Gwari Ghat. This took place during the late afternoon on a Monday, a moon day, but the largest full moon in 70 years, the supermoon! It was highly significant, worthy of Sali’s spiritual merit she had earned offering a lifetime of one-pointed devoted service to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Movement. Some of his ashes had been spread at this holy place as well.

See more details in last year’s post I wrote 3 weeks after returning home: An early attempt at some kind of closure with a poem on Sali’s passing and auspicious times. You can read the many inspiring tributes that were given at the October 5th memorial service, about her brilliant mind, kind heart, and good nature.

It was evening by the time we arrived at the Bijouri Campus in the Brahmasthan of India. During my 3-week stay there I would meet many wonderful meditators and sidhas from different countries around the world who came for the Maharishi India Courses, to meditate and enjoy the recitations of the Maharishi Vedic Pandits. It was a very healing atmosphere to settle into. Just what I needed, thanks to my family.

Traditional Indian Greeting

To start our course, we were each given a special welcome by the Maharishi Vedic Pandits and garlanded with flowers. Here is a photo of me, taken last year, November 16, 2016, after that warm reception.

Kenny at the Brahmasthan Nov 16, 2016

I purposefully stood in front of a large beautiful painting of Guru Dev, Maharishi’s master. I had purchased a print of this latest painting of Guru Dev the previous summer, having seen it featured at Art Fifty Two in Fairfield during a reception for the artist and her work. I had taken a photo of Frances Knight at the gallery standing in front of the original painting. You can also see part of a large Holy Tradition painting on the back wall behind her, one of many she had painted in the past.

Visiting the Maharishi Vedic Pandit Campus

On one of our trips we were taken to the geographical center of India known as the Brahmasthan. We shared a short group meditation and took photographs. And once a week we were driven to the Maharishi Vedic Pandit campus to hear 1,500 pandits recite Atirudrabhishek, an ancient Vedic performance to create world peace.

Sitting there with my eyes closed listening to the powerful Vedic recitation, I started to feel a deeply relaxing peacefulness growing inside my body. Soon, much to my surprise, I started to smile, then chuckle! I felt an inner happiness welling up within me that was totally unexpected. This bliss was a welcome contrast, a relief from the grief I was carrying around with me, mourning the loss of my sweetheart. This profound experience was worth the long tiring trip over there!

Group photo at pandit campus Nov 25, 2016

We put on traditional Indian clothing for these special occasions and posed for a group photo before boarding the buses back to our campus. I am standing in the upper second-to-last row on the far left. The course participants came from England, Ireland, USA, Canada, several European and Asian countries, Israel, Australia, and many from Iran. We were a diverse and harmonious group.

Now that I finally transferred all of my photos from my iPad onto my computer, I could post some of them related to this story. Who knows, maybe other photos will spark new stories.

Lisel Mueller’s poetry offers us Hope

November 3, 2017

“Hope” is a beautiful poem by Lisel Mueller, published in Alive Together: New and Selected Poems by LSU Press; First edition (October 1, 1996).

Hope
By Lisel Mueller

It hovers in dark corners
before the lights are turned on,
it shakes sleep from its eyes
and drops from mushroom gills,
it explodes in the starry heads
of dandelions turned sages,
it sticks to the wings of green angels
that sail from the tops of maples.

It sprouts in each occluded eye
of the many-eyed potato,
it lives in each earthworm segment
surviving cruelty,
it is the motion that runs the tail of a dog,
it is the mouth that inflates the lungs
of the child that has just been born.

It is the singular gift
we cannot destroy in ourselves,
the argument that refutes death,
the genius that invents the future,
all we know of God

It is the serum which makes us swear
not to betray one another;
it is in this poem, trying to speak.

I also love Lisel Mueller’s poem, “Monet Refuses the Operation,” about French Impressionist Claude Monet: Failing eyesight or spiritual insight: a poet’s interpretation of a master artist’s vision.

Iowa Entrepreneur profiles Ideal Energy, Fairfield

November 1, 2017

IPTV IOWA entrepreneur

Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Entrepreneur aired a profile of a local sustainability company in Fairfield, Ideal Energy, co-founded by two MUM graduates, Troy Van Beek and his wife Amy Van Beek. The show first aired on IPTV July 28, 2017. Here’s the hyperlinked title and description to the video: Ideal Energy, Fairfield.

After returning home from active duty, a Navy SEAL sought an education in sustainability at a small Iowa university. Now, he and his wife work together, using renewable energy to sow the seeds of peace.

The show opens with a description of what makes Fairfield unique and the influence of the local university, Maharishi University of Management. The university was the first in the country to offer a four-year degree in sustainability. Students and faculty practice Transcendental Meditation.

The video profiles Troy’s time as a U.S. Navy SEAL in Afghanistan, a lead sniper, part of a team, to protect the head of the country. We later see him setting up his own security company in Africa. During this time he was having second thoughts about his chosen profession using guns to create peace. When he found Fairfield and MUM on the internet, he was inspired to make a life-changing decision and moved to this small Midwest city to become a student. It was there that he would meet his future wife, Amy Greenfield, an eco-developer.

Troy was immediately recognized as someone exceptional and was asked to help with projects to upgrade the university’s buildings to greener standards. They supported his ideas and he learned by doing. He graduated in 2009 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Sustainability (now a BA in Sustainable Living) and the skills to make a difference.

Mayor Ed Malloy invited Troy Van Beek and Lonnie Gamble, one of his teachers and a founding faculty member in MUM’s Sustainable Living department, to join a select committee to put a Go-Green Strategic Plan 2020 together for Fairfield. Reducing energy usage and making buildings more energy efficient was part of the plan. Companies supported this vision, but there was no one to help implement it.

IPTV-Ideal Energy Co-Founders Amy and Troy Van Beek

To fill that void, Amy and Troy started their own sustainability company, Ideal Energy. They became one of the first solar companies in Iowa, installing around two megawatts of solar power on various buildings across the state. Thanks to their efforts, Fairfield has the highest number of solar energy installations per capita in Iowa. They received national and international recognition. In 2014, Troy and Amy were featured in a Huffington Post article and video: What the EPA Clean Power Plan Means: More Jobs, Less Carbon. And they were invited to speak at the 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris.

I asked Troy how this IPTV show had come about and he said, “They reached out to us. We just made ourselves available. They did reference the Oprah video though. That may be where they heard of us.” Troy and Amy were included in Oprah’s televised visit to Fairfield, America’s Most Unusual Town, which featured an impressive profile of Troy.

In the Iowa video, this dynamic young couple explain how they started the company with just the two of them doing everything. As the demand for more solar installations increased, they needed to hire staff. Troy feels his experiences as a Navy SEAL prepared him to build a team and inspire them with the vision they were manifesting. Not only were they saving energy costs for local businesses, they were also providing jobs, and improving the local economy.

Troy also describes what he saw overseas—the disparities between the haves and the have-nots—especially when it came to energy and power. He sent me a quote for this article. It’s a powerful statement that sums up the core value of their company’s mission—to offer a proven solar solution that could put an end to wars over oil.

IPTV - Troy Van Beek, Co-Founder - Ideal Energy

“We are moving to an abundant sustainable world. Every solar panel adds to this movement. The technology makes it possible to move away from fossil fuels. It’s our mindset and entrenched vested interest that slow the transition. With that said, we are moving from a system of centralized energy and power to one that is distributed. This opportunity makes it one of the most important liberation movements of human history.”

Watch this inspiring 13-minute video profile of Troy and Amy Van Beek’s company, Ideal Energy, in Fairfield, Iowa. Visit their website: www.idealenergysolar.com. The 27-minute show of Iowa Entrepreneur, CapArms & Ideal Energy, aired July 28, 2017.

Related News on Fairfield, Maharishi University, and Ideal Energy

The university did build their off-the-grid Sustainable Living Center, the first of its kind. Troy installed a wind-turbine, with the help of students who built it, and added more solar panels on the energy cottage and new SLC classroom building.

Last year the Des Moines Register’s Kevin Hardy wrote a profile on Fairfield’s entrepreneurial spirit and the University’s sustainability efforts, which included a video interview with Troy: Why this Iowa town is thriving when so many aren’t. And, while ABC News was in town covering the political campaigning, Josh Haskell dropped by for a live report from MUM’s SLC to interview students and learn about sustainability and Transcendental Meditation from Department head David Fisher.

The Smithsonian Magazine rated Fairfield in their top ten list (No. 7) of The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2013. Later that year, Des Moines Register columnist Rox Laird featured Fairfield’s civic collaboration and Maharishi University’s Sustainable Living Center in his Op-Ed piece: Fairfield defines community action.

The following year, BuzzFeed named Fairfield No. 2 of their 11 Coolest Small Cities It’s Time To Road Trip To. Mayor Ed Malloy and Fairfield Iowa Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Rustin Lippincott were interviewed on Moving America Forward, a national television show hosted by William Shatner. In 2004, Fairfield was selected Most Entrepreneurial Capital in Iowa, and in 2003, as the Most Entrepreneurial City in America (with a population under 10,000). Read more: Fairfield: The “Entrepreneurial Capital of Iowa.”

Central Saanich Police Service and Area Police Officers Benefit from #TranscendentalMeditation

October 29, 2017

The Canadian Women’s Wellness Initiative [CWWI]—the women’s wing of the Transcendental Meditation organization in Canada—has partnered with the Central Saanich Police Service [CSPS] near Victoria, British Columbia to offer Transcendental Meditation to their officers and staff. Given how stressful law enforcement can be, this comes as welcome news, for police officers and the general public.

Victoria TM Teacher Helen Foster-Grimmett

Victoria TM Teacher Helen Foster-Grimmett

Helen Foster-Grimmett, a longtime certified TM Teacher and Director for Women at the Victoria, British Columbia TM Center, read a CBC News report on a 2015 study that found more than 30 per cent of Vancouver police officers have PTSD.

The study, conducted by Kwantlen Polytechnic University psychologist Lisa Kitt for the Vancouver Police Union, surveyed officers in the Vancouver Police Department. Of the 1,100 officers who were emailed questionnaires, 765 replied, a participation rate of more than 70 per cent, which is considered extraordinarily high for a social sciences study. The report found that approximately 32 per cent of the respondents were in the diagnostic range of PTSD.

The results show that police departments must address the mental health issues confronting officers. “They’re suffering,” Kitt said in an interview. “They’re suffering and they want people to know.”

Kitt explained that the post traumatic stress experienced by officers is the result of years of stressful job-related calls, witnessing distressing deaths and repeated violence.

Moved by the article, Helen decided to reach out to the Central Saanich Police Service with a solution. When she mentioned the 30% statistic in her presentation to the Central Saanich officers, some indicated that it may be higher, since officers may not want to report signs of PTSD due to concerns they may be overlooked for promotion.

Central Saanich Police Service and Area Police Officers Learn and Benefit from Transcendental Meditation

Police Chief Les Sylven

CSPS Police Chief Les Sylven

When Helen Foster-Grimmett approached CSPS Police Chief Les Sylven to ask him about including their wellness program for his officers and staff, he agreed, based on his own personal experiences with the meditation technique. “I feel very fortunate to have found TM early in my policing career. I believe daily TM practice has helped me deal with the long-term physical and emotional demands that come with serving the community through police work.”

Chief Sylven said that his TM practice helped him stay calm, present, and focused during many high-risk and complex situations. With regular TM practice, he believes that other police officers would experience similar benefits, including decreasing the wear and tear caused by years of shift work and sudden adrenaline surges, which may lead to serious illnesses.

Constable Kathleen Thomson

Constable Kathleen Thomson

Kathleen Thomson, Constable [retired], who was with the Saanich Police Department for over a decade, also took the wellness training with the CSPS officers. After being instructed in TM, Thomson said she found that each sitting of meditation was like having a restorative vacation.

“Afterwards I have sustained, fresh energy. I feel far more settled, and little things that used to bother me, don’t as much anymore.” She says she feels more present, and more easily able to listen to and engage with others without her mind wandering. “Each sitting of meditation leaves me feeling both incredibly relaxed and energized at the same time. I wish I’d discovered TM years ago.”

Reviewing the ongoing project, Police Chief Sylven said, “Recently, we have been very fortunate to have some of our staff trained in TM. This training has included not only our police officers, but also our valuable civilian employees who support them. They are often the first to interact with the public when they need help.”

Less Reactive, More Responsive

Although it has only been a few months since the program was introduced, some of Chief Sylven’s people are already noticing subtle differences, including feeling less reactive and more responsive. At the end of the day they often sit to meditate together.

“This is particularly rewarding for me,” says Sylven, “as I know how important it is that we go home to our loved ones and families feeling calm, present, and at our best for them.” To better support officer wellness Police Chief Sylven feels it would be ideal to have a meditation room in every police department in Canada.

Along with the Central Saanich Police Service officers, several officers from other policing departments also took part in the training.

Helen Foster-Grimmett has been invited to join Chief Sylven in speaking about this wellness program for police officers at the Central Saanich Police Service during an upcoming conference that will be attended by 11 British Columbia municipal Mayors, 11 Police Chiefs, and 11 Police Boards.

Watch this David Lynch Foundation video of what one veteran police officer and his family in the US went through and how TM helped them: Protecting Those Who Protect Us: PTS Relief for Officers of the Law.

 

Researched TM Benefits Specifically Relevant for Police Officers

• greater resilience
• greater ability to focus and have broader comprehension at the same time [field independence studies; formerly thought to not improve beyond early adulthood]
• faster reaction time
• decrease in PTSD
• decrease in general stress
• better decision-making [fewer “knee-jerk” reactions] and higher moral reasoning
• reduced insomnia, anxiety, depression
• reduced alcohol or substance abuse
• reduction in high blood pressure
• reduction in sick days
• increased brain coherence
• restfully alert mind
• increased energy, less fatigue
• decreased cortisol [stress hormone]

Contact Information

For more information about the Transcendental Meditation program for police officers at the Central Saanich Police Service and on-going outreach programs, contact Helen Foster-Grimmett at MEC-Victoria@telus.net.

To find out more about the Canadian Women’s Wellness Initiative, phone 1-888-821-3016, email infocanada@tm-women.ca, or visit www.tm-women.ca.

For information about the Transcendental Meditation program in the US, visit www.tm.orgwww.tm-women.org, www.davidlynchfoundation.org.

Related News

Deboragh Varnel is a TM teacher, Director of the Vancouver TM for Women Centre, and a National Board Member of the Canadian Women’s Wellness Initiative. She brings the TM program to women in high stress professions, including firefighters, police, first responders, nurses and teachers. Read her article, Extinguishing Stress in Women Firefighters, published in Transcendental Meditation for Women, December 29, 2017.

Transcendental Meditation in Military and Medical Education

Norwich University, oldest private U.S. military college, benefits from Transcendental Meditation


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