The Hawk Eye: Nurses heal themselves

Nurses heal themselves

Nurses use TM to help cope with stressful profession.

Monday, October 17th, 2011

John Lovretta/The Hawk Eye
From left, Terry Arellano of Burlington, Anne Dietrich of Fairfield, Amy Ruff of Fairfield, Mona Smith of Burlington and Adrienne Pelton of Fairfield gather Thursday for their weekly group practice of transcendental meditation at the Transcendental Meditation Center, 409 N. Fourth St. in Burlington. The center soon will start classes specifically targeted at nurses.


It’s no secret nurses often sacrifice their physical and mental health for the sake of their patients. Amy Ruff of Fairfield, who became a registered nurse 39 years ago, can attest to that.

“Being a new nurse was very stressful, and I started to realize that it was affecting my health,” she said.

Ruff was working at an intensive care unit in New Jersey at the time, and six months after she started the job, she saw a poster for a transcendental meditation lecture. Once she learned the process of TM, Ruff noticed an immediate change in her life.

“I was calmer at work, I could prioritize better, and I had more energy at the end of the day,” she said.

Ruff and her fellow TM instructors, Adrienne Pelton and Anne Dietrich, will lead a lecture dedicated to introducing nurses to TM next Wednesday at the Transcendental Meditation Center in Burlington. Their goal is to provide stress relief and higher quality of living for those who sacrifice it during their work.

“If you can think, you can meditate,” Ruff said.

The Transcendental Meditation Center in Burlington was founded last year by the TM instructors and Terry Arellano, who owns the Social Services Building the center is housed in. She said if the TM classes prove to be popular among area nurses and nurses-in-training, she will refurbish the sleeping rooms of the third floor of the building so they can act as dormitories for the female nurses.

“There will be a shortage of nurses in the United States, especially as the baby boomers age,” she said.

Learning TM is a seven-step, four-day process that requires a couple of hours of practice each day. The technique involves shutting your eyes and staying calm, allowing the mind to be free and without concentration.

Once the technique is learned, it requires much less commitment, and practitioners usually meditate twice a day for 20 minutes at a time. The Transcendental Medication Center in Burlington also has weekly group meditation sessions that coincide with sessions in Fairfield.

The idea to target area nurses came from Brandman University in Irvine, Calif., which offers continuing education credits for nurses who study TM. Arellano and Dietrich are working with Southeastern Community College about a possible relationship between the Transcendental Meditation Center and the school.

Ruff said more than 6,000 studies from 250 medical schools and universities have validated the health benefits of TM, which include increased coherence and reduced blood pressure. The practice also has been linked to decreased rates of heart disease, according to a study at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee in collaboration with the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield.

Mona Smith, who has been practicing TM since 1969, said the practice allows her to live medication free. She recently attended her 50th high school reunion, and classmates could not believe she was able to live so healthy without the aid of medication.

“When I mentioned the natural ways I’ve trained, they tried to laugh it off,” she said. “People continue to underplay the naturalness of it.”

According to particle physicist John Hagelin, who is the director of the Transcendental Meditation movement in the United States, the practice can be life-changing. He stresses TM is not a religion or philosophy, it’s just a technique.

“The TM technique is the world’s most widely practiced, extensively researched and broadly prescripted program for the reduction of stress, the prevention of disease and the promotion of health,” he said.

The lecture is free and open to the public and will be 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Transcendental Meditation Center, 409 N. Fourth St.

For more information on learning TM locally, call the center at (319) 850-3276. Learn more at

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