Archive for March, 2012

Midwest Meditation: ingathering in rural Iowa, published in issue 12 of The PresenTense Group

March 30, 2012

“Small-town Iowa is not the place one expects to find a blossoming Jewish community. However, Fairfield is different from most Iowa towns.”

This opening statement to an excellent article about Fairfield Jews who meditate reiterates what Oprah Winfrey kept saying during her visit to Fairfield, Iowa—Jews, Christians, Muslims, people from different religions, who also meditate (Transcendental Meditation) find no conflict with their beliefs; they’re not practicing another religion. And for those who do practice their religion, this article shows there’s no confusion between the two, rather an enrichment. TM, they say, makes one a “better Jew.”

I enjoyed reading Midwest Meditation, a well-written article by James Edward Johnson, published in the Around the World section of Fall 2010-Issue 12, by The PresenTense Group: Fostering Innovation. It’s available online. Here it is reproduced for your reading enjoyment.

Small-town Iowa is not the place one expects to find a blossoming Jewish community. However, Fairfield is different from most Iowa towns. Much of its population began moving there in the mid-1970s, when the Maharishi International University (now Maharishi University of Management, or MUM) was founded. MUM is the learning and communal meditation center for the Transcendental Meditation (TM) Movement, in which members use TM techniques to achieve a deeply tranquil level of consciousness and a state of restful alertness.

Brent Willett, the executive director of the Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce, explained that in the 30-plus years since the influx of TM practitioners, “Fairfield has become a melting pot of cultures and has developed a harmonious and dynamic model for community development.”

Among Fairfield’s population of 9,500, approximately 200 residents are Jewish, and nearly all of them are TM practitioners. When Jewish TM practitioners came to Fairfield, there was no established community, and the nearest synagogue was 25 miles away. Though they had not come for a Jewish community, they created one when they arrived. MUM was established on the former campus of Parsons College, where a Torah scroll was left behind by the college’s Hillel chapter. It was the first major asset of the Fairfield Jewish community.

Today, the community holds most Kabbalat Shabbat services at Congregation Beth Shalom, a building that functioned as a Baptist church before the Jewish community purchased it in 1984. The unassuming synagogue looks like a place of Jewish prayer in any small Midwestern town. The ritual items and decorative symbols show no indication that most congregants are TM practitioners. Yet before Kabbalat Shabbat services, most Jews join communal meditation at one of Fairfield’s two gigantic golden domes.

The larger community of committed TM practitioners in Fairfield is disproportionately Hindu, due to the Hindu background of TM’s founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Pictures of Hindu gods such as Rama and Ganesha appear in many places around Fairfield. Jewish TM practitioners explain with the regularity of a mantra that “TM is just a technique,” rather than a religious practice. “The important thing in the practice of TM is this experience of unbounded awareness. That reality is not a religious reality and has no connection with a specific religious tradition,” explained Rabbi Alan Green, who lives in Canada but has deep roots in Fairfield and is unofficially regarded by many as its rabbi. “Meditation was my chief inspiration for wanting to become a rabbi…I realized that this experience of unbounded awareness was the experience of God,” Green said.

“It’s like going to yoga class…it doesn’t mean that you are Hindu… You go on and go to shul afterwards,” said Kabuika Kamunga, a Jewish TM practitioner born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. She converted to Judaism after working as an au pair for a Jewish family and developed an interest in meditation from a TM practitioner “who was so calm … amid the family brouhaha” at a Passover Seder. In 2008, she went to MUM to get an MBA and learn meditation.

Robert Rabinoff, a frum Jewish TM practitioner, explains why the transition between Judaism and TM is so clean. “If you try and mix the two, both will suffer. But they’re pretty easy to not mix.”

Kamunga and Rabinoff both express the idea that TM makes one a “better Jew.” Each believes that TM prepares them for the kavanah (spiritual intention) of prayer, giving them the mindfulness for Jewish observance. Rabinoff explained, “TM makes the connection, opens the lines of communication. Our tradition tells you what to say.”

Joel and Joy Hirshberg’s home resembles those of other Jews who are serious meditators. A mezuzah greets one at the door. However, the house is built according to the principles of Sthapatya Veda, the architectural form based on the Maharishi’s teachings about natural law. Its entrance faces east, the direction of the rising sun. It has a kalash (cupola) on its roof, connecting the house to the cosmos, and a traditional vastu fence (picket fence) to define the homestead. The house has a Brahmasthan, an unobstructed center lit by a skylight, which gives the house wholeness.

When the couple hosts potluck dinners at their home on Shabbat, however, the space transforms into a typically Conservative minyan for services. Congregants read from Siddur Sim Shalom and recite much of the service in Hebrew. On many Shabbatot, cantor Haim Menashehoff, who grew up in Tehran, leads the congregation in Persian Jewish melodies as well as melodies common to American synagogues.

Anyone hoping for a service infused with the style of a kirtan mantra (a Sanskrit call-and-response chanting form) would be sorely disappointed. Tradition is alive and well in this otherwise nontraditional Jewish community.

Link to article: http://presentense.org/magazine/midwest-meditation.

A clarification from my side

Although the author wrote a very clear accurate article on this topic, he does make an inaccurate assumption—that most of the meditating community are Hindu because of TM’s founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s background—but this is just not the case.

Maharishi was a great scientist of consciousness. He taught a systematic method of meditation, a scientific understanding of it, and the nature and development of consciousness to its full potential. Is the theory of Relativity Jewish because Einstein discovered it? Is gravity English because Sir Issac Newton discovered it? Is genetics Catholic because Gregor Mendel discovered it? Maharishi’s cultural and religious background are separate from what he taught. In fact, he always said that Transcendental Meditation would allow people from different backgrounds to better understand and appreciate their own religion. That’s certainly been the case here as people from different faiths attend the church or temple, and in this case, synagogue, of their choice.

Actually, there are very few Hindus in Fairfield. But there are students from many different countries and faiths, including many from India and Nepal. The campus is multinational, like a miniature United Nations. Also, there are more restaurants per capita than San Francisco. For example, there are 3 Indian restaurants around the town square, including several Asian ones, not necessarily run by meditators. They all have posters on the walls from their religious and cultural heritage. So it is easy to imagine how the author could have come to such a conclusion.

There are, however, hundreds of Vedic Pandits from India who also practice TM that have been invited to help create world peace by adding their numbers to the overall effort. But they live completely separate from everyone on their own campus in Maharishi Vedic City, a few miles north of Fairfield, and are never seen in town. Oprah did meet with them during her visit here. It’s the last segment of her show.

Click here to see Video segments of Oprah’s Next Chapter on OWN: Oprah Visits Fairfield, Iowa—“TM Town”—America’s Most Unusual Town.

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Video segments of Oprah’s Next Chapter on OWN: Oprah Visits Fairfield, Iowa—”TM Town”—America’s Most Unusual Town

March 30, 2012

Preview: Oprah Visits America’s Most Unusual Town Oprah spends the day in Fairfield, Iowa—one of the safest, greenest and most unusual communities in America. It’s the last place you’d expect to find two huge golden domes built for the thousands of residents who rush there to meditate twice a day. The full episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter aired on Sunday, March 25, at 9/8c.

Welcome to TM Town Fairfield is a quiet community nestled among the cornfields of Iowa. It’s also the center of the transcendental movement in the United States. Many of the 9,000 residents who live here meditate every day, including the Winer family. Watch as the Winers reveal why they left an affluent suburb outside of Atlanta to move to Fairfield. Plus, find out how the architecture of homes in Fairfield can improve a homeowner’s happiness.

The Architecture of TM Town Many homes in Fairfield, Iowa, are built in a style of architecture inspired by nature. Take a tour of one family’s home and learn about the theory behind its layout.

Fairfield’s One-of-a-Kind School The Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment uses “consciousness-based education” to teach children from kindergarten to 12th grade everything from college prep to spiritual awakening. Watch as Oprah tours the school and shares a meditation session with some of the older students.

16 Principles of the Science of Creative Intelligence The children at the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment in Fairfield, Iowa, are learning life lessons it took Oprah decades to learn. Learn the 16 principles of the Science of Creative Intelligence for yourself.

Rush Hour in Fairfield, Iowa Rush hour in Fairfield, Iowa, is unlike any other town in America. Twice a day, residents stop what they’re doing and head to two giant golden domes to meditate. Watch as Oprah meets with the town’s mayor and a founder of a nearby community to learn more about the practice of Transcendental Meditation and then tours the Bagambhrini Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge for women.

Oprah Meets Iowa’s Pandits Pandits are professional meditators who practice Transcendental Meditation for hours a day in the name of world peace. For two to three years, many of these men from India devote their lives to this practice in the cornfields of Iowa. On the day Oprah visits, nearly 800 are in residence. They’ve never allowed television cameras to film them—until now. Watch as Oprah gets an unprecedented look into the life of a pandit.

Three excerpts from the show are posted on The Transcendental Meditation Program website — www.tm.org/oprah — Excerpt one: Oprah’s take on TM, Excerpt Two: Why our family meditates, and Excerpt Three: From Guns to TM.

The show, America’s Most Unusual Town, on Oprah’s Next Chapter, will rebroadcast Sundays, April 8 at 7:00 pm ET/6 CT and April 15, at 6 pm ET/5 pm CT. Last minute schedule changes do happen and so this info is updated.

Oprah’s Next Chapter America’s Most Unusual Town
Oprah spends the day in Fairfield, Iowa – one of the safest, greenest, and most unusual communities in America. It’s the last place you’d expect to find two huge, golden domes built for the thousands of residents who rush there to meditate twice a day. Read more: http://www.oprah.com/own-oprahs-next-chapter/Oprahs-Next-Chapter-Americas-Most-Unusual-Town

For more on Oprah’s Next Chapter visit http://www.oprah.com/OprahsNextChapter. Find OWN on TV at http://www.oprah.com/FindOWN.

Here’s an article posted on the TM Blog about the preliminary results of the show: TM’s Popularity Surges After Oprah’s TV Show.

To find out more about Fairfield and neighboring Maharishi Vedic City, visit http://discoverfairfield.org.

Transcendental Meditation: Good for Oprah and Start-ups, written by Peter Cohan for Forbes

March 27, 2012

Peter Cohan Peter Cohan, Contributor
I write from near Boston about startups and political economy
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Transcendental Meditation: Good for Oprah and Start-ups

Oprah Winfrey devoted her OWN show Sunday night to Transcendental Meditation (TM). But TM is not just for Oprah, it can help start-ups too.

At least that was the claim of Dr Sharda S. Nandram, Professor in Entrepreneurship at the University of Applied Sciences HAN, Associate Professor Entrepreneurship at Nyenrode Business University, and founder of Praan Solutions.

On March 21st, Nandram and I debated ”The Future of Entrepreneurship: Hungry start-upper vs Spiritual Entrepreneur” at EADA, a Barcelona business school. Nandram cited research in her talk that companies whose employees do TM have higher productivity.

Before getting into her remarks and my comments on them, it’s worth discussing what TM is and why it might help companies.

Twin Peaks director, David Lynch, is a fan and he claims that it turned him from an angry man into a happy one. As he told the Seattle Times, ”I was filled with an anger and sorrows and doubts and melancholy. And I took it out on my first wife. I made her life pretty much a hell. So I start transcendental meditation, and two weeks later she comes to me and says, ‘What is going on? This anger, where did it go?’”

The answer, it turned out, was TM. And for Lynch, his sister convinced him to take up the practice. According to Lynch, “One day my sister called, and she said she started TM, and I heard a change in her voice — more happiness, more self-assuredness. And I said, ‘This is what I want.’ Things lift away so naturally,” according to the Seattle Times.

For Nandram, start-ups benefit from TM specifically, and spirituality in general. Her talk on “spirituality and entrepreneurship” reflects her efforts to “see the person behind the entrepreneurs.” And she thinks “it is time to deepen the ‘inner box’, one may call intuition, reflective zone, inner sense, the area of mindfulness or authentic self.”

When my host, EADA professor Manuel Marin, asked me what I thought of the idea of spirituality and entrepreneurship my first thought was that I do not know what Nandram means by spirituality; however, I see two areas where things that might be related to spirituality factor into start-up strategy.

The first, as I posted March 25th, many entrepreneurs start companies not for money but to change the world. If entrepreneurs’ visions of what that world would look like end up improving life for other people, those start-up CEOs are using a kind of spirituality to attract and motivate top talent.

Furthermore, when entrepreneurs hire those people, they look for integrity. As I described in my book, Value Leadership, integrity means that people do what they say they will do. And in a start-up, integrity has a compelling business imperative — there is no time or money for people who can’t be trusted. That’s why it is so critical for company founders to conduct exhaustive due diligence on potential employees.

So I would argue that depending on your definition, start-ups that want to make the world a better place and hire people with integrity, do benefit from spirituality.

Moreover, if others get the benefits that David Lynch claims for TM, it’s worth investigating the notion that TM’s practice among a start-up’s employees could allow them to focus more on the task at hand, reduce their level of anger and distraction, and boost their productivity.

If such spirituality is good for business, bring it on.

Tall Poppies Magazine: Stress-free learning: Teaching children to meditate

March 26, 2012

The March 2012 issue of Tall Poppies, a magazine for the New Zealand Association for Gifted Children, contains an article, Teaching children to meditate, under Stress-free learning (pages 12-13). You can read the article with photos by downloading Tall Poppies: Stress Free Learning.

Teaching children to meditate

Stephen Benner explains how meditation is helping some New Zealand children to cope better with school.

Is it possible to make all kids smarter and happier than they are now?

Any teacher surveying the young faces of his or her class must often wonder why is it that certain students seem to understand the lessons more quickly and easily than the rest. All the children have two eyes, two ears and one brain – yet some young brains seem to work better than others.

Up until now, we have more or less accepted that the comprehension levels of a student are fixed. The accent in education has been on developing the quality of the information fed into those young brains, rather than developing the quality of the intelligence that is receiving that information.

Fair enough, because up until now there has been no reliable standard technology in the world of education for ‘upgrading the hardware’ within the cranium of each and every student. However, there is now a quiet revolution going on in a number of schools around the world that is challenging the notion of fixed intelligence and the inevitability of under-achievement.

This quiet revolution is being driven by the introduction of a simple, natural, mental technique utilised by all students and staff for a short period at the beginning and end of each school day. The technique is called Transcendental Meditation (TM for short), which has been available around the world in a standardised form for more than 50 years, although its origins go back to the ancient Vedic civilisation of India.

Since 1970, TM has been subjected to extensive scientific research; there is now a clear understanding of its effects both during the practice and as a result of the practice. During meditation, refined levels of mental activity are experienced with the outcome being greater ‘inner wakefulness’ and enriched brain functioning. Of interest to educators is the fact that EEG studies show that whole-brain functioning is enlivened during TM practice and that different parts of the brain begin to work in a more synchronous and orderly fashion. Higher levels of brain integration are associated with greater moral reasoning, emotional stability and decreased anxiety. Simultaneously, the physiology experiences a profound level of deep rest, whereby accumulated stress and tension is naturally alleviated, leaving one refreshed, relaxed and revitalised.

Over 340 peer-reviewed studies carried out at universities around the world have found a wide range of practical benefits resulting from the practice of TM, including increased creativity, focus, and memory; improved academic achievement; decreased stress, anxiety and depression; and greater happiness, coping ability and tolerance.

TM comes into the daily routine of a school in the first and last 15 minutes of the day during a period called Quiet Time, when students sit in their classrooms and practise the technique along with their teacher. Taught by qualified instructors, the programme is non-sectarian and is easily integrated into any public or private school curriculum. In our experience, when the programme is fully implemented, not only do the individual teachers and students flourish, but the entire school atmosphere becomes harmonious, happy, safe and conducive to learning.

As an example, when a South Auckland school decided to take on the TM Quiet Time programme a couple of years ago, the principal acknowledged that at that time the school was not a safe learning environment and was unable to provide appropriate strategies to manage the high levels of stress in the students’ lives. Lack of achievement was the norm, with only five per cent of students reaching the national standards for reading ability.

Since the introduction of the TM programme, there has been a major turnaround and the school now has a calm, peaceful environment. Teachers find the students interact with each other in a more positive fashion, and 49 per cent of students are now reaching or exceeding national standards in reading.

One staff member commented: ‘My students are focused and there is calmness about them. There has been a shift in their learning.’ In contemplating the beaming faces in front of her soon after the programme started, another teacher quipped: ‘Who are these kids . . . where has my class gone!’

By reducing the acute stresses that undermine learning and health, and by developing the full brain, the TM Quiet Time programme is a practical, highly effective approach to promoting learning readiness among students and thereby markedly improving their academic performance and success in life.

Do the claims stack up?

Sceptics query whether TM really works and say its effects are not scientifically proven. However, the New York Times recently reported the results of a study focusing on transcendental meditation, concentrated on a young healthy population.

The study, published in The American Journal of Hypertension, found that stressed-out college students improved their mood through TM, and those at risk for hypertension were able to reduce their blood pressure. It was carried out at American University in Washington, DC and included 298 students randomly assigned to either a meditation group or a waiting list.

Students who were at risk of hypertension and practiced meditation, reduced systolic blood pressure by 6.3mm of mercury and their diastolic pressure by 4mm of mercury on average, reported the Times.

It’s worked for us

Kataraina Nock, principal of Edmund Hillary School in Papakura, reflects on the changes engendered by teaching TM to her pupils.

Our school motto – bestowed by Sir Edmund Hillary at the official opening in 1963 – is ‘Aim High, Be Determined’. It presents a formidable challenge to all who have participated in the transformation process of turning around a school with a long history of failure. Now, in the sixth year of change, it is a much better place.

This is mainly attributable to the many people who have entered the gates with their hands up to help. They are all passionate, committed people who see a need and want to contribute. Among them is our Transcendental Meditation family, who began by training staff and later students. The Board, school, families and community have given their wholehearted support and the entire school has been practising the TM technique twice each day at school for the past two-and-a-half years. Yrs 1–5 students walk either inside or outside their classroom for five minutes with their eyes open and meditate. Students from Yrs 6–8 sit at their desks in the classroom, close their eyes and meditate for 12 minutes.

What have we noticed over those two-and-a-half years? The school is now a much more peaceful place most of the time. The number of incidents involving children in conflict has significantly reduced over time and there are no longer queues waiting to see the principal. Visitors make various comments about the tone of the school. Some say there is a feeling of ‘aroha’, others remark on how happy and friendly the children are. Those who know the history, comment on the remarkable change in the school environment.

Teachers report that students are more settled in class, have increased concentration and are doing their work better. This is evident in the changes in student achievement. In 2011, reading results school-wide showed some outstanding improvement. For example, in 2010, for Yr 4 Pacifika Boys, 87 per cent were below or well below the national standard, while 13 per cent were above. In 2011, for the same group, 86 per cent were reading at national standard and 14 per cent were above. As a result, by 2012 there were no children in this year group in need of additional learning support; they had moved from poor-achieving to high-achieving readers. The children themselves say they find it easier to study and they feel calmer, happier and less pressured.

Another significant difference now is the stability of staffing. Up until 2010, the recruitment and retention of quality teachers was a major issue. Now, in 2012, most of the teachers have been in the school for two years or more. All staff except for a new teacher this year have trained in TM.

We appreciate and value the opportunity we have been given as a result of the introduction of TM into Edmund Hillary School. We are aiming high and are determined to reach the top of the mountain, just as Sir Edmund Hillary did. Transcendental Meditation is helping us get there.

You can get more information at: www.stressfreeschools.org.nz

Tall Poppies is a quality magazine aimed at gifted children and their families, professionals in the field of gifted education, and the general public. It is published three times a year and posted to all NZAGC members (including overseas members) as part of their subscription.

America’s Most Unusual Town — Exclusive Webisodes from “Oprah’s Next Chapter”

March 26, 2012

America’s Most Unusual Town
Aired: 03/25/2012

About This Episode
Oprah spends the day in Fairfield, Iowa—one of the safest, greenest and most unusual communities in America. In the middle of corn country, it’s probably the last place you’d expect to find a dome and an evening traffic jam where thousands of the local population of 9,400 are headed to meditate.

Oprah’s journey begins at a unique school where twice-daily Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a mandatory part of the curriculum. Next, she visits the neighboring community of Maharishi Vedic City—named after the Indian guru who founded the TM movement. Here, nonorganic food is banned, and all houses face east, adhering to an ancient Indian architectural style that is said to bring peace and harmony to one’s surroundings. Maharishi Vedic City is also home to a top secret, 80-acre compound where 800 men from India live and spend eight hours a day meditating, chanting and studying. Cameras have never been allowed inside their community—until now.

Later, Oprah joins women from the community at the Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge for evening meditation—a powerful, energizing yet calming experience. Of that experience, Oprah says, “I walked away feeling fuller than when I came in, full of hope and a sense of contentment and deep joy, knowing for sure that in the craziness of the world that seems to bombard us at every angle, there is always the consistency of stillness.” http://www.oprah.com/own-oprahs-next-chapter/Oprahs-Next-Chapter-Americas-Most-Unusual-Town

Exclusive Webisodes:

The Architecture of TM Town:
Tour a family’s home built around the concept of nature-based architecture

Many homes in Fairfield, Iowa, are built in a style of architecture inspired by nature. Take a tour of one family’s home and learn about the theory behind its layout. http://www.oprah.com/own-oprahs-next-chapter/Exclusive-Webisode-The-Architecture-of-TM-Town-Video

16 Principles of the Science of Creative Intelligence
:
The 16 lessons Oprah says it took her decades to learn

The children at the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment in Fairfield, Iowa, are learning life lessons it took Oprah decades to learn. Learn the 16 principles of the Science of Creative Intelligence for yourself. http://www.oprah.com/own-oprahs-next-chapter/Exclusive-Webisode-Sixteen-Principles-Video
Welcome to TM Town
Welcome to Fairfield! Meet a family who uprooted their entire lives to move here—and couldn’t be happier. Fairfield is a quiet community nestled among the cornfields of Iowa. It’s also the center of the transcendental movement in the United States. Many of the 9,000 residents who live here meditate every day, including the Winer family. Watch as the Winers reveal why they left an affluent suburb outside of Atlanta to move to Fairfield. Plus, find out how the architecture of homes in Fairfield can improve a homeowner’s happiness.
Fairfield’s One-of-a-Kind School
Take a tour of Fairfield’s one-of-a-kind school. The Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment uses “consciousness-based education” to teach children from kindergarten to 12th grade everything from college prep to spiritual awakening. Watch as Oprah tours the school and shares a meditation session with some of the older students.
Rush Hour in Fairfield, Iowa
Witness Fairfield’s nontraditional rush hour and learn more about what Transcendental Meditation means. Rush hour in Fairfield, Iowa, is unlike any other town in America. Twice a day, residents stop what they’re doing and head to two giant golden domes to meditate. Watch as Oprah meets with the town’s mayor and a founder of a nearby community to learn more about the practice of Transcendental Meditation and then tours the Bagambhrini Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge for women.
 
Oprah Meets Iowa’s Pandits
They meditate for hours each day in the name of world peace. Meet the pandits of Iowa
Pandits are professional meditators who practice Transcendental Meditation for hours a day in the name of world peace. For two to three years, many of these men from India devote their lives to this practice in the cornfields of Iowa. On the day Oprah visits, nearly 800 are in residence.  They’ve never allowed television cameras to film them—until now. Watch as Oprah gets an unprecedented look into the life of a pandit.
More on Transcendental Meditation

For a review of the show, see this HuffPost article by : Oprah’s Next Chapter: Meditation—In ‘America’s Most Unusual Town’.

Excerpts from the show will soon be available for streaming on http://www.tm.org/oprah.

Please refer to the OWN TV schedule on the website to see if the show will be airing again. The schedule is subject to change so continue to check the site for updates: http://www.oprah.com/own/tv-schedule/index.html. Also check the specific show section on Oprah.com/own to view the latest videos, and the FULL EPISODE section: http://www.oprah.com/own/episodes.html.

See this more recent post with all the Video segments of Oprah’s Next Chapter on OWN: Oprah Visits Fairfield, Iowa—”TM Town”—America’s Most Unusual Town.

Des Moines Register: Oprah in Iowa: Fairfield meditation segment airs Sunday

March 24, 2012


Oprah in Iowa: Fairfield meditation segment airs Sunday

By TODD ERZEN | FILED UNDER – News | 1:28 PM, Mar. 23, 2012

The media icon paid a stealthy six-hour visit to the Maharishi University of Management last October and will tell the country about her newfound devotion to Transcendental Meditation at 8 p.m. on Sunday as part of her new weekly series, “Oprah’s Next Chapter.”

Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy, who took the media mogul on a tour of one of the university’s golden domes before she meditated there with about 400 other women, said Winfrey already had a working knowledge of Transcendental Meditation based on her experience with inner-city school systems.

The practice has been introduced there to children suffering from academic and behavioral problems with the help of Maharishi board of trustees member David Lynch, the television and film director whose private foundation promotes “Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace.”

“It’s had phenomenal results (in schools) and I think she became intrigued by that,” said Malloy, who has practiced Transcendental Meditation for 38 years. “Oprah’s bright and energetic and gregarious and thoughtful and provocative and we are honored and tickled to be featured by her in this way.”

Watch a sneak preview of the show

Sneak Preview: Oprah Visits America’s Most Unusual Town

Oprah spends the day in Fairfield, Iowa—one of the safest, greenest and most unusual communities in America. It’s the last place you’d expect to find two huge golden domes built for the thousands of residents who rush there to meditate twice a day. Watch a sneak preview; then tune in for the full episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter on Sunday, March 25, at 9/8c.


Transcendental Meditation first came to Fairfield by way of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who gained international fame as the guru to the Beatles before transforming the bankrupt Parsons College property into his namesake university in 1974.

In 2001, the Maharishi’s followers incorporated their own town, called Maharishi Vedic City, about two miles north of Fairfield. Sales of non-organic food are banned and buildings are designed to follow principles the Maharishi established, such as facing east and featuring a golden roof ornament. About 1,300 people live there, and an estimated one-quarter of Fairfield’s 10,000 residents also practice Transcendental Meditation.

Winfrey has tried to make a similar impact on her employees by encouraging them to meditate twice during each work day.

Paul Chesnutt-Winer, who hosted Winfrey in his home and will be featured with his family on Oprah’s television show, said the practice of Transcendental Meditation could not have made a better friend.

“She’s an amazing combination of being a strong, executive woman and really a lot of fun,” he said.

See this earlier post by Todd Erzen on Mar 22, 2012 with links to a preview of the show and interview with Dr. Oz on Oprah’s visit to Fairfield and company-wide practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique. Fairfield sees itself through Oprah’s eyes on Sunday.

For information on Transcendental Meditation, visit www.tm.org.

Related articles: Chicago Sun-Times: Oprah will talk about transcendental meditation on OWN | The Fairfield Ledger:Fairfield readies for Sunday debut on Oprah network | OWN: Oprah Visits America’s Most Unusual Town, Sunday, March 25, 8 p.m. CT, 9-10 p.m. ET/PT | KTVO: Fairfield to be featured on Oprah Winfrey Network | Oprah writes in O Mag about her visit to TM Town and meditating with ladies in their Golden Dome | Some Reports on Dr. Oz’s Interview with Oprah about TM and her Next Chapter | Oprah meditates with ladies in MUM Golden Dome | Reports of Oprah’s visit to Fairfield, Iowa | Oprah says she and her staff meditate, enjoy a Quiet Time twice a day—Facebook Live interview. Also see The Iowan: Sizing Up Small Towns: Rethinking Success in Rural Iowa: Fairfield Thinks Inclusively.

The Fairfield Ledger: Fairfield readies for Sunday debut on Oprah network

March 22, 2012

Fairfield readies for Sunday debut on Oprah network

Mar 21, 2012

Sunday’s televising of “Oprah’s Next Chapter” featuring Fairfield and Transcendental Meditation is expected to generate interest in the community.

A number of initiatives are under way to aid tourists and potential visitors.

“There’s a lot of excitement surrounding the airing,” said Maharishi University of Management alum Mariam Daudi, a coordinator for many of the initiatives. “The whole community is coming together to prepare in case there’s a big response. It’s fulfilling to work with so many different community leaders.”

Involved parties include Fairfield officials, Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce, Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, Maharishi School, M.U.M., Maharishi Vedic City, Maharishi Foundation, David Lynch Foundation and Ideal Community Group.

The convention center is developing a self-guided tour for visitors. A one-day training session for volunteer ambassadors also is in the works.

The welcome and information center at the Maasdam Barns site on Highway 1 South is expanding its hours.

Plans are under way to open the Taste of Fairfield visitors’ weekends in May and June to those who don’t practice the Transcendental Meditation technique. Planning also continues for M.U.M’s Experience the Self event to be held July 10–22.

Oprah visited Fairfield Oct. 19 to film for the hour-long program. It airs on the Oprah Winfrey Network at 8 p.m. Sunday.

Locally, O.W.N. can be accessed on channel 203 on Mediacom, channel 279 on Direct TV, channel 90 on Lisco and channels 189 and 885 on Dish Network.

Student Activities at M.U.M. is hosting a viewing of the program at Dalby Hall in the Argiro Student Center. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.

For more information about the program, visit www.oprah.com/own.

Reprinted with permission from The Fairfield Ledger. Article URL: http://fairfield-ia.villagesoup.com/news/story/226103?cid=14836

Addendum: Members of  the Fairfield community are invited to a live viewing of Oprah’s New Chapter, Sunday, March 25, at 8 pm CT (doors open at 7 pm) at the Sondheim Theater, Fairfield Arts & Convention Center. Free Admission – First come first seated.

See

OWN: Oprah Visits America’s Most Unusual Town, Sunday, March 25, 8 p.m. CT, 9-10 p.m. ET/PT

March 20, 2012

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network presents a new episode of “Oprah’s Next Chapter” featuring America’s Most Unusual Town this Sunday, March 25, 8:00 p.m. CT (9-10 p.m. ET/PT).

On “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” Oprah Winfrey travels to Fairfield, Iowa—one of the safest, greenest and most unusual communities in America—to visit a school where daily Transcendental Meditation® (TM) practice is mandatory. Winfrey then visits the neighboring community of Maharishi Vedic City, where non-organic food is banned and all houses face East — adhering to an ancient Indian style that brings peace and harmony. Also, for the first time, cameras are allowed inside a top-secret, 80-acre compound where 800 Indian men live spending eight hours a day meditating and chanting. Later, Winfrey joins the community at their domes for evening meditation.

The episode will only be available in its entirety on the OWN TV network. However, clips and footage may be featured on www.Oprah.com. Once there, find out what channel the Oprah Winfrey Network is on in your area by entering your zip code on the right. Canadian viewers, click here. Watch a Sneak Preview here: Oprah Visits America’s Most Unusual Town.

Oprah spends the day in Fairfield, Iowa—one of the safest, greenest and most unusual communities in America. It’s the last place you’d expect to find two huge golden domes built for the thousands of residents who rush there to meditate twice a day.  Watch a sneak preview; then tune in for the full episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter on Sunday, March 25, at 9/8c. Please note: There will only be one episode, on March 25. http://www.oprah.com/own-oprahs-next-chapter/Sneak-Preview-Oprah-Visits-Americas-Most-Unusual-Town-Video

Addendum: Members of  the Fairfield community are invited to a live viewing of Oprah’s New Chapter, Sunday, March 25, at 8 p.m. CT (doors open at 7 p.m.) at the Sondheim Theater, Fairfield Arts & Convention Center. Free Admission – First come first seated. Also, being broadcast live for students in Dalby Hall, Argiro Student Center, on the Maharishi University campus. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. CT. Free admission

Related: Fairfield Ledger: Fairfield readies for Sunday debut on Oprah network | KTVO: Fairfield to be featured on Oprah Winfrey Network | Oprah writes in O Mag about her visit to TM Town and meditating with ladies in their Golden Dome | Some Reports on Dr. Oz’s Interview with Oprah about TM and her Next Chapter | Oprah meditates with ladies in MUM Golden Dome | Reports of Oprah’s visit to Fairfield, Iowa | Oprah says she and her staff meditate, enjoy a Quiet Time twice a day—Facebook Live interview.

Also see The Iowan: Sizing Up Small Towns: Rethinking Success in Rural Iowa: Fairfield Thinks Inclusively.

Sharpen your mind with meditation, by David Hughes, in March 2012 issue of Choice Magazine

March 20, 2012

Thought you might like to see this article, Sharpen your mind with meditation, published in the March 2012 issue of Choice, a national magazine in the UK aimed at the over-50s, which may include most of us, these days! Here is the text taken from their Health section on pages 48-49. There is a slight typo on the bottom left of page 48 — they put Dr Rosenthal’s photo with a caption belonging to another doctor quoted in the article. But he was fine about it, and thought it was a good article. I agree; it is very well written. You can download a PDF of the article, which is nicely laid out with photos and quotes. Choice – March 2012. Since this is in print, I activated the links at the end and added some.

Sharpen your mind with meditation

Once dismissed as hippyish humbug, meditation is being increasingly recognised by medical science as a way to keep your mind sharp, reports David Hughes.

FORTY YEARS ago, most busy people in the West would probably have preferred to reveal an interest in bear-baiting than meditation.

Associated with otherworldly images of incense, chanting and flower-power, meditation was generally viewed as faintly eccentric. Taking it up aroused suspicion of imminent departure on the Kathmandu trail – if not to somewhere decidedly warmer, in the view of some religious fundamentalists. Not any more.

Maybe it’s the fast pace of life and the stresses that go with it, but nowadays everyone seems to be closing the eyes and seeking nirvana. No celebrity feature is complete without mention of the meditative flavour of the month, despite which – or maybe because of it – the whole subject has become not merely respectable, but downright fashionable.

Richard Gere, Goldie Hawn and many others champion Buddhist-related practices, while film-maker David Lynch has recruited a host of fellow Transcendental Meditators – including Sir Paul McCartney, who describes the technique as ‘a lifelong gift’ – to support his campaigns to teach TM to groups as diverse as youngsters in inner-city schools, the homeless, and veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Everyone, it seems, can benefit from meditation. Yet while celebrity endorsement is one engine which has driven this trend, there’s another, less glamorous but more impressive: scientific research.

Since 1970, thousands of studies have been performed on all kinds of meditative practices – cautiously at first, as the field hardly seemed scientifically respectable, but with increasing enthusiasm as initial, promising findings led to a host of impressive long-term results. Meditation, it seems, can be a highly effective way of ‘de-stressing’ mind and body, enabling us to boost physical energy, stay mentally alert, improve memory, and live longer, happier and more successful lives.

Transcending thought
The best-researched practice, Transcendental Meditation – with more than 340 studies published in peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals – involves two 20-minute sessions per day sitting comfortably with eyes closed. Easy to learn and effortless to practice, the technique – which has no religious or philosophical links – has been discovered to offer a simple antidote to the ‘fight or flight’ response associated with stress.

During TM, the attention moves automatically to a silent state of restful alertness at the source of the thinking process, while the body responds by settling to a level of physical rest deeper than ordinary eyes-closed relaxation.

“The benefits of TM are considerable,” says Dr William Weir, a consultant in infectious diseases. “It has a beneficial effect on various areas of psychological functioning; it improves one’s stress levels, it has a beneficial effect on blood pressure, it has been shown in one or two studies to have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels; and more than 600 studies of various kinds have validated the general proposition that it is an extremely helpful and life-enhancing technique.

“It produces levels of psychological rest, as well as physical rest, which are really hitherto unobtainable by someone who doesn’t know how to practice a technique like this.”

Reduced heart attacks and stroke
Practical results in daily life could be of huge potential advantage to the NHS. A nine-year study on TM presented to the American Heart Association Conference in 2009 measured a 47 per cent reduction in heart attack, stroke and mortality rates among coronary patients who practised the technique.

“If this kind of result was observed for a new prescription drug, it would be a billion-dollar industry to make it available to everyone immediately,” says Dr Norman Rosenthal, the psychiatrist and scientist who first described Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

So impressed was Dr Rosenthal with the research on Transcendental Meditation that he has written a best-selling book on the subject – Transcendence – the UK edition of which is published this month by Hay House.

Concentration and contemplation
While transcending thought appears to provide the most wide-ranging spectrum of benefits if engaged in regularly, other forms of meditation are also widely popular, particularly methods of ‘Mindfulness’, where practitioners learn to monitor thoughts or breath, and systems which involve concentration or focused attention. Much research is being carried out on such methods, with dozens of papers appearing every month.

For example, a recent study on a group in the USA who attended a meditation retreat with a Buddhist scholar found the concentration practices used enhanced attention spans in daily life, while a Mindfulness-based stress reduction technique helped breast cancer sufferers recover from the disease, according to research from the University of Missouri published at the end of last year.

With today’s blossoming of interest in meditation, a much clearer understanding of the variety of meditation types is emerging.

Preliminary work in cataloguing the various methods has been started by Dr Fred Travis, a neuroscientist and Director of Brain Research at the Center for Leadership Performance in New York, and Jonathan Shear of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Three main types
“All experience changes the brain,” says Dr Travis. However, he points out, different experiences can be expected to give rise to different changes, and so produce different outcomes. Meditations involving concentration and directed focus will produce a different effect on the brain from those requiring contemplative monitoring, and a different impact again from transcending thought altogether.

Examining published studies on meditation, Travis and Shear were able to identify three main categories of meditation based on brain patterns:
• Focused attention practices (including loving-kindness-compassion, Diamond Way Buddhism, Qigong and Zen-3rd Venticle) were characterised by Gamma brain patterns (30-50Hz) and Beta 2 (20-30Hz)
• Open Monitoring practices – non-evaluative awareness of experience (including Vipassana meditation, ZaZen meditation, Sahaja Yoga and Concentrative Qigong) – showed brain activity in the Theta waveband (5-8Hz)
• Studies on Automatic Self-Transcending (Transcendental Meditation) displayed brain patterns in the Alpha 1 waveband (8-10Hz).

The measuring of meditation is to be welcomed, as increased scientific understanding will help speed the integration of the most useful meditation practices into the health services and other areas where they may be of great help in combating the stress-related ailments of our time. And on that note, perhaps the last word should go to The Beatles.

For people of our generation, the first exposure to meditation was probably when the Fab Four trooped off to Bangor to learn Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1967. And exotic as it all seemed then, 45 years on – as in many other ways – The Beatles look ahead of their time. Says Sir Paul McCartney in Transcendence, summing up his lifetime’s TM practice: “In moments of madness, meditation has helped me find moments of serenity – and I would like to think that it would help provide young people with a quiet haven in a not-so-quiet world.

“I think meditation offers a moment in your day to be at peace with yourself and therefore the universe – which once was thought of as a slightly silly hippie idea, but now it’s much more accepted and even fits with some of the most advanced scientific thinking.”

Find out more
• Transcendental Meditation, website: (www.t-m.org.uk)
• Network of Buddhist organisations: (www.nbo.org.uk)
• Mindfulness: (www.bemindful.co.uk).

David Lynch speaks with LA Times health writer Jeannine Stein about Transcendental Meditation

March 20, 2012

Five Questions: David Lynch on transcendental meditation

David Lynch talks about TM and his David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace.

By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times
March 17, 2012

We know filmmaker David Lynch for the dark surrealism of “Eraserhead,” “Blue Velvet,” “Inland Empire” and “Twin Peaks,” as well as for his deep, abiding love of coffee.

Lynch is also passionate about transcendental meditation, which he first took up “on a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning” in 1973. That passion spawned a book, “Catching the Big Fish,” and the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace.

Lynch spoke about what TM means for him and why others should try it too.

PODCAST: David Lynch

Can you describe how you discovered TM?

I didn’t know anything about meditation, and I thought it was a waste of time. Then I heard a phrase that true happiness is not out there, true happiness lies within. And I started thinking about that, and it had a ring of truth. It hit me that maybe meditation was the way to go within.

One day my sister called, and she said she started TM, and I heard a change in her voice — more happiness, more self-assuredness. And I said, “This is what I want.”

I was filled with an anger and sorrows and doubts and melancholy. And I took it out on my first wife. I made her life pretty much a hell. So I start transcendental meditation, and two weeks later she comes to me and says, “What is going on? This anger, where did it go?” Things lift away so naturally.

Your foundation started with introducing TM into schools. What changes have you seen in students who have been through the program?

They say stress is hitting kids at a younger and younger age. There’s violence, bullies, there’s very little learning, and it’s not fun to learn. [With TM] they get more intelligence, they have more creativity, more energy, more happiness, and then when the teacher says something, understanding is growing. The teachers say, “Now Billy can focus, and Suzy is just blossoming.” Kids start finding what they really love and finding a way to do it.

The foundation has now expanded to other realms, such as introducing TM to veterans and prisoners.

Prisoners get this technique and they get super, super happy. And they get this ability to pause before they do something. So something that people say is, “Before I started meditating, I just reacted. Now, with meditation, I have this pause and this reasoning: Do I really want to blow this man’s head off with a .357 Magnum in my hand?” And then the answer is, “No, I don’t think so.” They have time to think.

Is it hard to meditate in certain places?

You can do it anywhere. One of my best meditations was in kind of a little closet room with a wall that was by a sidewalk. All during my meditation, there was some guy jackhammering the concrete sidewalk. But as he jackhammered, it jiggled the bliss in me and I was just flying high. It was so beautiful.

Are coffee and TM compatible?

For me, coffee and transcendental meditation go together like a horse and carriage. You don’t have to give up anything to do TM. I think most meditators go easy on the coffee, naturally.

I smoke cigarettes too, and most meditators say the urge to smoke kind of lifted away when they started meditating. Not me! My urge to smoke got greater. I just love tobacco.

I eat pretty good, but I just love these things, and that’s the way it is.

jeannine.stein@latimes.com

Copyright © 2012, Los Angeles Times

Also see HUFFPOST: David Lynch: Why I Meditate and The Wall Street Journal: 20 ODD QUESTIONS (with David Lynch).


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