Archive for May, 2012

Mike Love of the Beach Boys on Stories of Success

May 31, 2012

Here’s a good Interview With Mike Love of the Beach Boys posted May 29, 2012 on Stories of Success. He discusses how the band was formed, his creative output as a singer/songwriter, their stages of success, the impact of drugs and alcohol on their lives and careers, and more.

At about the 9:55 mark, Mike is asked the question of what kept him from getting caught up in drugs and alcohol, and the responsibility he had of acting as a role model. He answers by talking about his TM practice, how he was personally instructed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and later invited to join The Beatles and Donovan in Rishikesh. He continued with a discussion on karma and the results of our actions, why people choose to abuse drink and drugs and how different people react, finding one’s dharma or what you’re meant to do and enjoy doing the most, and persevering to fulfill your chosen career path. The video is posted on Vimeo:

See this great article, Mike Love, Not War, written by Virginia McEvilley for the Iowa Source when The Beach Boys came to Fairfield, Iowa for an outdoor Labor Day concert, sponsored by the David Lynch Foundation, on Monday, September 7, 2009.

Related stories: Beach Boys’ Mike Love recharges at The Raj, Beach Boy found life saving cure in Fairfield, Beach Boys concert ‘fun, fun, fun’ for all, Q & A with Mike Love, and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on History International Channel (November 2007).

A Wake-Up Haiku

May 31, 2012

A koan is an unsolvable riddle meant to stop a Zen meditator’s analytical mind from thinking, and hopefully transition into a state of no-thought, the state of transcendence. There is a classic Zen koan meant to do just that, which asks the question: What is the sound of one hand clapping? Here is one tongue-in-cheek answer meant to enlighten or wake you up.

A Wake-Up Haiku

Solve this Zen koan:
The sound of one hand clapping?
A slap in the face!

© Ken Chawkin, May 30, 2012, Fairfield, Iowa

Luckily there is a simpler way—the effortless practice of Transcendental Meditation, which allows the conscious thinking mind to transcend. With the help of a mantra, a specific harmonious suitable meaningless thought-sound, together with step-by-step instructions from a qualified TM teacher, the mind naturally, effortlessly settles down to lesser and lesser states of mental activity, to the least excited state of awareness, when the thought drops off, leaving the mind without an object of attention, yet deeply restful and alert, fully awake inside. This inner unbounded wakefulness is the basis for all clarity, energy, and creativity after meditation.

TM allows the mind to experience its own essential nature beyond thought—transcendental consciousness or pure awareness, called turiya in Sanskrit, a 4th major state of consciousness at the basis of the other 3 relative states of consciousness—waking, dreaming and sleeping. With regular practice, over time, a natural integration occurs in the nervous system as it unfolds its inherent ability to live the two states simultaneously—a 5th style of functioning called Cosmic Consciousness. With continued practice, utilizing advanced techniques, including the TM-Sidhi program, the evolution of even two more states of consciousness develop—a 6th, God Consciousness, a refined experience of the 5th; and ultimately a 7th, Unity Consciousness, where the individual is truly universal.

Related posts: Words—a poem on the nature of words and mindUpon waking uP by Ken Chawkin | Are all meditation techniques the same?John Hagelin — “Only Higher Consciousness Can Transform Our World” — Beyond Awakening Blog and THP: How Meditation Techniques Compare.

Fairfield Ledger: Crowley speaks to M.U.M. grads

May 29, 2012

Crowley speaks to M.U.M. grads

By DIANE VANCE, Ledger staff writer | May 29, 2012

Photo by: DIANE VANCE/Ledger photo Candy Crowley, CNN’s award-winning political corresponent and anchor of “State of the Union,” speaks to Maharishi University of Management graduates during commencement Saturday. She told the graduates, “Take those broad sweeps and move through your life unafraid.”

Commencement speaker Candy Crowley told graduates ages 20 to 66, she wants their dreams to come true, but she also asked the Maharishi University of Management Class of 2012 to watch for the “un-dreams.”

Crowley, CNN’s award-winning political correspondent and anchor of “State of the Union,” flew into Fairfield Friday, getting a brief glimpse of the community and campus.

“I’m looking forward to the trip,” she said by phone Friday while riding to the airport in Washington, D.C. “I’ve been talking with one of the folks who attended school there and it’s fascinating.”

Crowley’s dream upon college graduation when she was in her 20s didn’t turn out, she told graduates.

“I was engaged and prepared to move [from the east coast] to California, have five boys and iron my husband’s shirts for work,” she said. “Some of God’s best gifts are unanswered prayers.

“Instead, I’ve been on the rooftops in Marrakech [Morocco]; slept in the Sahara and rode on camel back to the top of the dunes to watch the sunrise in the company of a king; visited China with three different presidents; and I’m married to the man I love and I have two wonderful sons,” she said. “Those were my un-dreams.”

Crowley said she learns something new each day on her job. She shared insights gained from political figures she’s interviewed over the decades.

“From Bob Dole I learned the three Bs of speeches: Be on time; be brief; and be seated,” she said.

“One of my heroes is John Lewis, an original member of the [Civil Rights] Freedom Riders. He was a keynote speaker at Martin Luther King’s [1965] ‘March on Washington.’ He is the fiercest quiet man I’ve ever met.”

“You have to know where people come from to understand where they’re at.”

Lewis was born and raised in 1940, in Troy, Ala., the third son of sharecroppers. He studied nonviolence, organized sit-ins and by 1963 had been arrested 24 times for his activism.

Since 1987, Lewis has served in the U.S. Congress, representing Georgia’s Fifth District.

“I asked John if he were ever scared,” said Crowley. “He told me no, he knew that even if he was killed, the movement would continue. It was greater than him.”

“To get to where you want to go, you have to stand and be who you are. Do your revolution your way and let others do it their way.”

She talked about interviewing people on the streets of New York City in the aftermath of 9/11.

“I heard stories about loved ones who always went to work in the towers on time, but that particular morning, the cat threw-up — the daughter was so upset dad drove her to school that day and wasn’t at work when the planes hit,” she said. “And others said their loved one never went to the towers, but an old high school friend was in town and visiting a mutual friend at work in the towers, so this family member joined them and died.

“The fear after 9/11 made me braver,” said Crowley. “Life is so random. Take those broad sweeps and move through your life unafraid. Keep moving, life takes care of itself. Be unafraid to live your own life.”

She shared about Tom Ridge, the first secretary of Homeland Security.

“Tom Ridge was a Marine grunt in Vietnam,” she said. “He has a hard time talking about his time in Vietnam, but I asked him what lingers. He said it is the nights. At night, he had time to look up at the sky, which was very quiet and beautiful. Stars were more abundant because there was no competition from city lights. He found beauty there in the midst of horror and battle.”

“You’ve made the decision to come here, to this university. It gets tougher as you move on into the world, but find the beauty in what you’re doing,” she said.

As a self-professed political junkie, Crowley said the week George H.W. Bush was going to announce a running mate in 2000, also was the week of a long-standing tradition of a large family reunion in Michigan.

“I was unsure if I should attend the reunion, and I decided if I was that unsure, I should listen to my gut, which said attend the reunion,” she said. “So that became what I call the ‘death-bed test.’ What will you think of a decision on your deathbed? I’m pretty sure I won’t be wishing I’d stayed at work to hear Dick Cheney named as the running mate.”

At a friend’s recommendation, Crowley learned Transcendental Meditation in 2008 in Washington, D.C.

“It re-centered everything for me,” she said in her phone interview.

Reprinted with permission from The Fairfield Ledger

Related: Candy Crowley visits KRUU-FM before delivering Commencement Address at Maharishi University and CNN’s Candy Crowley to give Commencement Address at Maharishi University of Management.

CNN anchor Candy Crowley gives Commencement Address at Maharishi University of Management is now available on the YouTube channel.

Candy Crowley visits KRUU-FM before delivering Commencement Address at Maharishi University

May 28, 2012

Dennis Raimondi, Burt Chojnowski, and KRUU-FM station manager James Moore enjoy a short visit with CNN’s Candy Crowley. She was in Fairfield, Iowa to deliver the Commencement Address at Maharishi University of Management, May 26, 2012. (Photo taken by Ken Chawkin)

During her recent visit to Fairfield, Iowa to deliver the Commencement Address at Maharishi University of Management, CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley visited the local community-supported solar-powered radio station, KRUU-LP 100.1 FM, to tape an interview on Speaking Freely with Dennis Raimondi. The show aired Saturday, May 26, 2012 and Monday, May 28 at 1:00 and 6:30 pm. The complete interview is archived at: Station manager James Moore also posted a photo and quote from Candy on her love of radio.

Dennis mentions that Candy was one of the first to make it possible for other women to become broadcast journalists. She thanks him for that observation, if it is true, but did not set out to purposefully make that happen. With television being a visual medium, she says, “I’m clearly not the 20-something blonds that are currently on TV. But you can do it your way, you can be who you are, and do what you want. You might have to work a little harder, you might have to be that much better. … You have to be so good at what you do that they can’t ignore you.”

Burt Chojnowski of Fairfield First! Buzz also produced a film of Dennis’s interview in the KRUU-FM studio: Candy Crowley on Speaking Freely with Dennis Raimondi. This Candy Crowley on Speaking Freely – Unplugged version includes the pre-interview banter starting off with her reciting the Gettysburg Address! Burt also enjoyed asking and posting 3 Questions with Candy about her impressions of Fairfield, writing, and leadership, also recorded on May 26, 2012.

Candy told Burt she had lived in Iowa before, in Des Moines, for 5 years, and could probably see herself living here in Fairfield. She said, stepping off the plane, you can really feel yourself breathing deeply, for the first time. Burt asked Candy what she would say to women in third-world countries to inspire them to become leaders. She said the best leaders, not the ones that got the most votes, but the ones who did something, are the best listeners. “A leader has to be able to take the hopes and desires of the people looking to him or her and make it into reality. Well, what’s the first step of that—what are those hopes and desires? The leaders listen first, and if you skip that step, you’re never gonna be a leader.” Speaking of leaders, a big thank you to Bob Roth for listening and bringing Candy Crowley into the studio despite her tight schedule!

CNN anchor Candy Crowley gives Commencement Address at Maharishi University of Management is now available on the YouTube channel.

See Fairfield Ledger: Crowley speaks to M.U.M. grads and CNN’s Candy Crowley to give Commencement Address at Maharishi University of Management.

KTVO’s Kate Allt: From the earth to your plate; one university’s lesson in sustainable agriculture

May 25, 2012

From the earth to your plate; one university’s lesson in sustainable agriculture

By Kate Allt

Friday, May 25, 2012

Greenhouses at Maharishi University KTVO’s Kate Allt

FAIRFIELD, IOWA — The cafeteria at Maharishi University is like no other dining hall on any campus in the country. Every meal is vegetarian and organic, and many of the ingredients are grown right on campus by students and staff.

Ayurvedic food preparation, which pays particular attention to seasonal foods, is a growing trend and the roots of the movement are planted in the greenhouses at Maharishi University.

“This greenhouse has been here since 2004; we put it up,” said Steve McLaskey, Director of the Maharishi organic farm. “The university had been organic – the food service had been organic for quite a number of years before that and then in 2003, they decided to take the next step and grow as much of their own food as possible.”

Maharishi’s greenhouse is the first of its size to grow crops year-round in a cold climate. The students and staff who work with the plants have learned much more than identifying a cucumber from a zucchini.

“I get a lot of satisfaction out of growing good produce and providing it to the university,” McLaskey said. “We also sell at the Golden Dome market, the little market on campus, and at the farmer’s market, and I get a lot of comments from customers who appreciate the quality, the freshness.

“When we’re eating good food, then the action that happens from putting good things in is more directed and its more focused,” said Molly Haviland, a MUM student. “So it goes along with the principle of do less, accomplish more.”

James Gavin, a worker at the greenhouse, said he has learned so much from working at the greenhouse and it has improved his quality of life.

“This greenhouse is a real opportunity for all of us… and for the county, I think,” he said.

“I really encourage everyone to grow their own garden and to look up alternative methods of making sure everything is natural, no chemicals, and everything like that,” said student Sultan Salah. “So I would say the experience of working with fresh vegetables is probably the best experience.”

“We grow some of the tastiest vegetables there are,” said Edward Hipp, another greenhouse worker. “When its fresh off the plant, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

Then – fresh off the plant – the food goes to the Maharishi kitchens, where vegetarian, organic recipes and Ayurvedic methods are utilized.

“We’re trying to keep all the Ayurvedic guidelines in touch with the recipes so that it still tastes really good for everybody,” said Sharon Stinogel, Maharishi Executive Chef. “So it’s kind of a challenge, but it’s fun.”

“Since we’ve arrived here at Maharishi, we’ve shared the fact that organic and vegetarian is out there,” said Ken Zimmerman, food service director at Aladdin Food Management Services. “There’s a lot of our accounts that do offer organic vegetarian but not on a wide range like we do here in Fairfield.”

The cafeteria serves 800 to 1,000 people a day and after the meal, the leftover food is collected to be turned into compost, completing the cycle back to the earth.

1 comment:

Sharalyn Pliler · Maharishi University of Management

In my book, THE RELUCTANT VEGETARIAN, I make the point that it’s ever more important to eat organic than it is to be a vegetarian, but at the MUM cafeteria, where I love to go to eat, we can have it all. Good food, safe food, and good company. :-) I love MUM!

CNN’s Candy Crowley to give Commencement Address at Maharishi University of Management

May 23, 2012

FAIRFIELD, IA: The entire Fairfield community is invited to attend the Maharishi University of Management 2012 Commencement in the Men’s Dome at 1 pm on Saturday, May 26.

A total of 275 degrees will be given to 268 graduating students: 67 undergraduates for 74 degrees, including 7 double-majors, and 201 graduate degrees, for 196 Master’s and 5 Ph.D.

M.U.M.’s Commencement speaker is Candy Crowley, CNN’s award-winning chief political correspondent and anchor of “State of the Union with Candy Crowley,” a political hour of newsmaker interviews and analysis of the week’s most important issues.

In her role as chief political correspondent, Ms. Crowley covers a broad range of stories, including presidential, congressional and gubernatorial races and major legislative developments on Capitol Hill.

Since arriving at CNN from NBC in 1987, Ms. Crowley has won some of broadcasting’s major awards: a Peabody, Emmy, and Gracie Allen Award.

Ms. Crowley has been practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique since 2009. Along with Dr. Mehmet Oz, she was a co-host of the David Lynch Foundation “Change Begins Within” benefit gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in 2010. She also hosted the 2011 launch for DLF’s Operation Warrior Wellness in Washington, DC.

Ms. Crowley was nominated for a Maharishi Award by the Maharishi University of Management (MUM) Global Student Council this past December but was unable to attend the award ceremony. This award will be presented to her when she is on campus.

“She said she is ‘very honored and excited’ to be able to speak at our 2012 commencement ceremony,” said MUM executive vice-president Craig Pearson.

Candy will be attending many of the Commencement events, but has to return immediately to Washington, DC after graduation in order to anchor her national political talk show on Sunday morning.

Florence Lillian Nickerson is this year’s Salutatorian, and the Valedictorian is Patrik Nils-Olof Siljestam.

The University of Iowa Faculty Brass Quintet will play the music for the Graduation Processional.

Numbers and Types of Degrees

74 Undergraduate degrees:

BA Art 2
BA Business 14
BA in Sustainable Community Development 1
BA in Education 1
BA in Literature 7
BA in Media and Communications 12
BA in Maharishi Vedic Science 2
BA in Physiology and Health 8
BA in Physiology and Health, Pre-Medicine 7
BS in Mathematics 1
BS in Sustainable Living 18

196 Master’s degrees:

MA in Education 3
MA in Maharishi Vedic Science 15
MA in Teaching 3
MBA Sustainable Business 33
MBA Accounting 23
MS Computer Science 119

5 Ph.D. degrees:

Ph.D. in Management 5

During her recent visit to Fairfield, Iowa to deliver the Commencement Address at Maharishi University of Management, CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley visited the local community-supported solar-powered radio station, KRUU-FM, to tape an interview on Speaking Freely with Dennis Raimondi. Burt Chojnowski of Fairfield First! Buzz filmed that interview and also asked and posted 3 Questions with Candy Crowley about her impressions of Fairfield, writing, and leadership, recorded on May 26, 2012. You can hear and see those interviews in this new post: Candy Crowley visits KRUU-FM before delivering Commencement Address at Maharishi University.

Also see this article by Diane Vance who spoke with Candy on her way out here and also attended her commencement address: Fairfield Ledger: Crowley speaks to M.U.M. grads.

CNN anchor Candy Crowley gives Commencement Address at Maharishi University of Management is now available on the YouTube channel.

The 8.15 train to Nirvana: How you can meditate your stresses away… even on the daily commute

May 23, 2012
The 8.15 train to Nirvana: How you can meditate your stresses away… even on the daily commute

By Marianne Power
12 May 12, 2012

Last summer I bumped into an old colleague. We hadn’t seen each other for years and it transpired that in the previous 18 months, her mother had died of cancer, her father had moved in with her and she had been made redundant.

Yet she seemed remarkably calm. How on earth was she coping? After joking about the healing power of gin, she admitted her secret: she had learned how to meditate.

We have all read about the healing powers of meditation. Medical research has found that it can reduce the risk of everything from heart disease to strokes, depression and insomnia – but this was the first time I had seen its benefits up close.

Down time: Marianne Power meditates as she waits for a Tube train in London

Soon I was meditating twice a day, too, even learning to fit it into train journeys to work or sneaking a few quiet minutes in a bathroom cubicle at the office.

Before I bumped into my colleague I was running on empty. By day I was stressed by silly things that made me snap at people.

By night I would try to unwind with too many hours of television and too many glasses of wine before lying awake in bed stewing over all my worries.

I was run-down, got every cold going and at my very lowest points was prescribed antidepressants. My friend recommended Transcendental Meditation, which is different from other forms of meditation.

Instead of focusing on your breathing, you are given a Sanskrit word, known as a mantra, that you repeat in your head. The idea is that the repetition of the sound calms your mind.

The practice was made famous by The Beatles, who became devotees after meeting its founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in the Sixties. Since then everyone from Clint Eastwood to William Hague and Nick Clegg has become a fan.

Latest research from Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry has shown that meditation brings about neurological changes. After  a few months of meditation, the parts of the brain with a tendency to worry are switched off.

Clinical trials have proved that as a standalone treatment it can  prevent relapse of depression and is effective alongside medication.

But I was most interested in its effects in counteracting stress. And I can say that learning to meditate has changed my life.

At my first lesson I was given my mantra, which you don’t share with anyone, and told to close my eyes and repeat it again and again in my head. Straight away I was hooked.

There’s something about the sound vibration of the mantra going over and over in your mind that lulls you into a kind of trance. The repetition of the sound is like a lullaby.

You go into your own world and yet you are still aware of your surroundings. You’re neither awake, nor asleep, nor dreaming – just beautifully relaxed. It’s like a warm bath for your brain.

After that first lesson, I felt calm and focused and that night I enjoyed a longer, deeper sleep than I’ve had since I was a child. And I’ve been sleeping well ever since.

The more I meditate, the less I seem to be bothered by things. Situations that would once have sent me into a tailspin no longer have the same effect.

My heart doesn’t race in the way it once did; I have become more calm and rational; my concentration at work has also improved.

I think this is primarily because I am better rested and less stressed, but scans have shown that meditation actually increases the size of your hippocampus – the part of the brain associated with memory and learning. I also feel healthier.

I have had only one cold in the past seven months. And then there are the less tangible changes, the ones to your personality and relationships.

Friends have commented on the fact that I seem more relaxed. I  certainly feel more content, less inclined to snap or overreact.

So is this a miracle? Am I now the perfect person? Hardly. Like most of the good things in life, it takes work. Like going to the gym or eating well, you have to keep doing it even on days when you tell yourself you are too busy.

I meditate for 20 minutes morning and night. After breakfast, and then at 4pm – and on days when that’s not possible, on the train or in a taxi. Every little helps. It doesn’t matter whether I close my eyes for two minutes or 20, when I open them I feel better.

I have yet to experience the so-called ‘bliss’ that devotees talk about but I’m just so happy that I’ve found a tool that helps me perform well in the day and sleep better at night.

I wish I’d been taught this at school – it’s the best life skill I’ve ever learnt. But it’s not cheap.

When I turned up for the first open evening at my local TM centre (they’re all over the country), I was told that fees were charged according to income. I would have to  pay £490.

But I did it – and it was the best money I’ve ever spent.

Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd, part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group. Also published in Independent Online: The 8.15 train to Nirvana.

Here is a related article, The Power of Transcendental Meditation, by Julie Eagleton, another British journalist who also learned to meditate and wrote about it. Julie has covered arts & culture, fashion, food, health & beauty and travel. Find out more at

Also see this article by Julie: Meditation Creativity Peace: A Documentary of David Lynch’s 16 Country Tour.

14 Executives Who Swear By Meditation–10 do TM

May 19, 2012

Business Insider, a U.S. business news and analysis website, serves as an aggregator of top news stories from around the web. Their original articles are cited by media outlets like the New York Times and National Public Radio.

The May 9 issue compiled a list of 14 successful business executives who meditate, 9 of whom practice TM. They swear by it. This makes sense as a growing number of business executives have been turning to the Transcendental Meditation program to increase alertness, eliminate stress and fatigue, and enhance their creativity. It’s a major factor accounting for their ongoing success.

This list is posted on the website’s War Room page filed under Strategy. Not all the executives say what kind of meditation they practice, but their reasons for doing so are practical and compelling. The ones who do mention TM are: Bridgewater Associates founder and CEO Ray Dalio, who tops the list; former Medtronic CEO Bill George; Def Jam Founder Russell Simmons; Oprah Winfrey; Legal Sea Foods CEO Roger Berkowitz; Ramani Ayer, former Chairman and CEO of The Hartford Financial Services Group; Steve Rubin, former CEO and chairman of United Fuels International; Executive Management Associates CEO Nancy Slomowitz; Marnie Abramson, of the family-owned Tower Companies real estate firm; and Tupperware CEO Rick Goings.

14 Executives Who Swear By Meditation

Jhaneel Lockhart and Melanie Hicken | May 9, 2012, 2:40 PM

CEOs have stressful jobs, and some have taken to intense hobbies to find solace from the daily grind.

Some practice meditation—or even Transcendental Meditation, a mantra-based technique derived about 50 years ago from ancient Indian practices.

We’ve compiled a list of leaders who say that meditating gives them an edge in the competitive business world. Some have even built it into their company’s culture.

Hedge fund manager Ray Dalio uses Transcendental Meditation to check his ego

Dalio — founder and CEO of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund — has built many of the TM principles into his firm’s culture. According to a New York Magazine profile, Transcendental Meditation informed Dalio’s “belief that a person’s main obstacle to improvement was his own fragile ego; at his firm, he would make constant, unvarnished criticism the norm, until critiques weren’t taken personally and no one held back a good idea for fear of being wrong.”

Click here to read how meditation helped the others become more effective executives. Some even paid for their employees to meditate, reducing healthcare costs and increasing productivity—a smart investment with a profitable return for themselves, and their employees.

For more information on TM for executives, visit this website for the Center for Leadership Performance: Optimizing Wellness, Productivity and Profitability:

Speaking of Ray Dalio, he’s mentioned in a new book by Maneet Ahuja that comes out May 29, 2012: The Alpha Masters: unlocking the genius of the world’s top hedge fund managers. (ISBN: 979-1-118-06552)

I haven’t seen it yet, but a friend said the first Chapter is on Ray Dalio. In it he speaks highly of TM and is quoted saying it is “the single biggest influence” on his life. He later gives more reasons why he finds it helpful.

Also see: 14 Business Leaders Who Swear By Meditation.

Newer article: Celebs who meditate featured in The Daily Beast.

See Fortune, Forbes, Business Insider report on the beneficial effects of @TMmeditation in business.

CBS/FOX News: Kelsey Minor’s Report: Meditation Town: Fairfield Iowa’s Key to Education Success

May 18, 2012

MEDITATION TOWN: Fairfield Iowa’s Key to Education Success

Kelsey Minor visits Maharishi School for a special report on Fairfield Iowa’s Key to Education Success, on FOX 28 News at Nine and CBS 2 News at Ten, May 17, 2012.

Thursday, May 17 2012, 10:05 PM CDT | Kelsey Minor | FOX 28 | CBS 2

Tiffany O’Donnell: On the surface it looks just like any other Iowa town square, but if you look a little closer, you’ll find it’s international flare.

Jack Miller: And that’s not the only reason people are flocking to Fairfield. It’s the center of a meditation movement. And our Kelsey Minor spent some time there to uncover the big mystery behind how meditating is helping the people there thrive. Kelsey?

Kelsey Minor: I know Tiffany’s excited about it; she’s been there. Jack, you need to get there.

You don’t often hear of Iowa being associated with meditation, but it’s happening right here in Eastern Iowa, and it’s in the process of shaping some of our state’s youngest minds, as well as the minds of Fairfield’s leaders.

FAIRFIELD, IA (KGAN/KFXA) — Tucked deep in Iowa’s flatland, among the barns and fields, is one of the 12 great places Mother Earth News says you’ve probably never been. It’s Fairfield, Iowa, and something’s been happening in this city of 95-hundred, a mystery, until now.

“Trust me, we want to get the secret out. We’d love for people to come and discover our community. We believe that’s happening now,” says Mayor Ed Malloy.

This small place, less than a two-hour drive away from Cedar Rapids, has its international flavor with its Indian restaurants and Italian coffee houses. But that’s not the mystery. I have to bring you here, to the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment, where for nearly four decades, the simple act of meditating, twice a day, everyday, has attracted all sorts of people, including the students in this private school.

“We’ve been the kind of pioneering or flagship school for this approach we call Consciousness-Based education,” says Head of School, Dr. Richard Beall.

It’s like any other college prep school across the State of Iowa but here the students, faculty, and staff all take time to practice Transcendental Meditation or T-M.

“So we are taking a significant amount of time in the morning and afternoon, bookends, before and after school, to practice meditation and yoga, so that our kids when they go into the classroom are wide awake,” Beall said.

Those 20 minutes, says school officials, rids everyone of stress making it easy to learn and perform better.

“Of course there are cynics out there who may say that this doesn’t work, and your argument against that would be what,” CBS 2’s Kelsey Minor asked.

“We kind of welcome skepticism because you can put it to the test and I think it stands up really well,” says Beall.

And so far it has. This consciousness-based learning helps send more than 95 percent of its seniors to top colleges and universities across the country. They always score in the top one percent in Iowa’s standardized test, not to mention the top honors in Math, Science, the Arts, and Sports.

“All that’s evidence that something good is happening here,” says Beall.

But this isn’t just a school thing. Roughly 25 percent of Fairfield’s population practices TM, including Mayor Ed Malloy who’s been practicing for 38 years.

“The science shows that there is an influence of reduction of crime and stress,” says Malloy.

A town that takes TM seriously.

“You have arrived right when people are first arriving for their meditation,” says resident Jim Mayhew.

Each day between four and five o’clock the cars and the people start to arrive, joining together in large numbers for meditation groups. This is the end result of that rush hour traffic—a parking lot full of cars, their owners meditating inside these golden domes. It’s a town like no other, and the people who practice TM say what they do inside these domes helps create change. And it all started here, at the school where consciousness-based learning is helping to shape tomorrow’s leaders.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child and I couldn’t imagine a better village,” says student Caroline Fulcher.

(A great village it is indeed.) Now Transcendental Meditation has become so popular that other schools across the country are now implementing the program for its students. As for Fairfield, there’s plenty to do there, and if you haven’t been already, they sure would like to see you.

In the studio, Kelsey Minor, FOX 28 News at Nine/CBS 2 News.

Links to see this news report on FOX 28 News at Nine:, and on YouTube for CBS 2 News at Ten, which includes introductory comments by the news anchors:

Related stories on Fairfield: Video segments of Oprah’s Next Chapter on OWN: Oprah Visits Fairfield, Iowa—“TM Town”—America’s Most Unusual Town | The Iowan: Sizing Up Small Towns: Rethinking Success in Rural Iowa: Fairfield Thinks Inclusively | The Cultural Oasis of The Midwest: Fairfield, Iowa | Finding peace in Fairfield by Diane Vance

Star Tribune: Meditation brings peace to war vets

May 17, 2012

Meditation brings peace to war vets

May 16, 2012 | Lifestyle | Star Tribune | Kristin Tillotson

Transcendental meditation has its detractors, but many veterans say it helps them with post-war stress.

Fernando Franco, who served in both Bosnia and Iraq, uses meditation techniques to control stress. — Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

Like many veterans, Fernando A. Franco had trouble sleeping through the night.

A major in the Minnesota National Guard, he was deployed twice between 2003 and 2007, once to Bosnia and once to Iraq, with barely six months’ break in between. The place where he was stationed near Balad, Iraq, was nicknamed “Mortaritaville” because “we were attacked every day,” he said.

After Franco got back home to St. Paul, he was hard-wired to wake up at 3 every morning, the same hour that in Mortaritaville he and his fellow soldiers would start hearing the shells aimed their way and brace for battle. Once he woke up, he’d stay up, living in a state of perpetual exhaustion.

“It really affected not only my work, but my relationship with my wife and kids,” he said. Then he heard about TM.

Transcendental meditation, or TM for short, is hailed by its devotees as good for just about anything that ails you. Skeptics call it everything from a bunch of hooey to a brainwashing cult, but those who do it daily claim they feel calmer, have more energy and feel healthier, both mentally and physically, than they used to. It’s not a religion, they say, just a practice that reduces anxiety and improves well-being.

Now the U.S. military — not known for embracing the mystical — has taken note. The Department of Veterans Affairs has invested $5 million in a dozen trial programs studying TM’s effects on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including one at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System.

The VA hopes to recruit 30 vets for the trial beginning in about a month, said spokesman Ralph Huessner, noting that it should not be confused with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, a different meditation program already offered.

‘A part of the universe’

Franco, 49, works in human resources for Target Corp. No matter how busy he gets, he always takes 20 minutes twice a day, at about the same time every day, to meditate, using the discipline he learned as a soldier to strictly maintain his schedule.

“The only way to get the full benefit is to do it morning and afternoon, no matter what,” he said, “even if you have to do it standing up in a bathroom stall.”

TM practitioners call the state they go into one of “restful alertness.” Transcendence is achieved, they say, by repeating a mantra and emptying the mind. So how does it feel?

“There is a moment when you go into a void, an emptiness, and you feel a part of the universe,” Franco said. “It’s like in the movie ‘Avatar’ when the creature says they are a part of everything. That’s how I would explain it.”

He first heard about TM for veterans through Operation Warrior Wellness, an initiative launched last year by the foundation run by film director and TM advocate David Lynch.

“I’m Roman Catholic, but I’m very open-minded about Eastern philosophies,” Franco said.

In October, he attended training classes at the TM center in St. Paul. Six months later, he usually sleeps through the night and has passed his enthusiasm for TM along to his 15-year-old son.

“When you come back from war, where you’ve learned to shut down your emotions, you have to relearn how to be with your family,” he said. “It helps you not only to reconnect with yourself, but other people. I’ve also noticed I’m able to concentrate better.”

Some critics of the TM movement have accused it of being a religion, of amassing wealth for its leaders, and of brainwashing. Franco, who learned TM through a scholarship from Operation Warrior Wellness, said he’s seen none of that.

“I have never felt coerced into making this a religious path, and have encountered people of all faiths  who do it,” he said. “I have never been asked to make a donation.”

Although Franco said he does not have PTSD, he thinks meditation could help veterans who do.

“It’s different for everyone, and you still might need counseling and pills, but TM is one of the best tools for stress out there,” he said.

The draw of Oprah’s blessing

Long, white and stately, the local Peace Palace — which is what the international TM network calls its specially constructed education centers — sits just off a freeway frontage road on the eastern edge of St. Paul. Next door to an insurance office and a hop and a skip from Culver’s, the Maharishi Invincibility Center is hard to miss, an Eastern architectural presence in Midwestern suburbia.

At a recent open house, center director Billie Jean Billman led visitors on a tour. Since Oprah aired a special extolling the virtues of TM in April, Billman said, there has been a spike in interest. The center recently doubled its instructors from two to four.

“TM is not a panacea for everything, but it’s a non-pharmacological process that wakes up the body and the brain,” Billman said.

Two veterans who recently started TM, Sarah Ditto and Pat Watson, were also on hand to describe the benefits they’ve experienced.

“I was amazed at how completely calm I felt,” said Watson, 54. “It’s like pancake batter spreading across a griddle, slowly turning golden brown. You really are resting but awake. After I meditate, people ask me what I’ve been doing.”

“I was really energized after the first time I did it,” said Ditto, 25, who works with disabled veterans at the Metropolitan Center for Independent Living in St. Paul. “I went home and did a bunch of yard work. It’s helped me to focus better, too.”

Ditto likes to visit the center to do her meditating because its minimally decorated rooms are ideal for it. But, she says, she sometimes encounters a problem.

“I meditate facing Culver’s, and instead of my mantra I start saying in my head, Chocolate custard. Chocolate custard. Chocolate custard.”

Kristin Tillotson • 612-673-7046

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Related articles: Washington Post: VA testing whether meditation can help treat PTSDPOLITICO: Coping with PTSD | Norwich University President Receives “Resilient Warrior Award” at National Veterans Summit in Washington, DC | Washington Post: Does Transcendental Meditation help veterans with PTSD? | Transcendental Meditation Drastically Turns Life Around For Veteran With PTSD | David Lynch gives $1M to teach vets meditation | David Lynch donates $1 million in grants through his foundation to teach veterans to meditate | Replay of David Lynch Foundation Launch of Operation Warrior Wellness Los Angeles | Post Traumatic Stress and How Transcendental Meditation Can Help [Infographic]

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