Archive for July, 2012

Military veterans speak on need to increase resiliency: by Diane Vance, Fairfield Ledger

July 30, 2012

Military veterans speak on need to increase resiliency

Yellin, Travis: TM programs needed for veterans

By DIANE VANCE, Ledger staff writer | Jul 30, 2012

Howard Judge, left, of Fairfield, talks with Luke Jensen Saturday after the forum, Healing the Hidden Wounds of War. Jensen, a former Army Reservist from Story County, spoke about his struggles with posttraumatic stress after an Afghanistan deployment in 2009 and the help he found in practicing Transcendental Meditation. Photo by: DIANE VANCE/Ledger photo

Saturday’s forum in Fairfield about posttraumatic stress was a kick-off to promote the need to equip today’s military with more tools to increase resiliency, said Chris Busch, program director at the David Lynch Foundation.

“We need to establish resilience in our warriors, not only for combat,” Busch told the audience of about 200 people attending Healing the Hidden Wounds of War Fairfield Arts & Convention Center’s Stephen Sondheim Center for Performing Arts.

“The Veterans Administration is paying for two large studies about the effects of Transcendental Meditation on post traumatic stress disorder,” said Busch. “One of the studies is going on in Saginaw, Mich., and one in Minneapolis.”

Jerry Yellin signs a copy of his book, “The Resilient Warrior,” which the Warrior Wellness program of the David Lynch Foundation had available for donations after Saturday’s forum. Refreshments were served in the lobby while a four-piece band played music at Fairfield Arts & Convention Center after the program. (Photo by: DIANE VANCE/Ledger photo)

Another TM study is under way at Norwich University in Northfield, Vt. A private university founded in 1819, Norwich is the birthplace of Reserve Officer Training Corps.

Military cadets volunteered to learn Tanscendental Meditation last school year.

Busch shared a video about the study, including feedback from the student soldiers who have practiced TM since autumn.

“At Norwich, we’ve always worried about the whole person,” said Norwich University President Richard Schneider, in the video, dressed in his two-star, major general U.S. Army uniform. “We’ve always concentrated on making very smart and very strong, great leaders; ethical leaders. I think TM will provide us another whole dimension of integrating all that and improving performance in all those areas. I haven’t found anything else that will do that.”

Cadets in the video speak about heavy class loads, being in leadership positions of responsibility and being tired; tired muscles, a tired mind and falling asleep in classes. Meditation brought noticeable change — in being more alert and muscles relaxing during meditation and experiencing a rejuvenated mind.

One student cadet said a difference he sees in his meditating platoon versus non-meditating platoons, is his “platoon is more professional, ‘more locked-on,’ they’re not joking around.

“It makes my job easier [in a leadership position] that the platoon is meditating,” he says. “Meditating definitely enhances their ability to understand what we’re essentially asking them to do. When I was a ‘rook,’ we had to have things explained three or four times before we finally got it right. Now, I can tell my rooks the first time, and maybe a second time and they’re getting it right.”

A freshman cadet said, “We’ve picked up a reputation on campus as ‘those weird people that meditate.’ I kindly point out to them the fact that we don’t fall asleep in class, we’ve got better PT [physical training] scores, we do better on tests, we have better uniforms, we don’t get yelled at as much as they do, and then they quiet down pretty quickly after that.

“I’d say the biggest benefit is the energy,” said the freshman. “In high school, I’d drink a whole thermos-full of coffee each day. I don’t have to do that anymore. It feels good not to have to rely on things like that and be able to do it myself.”

A female senior cadet said in the video she was at first a skeptic.

“Now that I’ve learned [TM], it’s great. I’ve directly seen the benefits. I’m a senior, and I’ve never earned a grade point average over 3.0,” she said. “This semester, I’ve taken 22 credits, four lab sciences and I have a 3.6. I don’t think I got that much smarter all of a sudden. The TM helps me focus so I get more out of study time.”

“ROTC commissions 70 percent of all the officers of the United States,” said Schneider, who with other administrators at Norwich learned TM a short time prior to the cadets’ learning.

“Can you imagine if by this experience at Norwich University, the birthplace of ROTC, we provide a very important tool in these young officers’ tool box they’ve never had the benefit of before; we can influence 70 percent of officers in a very short time. And we owe it to them to give them the best tools to win, and I think this is one of those tools.”

The five-minute, 13-second video is available on the David Lynch Foundation website.

Two of the main speakers Saturday were veterans Jerry Yellin and Luke Jensen.

Yellin, now a Fairfield resident, was a young World War II fighter pilot, who suffered from PTSD for 30 years before learning TM in 1975, “which genuinely saved my life,” he said.

“I’m here today to offer scholarships to any veterans, and their families, who want to learn Transcendental Meditation,” said Yellin who co-chairs the Warrior Wellness program begun in 2010, supported by the David Lynch Foundation.

He related his own story, including his wife’s support. Yellin and Helene married in August 1949.

“She never knew she married damaged goods,” said Yellin. “I know I caused her a lot of suffering. War had wounded me in places that can’t be seen.”

He also introduced Jensen, 33 years old: “No one understands combat like a combat veteran. I’m pleased to introduce my hero, Luke Jensen,” said Yellin.

Jensen, an Iowa native living in Story County, had deployed to Afghanistan in August 2009 as a member of the Army Reserves. He began experiencing severe stress, panic attacks, depression and suicidal thoughts shortly after arriving in Afghanistan.

A story in the Des Moines Register published a year ago, detailed Jensen’s struggles and life back with his wife and two young daughters when he returned home. Yellin had read that story last summer and called Jensen at work the next day and offered David Lynch scholarships to Jensen and his wife, Abi, to learn TM.

Saturday in Fairfield is the first time Jensen has told his story to a live audience. A video with the Jensens was created prior to Saturday, which told some of their story.

“Thank you Jerry for reaching out to me when I was in very dark space,” Jensen said. “Since learning TM in July 2011, I have less anxiety, my blood pressure is down, and I now know this practice has helped veterans from every generation of wars.”

Jensen recounted his story, from aspiring to work in law enforcement and fulfilling that in 2001, to daily suicidal thoughts and drinking to self-medicate in 2010 and 2011. His voice sometimes shook from nerves or emotion. He used the word “ashamed” frequently.

“TM helped my family come out of darkness, it brought me relief and gave me hope for the future,” said Jensen.

Yellin, Travis: TM programs needed for veterans

At Healing the Hidden Wounds of War forum, Jerry Yellin, told about his inspiration to ask for a division of Operation Warrior Wellness to teach Transcendental Meditation to help military veterans.

It came from a personal experience, a tragedy of another soldier’s family that had Yellin pursue a program to help veterans.

“I asked what was the cost of current treatment for veterans with post traumatic stress when I met with the deputy of the V.A. administration,” he said.

The 2006 and 2007 Veterans Affairs cost of mental health support to veterans of all wars, was $15 billion and $18 billion, said Yellin.

“We have so many young veterans who have been to Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Yellin. “They will live another 50 to 60 years … and mental health costs could be $20 billion each year?”

That provides an economic motivation to have Transcendental Meditation programs available on a large-scale basis for veterans, he said.

Fred Travis, a Maharishi University of Management professor and director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition, also said larger-scale TM programs are needed for veterans.

“The Veterans Administration will approve TM for a veteran on a one-at-a-time basis,” he said.

“We still recommend that TM is a part of a treatment program, not the only part,” said Travis. “Work with professionals.”

Travis explained how post traumatic stress works on the brain.

“The Amygdala part of the brain tags important events to file away in your memory,” he said. “It tags each detail; it’s permenantly stuck on. Every experience is tagged with strong emotion.

“Post traumatic stress is a natural reaction to unnatural events. So once all these events are tagged with strong emotion, the person now feels they have to be completely in control. You experience hyper-vigilance and can’t rest. We also know from research that when someone is experiencing PTS, the brain’s frontal lobes turn off. The frontal lobes are the ‘CEO’ of the brain. When it’s not functioning properly, you don’t have the brain power to find a solution; you only see the problems,” said Travis.

“TM takes the mind beyond just coping,” he said. “If we could do something beforehand to increase resilience, how much better.”

— Diane Vance, Ledger staff writer

This cover story was posted with permission from The Fairfield Ledger

Other post-event coverage: Mark Newman: Courier: Iowa soldier seeks peace of mind through meditation and medication and KTVO News: How one soldier regained his life with help from WWII veteran and TM for PTSD. Pre-event coverage: WHO TV 13: WARRIOR WELLNESS: Healing Hidden Wounds | Des Moines Register: Fairfield and Ames war veterans team up to bring meditation (TM) to fellow Iowa vets with PTSD | Fairfield Ledger cover article by Diane Vance: Combat stress subject of public forum Saturday | KTVO: Veterans speak out on post-traumatic stress, offer a proven way to heal PTSD | Story County Veteran Once Suicidal Finds Relief from PTSD with Transcendental Meditation: AmesPatch article by Jessica Miller | Healing the Hidden Wounds of War: open forum for Iowa veterans and their families affected by PTSD, sponsored by Operation Warrior Wellness | TM Blog: “TM saved my life”—Suicidal Afghanistan war veteran who suffered from PTSD

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Mark Newman: Courier: Iowa soldier seeks peace of mind through meditation and medication

July 30, 2012

Iowa soldier seeks peace of mind through meditation and medication

July 30, 2012

MARK NEWMAN Courier Staff Writer

War veteran Luke Jensen from Colo, Iowa, speaks with audience members after taking part in a presentation on post traumatic stress disorder Saturday in Fairfield. A civilian police officer and SWAT team member when his Army Reserve unit was deployed, Jensen thought he was too tough to suffer PTSD. Mark Newman/The Courier

FAIRFIELD — Military police sergeants, civilian police officers and SWAT team members are all supposed to be tough. Luke Jensen was all three, so when the stress of combat began eating away at him, he felt so ashamed, he wanted to die.

Meditation helped correct that desire — and he believes it could help other soldiers and veterans.

Jensen was asked by Operation Warrior Wellness to speak about his experiences with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during a presentation Saturday on PTSD, the military and the advantages of Transcendental Meditation.

“The medical [tents] in Afghanistan were for 10th Mountain Division soldiers who’d been wounded in combat,” said the Nevada, Iowa man.

How could he possibly walk into that tent and tell a medic that he was sad?

He told the Fairfield audience that his base was hit their first night there. Gunshots, explosions and outgoing fire were nearly constant. And the things he saw around him were worse than he felt he could handle.

He couldn’t sleep, he was having panic attacks and in addition to worrying about himself, the staff sergeant had his men to lead.

“I thought I was tough,” he said.

But in a combat zone, his world was out of control. When sent to investigate a report of a little Afghani girl struck by a U.S. vehicle, he found the child dead near the road.

The upset family came to claim her. Jensen contacted the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division then kept people from walking onto the death scene. He had no translator. The locals were getting angrier and more numerous, not understanding why this armed foreigner would want to keep the girl’s body from her family.

Later, someone — Jensen never found out who — ran over and killed a nearby U.S. serviceman.

His nerves couldn’t handle any more. As soon as he was able, he decided to take his sidearm and shoot himself dead. When health personnel he’d sought out heard about his attempt, he was evacuated — which made him feel as though he’d failed in his duty.

At least he could move on with his life. So why did he keep thinking the most logical step would be to take his own life — even when back in the U.S.? He still couldn’t sleep. He still had panic attacks. And he felt a deep sense of shame — especially because while on a U.S. base receiving medical care, he saw the other soldiers who had “real” injuries.

Dr. Fred Travis, a psychologist in Fairfield, said PTSD produces an injury as real as any wound. Travis is the director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management.

CAT scans of patients suffering from PTSD, he said, provide evidence that the brains of sufferers are different from those without PTSD. The effect is physical.

But Jensen didn’t know his brain was short circuited. He was taking medication for depression and anxiety, back in Iowa working in law enforcement. He still wanted to die.

When his police supervisors heard he was suicidal, they began proceedings to terminate him.

“Jerry Yellin saved my life,” Jensen said.

Yellin was a World War II fighter pilot who went undiagnosed with PTSD for 30 years. Transcendental Meditation was what helped him find relaxation and peace. When he heard about the young soldier, he called him.

Yellin got support from MUM and the David Lynch Foundation in order to provide a sort of “scholarship” for Staff Sgt. Jensen and his wife to learn TM.

Jensen thought it’d be worth a try. He had recently made a suicide threat, loaded gun to his head in front of his wife and five-year-old daughter.

The trip to Fairfield was worth it, he said. He learned to find quiet in his mind, which allowed him to relax peacefully for the first time in a long time, he said.

Dr. Travis said what appears to be happening with PTSD is that in a combat zone, the mind naturally must be super vigilant. One needs to be able to see every danger, lock that sound or sight into the memory — and avoid it.

With PTSD, every similar noise or sight becomes a life-or-death situation. Memories of danger are “locked” into the brain. Worse, parts of the mind are “short circuited” so that while the “problem-seeing” part of the brain is stuck in the “on” position, the “problem-solving” part of the brain is off. Desperation develops when all you see are problems — problems with no solution.

By meditating, TM practitioners are trained to go around that damaged part of the brain, Yellin said.

Travis said CAT scans show that, too. There is more blood flow to the frontal lobes and the portion of the brain that is generally considered to be “in charge.”

In a video about their situation, Jensen’s wife said TM saved her husband’s life. Yellin wants more soldiers to have that opportunity, and is working with the David Lynch Foundation as co-chair of Operation Warrior Wellness.

Like other parts of the body, the brain responds to exercise, becoming more resilient.

“If your frontal lobes are more developed, we believe you will be better able to deal with stressful situations,” said Travis.

Presenters said practitioners of meditation are also better able to separate the quiet of inner peace from traumatic situations in the outside world. The military is starting to take notice, as is the Veterans Administration.

Chris Busch, director of programs for the David Lynch Foundation, said the VA has commissioned two large studies to see if TM really shows results.

TM is not a replacement for traditional medicine, he said. It can be, however, one of the options doctors offer mental health patients on their way to recovery.

Yellin said Saturday’s event was the start to an effort to provide scholarships every veteran who needs TM.

For more information, visit www.operationwarriorwellness.org.

Also published in Journal Express of CNHI/SE Iowa.

Other news coverage: KTVO News: How one soldier regained his life with help from WWII veteran and TM for PTSD and WHO TV 13: WARRIOR WELLNESS: Healing Hidden Wounds  |  Des Moines Register: Fairfield and Ames war veterans team up to bring meditation (TM) to fellow Iowa vets with PTSD  |  Fairfield Ledger cover article by Diane Vance: Combat stress subject of public forum Saturday  |  KTVO: Veterans speak out on post-traumatic stress, offer a proven way to heal PTSD  |  Story County Veteran Once Suicidal Finds Relief from PTSD with Transcendental Meditation: AmesPatch article by Jessica Miller  |  Healing the Hidden Wounds of War: open forum for Iowa veterans and their families affected by PTSD, sponsored by Operation Warrior Wellness | TM Blog: “TM saved my life”—Suicidal Afghanistan war veteran who suffered from PTSD

KTVO News: How one soldier regained his life with help from WWII veteran and TM for PTSD

July 29, 2012
How one soldier regained his life
by Tess Hedrick
Posted: 07.28.2012 at 8:11 PM

Published on Jul 28, 2012 by

FAIRFIELD, IOWA — It’s called Operation Warrior Wellness. It is helping war veterans of all ages with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) regain control of their lives through Transcendental Meditation.

“He was the comedian. He was very fun, loved his job, loved his family — very outgoing and just very involved in everything,” said Abi Jensen, wife of a war veteran.

Abi Jensen spoke about what her husband Luke was like before he was deployed to Afghanistan. However when Luke returned from war, it was a very different story.

“He was very angry, very anxious about every situation — social situations, even quiet time at home — he was just, couldn’t ever really relax. Everything caused him anger and anxiety,” said Abi.

Luke Jensen knew he needed to reach out for help when he a hit a breaking point in his life, one neither he nor his family would ever forget.

“One night I drank too much and I actually punched holes through the walls of my home. I pointed a loaded gun at my head in front of my wife and children. And that was — the next day I knew I totally crossed the line and I needed to get help now,” said Luke Jensen.

And that’s where Jerry Yellin came in. Yellin is a WWII Veteran and was suffering from PTSD until he discovered Transcendental Meditation.

Yellin happened to see a front page newspaper article on PTSD featuring Luke Jensen’s story.

“And I spoke to him — told him who I was and what I had been through and what I was doing now. And I asked him if he would come to Fairfield and learn Transcendental Meditation, when he did last August, early August and he got his life back,” said Yellin, Operation Warrior Wellness.

Luke said it’s because of Transcendental Meditation that he is still with his family today and he reiterates a particular message to those suffering from PTSD:

“If you don’t want to do it for yourself, if you’re not willing to get help for yourself, do it for your family. If you love your family, love your children — they don’t deserve to go through stress and anxiety because of, because of your experiences,” said Luke.

Related news coverage: WHO TV 13: WARRIOR WELLNESS: Healing Hidden Wounds  |  Des Moines Register: Fairfield and Ames war veterans team up to bring meditation (TM) to fellow Iowa vets with PTSD  |  Fairfield Ledger cover article by Diane Vance: Combat stress subject of public forum Saturday  |  KTVO: Veterans speak out on post-traumatic stress, offer a proven way to heal PTSD  |  Story County Veteran Once Suicidal Finds Relief from PTSD with Transcendental Meditation: AmesPatch article by Jessica Miller Healing the Hidden Wounds of War: open forum for Iowa veterans and their families affected by PTSD, sponsored by Operation  Warrior Wellness  |  TM Blog: “TM saved my life”—Suicidal Afghanistan war veteran who suffered from PTSD

WHO-TV 13 News: WARRIOR WELLNESS: Healing Hidden Wounds with Meditation for Veterans

July 27, 2012

WARRIOR WELLNESS: Healing Hidden Wounds

July 27, 2012, by for WHO-TV 13 Des Moines, Iowa

One veteran says he’s finally found a way of dealing with his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after serving in Afghanistan. And, he wants to share his story to help other warriors heal the hidden wounds of war.

Every day used to be a struggle for Luke Jensen. He says, “I was having a lot of anxiety, depression. I was ashamed.”

Jensen served in Afghanistan in 2009. He says he fell apart after a few months of service and sent home. He says, “At the beginning of deployment, I was the guy keeping everybody cheered up and joking around. I thought I was kind of a tough guy people could lean on, and I really just started deteriorating and lost control.”

Jensen says he wasn’t himself when he came home to his wife and two girls. Last July, the Des Moines Register shared his story. World War II Fighter Pilot Jerry Yellin read the article and says, “It’s a devastating story:  At war with PTSD. The next battle for families. “

Yellin saw the article, and as a veteran, recognized his stress. He says, “What I thought was, here’s a guy who needs me. Who needs what I know.”

Yellin says he called Jensen the next day. He invited him to Fairfield to learn a practice called Transcendental Meditation. He says, “A lot of people think TM is a religion, you have to follow the guidelines, but it isn’t. It’s a technique, it’s a mental technique.”

Jensen says the technique was simple for him to learn. He finds a comfortable chair in a quiet place and closes his eyes. For twenty minutes two times a day, he repeats his personal mantra. He says, “It’s just a word that takes you in a deep state of rest and while you’re doing that, you’re getting rid of stress and giving yourself peace and relaxation.”

Jensen says his wife also learned TM. He says it’s given him his life back. He says, “It helped me relax right away. It helped me start getting better sleep, helped me with my anxiety to the point where I got off my anxiety medication completely.”

Jensen will share his story Saturday afternoon. All Iowa veterans are invited to attend with their families. Veterans will learn more about a program called Operation Warrior Wellness that offers scholarships for veterans to learn Transcendental Meditation. The seminar is Saturday, July 28 at 2 p.m. at the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center.

You can find information at www.operationwarriorwellness.org/iowa.

Veteran Meditation video published on Jul 27, 2012 by . Link to article: http://bit.ly/PJehMh.

Related news coverage: Des Moines Register: Fairfield and Ames war veterans team up to bring meditation (TM) to fellow Iowa vets with PTSD  |  Fairfield Ledger cover article by Diane Vance: Combat stress subject of public forum Saturday Veterans speak out on post-traumatic stress, offer a proven way to heal PTSD  |  Story County Veteran Once Suicidal Finds Relief from PTSD with Transcendental Meditation: AmesPatch article by Jessica Miller  |  Healing the Hidden Wounds of War: open forum for Iowa veterans and their families affected by PTSD, sponsored by Operation Warrior Wellness  |  TM Blog: “TM saved my life”—Suicidal Afghanistan war veteran who suffered from PTSD

Fairfield and Ames war veterans team up to bring meditation (TM) to fellow Iowa vets with PTSD

July 26, 2012

Meditation, fellow veteran help Colo reservist heal from PTSD

Written by Daniel P. Finney for the Des Moines Register

Luke Jensen has found Transcendental Meditation to be a help to him as he copes with the aftereffects of his service in the war in Afghanistan.  Christopher Gannon/The Register

Luke Jensen was in bad shape when Jerry Yellin reached out to him last year.

Jensen, a 32-year-old U.S. Army Reserve veteran of the Afghanistan war, was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

He yelled at his wife and two daughters. He stormed about his Colo home. He rarely slept. He drank until he passed out. He overdosed on his anti-anxiety medication. One dark night, in front of his youngest daughter and wife, he held a loaded gun up to his head.

“I thought about suicide on a daily basis,” Jensen said. “It was that bad.”

Also an Army veteran, Yellin contacted Jensen after reading a profile in The Des Moines Register last year detailing Jensen’s struggles.

Yellin, a New Jersey native who lives in Fairfield, told Jensen he felt the same way after his World War II service. Yellin, 88, had lived with suicidal thoughts and anhedonia — an inability to experience pleasure from usually enjoyable activities — for 30 years until he and his wife, Helene, discovered Transcendental Meditation.

“I read that story and I knew I had to get to Luke,” Yellin said. “I don’t want anyone to live with the hell I did for 30 days let alone 30 years. I believed I could help.”

The pair seek to bring their message to more veterans Saturday in Fairfield. Both will speak at “Healing the Hidden Wounds of War” at 2 p.m. at the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center. The seminar is free. Scholarships also will be awarded free of charge to veterans and their spouses to learn the technique and practice it for six months.

The event is sponsored by Operation Warrior Wellness, which promotes Transcendental Meditation to veterans struggling with their experiences in war. Operation Warrior Wellness is sponsored by filmmaker David Lynch, known for the TV series “Twin Peaks” and “The Straight Story,” a film about a man’s journey from Iowa to Wisconsin to visit his estranged brother.

Transcendental Meditation is based on an Indian philosophy that trains the mind and consciousness to realize a benefit by focusing on a mantra, a meaningless word that helps bring about calm and reduce stress. The technique dates back more than 5,000 years, but it became especially popular in the U.S. during the 1960s when championed by charismatic guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Iowa and meditation have a long history. Followers established the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield in 1974, considered the world’s largest training center for the technique.

The U.S. Department of Defense does not specifically offer meditation technique, though officials are not opposed to the practice as a way to mitigate PTSD and other war-related disorders.

“When you’re talking about PTSD, it is a toolbox issue,” said Col. Greg Hapgood, spokesman for the Iowa National Guard. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution. We wouldn’t discourage veterans from informally reaching out to anything that some have found to be a positive.”

Some skeptics dismiss the technique as hokum, but Yellin and Jensen believe their meditation has alleviated years of struggles. Yellin got into the technique after his wife, Helene, saw the Maharishi on “The Merv Griffin Show” in 1975. The couple lived in Florida at the time and called a local Transcendental Meditation teacher.

“After the war, I lived my life without purpose,” Jerry Yellin said. “As a fighter pilot, I had purpose. I came home. I got married. I had four sons. I was a father in presence. I was a husband in presence. But I had no purpose.”

In the years after the war, Yellin struggled to work. He held as many as 30 jobs. He worked for his wife’s father several times. His office was in a nine-story building and he often thought about jumping to his death.

“I loved my children and I loved my wife, so I didn’t,” he said. “But I thought about it a lot.”

The meditation, Yellin said, helped him process decades-old memories from the war. He flew strafing runs to support U.S. Marines on Iwo Jima, where 7,000 Marines and 21,000 Japanese soldiers died.

“The Marine mortuary was right behind our station,” Yellin recalled. “I saw hundreds upon hundreds of bodies being buried. I saw thousands of Japanese dead being pushed into mass graves.”

He carried a hatred for the Japanese people until 1988, when one of his sons married the daughter of a former Japanese Zero pilot. The meditation helped him make peace with his memories and become a better husband, father and now grandfather, he says.

Oddly, Yellin said the feeling he gets when he meditates is similar to the feeling he got when he flew fighter planes.

“It’s a warrior’s technique,” he said. “When you go to battle, you’re in the zone. I became the airplane. I can tell you how many aircraft I shot down. I can remember the aftereffects of what I did, but I can’t remember what I did to make that happen. You become one with the moment.”

The same warrior’s technique also helped Jensen make his peace. He and his wife, Abi, both practice. After returning from service, he couldn’t sleep despite a regimen of pills specifically prescribed to make him drowsy.

After his first session, Jensen slept better than he had before the war. He felt “a great weight lifted off my shoulders. It really made me a better person in every conceivable way.”

Both Jensen and Yellin acknowledge some skeptics doubt Transcendental Meditation. Some worry the practice will interfere with their religion. Yellin, however, said his meditation makes him a better Christian.

“This is not psychology,” Yellin said. “This is not religion. It’s a healing practice. If you served your country in war and you’re suffering, it’s worth a try.”

warrior wellness

For more information on Operation Warrior Wellness, visit iowaveterans.eventbrite.com.

David J Gudenkauf· Top Commenter

Great article! Keep writing about these veterans returning back from combat zones and how difficult it is to transition into a normal lifestyle. Once you keep raising awareness, the “Investment” will be forced on politicians to continue the promises of CARE they are planning to cut from these traumatized citizens. Ask those people in that Aurora theater how long it will take to recover from the incident of that gun fight and you can get a basic understanding of a veteran leaving a normal family and spending a YEAR’s worth of those days living like that and then being expected to act “normally” like nothing happened. Then when they need help, a government tells them that they should look elsewhere because it is not in the defense funds anymore (even though they put them there in the first place).

Jean Welch Tobin

I have spoken to a number of veterans who have learned the TM technique and their stories mirror the stories told here. I encourage all veterans, men and women, to take advantage of this opportunity.

Also posted on DefenseTracker.com: Meditation Helps Reservist Heal and Wounded Times Blogspot and Altoona Herald-Index.

Connie Boyer of Opening Fairfield Doors interviews Jerry Yellin at Fairfield Media Center

July 26, 2012

Opening Fairfield Doors with Connie Boyer. In Episode 5, Connie talks with WWII Captain (Ret) Jerry Yellin about his war experiences, his feeling lost after the war, multiple jobs, learning the Transcendental Meditation technique, which helped him get his life back, and his eventual return visit to Japan with his wife, Helene. They liked it so much they sent their son, Robert, to visit Japan after graduating from high school. He ended up teaching English in Japan and never came back. He married a Japanese girl, which forced Jerry to reconcile with his enemy, now family.

Jerry Yellin wrote several award-winning books about his experiences in Of War and Weddings, The Blackened Canteen, The Letter, and The Resilient Warrior: Healing the Hidden Wounds of War. Today Jerry is co-director of Operation Warrior Wellness.

Last year he read about Luke Jensen’s battle with PTSD after returning from Afghanistan, and offered him a scholarship from the David Lynch Foundation to learn Transcendental Meditation. It transformed his life.

Now Jerry and Luke are offering an open forum to all Iowa veterans and their families to learn TM and get their lives back. See the articles and videos listed below for more information.

Those interested in attending the forum, Healing the Hidden Wounds of War, this Saturday, July 28, 2 pm, at the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center, can register at www.operationwarriorwellness.org/iowa.

Published on Jul 23, 2012 by FFMediaCenter 

Fairfield and Ames war veterans team up to bring meditation (TM) to fellow Iowa vets with PTSD  |  Fairfield Ledger cover article by Diane Vance: Combat stress subject of public forum Saturday  |  Veterans speak out on post-traumatic stress, offer a proven way to heal PTSD  |  Story County Veteran Once Suicidal Finds Relief from PTSD with Transcendental Meditation: AmesPatch article by Jessica Miller  |  Healing the Hidden Wounds of War: open forum for Iowa veterans and their families affected by PTSD, sponsored by Operation Warrior Wellness 

For more information on Robert Yellin in Japan: Takumi is not ‘lost in translation’ in this beautiful film about Japan’s diverse artisan tradition

Story County Veteran Once Suicidal Finds Relief from PTSD with Transcendental Meditation: AmesPatch article by Jessica Miller

July 26, 2012

Story County Veteran Once Suicidal Finds Relief from PTSD with Transcendental Meditation

Luke Jensen will share how transcendental meditation TM helped him at Healing the Hidden Wounds of War forum in Fairfield Saturday. The event is an open forum for Iowa veterans and their families affected by PTSD or PTS.

By Jessica Miller

After spending a year in Afghanistan investigating cases as a military police officer in 2009, Luke Jensen was immediately given a series of medications for anxiety and sleep to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms (PTSD).

Coming home and the medications he was prescribed before his discharge didn’t fix his problem. Through the day his anxiety was so high that his fingertips pruned from sweating and at night he dreamed of the military.

He returned to his civilian life, but he found his PTSD symptoms so debilitating that after a night of drinking he swallowed all the medication he had.

“I thought it would be the easy way to go,” Jensen said.

Jensen swallowed pills hoping to die from an overdose, but he survived. On another occasion, he pointed a gun at himself, but he stopped himself from pulling the trigger. His family convinced him to seek additional help and eventually he found some relief through transcendental meditation.

“This is the first thing that gave me relief,” Jensen said.

Jensen plans to share his full story 2 p.m. Saturday in Fairfield at a seminar called Healing the Hidden Wounds of War. The event is an open forum for Iowa veterans and their families affected by PTSD.

Jensen is still here to tell his story, but the U.S. Department of Defense released figures in June showing that 154 active duty troops committed suicide in the first 155 days of 2012, as reported in many media outlets including the LA Times.

One a Day, a term once used to describe the loss of WWII veterans as they grew old, now quantifies the suicide rate among American active duty troops.

As a reminder, Time Magazine’s “One a Day” cover is taped to a file cabinet in the Story County Veterans Affairs Office where Jensen now serves as an office coordinator.

Self-inflicted deaths have surpassed casualties on the battlefield.

“It’s a problem on the rise,” Jensen said.

The former undercover police officer said he was ashamed to admit he had a problem at first.

“No one thought I would be the one to have a problem. I was the guy cheering everyone up,” Jensen said.

He’d seen dead bodies as a police officer and though he investigated cases in dangerous places as a military police officer he never faced fire. He couldn’t understand why he would have a problem. Seeing dead servicemen wearing the same uniform as him had a different impact. He thought his own death was inevitable and thought about suicide during service.

Jensen tried a number of therapies including individual and group therapy and a rapid eye movement technique. He shared his story with the media in 2011, because he was upset.

He’d been fired from his job with the Story County Sheriff’s Office and he felt that the Army was failing to deal with the suicide/PTSD problem and that civilians didn’t know how to deal with it.

Jerry Yellins, co-director for Operation Warrior Wellness, read Jensen’s story and offered him a scholarship so that he could learn Transcendental Meditation, something that had also given Yellin relief.

Jensen learned the meditation technique over a weekend in August 2011 and said a month later he was able to stop taking his anxiety medications.

He practices the technique daily spending about 20 minutes before and after work in a quiet place to focus on his mantra. He compares it to taking a power nap.

Jensen has since been given a new job with the county at the veteran’s affairs office but will never be able to resume duties as a police officer. PTSD symptoms can improve, but the diagnosis is for life.

Jensen said the military is researching treatment options and seems open minded.

“They still have not found a solution, I’m trying to give another option that’s out there,” Jensen said.

Transcendental meditation is just one thing that could work, he said. Learning the technique is free to veterans thanks to scholarships through the David Lynch Foundation.

“This is well worth your time. If it doesn’t work, time, is the only thing you are out of,” Jensen said.

See: Fairfield Ledger cover article by Diane Vance: Combat stress subject of public forum Saturday  |  Veterans speak out on post-traumatic stress, offer a proven way to heal PTSD  |  Healing the Hidden Wounds of War: open forum for Iowa veterans and their families affected by PTSD, sponsored by Operation Warrior Wellness

Fairfield Ledger cover article by Diane Vance: Combat stress subject of public forum Saturday

July 26, 2012

Combat stress subject of public forum Saturday
Travis to speak at forum

By DIANE VANCE, Ledger staff writer | Jul 25, 2012

Jerry Yellin

Two U.S. Army veterans, more than five decades apart in age, and a five-wars-with-U.S.-involvement difference, will share their stories and their experiences in making peace with the effects of war and combat, in the hope of reaching other wounded veterans.

World War II P-51 fighter pilot, Fairfield resident, author and co-chair of Operation Warrior Wellness, Jerry Yellin and Luke Jensen, a 12-year Army Reserves Military Police soldier, Operation Enduring Freedom/Afghanistan veteran from Story County will join in a public forum at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center.

The forum, Healing the Hidden Wounds of War, is open to everyone at no charge.

“The military is experiencing an extreme suicide rate,” said Yellin. “The July 23, 2012, Time magazine has a story, ‘War on Suicide’ on the cover. One U.S. soldier commits suicide each day. Why?”

Another chilling statistic: More soldiers have died by suicide than have been killed in combat in Afghanistan.

“A representative from the Surgeon General’s office is coming to our forum in Fairfield,” said Yellin.

Yellin and Jensen are authorities on the effects of combat stress and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Yellin describes suffering from it for 30 years; Jensen is healing after struggling for nearly two years.

Yellin tells his story in his published book, “The Resilient Warrior.” He was 17-years-old on the day Japan attacked the U.S. navel fleet at Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.

“It felt as if someone had invaded my home, and I had to do something about it,” he wrote.

When talking about his story, Yellin says, “I lost 16 friends, other pilots. Do you want to hear their names?”

And he recites the 16 names beginning 69 years ago, how they died and when they died.

Yellin flew 19 long-range bombing missions over Japan from his base in Iwo Jima, in the company of 11 “other young pilots, all of them friends,” none who lived to return home.

But he returned home, to New Jersey, in December 1945. In his book, he describes himself as a former captain, a combat squadron leader, and a fighter pilot, but “emotionally I was just a 17-year old high school graduate. I was a lost soul, with no one to talk to and no real life experiences to fall back on,” he wrote.

“During the war, I had a purpose, it was clearly defined,” said Yellin from his 88-years’ perspective. “When I came home, I was completely empty.

“I developed an addiction — to golf,” he said. “I had no interest in working, no interest in furthering my education.

“I had dreams about my friends killed, I had nightmares about the ones lost and no bodies recovered,” he said. “I couldn’t think about the guys killed during the day.”

“Stress is like a virus of the brain,” said Yellin. “It needs something to relieve that stress. The best way I’ve found for relieving that stress is Transcendental Meditation.”

His wife Helene saw Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Merv Griffin TV show in 1975, and became interested in learning TM. After his wife and one of his sons learned, Yellin also decided to take the TM course.

“Thirty years after World War II, I found TM could take my stress away,” said Yellin.

His other three sons also learned and eventually, the family moved to Fairfield.

Since 2010, Yellin has been on a mission to help veterans, and their families, from any wars, learn TM to relieve stress, he said.

“I don’t want other veterans to go through what I went through,” he said.

Through Operation Warrior Wellness, supported by the David Lynch Foundation, offering this help, learning TM, is given at no cost to veterans and families.

Yellin has spoken about PTSD and TM in New York, Washington, D.C., South Dakota and Los Angeles. But it isn’t only from the podium to large crowds he makes his appeals; Yellin also deals up close and personal.

A year ago, his son brought home the Des Moines Register with a front-page story that grabbed Yellin’s attention.

“I don’t read newspapers a lot,” he admitted. “But the July 17, 2011, Register had the story of a young man, Luke Jensen and his family living in Story County, ‘A War with PTSD.’”

Luke Jensen

Des Moines Register writer Reid Forgrave wrote about Jensen, who grew up in a loving family, always wanted to be in law enforcement and joined the Army Reserves after high school.

The news story tells about Jensen’s hiring at the police department in Nevada, Iowa, in 2001, his yearlong deployment after 9/11 to seaports around the country, then upon returning, his advancement in local law enforcement. He worked on the Central Iowa Drug Task Force as an undercover cop, making drug buys, drug busts and felony arrests.

By 2009, he and his wife had two young daughters. His unit was called up to deploy to Afghanistan. He wasn’t looking forward to leaving his family, but it was his commitment and he would be deploying with his close-knit group of military buddies. But then, just before the unit left the states, the mission changed and the unit was split into smaller groups and dispersed to seven separate bases.

Jensen experienced soldiers dying and artillery fire shaking his bed day and night. Within a month, he felt defenseless, helpless, sleepless and eventually hopeless. He lost 25 pounds and experienced panic attacks all day long. He sweated profusely and was depressed. After 53 days he was medically evacuated.

Going through seven weeks of therapy at Fort Campbell, Ky., before returning to Iowa didn’t help. Relaxation classes, yoga and prescriptions didn’t help.

One April night in 2010 Forgrave wrote, Jensen finished drinking a 12-pack of beer and argued with his wife. He got his 45-caliber pistol and “stalked around his house, crouched toward the floor, making strange noises. ‘You don’t know what I’ve seen!’ he screamed at his wife” at 3 a.m.

When she said she was calling police, after locking herself and daughters in the bathroom, Jensen screamed he’d kill himself, wrote Forgrave.

That one-night crisis de-escalated, but Jensen was still very unbalanced. Then he lost his job as a Story County deputy. The family started going in debt.

Jensen vacillated between not sleeping and sleeping all the time. His blood pressure, at age 32, was very high. He was put on blood pressure medication. And he kept thinking about suicide, something he hadn’t really stopped thinking about since serving in Afghanistan.

He continued with counseling therapy and took a job in Story County Veteran Affairs Office, helping other veterans access services and file claims. He was making improvements, accepting his war experiences and his mental breakdown from it.

That’s the story Yellin read in the newspaper last summer. The following day, he called Story County Veterans Affairs Office and asked for Jensen.

“Yeah, he called me at the office,” said Jensen. “He told me he was an 87-year-old guy who knew what I’d been going through.”

“I told him about TM and offered to bring Luke and [his wife] Abi to Fairfield and learn TM, and it wouldn’t cost him anything,” said Yellin. “I told him I’d do anything I could for him. We put them up in a Fairfield inn, fed them and each of them took the TM course.”

It was all paid for through Operation Warrior Wellness.

“Jerry [Yellin] and I are still in constant contact,” said Jensen. “He wants to help other veterans and so do I. I have Jerry’s book in my office. I have brochures about TM and offer them to anybody who’s interested. Anytime I go to a conference or a training for Veterans Affairs, I do some local promoting about Transcendental Meditation and Operation Warrior Wellness. It has sparked some interesting conversations. And since I’m 33 and have been to Afghanistan, more younger veterans are finding their way into the office.”

Jensen said in the year since learning TM he has been able to get off his anxiety medications and sleep-aides, lower the doses on his blood pressure medication and depression medication.

“I’m sleeping much better,” he said. “I’m attending night classes through William Penn University, studying business management.

“I’ve recommended TM to family members, and besides my wife, an uncle and a cousin also learned.”

Abi also appreciates Yellin’s outreach.

“I felt we had a lot of support from family and had close military ties with Luke’s unit. I thought when he came home, we’d just go back to our former lives,” she said. “Even though I knew he had suicidal thoughts, I thought all that would go away once he was home again. I thought I was strong enough to overcome all of this.

“I didn’t want to know about all the hidden wounds, I didn’t want Luke to be changed,” she said. “One thing I’ve always adored about Luke is he’s a very tender, loving father.

“But I got to the point of being so overwhelmed,” said Abi. “I had a lot of anxiety about money. Seeing the changes in Luke was scary.”

She said learning TM over a weekend last summer, gave her hope.

“After one week of practicing TM, I could face what I needed to do, about money, about healing … it just blows me away,” she said. “Luke and I meditate together. It has helped so much. He’s better, a better husband, a better father, a better man, even now than he was before going to Afghanistan. He’s a happy guy to be around. And he’s become a good public speaker, I’m looking forward to this forum on Saturday.”

Yellin encourages anyone interested in the topic to attend Saturday’s forum

“We prefer if people register at www.operationwarriorwellness.org/iowa if they are attending,” he said.

Travis to speak at forum

Along with Luke Jensen and Jerry Yellin, Fred Travis. a professor at Maharishi University of Management and director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition, will present information at Saturday’s forum, Healing the Hidden Wounds of War.

Travis is a published researcher about the functions of the brain and effects of Transcendental Meditation on the brain.

“The main point to remember, is experience changes the brain,” he said.

That is, whatever we view, are exposed to, listen to, learn or experience, affects our brains.

“Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a natural response to an unnatural event,” said Travis. “The brain’s Amygdala attaches an emotional tag to any experience to remember it.

“PTSD is a way of the brain wanting you to remember an event, except it also causes hyper vigilance and low self-esteem and makes those experiencing PTSD not trust others,” said Travis.

“Just as experience can change the brain, Transcendental Meditation can change the brain,” he said. “When meditating in TM, the person transcends thought, which allows the brain to reset itself. If affects the body and the mind.

“How can I say this? Because we have research to back it up.”

Front page article reprinted with permission from The Fairfield Ledger

See: Military veterans speak on need to increase resiliency: by Diane Vance, Fairfield Ledger  |  WHO TV 13: WARRIOR WELLNESS: Healing Hidden Wounds  |  Des Moines Register: Fairfield and Ames war veterans team up to bring meditation (TM) to fellow Iowa vets with PTSD  |   KTVO: Veterans speak out on post-traumatic stress, offer a proven way to heal PTSD  |  Healing the Hidden Wounds of War: open forum for Iowa veterans and their families affected by PTSD, sponsored by Operation Warrior Wellness  |  Mark Newman: Courier: Iowa soldier seeks peace of mind through meditation and medication  |  KTVO News: How one soldier regained his life with help from WWII veteran and TM for PTSD  |  TM Blog: “TM saved my life”—Suicidal Afghanistan war veteran who suffered from PTSD

Celeb Spiritual Report: Jane Mag, May, 2004: David Lynch: One significant day in my life

July 24, 2012

One significant day in my life

By David Lynch

Jane – May, 2004

A significant event occurred in my life the day I learned that our human physiology, our body, is made of consciousness.

Consciousness???

“What???” I asked out loud in wonder.

I learned that our human physiology is so magnificent and complex, and so exquisite in its design and makeup, as to be wondrous beyond imagination. We are spun out of unbounded, infinite, eternal consciousness.

I learned that underlying all matter is a vast, unbounded, infinite and eternal field of consciousness called the Unified Field. I found out that modern science started taking this field seriously about 25 years ago and that all matter is unified at this level in a state of perfect symmetry, or balance. The entire universe emerges from this field in a process called “spontaneous sequential symmetry breaking.”

Are you still with me?

I also learned that there is another science called Vedic Science. This Vedic Science is ancient, and it has always talked of the Unified Field.

Interesting!

Veda, I learned, means “total knowledge.” The home of total knowledge is the Unified Field. It is also the home of all the laws of nature. The branches of Veda, 40 in total, make up the language of the Unified Field, the impulses of this eternal field.

I realized this Unified Field is quite an interesting place. It is not manifest and is full, meaning it is no thing, yet all things in potential. It manifests and permeates all things: the whole universe, everything, while still remaining full and not manifest.

Amazing!

Is this mind-boggling or what?

Now comes the hippest part. I have learned that any human being can “experience” the Unified Field.

Really?

Or: So what?

Why in the world would we care to experience the Unified Field?

First, another question.

Have you ever heard that most of us human beings use only 5 percent of our brain, our mind? Have you ever wondered what in the heck the other 95 percent is all about?

This is the beautiful part coming up.

The “experience” of the Unified Field actually unfolds “enlightenment”—higher states of consciousness culminating in Unity Consciousness, the highest state of consciousness. These higher states use that 95 percent of the brain. That is what the 95 percent is there for—to give us permanent, all-time enlightenment.

Now, what is enlightenment? If you were a light bulb, let’s say, your “glow” might light up your whole house and surrounding yard. In enlightenment, your “glow” would be unbounded, infinite and eternal. That would be some glow!

Enlightenment is fulfillment. Supreme fulfillment. Unbounded, infinite, eternal bliss, consciousness, intelligence, creativity, harmony, dynamic peace.

Enlightenment, I have learned, is our “full potential.” It is the birthright of every human being to enjoy enlightenment.

Is this good news? I think it is such good news.

In Vedic Science, the Unified Field is called “Atma.” Translated, that is “Self”—the Self of us all.

The Unified Field is not something foreign, or even something far away. It is right within each of us at the base of our mind, the source of thought. A great sage from the Himalayas, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, brought a beautiful gift to our world in the form of Transcendental Meditation. Transcendental Meditation is an easy and effortless, yet supremely profound, technique that allows any human to dive within and experience that unbounded ocean of pure bliss, pure consciousness, the Unified Field, our Self.

It may be interesting for you to know that millions of people are practicing Transcendental Meditation all around the world. People from all religions, and all walks of life. Over 600 studies have been done in universities and research institutes validating the profound benefits of Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation Program.

Having this kind of knowledge and technologies of consciousness available to us in this age is, in my mind, a significant event. Yet the “experience” of that Unified Field is the most significant event, because it unfolds what we truly are—totality.

David’s movies include Eraserhead, Dune, Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive. He is looking forward to Creating World Peace Day, to be held mid-September at the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa (www.mum.edu).

Copyright 2004 Fairchild Publications, Inc.

Back to the David Lynch articles page.

Jane – May, 2004 – David Lynch’s Celeb Spiritual Report

The Wall Street Journal: 20 ODD QUESTIONS (with David Lynch)

July 23, 2012

20 ODD QUESTIONS
Updated July 21, 2012, 8:38 p.m. ET

David Lynch

The dark (and sometimes light) director on the joys of finger painting, how he meditates and the newspaper-tossing techniques of his youth

Some excerpts:

Mr. Lynch embraced transcendental meditation around the time he made the 1977 curiosity “Eraserhead,” and since 2005 has headed the David Lynch Foundation, a charity he created to fund the teaching of T.M. in schools. It’s become a consuming mission.

I can’t live without coffee, transcendental meditation, American Spirit cigarettes, a freedom to create ideas that flow and my sweet wife, Emily. And this business of just being able to work and think: It’s really, really beautiful.

You don’t need a special place to meditate. You can transcend anywhere in the world. The unified field is here, and there, and everywhere. Maybe if you sat on a bed of nails to do it…no, not so much comfort. Find a comfy chair, though, close your eyes and away you go!

Read the whole interview here.

See David Lynch speaks with LA Times health writer Jeannine Stein about Transcendental Meditation (Five Questions: David Lynch on transcendental meditation)


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