Archive for April, 2016

The beautiful views to and from Nathanael’s Santa Barbara Riviera home inspired this short poem

April 20, 2016

My son Nathanael recently moved to the Santa Barbara Riviera and would send me photos of the view from his home. One early misty morning he posted a surreal photo taken from his balcony. It inspired this Santa Barbara Riviera Haiku.

View to Nathanael's home

Nathanael had invited me to see for myself how special it is to live there. When I arrived a few days ago, I was struck by the beauty of the place. As I entered the gated property, I sensed a stillness, and noticed the artistic landscaping filled with all kinds succulents and flowering bushes.

As I approached the front steps, I was literally stopped in my tracks, by an overwhelming floral scent. After recognizing it, I had to write a Threshold Haiku, and took a photo of the entrance way to go with it.

Once inside, I was overwhelmed again, this time by the view from his living room window. It looks out onto the city, the ocean and neighboring Channel Islands, topped by an expansive blue sky. Now I knew what he meant. The view is spectacular! The colorful natural scenery is constantly changing. At night the lights of the city and the stars create a different picture. It’s all very relaxing. You don’t want to leave.

Today I told him how lucky he was to be in this place, in such an incredible location. It’s like living in a painting. He said he had spent time exploring the different Santa Barbara neighborhoods, and was immediately drawn to Toro Canyon, Eucalyptus Hill, and the Riviera. Here’s a picture of the view that inspired yet another short poem.

View from Nathanael's home

You’re living in a painting
In the eye of the artist’s
Object of adoration

©Ken Chawkin
Santa Barbara
April 18, 2016

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A bit of history

I remembered the first time I came to Santa Barbara, in April 1974, an exotic welcome relief from the cold Canadian winter. I was a student at MIU, based in a temporary campus in Goleta. The university had rented an enclosed apartment complex. After a few months an actual college campus was purchased and we all moved to our permanent home in Fairfield, Iowa. Those were exciting days. We were pioneers!

The most recent time I was in Santa Barbara was in the summer of 2012 on my way to Greg and Britta Reitman‘s wedding in Ventura. Miriam Kasin, a friend who was living in Santa Barbara at the time, showed me around town for a few days before we drove to the wedding, where we had a fabulous time.

Yesterday, Nathanael took me to see the facility where MIU, now MUM, started in Goleta. That was 42 years ago! The place looked the same, but obviously different. I had turned 30 at that time, 5 years younger than Nathanael is now. By the time I was his age, I would already be married and he would be born a year later. And here we were, together sharing a part of my early history. What a difference a generation has made, thanks to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi!

Where MIU was in Goleta, CA

Central courtyard where MIU had set up campus in Goleta, California

For my birthday, Nathanael took me to The Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach for lunch. While waiting for our food I received a phone call from an unfamiliar caller. Here’s what happened.

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Threshold Haiku by Ken Chawkin for Nathanael

April 16, 2016

This haiku was inspired by the overwhelming scent of jasmine that greeted me as I crossed the threshold to my son’s home in the Santa Barbara Riviera.

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Threshold Haiku

Before entering
The threshold to my son’s home
Pillars of jasmine

©Ken Chawkin
Santa Barbara
April 15, 2016

See more beautiful views to and from Nathanael’s Santa Barbara Riviera home that inspired another short poem.

Can group meditation prevent violent crime? Surprisingly, the data suggests yes: New study

April 14, 2016

Large groups practicing the advanced Transcendental Meditation program were associated with significant reductions in U.S. homicide and urban violent crime rates during an intervention period of 2007–2010

Summary: A new study, in a series spanning decades, suggests again that a sufficiently large group practicing an advanced program of Transcendental Meditation, the TM-Sidhi program, is associated with decreased violence in the whole society. From 2007–2010 the homicide rate dropped nationally 21.2% (5.3% per year), and violent urban crime dropped 18.5% (4.6% per year) for a sample of 206 urban areas nationwide with a population over 100,000. Both reductions were relative to prior trends, 2002–2006.

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During 2007-2010 when the size of a group of advanced TM-Sidhi program participants exceeded the threshold predicted to reduce negative trends (√1%), there was a significant shift in the U.S. national homicide rate and urban violent crime. Relative to the baseline period of 2002-2006, the drop in homicide rate was 21.2% (5.3% per year) and 18.5% (4.6% per year) for violent crime.

Can group meditation prevent violent crime?

Can large group meditation lower the crime rate? The most recent in a series of studies spanning decades suggests again that a sufficiently large group practicing an advanced program of Transcendental Meditation, the TM-Sidhi program, is associated with decreased social violence.

For the period 2007–2010, when there was a sufficiently large group, statistical analysis found a significant decrease in both the national homicide rate and urban violent crime rate compared to trends during the baseline period of 2002–2006.

The total drop in the homicide rate relative to the baseline average rate was 21.2% over the four-year intervention period (5.3% per year). Analysis of monthly data showed that a rising trend of U.S. homicides during the baseline period 2002–2006 was reversed during the intervention period 2007-2010 of the study (see graph). Researchers estimate that 8,157 homicides were averted by the highly significant shift from an increasing to a decreasing trend in homicide rates.

The drop in the violent crime rate was 18.5% (4.6% per year). The study found a highly significant shift from a flat trend in 2002–2006 to a declining trend in 2007–2010 for a sample of 206 urban areas nationwide with a population over 100,000 (see graph).

Predicted in advance

Starting in July 2006, advanced meditators assembled at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, to create a group large enough to have this influence on the U.S. as a whole.

Predictions were lodged with the press and other scientists that significant decreases in violent crime would occur when the group reached or exceeded the theoretically predicted threshold of the square root of 1% of the U.S. population. By January 2007 the group exceeded the required size of 1,725 participants, the square root of 1% of the U.S. population at the time, and remained above or near that level through 2010.

The study was published today in SAGE Open Apr 2016, 6 (2). This journal is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

A new hypothesis in the social sciences

“I understand it’s a new hypothesis in the social sciences that meditation could have a stress-reducing and coherence-creating effect in society,” said lead author Michael Dillbeck. “But such research is increasingly suggesting that there’s a field effect of consciousness. If you get a large enough group together practicing this technique to experience the field quality of consciousness, these extended ‘field-like’ effects are expressed in society.”

The hypothesis of a field effect of consciousness implies that there is an underlying connection between individuals in much the same way that physics has uncovered greater unity beneath the diversity of matter and energy fields. The more powerfully that underlying field is enlivened, the greater the unifying influence of peace and harmony on the surface levels of life.

The hypothesis was first proposed in 1960 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who introduced the Transcendental Meditation technique. This hypothesis was first confirmed by published research in the 1970s and 1980s when it was observed that those cities that had 1% of the population practicing Transcendental Meditation showed significant increases in positive trends.

The effect was found to be even greater when the advanced TM-Sidhi program was introduced, with observations suggesting that just the square root of 1% of a population could increase harmony and improve diverse measures of the quality of life in society.

Nine peer-reviewed articles, comprising 14 studies, have now been published that support this hypothesized effect.

While the earlier studies were based on groups doing their advanced meditation programs for periods of several weeks or months, this current study was for a number of years, giving researchers an opportunity to study potential long-term changes.

Rigorous statistical analysis

The study’s authors used a battery of diagnostic tests to establish the validity of the key statistical assumptions of the analysis, which utilized “broken-trend intervention analysis” of outcomes, a form of “interrupted time series analysis.”

They also found that alternative hypotheses, such as economic trends, incarceration rates, seasonal cycles, demographic changes, and policing strategies, weren’t sufficient to explain the observed reduction.

For example, violent crime rates fell significantly during the severe recession of 2007–2009 rather than rising as widely expected. According to a leading expert on crime and the economy, this was the first time since World War II in which crime rates failed to rise during a major economic downturn.

See NBC News: Jobless rate up, but crime down: What gives? (Jan 3, 2012). The New York Times published a similar report the previous year: Steady Decline in Major Crime Baffles Experts (May 23, 2011). The Washington Post first reported this news in May 25, 2010: Violent crime in U.S. on the decline.

Important implications for crime prevention

“Given that there are now multiple studies showing a highly significant relationship between a large group practicing the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programs and decreased violence in society, this obviously has implications for crime prevention,” Dr. Dillbeck said.

The group that gathered in the period 2007–2010 has now somewhat dispersed. Dr. Dillbeck suggests that if governments were to support the establishment of groups in various countries, so that these groups could be maintained over long periods, it could have a remarkable effect in reducing hostilities and fostering coherence among nations, which could be assessed by further research. Indeed, a number of countries are already creating such groups through private organizations, and gaining increasing governmental support.

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Societal violence and collective consciousness: Reduction of U.S. homicide and urban violent crime rates. Michael C. Dillbeck and Kenneth L. Cavanaugh, Institute of Science, Technology, and Public Policy, Maharishi University of Management. DOI: 10.1177/2158244016637891

Download a PDF of the study, and a PDF of the EurekAlert! press release. The English press release has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, French, and German.

NB: SAGE Open is an online open access social science journal.

UPDATE (Mar 14, 2017): See latest studies published in this series: Four-year study finds large advanced Transcendental Meditation group reduces drug-related deaths nationally.


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