Archive for March, 2017

Four-year study finds large advanced Transcendental Meditation group reduces drug-related deaths nationally

March 14, 2017

Large groups practicing the advanced Transcendental Meditation program were associated with significant reductions in rates of drug-related death and infant mortality during the period 2007–2010

A new study in SAGE Open reports a novel solution to US fatality rates from the misuse of prescribed and illegal drugs. In a prospective social experiment from 2007 to 2010, practice of the Transcendental Meditation® and TM-Sidhi® program by a large group at Maharishi University of Management in Iowa was associated with a 30.4% reduction in the rate of growth of US drug-related fatalities, preventing an estimated 26,425 deaths.

drug-deaths

A rapidly rising trend in the drug-related fatality rate during the baseline period leveled out significantly when the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi group exceeded 1,725 participants beginning in January 2007 (vertical line).

Four-year study finds group meditation reduces drug-related deaths in general population

The rate of US drug-related fatalities fell 30.4% nationwide from 2007 to 2010 due to the reductions in societal stress and increased alertness in the individuals in society created by a large group practicing the Transcendental Meditation® technique and its advanced program, the TM-Sidhi® program, a new study shows.

The hypothesis: the reduction comes not from drug abusers using meditation to get off drugs, but from a TM-Sidhi group large enough to create an effect in the environment due to a hypothesized “field effect of consciousness.”

“It’s a bold claim,” said lead author Michael Dillbeck, “but there are now 14 peer-reviewed published studies that suggest that one’s individual consciousness is directly connected to an underlying, universal field of consciousness, and that by collectively tapping into that universal field through Transcendental Meditation, we can have a positive effect on the environment.”

26,425 drug-related fatalities averted

The surge in drug-related deaths began in 1990, fueled by skyrocketing rates of drug overdose, largely from prescription painkillers and anxiety drugs. Drug deaths exceeded motor vehicle accidents as a cause of death in 2009, killing more than 37,000 people a year nationwide.

The study found that during the four-year period 2007 through 2010 this upward trend in the rate of drug-related deaths was interrupted by a highly significant shift to a greatly reduced, flatter trend. As a result, the drug-related fatality rate was reduced 30.4% relative to the 2002-2006 baseline average. The researchers estimated that 26,425 drug-related fatalities were averted by the significantly reduced trend in fatality rates.

The probability that the reduced trend in rates of drug-related fatalities could simply be due to chance was reported to be 3.1 in 10 billion.

During 2007–2010, the size of the TM-Sidhi group located at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, was above or near 1,725 participants, the size predicted to have a positive influence on the US quality of life. This predicted threshold represents the square root of 1% of the US population.

Time series analysis shows a reduction

The researchers first calculated a baseline trend for monthly fatality rates during 2002–2006, and then used time series intervention analysis to compare that baseline with the corresponding trend for the intervention period 2007–2010. A rapidly rising trend in the drug-related fatality rate (see Figure 1) during the baseline period leveled out and slowed significantly when the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi group exceeded 1,725 participants beginning in January 2007 (vertical dashed line). This flatter trend continued through 2010. (The irregular ups and downs of the fatality rate shown in the graph are largely due to seasonal fluctuations around the trend.)

Change produced by enlivening “field of pure consciousness”

How could this change in society be produced by the meditation practice of participants in the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi group? Published research has shown that Transcendental Meditation creates a state of restful alertness, increases brain integration, reduces individual stress, and enables greater use of one’s inner potential.

“These benefits are the natural by-product of the experience during Transcendental Meditation practice of a silent, wakeful state of the mind known as ‘pure consciousness’,” Dr. Dillbeck said.

According to coauthor Kenneth Cavanaugh, the basis for the effect on society is that pure consciousness has a field-like character and is a universal field at the basis of everyone’s thought and behavior. When the participants in a group equal to or exceeding the square root of one percent of the entire population are experiencing pure consciousness during group practice of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program, the field of pure consciousness is enlivened in the entire population.

“This field effect positively influences the quality of consciousness in the individuals in society in much the same direction as that experienced by those practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique,” Dr. Cavanaugh said. “It’s as if the non-meditating populace experienced the same benefits of those meditating.”

Reduces social stress

This research tests the hypothesis that practice of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program by a group of sufficient size will result in reduced stress and increased alertness in the individuals in society, thus contributing to reduced trends of these two stress-related public health indicators.

“Chronic stress contributes to increased likelihood of illness as well as to the use and abuse of illicit and prescribed drugs,” Dr. Dillbeck said. “Stress can reduce the degree of conscious alertness and vigilance necessary to avoid drug misuse, especially highly potent and potentially addictive narcotic painkillers.”

Alternative explanations ruled out

The authors noted that reductions in the trends of both fatality rates occurred at the predicted time and in the predicted direction, and neither reduction could be predicted from baseline trends or seasonal cycles. The researchers also were able to rule out other alternative explanations. For example, the reduction in drug-related death rates could not be explained by such factors as unemployment and national economic conditions, increased public and professional medical awareness of the hazards of opioid painkillers, and sales of such painkillers.

Reduction in infant mortality

infant-deaths

With the onset of the intervention period in January 2007 (vertical line), the infant mortality rate significantly shifted from a flat to a declining trend.

This study of stress-related public health indicators also found that during the same period the rate of infant mortality was reduced by 12.5%. The researchers found a highly significant shift from a flat or slightly declining trend in 2002–2006 to a substantially faster declining trend in 2007–2010. An estimated 992 infant deaths were averted. The probability that the reduced trend in rates of drug-related fatalities could simply be due to chance was reported to be less than 2.1 in 100,000.

Third study in a series

The study, titled “Group practice of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program and reductions in infant mortality and drug-related death: A quasi-experimental analysis” was published in the social science journal SAGE Open, Mar 2017, 7(1).

This article is the third in a series that comprehensively evaluates the impact of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi group on US quality of life and public health. The first in the series, published in 2016 in SAGE Open journal, reported a highly significant 21.2% reduction in US homicide rates during the same 2007-2010 period, resulting in the prevention of an estimated 8,157 homicides. A reduction of 18.5% in violent crime rates in 206 urban areas was also found, thus averting an estimated 186,774 violent crimes.

The second article in the series, published in the January/February 2017 issue of the Journal of Consciousness Studies, found a highly significant reduction of 20.6% in the rate of US motor vehicle fatalities and 13.5% in the rate of all other accidental fatalities during the same experimental period. The study estimates that 19,435 motor vehicle fatalities and 16,759 other accidental deaths were averted by the significantly reduced trends in fatality rates.

A total of fourteen peer-reviewed articles have now been published validating the prediction by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Founder of the Transcendental Meditation program, that a TM-Sidhi group of this size would lead to reduced societal stress, as reflected in reduced crime, violence, accidents, illness, and increased positive trends in society.

The authors call for governments to implement and evaluate this approach as the natural next action step.

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Group practice of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program and reductions in infant mortality and drug-related death: A quasi-experimental analysis. Michael C. Dillbeck and Kenneth L. Cavanaugh, Institute of Science, Technology, and Public Policy, Maharishi University of Management. DOI: 10.1177/2158244017697164 (PDF)

Source: EurekAlert/AAAS

See the first study in this series: Can group meditation prevent violent crime? Surprisingly, the data suggests yes: New study.

The film Arrival asks: If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?

March 12, 2017

The main question posed in the 2016 sci fi film Arrival is, If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?

Arrival (2106)

When mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) recruits Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a renowned linguist, and Dr. Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist, to try and communicate with the Aliens and find out why they have landed on Earth. Dr. Banks races against time to decipher their intent. As tensions mount between fearful governments, she discovers the Aliens’ true purpose and, to avert global war, takes a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity. This mesmerizing masterpiece has a mind-blowing ending that will leave you wondering what happened and how.

That’s the external story, but the essential message of this movie is more internal. It’s about love, determinism and choice.

Based on the award-winning science fiction novella, Story of Your Life, by Ted Chiang, it was convincingly transformed into a screenplay by Eric Heisserrer. Having read the book and been moved by it, director Denis Villeneuve wondered how it could be turned into a science fiction film, a genre he had been thinking about for years. When he received the script he decided he finally had to make this film, but with Amy Adams in the lead as Dr. Louise Banks. Even though she was taking a break from filmmaking, after reading the script, she was in. Everyone involved with making the film read the book and loved the story.

In the opening scenes we learn that Professor Louise Banks is losing her daughter Hannah to a rare disease. As a child, Hannah asks her mother how she chose her name. Louise tells her she has a special name, because it is a palindrome. It’s spelled and read the same way, forwards and backwards.

This is a clue that may help you make sense of certain events in the film that appear as flashbacks. Or are they flashforwards? Yet, in retrospect, it’s not the beginnings and endings that are important to Louise, but how she lived her life, the choice she made to love, regardless of the outcome.

Watching this movie was a right-brain experience; it’s non-linear. Dr. Banks goes through changes as she learns the Alien language. Their images communicate ideas in circles without reference to tense or time. Comprehending their language transforms Louise’s brain. She begins to experience the events in her life from a less sequential, more holistic perspective.

This is reality parsed and put together from a female perspective. She is the only one who can save the situation when she finally understands why the Aliens are here. The other challenge now is communicating it to a male-dominated world intent on destroying itself. This Chinese quote is another important clue: “In war there are now winners, only widows.”

Towards the end of the film, having collaborated with and seen how brilliant, brave, and compassionate Louise has been throughout their encounter with the Aliens, and the Army, Ian realizes he’s fallen in love with her. As much as he was amazed by his encounters with the Aliens, his “greatest surprise” he tells her, “is you.”

To love is human. It takes us out of our time, because Love Is Eternal. It always Is. We participate in It. If we are lucky enough. I wrote this as a comment to my son who purchased the film and sent me the link. I couldn’t help turning it into a tanka.

After watching “Arrival” (2016)

To love is human
It takes us out of our time
Love Is Eternal

We participate in It
If we are lucky enough

© Ken Chawkin
Mon Apr 6, 2017
Fairfield, Iowa

You should see this film twice to better understand and appreciate it. Below is the trailer, followed by the Featurette on the DVD Extras.

This DVD Featurette gives you a perspective of what went into the making of the film: Arrival (2016) | Behind the Scenes | Understanding Arrival | Full Extras | Full HD.

Better to see the film first before seeing these explanations. Nick Statt wrote a great article for The Verge on living with the power of choice: How the short story that inspired Arrival helps us interpret the film’s major twist. ScreenPrism offers an intelligent explanation of the ending of this film. And ChewingSand shares good insights in this video: Why ARRIVAL is Great Sci-Fi. There are more explanations on YouTube.

See a fun, informative post-screening SAG-AFTRA Foundation interview: Conversations with Amy Adams and Denis Villeneuve of ARRIVAL.

Links to the beautiful Arrival Soundtrack – On The Nature Of Daylight by Max Richter and Jóhann Jóhannsson – Heptapod B [From “Arrival” Soundtrack / Pseudo Video].

Wikipedia gives a comprehensive review/explanation of the film, which might include some spoilers if you haven’t already seen it yet.

Also see these favorite romantic films of mine. They reveal the transformational power of love over time.

Haiku for Her, a new poem for Sali, @kenchawkin

March 12, 2017

I was reading this two-tanka poem again, Sali’s Shakti, and realized it was mostly written on March 12, 2012, five years ago today. Synchronicity? It was completed and posted the next day, March 13. Even though she passed Oct 1, 2016, Sali still inspires me. I miss her, but This Quiet Love we shared doesn’t diminish. Here is a new poem for Sali:

Haiku for Her

You gave me a taste
Of true Love and Unity
For Eternity

© Ken Chawkin
March 12, 2017
Fairfield, Iowa, USA

Though my mother died 31 years ago, March 12 this year is also the 100th anniversary of her birth. Another coincidence? A good day to remember two very special women in my life.

Update: March 13, 2017: I had a hunch I would add something the next day, as I did on the earlier post about Sali referenced above. Last night the older of my two younger sisters emailed to say she was made a TM Teacher on March 12, 1972. All 3 of use were in Europe with Maharishi on our Teacher Training Course. But the strangest coincidence dawned on me this morning. Both Sali and my mother died in their 69th year!!

Final entries leading up to and after Sali’s passing

March 1, 2017

Here are 4 entries—two leading up to Sali’s passing; a poem describing it, written 6 weeks later from India, 5 days after having spread her ashes in the holy Narmada River; and one poem composed a few days ago in remembrance of Sali, and the gift of love we shared together.

Ahead of the Game
Friday, September 23, 2016

You’ve been practicing for your next journey. With the dementia and a possible stroke that rendered you almost speechless, how can you communicate, except with inaudible sounds, and even those you no longer bother to form or utter.

But you can still smile and giggle, communicating great joy like the angels, with pure feeling and silence, where words are no longer needed or used.

You’ve been practicing for your upcoming journey. You’re way ahead of the game.

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Not the End Game
Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The nurse called this afternoon to tell me you seemed to stop swallowing. You haven’t been able to eat or drink. The Hospice nurse who knows you started putting things into action to get you back on Hospice care. Will know by tomorrow morning after their evaluation and direction from your doctor.

So it looks like this is it. No more rehearsals. You’re going for the final homerun sliding into heaven. I think we’re better prepared now, having read The Grace in Dying. We have a better understanding and appreciation for the end game, which, as it turns out, will not be the end.

To be continued…..

(Sali would soon pass, on Saturday night, 11:17 pm CT, Oct 1, 2016, first day of the Nine Days of Mother Divine. Her glorious Memorial Service and blissful Vedic Cremation Ceremony took place on the 5th day, Wed, Oct 5, 2016. See Celebrating the glorious life of Sally M Peden.)

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Five days after spreading Sali’s ashes from a boat on the Narmada River in India during a most auspicious day, I started to write about our final moments together back in Fairfield when she passed, around 6 weeks earlier, during the first night of the Nine Days of Mother Divine, Navratri. The answer to a question of what had happened came in one word during an evening meditation at the Brahmasthan. It became the title and last line of this poem.

UNDIFFERENTIATED
The Peace that Passeth Understanding

The final feeling
Between us was a Great Peace
Deep within the Heart

All that remained was Silence
After you took your last breath

Where was that Peace coming from
In your heart, mine, or ours
Beyond my comprehension

UNDIFFERENTIATED

©Ken Chawkin
Nov 19, 2016
Bijouri Campus
Brahmasthan of India

Contained within An early attempt at some kind of closure with a poem on Sali’s passing and auspicious times. Included are some of the inspiring tributes to Sali we shared during her Memorial Service and Vedic Cremation Ceremony on that very special send-off.

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The Rare Gift of Love
A Tanka in Remembrance of Sali

Your heart opened up
Time and illness tempered you
Then, the Surrender

What we shared was glorious
A Gift from God and Guru

©Ken Chawkin
February 27, 2017
Fairfield, Iowa

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Addition on March 22, 2017

On March 12th, I wrote a new poem for Sali, Haiku for Her. Five years earlier, on the same day, I had written the two-tanka poem, Sali’s Shakti.


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