Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

New study shows Transcendental Meditation reduces PTSD in South African college students

February 20, 2019

Tues, Feb 19, 2019: A study published in Psychological Reports showed that after 3.5 months of practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM), most of the 34 tertiary-level students at Maharishi Institute (MI)—all of whom were initially diagnosed with PTSD by mental health professionals—went below clinical thresholds as measured by standard assessments. Students also experienced relief from depression. A comparison group from University of Johannesburg (UJ) with the same diagnosis received no treatment and showed no change in their symptoms.

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College students diagnosed with PTSD at Maharishi Institute (MI) and University of Johannesburg (UJ) were tested at 15, 60 and 105 days. After 3.5 months, the MI group practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) went below clinical thresholds, while controls at UJ showed no change.

A very high percentage of young people in South Africa suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. A college that offers the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique to its students found this approach helped reduce their symptoms.

A study published today in Psychological Reports showed that after 3.5 months of practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM), most of the 34 tertiary-level students at Maharishi Institute (MI)—all of whom were initially diagnosed with PTSD by mental health professionals—went below clinical thresholds as measured by standard assessments. The students also experienced relief from depression.

A comparison group of 34 students from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) suffering from PTSD and depression received no treatment and continued to show no change in their symptoms throughout the study.

High levels of PTSD

An international research team of seven scientists and psychologists conducted the study. At the start, students at MI and UJ had a score of 44 or more on their PCL-C test and a clinician’s verification of PTSD. A score above 44 indicates likely PTSD and below 34 indicates that one is below the PTSD threshold.

Symptoms included nightmares, flashbacks to traumatic events, anxiety, fear, and hyper-vigilance. They also reported emotional numbness, anger, and violent behavior, as well as abuse of drugs and alcohol. PTSD is a chronic, debilitating condition that may last a lifetime if not treated effectively.

The study showed a rapid and significant reduction of symptoms in the test group, according to lead author Dr. Carole Bandy, professor of psychology at Norwich University, America’s oldest military college. Results were stable over time.

“A high percentage of young people in South Africa, especially those living in the townships, suffer from PTSD,” said co-author Michael Dillbeck, researcher in the Institute for Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield, Iowa. “To become successful students and productive members of society, they absolutely need help dealing with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Our study shows, that after 3 months of meditation, this group, on average, was out of PTSD. It offers a way for others to effectively deal with this problem.”

Our study shows, that after 3 months of meditation (TM), this group, on average, was out of PTSD. It offers a way for others to effectively deal with this problem.”

High levels of PTSD are prevalent in South Africa

Up to 25% of the population in South Africa suffers from PTSD, according to Dr. Eugene Allers, past-president of the South African Society of Psychiatrists. Estimates put the same figure in the USA at 8%.

Several recent scientific studies show that adolescents and children in South Africa may be exposed to relatively high levels of traumatic experiences, particularly witnessing or experiencing violence of a criminal or domestic nature, associated in turn with estimates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) ranging from 8% to 38% (Ensink, Robertson, Zissis & Leger, 1997; Pelzer, 1999; Seedat, van Nood, Vythilingum, Stein & Kaminer, 2000; Suliman, Kaminer, Seedat & Stein, 2005).

UJ students assessed by expert NGO

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), the largest mental health NGO in SA, which assists more than 180,000 people each year, interviewed and tested UJ students suffering from PTSD. They were also tested for depression, since it often accompanies PTSD and can in fact be considered a component of PTSD.

Students were only invited to join the study if they met two criteria for having PTSD: a score indicating PTSD on the PCL-C paper test and the opinion of a trained psychologist. Re-testing was 15, 60 and 105 days after baseline testing.

MI students find relief

At 15 days into the study, Maharishi Institute students showed a significant drop of more than 10 points in their PTSD symptoms after learning Transcendental Meditation. They also found relief from depression, judged by Beck Depression Index scores.

Re-testing was also carried out at 60 days and 105 days of their TM practice. By 105 days, the average group score for the MI students was below the PTSD threshold of 34, according to the paper tests. The UJ students showed no significant reduction in symptoms—neither depression nor PTSD. They received no support of any kind.

A binary logistical regression analysis for the effect of TM practice on PTSD PCL-C diagnosis 105 days after instruction was also highly significant, with 7 likely PTSD and 27 unlikely for the experimental group and 30 likely and 4 unlikely for the comparison group.

First study of its kind

This is the first study of its kind to show how Transcendental Meditation can reduce PTSD in college students. “This study shows that there are new tools available for professionals to add to their tool bag,” says Zane Wilson, Founder and Chairman of SADAG.

This is the first study of its kind to show how Transcendental Meditation can reduce PTSD in college students.

Thirteen previous studies utilizing Transcendental Meditation showed reductions in PTSD on Congolese war refugees, US war veterans, and male and female prisoners.

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About the Transcendental Meditation Technique

Transcendental Meditation® is a simple, natural technique practiced 20 minutes twice each day while sitting comfortably with the eyes closed. It is easily learned, and is not a religion, philosophy, or lifestyle. It doesn’t involve concentration, control of the mind, contemplation, or monitoring of thoughts or breathing. The practice allows the active thinking mind to settle down to a state of inner calm. For more information visit https://www.tm.org.

Funding for the study was provided by David Lynch Foundation and PTSD Relief Now Corporation (African PTSD Relief), two US 501c3 charities.

Ref: Bandy, C, Dillbeck, M., Sezibera, V., Taljaard, L., de Reuck, J., Wilks, M., Shapiro, D., Peycke, R. (Psychological Reports. on-line: February, 2019) Reduction of PTSD in South African University Students Using Transcendental Meditation Practice. DOI: 10.1177/0033294119828036 | US National Library of Medicine & National Institutes of Health: PubMed

EurekAlert! | ZME Science | Medical News Today | PsychCentral | OMTimes: New Hope for Trauma Victims by David H Shapiro | many more

See this recent study: #TranscendentalMeditation as good as or better than ‘gold standard’ when treating veterans with #PTSD. See other TM studies and articles on PTSD posted on this blog.

Dan Fogelberg’s song, Longer, and my 3 love poems complete today’s Valentine’s Day Show

February 14, 2019

Sheila Moschen asked me to read 3 of my love poems for a Valentine Day’s Show on her KHOE radio program, Let Your Heart Sing. This 38-minute show (#56-R) aired on Monday and Tuesday this week at 1:00 and 7:00 pm, and will soon go into her archive. The last musical selection Sheila played was the beautiful love song, Longer, by Dan Fogelberg (at 33:05). My poems complete the show (at 35:34). They’re about a special relationship I shared with my sweetheart Sally Peden. Listen here on Google Drive or OneDrive.

CELEBRATING VALENTINE’S DAY WITH MUSIC AND POETRY

 

COMMITTED
a two-haiku poem

When the tide rolls in
bows of boats bump each other
tethered to the dock

With our ups and downs
we remain tied together
solid as a rock

~

This Quiet Love

This is a quiet love
One of simplicity and easiness
No complications here
It’s too late in life for that sort of thing
Just time to be best friends

~

In Our Loving Eyes

Some people are stargazers
We were soul-gazers
Looking in each other’s eyes

Windows to the Soul
A Self-reflecting mirror
Drawing us nearer

Love … looking … at Love

 

jfahsq8

 

World Radio KHOE 90.5 FM is broadcast from the campus of Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa.

Some favorite love poems: i carry your heart with me by e.e. cummings | Emily Dickinson succinctly describes the eternal nature of Love in this short but powerful poem | Love after Love, by Derek Walcott, resonates deeply when you first acknowledge yourself.

@eltonofficial Christmas TV ad for @jlandpartners tells story of the power of a gift to change a life

February 4, 2019

“Some gifts are more than just a gift”

Just saw this tweet from 15 Nov 2018 by @JKCorden of an amazing TV advert—a narrative about gift-giving featuring @eltonofficial—made for @jlandpartners, a large department store chain, played on Liverpool’s @RadioCity967. This artistic production also delivers a powerful message at the end—the power of a gift to change a life. It makes a statement! They must’ve aired it weeks before Christmas to get people in the spirit of shopping for gifts at their stores. But the message is timeless.

The Boy and The Piano

Watch the new John Lewis & Partners Christmas TV advert, The Boy and The Piano. This year’s story is about the power of a gift. And how that gift inspired, changed and influenced the course of a little boy’s life. That little boy just happens to be Elton John. The film begins in present day and works backwards chronologically through Elton’s life right until the moment on Christmas morning when he received the special gift that changed his life. Here is the video: John Lewis & Partners Christmas Ad 2018#EltonJohnLewis 🎹

The Independent published a story behind the making of the video of the commercial: John Lewis Christmas advert: Behind the scenes of the film starring Elton John. They also include their video: The Making of The Boy and The Piano | John Lewis & Partners Christmas Ad 2018 #EltonJohnLewis 🎹

College life can be destructive to student health. Panel of experts offer evidence-based solutions.

February 3, 2019

VIEW EMAIL ANNOUNCEMENT WITH ALL IMAGES

Young girl touching her face with hands, like a tree

Is College Bad For Your Brain?
How the epidemic of stress on college campuses
is destructive to student health–and what can be done about it
 

LIVE EVENT 
Friday February 8th • 7:30 pm CT 
Dalby Hall, MUM Campus, Fairfield, Iowa
 

GLOBAL WEBCAST 
Wednesday, February 13th • 4:00 pm ET

Webcast link: https://www.mum.edu/changemakers-event-2019

Young girl touching her face with hands, like a tree

Mental health challenges, substance abuse and poor lifestyle choices undermine student learning outcomes and successful college experiences. This webinar will explore disruptive solutions and highlight a unique university that is reversing this trend by placing stress-busting meditation at the core of its curriculum.

The statistics are sobering: 75% of college students report feeling stressed and 39% of college freshmen report symptoms of anxiety or depression.  Suicidal ideation in students has doubled over the last 10 years, 40% of college students binge drink, and there is a 30% rise in requests for mental health support.

Is there an antidote to this potentially lethal epidemic on college campuses? The David Lynch Foundation (DLF) and Maharishi University of Management (MUM) are cohosting a major conference, “Is College Bad For Your Brain?” to offer evidence-based, disruptive solutions to college students and educators alike on Friday, February 8 on the MUM campus in Fairfield, Iowa. The conference will be then webcast on Wednesday, February 13. A distinguished panel of thought-leaders—neuroscientists, educators, psychologists and students–will convene to explore the destructive impact of college stress on mental and physical health and what can be done about it.

Young girl touching her face with hands, like a tree

Gregory Gruener MD, Vice Dean for Education and neurology professor at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, has developed a cutting-edge wellness program in the highly stressful environment of medical school. “A lot of studies show that as many as 50 percent of medical students and residents exhibit symptoms from stress that can develop into burnout, so we’re trying to help students focus on wellness for themselves by teaching skills that they can take with them, skills they will need to be effective physicians.”

Young girl touching her face with hands, like a tree

To counteract this trend and help students better manage their stress, Dr. Gruener and Adjunct professor at Loyola Stritch, Carla Brown EdD, established the first elective course in Transcendental Meditation (TM) to be offered at a major medical school. Drs. Gruener and Brown will speak (via Skype) about the benefits medical students have been experiencing in their program since it’s inception in 2014.

Young girl touching her face with hands, like a treeClinical neuropsychologist William Stixrud, Ph.D. will also address the conference. Author of The Self-Driven Child, Stixrud has worked closely with students to help them manage their stress and become more proactive in creating success in college and in life.  Stixrud commented on the problem in his recent New York Times op-ed, When a College Student Comes Home to Stay.

“As we see it, there are two critical issues at hand.  First, college life is a highly deregulated environment with inconsistent sleep patterns and diets, little structure, and an abundance of binge-drinking, pot-smoking, and abuse of stimulants like Adderall.  Second, students haven’t been given control of their own lives until way too late.  It may be just too much to ask students to go from parental control to near-total freedom.”  In addition to healthy lifestyle changes, the most effective antidote that Dr. Stixrud has found to relieve the problem is the regular practice of the stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation technique.

Young girl touching her face with hands, like a treeHeart transplant specialist and Chief Informatics Officer for the U.S. Navy, Hassan Tetteh, M.D., brings a unique medical perspective to the issue.  After two tours of duty in Iraq, and as Command Surgeon for the National Defense University, which trains the elite officers in the military, Tetteh saw firsthand the effects of stress in these high-stakes, life-and-death environments.  But after several personal life-altering experiences in the military, he found a calling to heal others, in particular, by helping them to cultivate a deeper mind-body connection.  His favorite John Steinbeck quote captured this feeling, “A sad soul can kill you quicker than a germ;” and added, “Identifying the goals, beliefs and human connections that enrich our souls can be just as essential to healthy living as any medical treatment.”

2019_01_changemakers-2_travisMUM neuroscientist Fred Travis, Ph.D., will report on new research showing that meditating students display a “brain signature” indicating greater resiliency, adaptability and coherence in the face of stress. MUM offers students a Brain Integration Progress Report using a Brain Integration Scale to begin to assess the effects of their college experience on brain functioning. Dr. Travis will conduct a live EEG demonstration at the conference highlighting the differences between a brain under stress and a brain during TM.

Young girl touching her face with hands, like a tree“As experts search for a solution to the effects of stress on learning, one common theme seems to emerge: mind-body practices such as Transcendental Meditation work,” says MUM Dean of Faculty and co-founder of the Institute for Research on Consciousness and Human Development, Vicki Alexander Herriott. “MUM is already a global leader in the field because its educational curriculum and campus culture has made Transcendental Meditation (TM) central to the life of the student—and teacher. This conference will showcase why.”

MUM Student Body President, T. Chevonne added, “The best thing in my life is my TM practice.  It has helped me see past doubts and fears into the infinite realm of possibilities.  I am more confident and outspoken than I’ve ever been, and anxiety is a distant memory to me.”

For more information and a list of speakers and panelists visit: https://www.mum.edu/changemakers-event-2019.

Organizer Michael Sternfeld wrote an excellent article on this second Changemakers event published in the February issue of The Iowa Source Magazine: Is College Bad For Your Brain? MUM also posted this short video promo.

Watch Changemakers: Is College Bad For Your Brain? • Part 1Part 2.

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Related: The first Transcendental Meditation elective course offered at a major US medical school | Catholic Health World reports on medical students learning Transcendental Meditation to counter stress, promote physician wellness

 

negative capability, reverse seeing, beauty & the desire for transcendence & unity in life & poetry

February 3, 2019

One day, while Angela “was reading the letters of poet John Keats,” she “received some small insight into this mystery. The young Keats would invest himself so entirely in the books he was reading (and in the lives he was living) he would become one with the creatures and emotions he encountered.” She said “the master poet wrote of—watching the birds outside his window, he would imagine himself scratching and pecking in the gravel alongside them.” She continues with this clear definition of what he called “negative capability”. I’ll underline the essence of it.

This “negative capability” Keats so prized — the impulse to negate The Self and become The Other, to inhabit a state of being perceived outside oneself—had overwhelmed our small son when he first set eyes on his hamsters, amazing little beings he had never seen before. Pierced by their beauty, his capacity to become them was outstripped by his desire, his five impassioned, puzzling words proclaiming the power and lamenting the limits of his imagination.

My response to Haiku: Pierced by Beauty

Lovely post, Angela! I never fully understood Keats’ “negative capability” until I read your clear explanation of it. Thank you. I remember reading what one writing facilitator described as “reverse seeing,” which sounds similar. I was lucky to have had such an experience once, not knowing that’s what it was at the time.

Around 30 years ago, a friend and I drove out to the countryside and ended up at Round Prairie Park. There had been a drought that summer and in a pond stood many large lotus pads. My friend, an artist, took out her sketchbook and started drawing them. I asked for a piece of paper and tried to write a poem about them, but it was nothing worth mentioning.

We had both read “The Secret Life of Plants” and talked about the lotuses and their sensitivity. She resumed sketching, and I tried writing again. Nothing notable. I didn’t realize it, but I was warming up by pre-writing.

At one point I wondered what the lotus pads were feeling about us looking at them. All of a sudden my mind took on a different, heightened perspective. The words came and I quickly wrote them down. When it was over, I looked down at a poem on the page! It was as if it was dictated to me. At that point a bird “blessed” my hand from the tree above me. Nature’s confirmation!

I had later read in The Fairfield Ledger that Sparrowgrass Poetry Forum had put out a call for poems, so I sent it in to their competition. Much to my surprise the poem won an award!

You can read, “Ode to the Artist: Sketching Sketching Lotus Pads at Round Prairie Park” on my blog: https://theuncarvedblog.com/2011/01/16/ode-to-the-artist-a-magical-day-looking-at-lotus-pads/.

I also mention another poem that later came out of that experience. The editor had wanted me to submit a poem for their next publication so I wrote about how some poems come to be written. It was sort of a commentary on the first one. You can read “Sometimes Poetry Happens” on my blog: https://theuncarvedblog.com/2011/01/16/sometimes-poetry-happens-a-poem-about-the-mystery-of-creativity/.

I never planned to write this little epistle, but kept expanding and refining it to get it to this stage. Thank you tweetspeak for this opportunity to share this story about some of my early poetry!

Sharad Kharé @kharecom interviews Bob Roth @meditationbob, CEO @LynchFoundation, on TM

January 31, 2019

Legacy documentarian Sharad Kharé interviewed Bob Roth, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation, and produced this impressive piece: In dialogue with Bob Roth, A gift of Meditation. Bob shares stories of how his journey started and what the David Lynch Foundation is doing globally for adults and children with TM. Below is the article with video of his visit posted on Thrive Global. Thank you, Sharad, for giving us permission to share your wonderful story with our readers. See his author bio for more.

sharad kharé and bob roth

Legacy documentarian Sharad Khare with Bob Roth, David Lynch Foundation

The idea that something so simple can help you and your entire life seems so unreal. But it is very real and its available to you right now.

When I started meditation a few years back, I found it tough, I gave up many times, but something kept bringing me back. Like anything in life, practice allows for growth and mastery. While I am not a master by any means, I now understand the strength of meditation in my daily because of many mentors and friends. Friends like Bob.

I first met Bob a few years back when my meditation coach introduced us. I flew to New York to shoot my first interview with him in 2015. He was welcoming, kind and totally candid. Since then I have continued to connect with Bob by updating him on my work and my practice. He has always had an open door to my ideas, and I thought it was time to update the world on what he was working on.

Bob had released his book “Strength in Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation”, which is a guide that shares the power of how TM can calm the mind body and spirit.

In our interview Bob shares stories of how this journey started and what TM is doing for adults and children globally.

To learn more of Bob’s incredible work, please check out davidlynchfoundation.org.

See Sharad’s interview with Bob in the video below.

— Published on January 30, 2019

To learn more about Digital Journalist, Legacy Documentarian, Curator, and Curious Soul Sharad Kharé, visit http://www.kharecom.com.

See the result of their first meeting: Digital storyteller Sharad Kharé speaks with David Lynch Foundation executive director Bob Roth.

See more interviews with Bob Roth about his book, Strength in Stillness, posted on The Uncarved Blog.

Jerry Yellin laid to rest with full military honors

January 22, 2019

Jerry Yellin was featured prominently with a 2-page cover story in The Fairfield Ledger on Monday, January 21, 2019. ​​Capt Yellin was laid to rest last Tuesday, January 15, 2019, with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery (Air Force Pubic Affairs). Ledger News Editor Andy Hallman spoke with Jerry’s sons Steven and Robert, and Fairfield friends Jim and Ginger Belilove. ​​The result is an amazing report on the former Fairfield resident and war hero. ​Click the title to see 13 photos above the article on The Fairfield Ledger website: Full military honors.

WWII fighter pilot Jerry Yellin buried at Arlington National Cemetery

wwii fighter pilot jerry yellin

WWII fighter pilot Jerry Yellin

Former Fairfield resident and World War II fighter pilot Jerry Yellin was laid to rest with full military honors Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Yellin flew the last combat mission of World War II, and achieved notoriety late in life for his advocacy of peace and reconciliation, and for raising awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder. Yellin died Dec. 21, 2017, at age 93. He was buried along with his wife of 65 years, Helene, who died in 2015.

“My father wanted to be buried with his fellow warriors,” said his son, Steven, a Fairfield resident, who petitioned to have Jerry and Helene’s remains buried at Arlington National Cemetery. “It was an incredible ceremony, very dignified and moving.”

To be buried with full military honors meant that Jerry’s remains were carried to the cemetery on a horse-drawn caisson, a wagon used to transport ammunition in earlier eras but which today is reserved for funeral processions.

“An American flag is draped over the caisson, and after the ceremony, four Marines take the flag off, and in perfect unison, fold it and give it to us,” Steven said.

Steven also arranged for the U.S. Air Force to perform a four-jet flyover, which he said was no easy feat. The A-10 jets came from the 23rd Wing at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia. They performed the “missing man” formation typically used to honor a decorated pilot or political leader, whereby one of the jets peels off from the group to signal the dignitary’s passing.

“Sixteen squadrons in the Air Force wanted to do the flyover,” Steven said. “All Air Force pilots look up to my father as a hero.”

Extraordinary man

Steven estimated that 125-150 people attended the ceremony. Afterward, one of Jerry’s friends sponsored a dinner at a local hotel. People took turns speaking about how Jerry touched their lives.

“I lived with my father for the past three years in Orlando,” Steven said. “Living with Jerry Yellin was an extraordinary experience because he was so engaging, even at such an advanced age. His intellect was so sharp. For 2.5 years, he traveled two to four times per month everywhere in the country.”

Jim and Ginger Belilove were among a handful of Fairfield residents who traveled to Arlington to honor their late friend.

“Jerry really made his mark on the world,” Ginger said. “For the last five years of his life, he was extremely busy speaking on peace and reconciliation, and [about] Transcendental Meditation alleviating post-traumatic stress for servicemen.”

Steven said his father suffered from a severe case of PTSD. Of Jerry’s 32-member squadron, exactly half survived. Why did he live when so many others died? This question gnawed at him for years. Steven recalls his father telling him that, when he was flying missions over Iwo Jima, all he could think about was going back home. But when the war ended and he came home, all he could think of was returning to Iwo Jima.

In 1975, Helene and Jerry began practicing Transcendental Meditation. Jerry credited the technique with allowing him to live into his 90s.

Background

Since Arlington National Cemetery is the most well-known and coveted burial ground, being awarded a plot is a prestigious honor. In the biography of his father that he submitted to the cemetery authorities, Steven wrote about Jerry’s combat missions in the Pacific Theater.

Jerry enlisted in the military two months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He graduated from his fighter pilot school in August 1943, and spent the remainder of the war flying combat missions with the 78th Fighter Squadron. Steven said his father strafed the island of Iwo Jima to assist the Marines in taking it in March 1945. Jerry participated in the first land-based fighter mission over Japan on April 7, 1945, and led the final mission of the war on Aug. 14, 1945. For his efforts during the war, Yellin was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with an oak leaf cluster and the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters.

Meeting Jerry

The Beliloves came to know Jerry when he stepped inside their business 10 years ago. The Beliloves run Creative Edge Master Shop, and Jerry was there because he needed a plaque. When Jim asked him what it was for, Jerry told him it was destined for Japan, to commemorate an incident that occurred during the war.

According to Jerry Yellin’s official website, two American B-29s crashed mid-air during a bombing mission over Japan in June 1945. A local soybean farmer came upon the wreckage, and gave a proper burial to the 23 Americans who died. The farmer was given a prison sentence for giving counsel to the enemy, but after his release, he commissioned the construction of a shrine as a memorial to peace. He raised money from the neighboring city of Shizuoka, which the Americans had been bombing. Even after this farmer died, others have kept alive the tradition of honoring deceased soldiers from both sides at this peace memorial atop Mount Shizuhata.

When Jim heard this story, he insisted on giving Jerry the plaque for free. Jerry accepted, on the condition that the Beliloves attend the ceremony in Japan with him. They agreed, and it became the first of many trips the Beliloves took with Jerry and his family.

Reconciling with Japan

Steven said his father “hated the Japanese” in the years immediately after the war, but his attitude changed while on a business trip to the country in 1982. Somehow, on the trip he felt a close kinship with Japanese people and their culture. That kinship would grow in the coming years thanks to his son Robert.

Robert is the youngest of the four boys (Steven, Michael and David). He visited Japan for a few weeks during college, and liked it so much he returned to the country later to work in an English school. He fell in love with a young Japanese woman named Takako, but he ran into a problem with her family.

Takako’s father refused even to meet Robert for the first seven months. Finally, the family met Robert for dinner at a restaurant. Takako’s three older brothers grilled him with questions, asking him about his background and his parents. They wanted to hear about his father.

“Uh oh,” Robert remembers thinking. “I told them that my father was in World War II, and that he fought at Iwo Jima.”

Upon hearing this, Takako’s father perked up. He wanted to know more. Robert explained that Jerry was a P-51 pilot.

“Once he learned that, the father was immediately in favor of the marriage,” Robert said. “He was a couple of years younger than Jerry, and was training to become a pilot, too. He said there are no enemies in the skies.”

The father said that anyone who flies a P-51 is brave, and that person’s lineage can be welcomed into the house. Robert breathed a sigh of relief.

Jerry and Takako’s dad, Mr. Yamakawa, met later on, and discovered they had much in common, becoming lifelong friends. The bonds of that friendship grew stronger with the birth of Robert and Takako’s three children: Kentaro, Simon and Sara. The decorated American fighter pilot who once hated the Japanese now had three Japanese-American grandkids.

Jerry’s legacy

The legacy of Jerry Yellin has been kept alive through his books, such as his autobiography “Of War and Weddings,” the tale of the final combat mission over Japan in “The Last Fighter Pilot,” his struggles with PTSD in “The Resilient Warrior,” and others. His official website is captainjerryyellin.com.

A documentary about Jerry’s life titled “The Last Man Standing” is in production. The director, Louisa Merino, met Jerry in Fairfield, and after hearing his stories, knew they must be made into a film. Steven said the documentary should be finished in the next six months, and that it will be shown at film festivals and eventually, he hopes, online.

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Below are scans of the newspaper cover story with part 2 on page 7. Click here to see a few previous posts, and the Jerry Yellin Memorial Service last year in Montclair, NJ January 20, 2018.

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RIP: Mary Oliver. Thank you for sharing your poetic gifts with us. They are a national treasure!

January 17, 2019

maybe death
isn’t darkness, after all,
but so much light
wrapping itself around us–

From White Owl Flies Into And Out Of The Field by Mary Oliver

Jan 17, 2019: I received news this morning that Mary Oliver had passed. I was shocked. Strange how just two days ago I had posted and sent out one of her beautiful, wise poems, Sunrise.

Later tonight I checked and the internet was flooded with the news. A friend forwarded this email from Suzanne Lawlor: RIP Mary Oliver. I am very sorry to share this sad news about Mary Oliver, one of my favorite poets. This is what was sent out today:

Mary Oliver, beloved poet and bard of the natural world, died on January 17 at home in Hobe Sound, Florida. She was 83.

mary oliver photo

Poet Mary Oliver

Oliver published her first book, No Voyage, in London in 1963, at the age of twenty-eight. The author of more than 20 collections, she was cherished by readers, and was the recipient of numerous awards, including the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for American Primitive, and the 1992 National Book Award for New and Selected Poems, Volume One. She led workshops and held residencies at various colleges and universities, including Bennington College, where she held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching until 2001. It was her work as an educator that encouraged her to write the guide to verse, A Poetry Handbook (1994), and she went on to publish many works of prose, including the New York Times bestselling essay collection, Upstream (2016). For her final work, Oliver created a personal lifetime collection, selecting poems from throughout her more than fifty-year career. Devotions was published by Penguin Press in 2017.

Her poetry developed in close communion with the landscapes she knew best, the rivers and creeks of her native Ohio, and, after 1964, the ponds, beech forests, and coastline of her chosen hometown, Provincetown. She spent her final years in Florida, a relocation that brought with it the appearance of mangroves. “I could not be a poet without the natural world,” she wrote. “Someone else could. But not me. For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple.” In the words of the late Lucille Clifton, “She uses the natural world to illuminate the whole world.”

In her attention to the smallest of creatures, and the most fleeting of moments, Oliver’s work reveals the human experience at its most expansive and eternal.

In her attention to the smallest of creatures, and the most fleeting of moments, Oliver’s work reveals the human experience at its most expansive and eternal. She lived poetry as a faith and her singular, clear-eyed understanding of verse’s vitality of purpose began in childhood, and continued all her life. “For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry.”

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

###

In this poem, When Death Comes, Mary Oliver, who was seriously ill at the time, seemed to be contemplating her own mortality. Her perspectives on life and time were changing: “and I look upon time as no more than an idea, / and I consider eternity as another possibility,”. This reminds me what Maharishi said on the subject: “Time is a conception to measure eternity.”

I’ve posted a few of her other astonishing poems on my blog. Here they are listed in the order I discovered them: The Journey, Wild GeesePrayingVaranasi, Summer Day, At the Lake, One, White Owl Flies Into And Out Of The FieldSunrise, and When Death Comes, which was included here in her obituary posted on Jan 17, 2019.

On January 21, 2019, Here & Now‘s Robin Young talked with author Ruth Franklin about award-winning poet Mary Oliver’s legacy: Remembering The ‘Ecstatic Poet’ Mary Oliver, Who Wrote About The Natural World. Ruth wrote a profile of Oliver for The New Yorker in 2017. Robin plays an excerpt of Oliver being interviewed by Krista Tippett: On Being, Mary Oliver Listening To The World.

On October 18, 2016, Fresh Air’s Maureen Coorigan gave a wonderful book review of the poet’s New York Times essay collection: Mary Oliver Issues A Full-Throated Spiritual Autobiography In ‘Upstream’.

Today, on the day of her passing, the 92nd Street Y posted their Oct 15, 2012 recording of Mary Oliver reading from her new poetry book, A Thousand Mornings, as well as some of her other well-known poems.

Marc Chagall’s paintings contain beautiful colors of love and a joyful floating lightness of being

January 17, 2019

Homage to Chagall

homage to chagallAs a young man in my early 30s living back home in Montreal, I remember watching a stunningly beautiful film on Canadian television called, Homage to Chagall: The Colours of Love.

It’s a 1977 Canadian documentary film about artist Marc Chagall directed by Harry Rasky of Toronto. This inspiring film was nominated for an Academy Award in 1978 for Best Documentary Feature. The Directors Guild of America awarded Rasky with Outstanding Direction of a Documentary.

Synopsis: Imaginatively utilizing over 300 mosaics, stained-glass windows, murals and paintings, plus an in-depth interview with the famous Russian artist himself, Homage to Chagall is both a tribute to and a celebration of a life of intense productivity that encompassed everything from primitive mysticism to cubist intellectuality.

Sherway Academy Arts & Sciences recently posted the Chagall Documentary on YouTube for students to learn about this great artist. Read their description of his artistic bio included there. It concludes with this quote by Pablo Picasso from the 1950s: “When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is.”

The Colors of Love

This short YouTube video on Marc Chagall is a beautiful slideshow of his colorful paintings of love with an equally beautiful soundtrack, Serenade to Spring, Songs From A Secret Garden. Click on Show More to read a short biography posted there after a quote by Chagall that sums up his philosophy of life and painting: “In our life there is a single color, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of LOVE.”

“In our life there is a single color, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of LOVE.”

Art History’s Greatest Love Story

Sotheby’s was going to auction off one of Marc Chagall’s paintings, Les Amoureux (The Lovers), which depicts Bella and Marc mid-embrace, masterfully capturing “the beauty of life.” Simon Shaw, co-head of Impressionist and Modern Art Worldwide for Sotheby’s, interviewed Chagall’s granddaughter, Bella Meyer, who recalled vivid memories of the artist speaking about his love and muse, Bella Chagall. She said she never saw her grandmother, who had died before she was born.

When the painting was made in 1928, it was bought and kept by one family, and never shown to the public until this recent auction. Shaw says, “It’s very hard not to feel happy in front of this picture. It’s a work that exudes peace and happiness.”

Bella responds, “Peace, as you said, it’s most important.” For her, the painting is “a very tender yet forceful kind of celebration for the essence of life, the beauty of life.” Enjoy this informative video with closeups of the painting, Art History’s Greatest Love Story: Marc & Bella Chagall.

The image on the DVD cover at the top of this post is of Chagall’s 1915 painting, L’Anniversaire, also mentioned in the Sotheby’s video.

Creating from the heart, not the head

For a comprehensive biography of the artist, see Marc Chagall, which includes an animated slide show. A quote shown there describing how he worked as an artist says it all: “If I create from the heart, nearly everything works. If from the head, almost nothing.” — Marc Chagall.

I know what he means. I had an experience of creating intuitively from feelings instead of mentally from thoughts during a first art class. Surprised, I wrote a poem about the creative awakening called ArtWords.

“If I create from the heart, nearly everything works. If from the head, almost nothing.” — Marc Chagall

The Fiddler

homage to chagall-kultur dvdChagall’s painting of The Fiddler was also used on the film’s DVD covers.  My grandmother loved that painting because it reminded her of her earlier years growing up in Russia. She was a creative person who liked to cook, crochet, and paint.

I asked an artist friend if he would outline a copy of it on a canvas for her to fill in. I brought him to meet her first and they hit it off. When he offered to sketch the painting for her, she was delighted. She did a wonderful job of reproducing it. Unfortunately, after she died, by the time we went to her apartment, a new tenant was already living there, and the painting was gone.

Michael Braunstein shares his fascinating story of how he learned #TranscendentalMeditation

January 15, 2019

Michael Braunstein wrote a great article for The Reader’s Heartland Healing Magazine in Omaha on Jan 13, 2019. It’s a fascinating story of how he learned about Transcendental Meditation when he worked as a recording engineer in a studio where famous musicians like Paul McCartney and George Harrison showed up. But more specifically from a meditating musician some of you may remember from the early days at MIU. Enjoy reading Meditate. Your Mind Wants To.

Let’s get something straight right out of the box: You do not have to sit funny in order to meditate. All that is necessary to meditate is to learn it correctly then apply it. Since learning Transcendental Meditation in 1984, I have meditated in airports, hospital waiting rooms, sitting in the stands at soccer games, in the lobby of a busy Manhattan office building, on mountain tops and in quiet, darkened spaces wafting with incense, all with unequivocal success. Meditation doesn’t require special needs. Look, meditation is a natural state of mind that the mind craves. It’s healing. It’s transformative. And it’s easy. All you have to do is learn it correctly.

All About the Bass. You can’t start a tracking session without the bass player and the bass player was late. So I was on my knees in the studio dressing cables and doing busywork as we waited. A bass guitar case plopped on the floor right in front of me. I looked up. I stammered, “You must be the…  bass… player.” The hesitations came because the “bass player” was Paul McCartney.

It was back in my LA days as a recording engineer. During the next 14-plus hours of cutting a track, McCartney’s demeanor impressed me. Accustomed to over-amped and often crazy rock ‘n’ rollers in those days, I will never forget his gentle presence and the restrained command he offered the session. The details of the recording session are unimportant but the impression he made on me as a person remained powerful. A few months later, working on a different record with George Harrison, I observed the same sense of centered-ness and clarity.

Another musician I worked with had a similar demeanor in the studio. Readers wouldn’t recognize his name but he, Harrison and McCartney share a common link. This third musician had an even deeper effect on my life. He was the ultimate catalyst that made me decide I wanted to learn how to meditate.

My Two Cents. Ron Altbach was executive producer of a major live concert album and television broadcast I engineered. It starred the Beach Boys, America, Ringo, Hank Williams, Jr., Julio Iglesias, Three Dog Night and a host of others. It was a complex project and required a lot of technical expertise both on the day of recording and in post-production. Some of the problem-solving techniques of the day included me standing around in the control room with my techie assistants mulling solutions. As we geniuses would banter about which way to proceed, on more than one occasion, from the back of the room came a quiet and unassuming comment, usually along the lines of, “What if you…? Would that work?” The speaker was Ron. And each time he was right.

After two or three of his successful suggestions, I said to him, “Ron, you’re not an engineer or tech. How are you coming up with these solutions? Where’s that coming from? You seem to see things in a clear overview.” His answer was simple: “I think because I meditate, I’m able to assess situations more clearly.”

We talked about the meditation he learned, Transcendental Meditation, and it stuck with me. Three months later I learned TM at the Beverly Hills TM Center on 3rd Street. It took four sessions over 5 days and was easy. It wasn’t free or even cheap to learn. But it may go down as the most valuable thing I ever spent money on. Extrapolated over the 34 years since, it’s worked out to about two cents a day. And it’s becoming a better deal everyday.

Read the rest of this article in Heartland Healing at The Reader.

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