Archive for the ‘Peace’ Category

Bob Roth @meditationbob explains why and how #TranscendentalMeditation @TMmeditation is different from other types of meditation

June 11, 2022

Over the past two years I’ve been joining the daily morning and evening group meditations on Zoom facilitated by Bob Roth, a longtime Transcendental Meditation (TM) teacher, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation (DLF), and author. Before each group meditation, Bob likes to share interesting scientific information about how the body works, or something in nature, and ends the call with an inspirational poem, quotation, or word.

Bob also answers questions that have been sent in. One that comes up often is how is TM different from other types of meditation, in particular mindfulness. Bob’s answer was so clear, I wanted to share it with you. It was transcribed and approved for posting. I found two relevant images in an article on TM Basics in Enjoy TM News that will help highlight Bob’s explanation. He also addresses the notion of the active “monkey mind” and how it can be calmed without effort, a key point.

Bob Roth: I want to address a pretty basic question that many of you know the answer to, but many of you don’t. And since this is a community experience (these group meditations), I want to be sure that everybody feels comfortable and is up to speed. And one of the questions that frequently comes up, even among people who practice TM, is, “How is this different from other types of meditation, or mindfulness meditation?” Because we hear that term: mindfulness meditation.

And I like to use a very simple analogy; that you have a cross section of an ocean. (You ever hear me use that analogy in the past?) And you have choppy waves on the surface. And that can be analogous to the thinking mind. And people who are familiar with different types of meditation often talk about the nature of the mind being like a monkey mind. It bounces all over the place and, just in search of, just bouncing, bouncing, bouncing. It’s an active mind.

And if you want to control the mind, if you want to have a calm mind, then you have to stop the monkey mind from bouncing all over the place. And so, many types of either mindfulness meditation or other types of meditation involve some type of control of the mind.

So, in that cross-section of the ocean, it would be attempting to stop the waves on the surface of the ocean. That if you want to have a calm ocean, what disrupts a calm ocean? Waves. So, if you could stop the waves, then you’d have a calm ocean.

By analogy, if you want to have a calm mind, what disrupts a calm mind? Thoughts. So, if you want to have a calm mind, stop thoughts. You’ll have a calm mind.

That approach to meditation is called a cognitive approach. Cognitive means attending to your thoughts, your moods, your feelings, your actions. So, in that type of meditation, there’s some degree of control of the mind.

In Transcendental Meditation, we know there’s no control of the mind.

In Transcendental Meditation, we know there’s no control of the mind. We appreciate that the surface of the ocean may be turbulent, but we also recognize that there’s a vertical dimension to the ocean, and that there’s a depth to the ocean. And the depth to the deeper levels of the ocean? More silence.

In the same way, we appreciate that the mind is an active mind. All of the thoughts that we have during the day—we’re busy people. And we’re upset about things, and we’re happy about things, and we’re depressed about things, and we’re anxious about things, and we’re in love, and then we’re hurt.

All this stuff that’s going on are like waves on the surface, thoughts on the surface of the mind. And we call that the “gotta-gotta-gotta” mind.

Transcendental Meditation recognizes that there’s a vertical dimension to the mind. Just as there’s a vertical dimension to the ocean, there’s a vertical dimension to the mind. And the deeper levels of the mind are increasingly quiet, more settled.

Just as there’s a vertical dimension to the ocean, there’s a vertical dimension to the mind. And the deeper levels of the mind are increasingly quiet, more settled.

We know that when we want to talk to a dear friend about something important to us, we don’t say, Let’s go to a noisy sports bar. We say, Let’s go someplace quiet. Because when it’s quiet, we can think more clearly. We feel more settled within ourselves.

So, deeper levels of the mind—quieter. In Transcendental Meditation, we don’t try to stop thoughts on their surface. We effortlessly access what’s called (go in the direction of what’s called) the source of thought, from where thoughts arise deep within the mind of everyone—from where thoughts arise.

And that level of the mind is naturally quiet, like the ocean depth is naturally quiet. It’s there. That’s the hypothesis. You don’t have to believe in that. That’s the hypothesis. Deep within every human being is a level where the mind is already quiet. All we do in Transcendental Meditation is set up the conditions for our mind to effortlessly access that.

Deep within every human being is a level where the mind is already quiet. All we do in Transcendental Meditation is set up the conditions for our mind to effortlessly access that.

We don’t try to stop thoughts. It’s a waste of time. It’s impossible. It doesn’t accomplish what we hope to accomplish. And what do we hope to accomplish? Just set up the conditions for the mind to settle down within. And why will the mind settle down within? Because your mind doesn’t wander aimlessly. The mind is in search of something more satisfying. When it goes out through the senses, we look for something—something more beautiful, something more delicious, something more fragrant, something more pleasurable.

When we close our eyes, wait a half a minute, and then begin to think the mantra in an effortless way, then the mind is drawn inward to these quieter levels. And as that happens, our body gains deep rest.

And then as we get deep rest, the body throws off stress, and that increases the activity in the body. And then we come up a little bit. And then we settle back down. And we come up and we settle back down. This is Transcendental Meditation.

So, it’s that vertical dimension—accessing a level of the mind that is already quiet. So, no control in this. Concentration and control, just is trying to manipulate the surface. And that is just difficult and uncomfortable and not Transcendental Meditation.

Easy, comfortable, let the attention turn within, and we settle down, we come up. And that is TM—transcendence. Going beyond ordinary human limitations.

More on that in times to come, but let’s do our meditation now.

* * *

This infographic on the TM website compares forms of meditation techniques and their impact on the brain by looking at amount of mental effort required, images of different EEG signatures, types of brainwave activity, and their descriptions identified by the Mayo Clinic.

In this related article, Parade Magazine asked Bob Roth to explain Transcendental Meditation and what makes it so special.

NEW: Nigel Barlow, host of the Change Begins Within podcast in the UK, spoke with Bob Roth on The Work of The David Lynch Foundation. It was a lively informative discussion. Available on platforms, like Spotify, I listened in their SoundCloud album with other related Talking TM tracks.

See this dynamic talk by Nigel Barlow about TM at Biohacking Congress.

See this video on the David Lynch Foundation: Change Begins Within.

You can follow Bob Roth on Twitter @meditationbob and Instagram @meditationbob. To learn Transcendental Meditation, visit tm.org.

Related posts: Meditation Basics by Doug Rexford is the best short video intro to Transcendental Meditation | New study highlights unique state of “restful alertness” during Transcendental Meditation | Research validates the defining hallmark of Transcendental Meditation—effortlessness

Transcendental Meditation benefits those with medical issues, ongoing anxieties, even PTSD

September 22, 2021

Enjoy this excellent article on how Transcendental Meditation is benefitting Canadians, especially those with medical issues, ongoing anxieties and even PTSD. Click here to see photos of the people journalist Kate Wilson interviewed for an Edmonton News story published in the Edmonton and Calgary issues of the Alberta Prime Times.

TM a natural for emotional and physical wellbeing

Transcendental meditation (TM) provides benefits to those with medical issues, ongoing anxieties and even PTSD. 

By: Kate Wilson for AlbertaPrimeTimes.com (Edmonton and Calgary)

At the Edmonton TM Centre, Ami Stadnick helps clients from all walks of life to better manage a range of issues. Photo Kate Wilson.

Wade McKinley recalls the day he first stepped into a class on Transcendental Meditation (TM). As a young man in Vancouver, he’d been experiencing anxiety and depression, and a friend had recommended enrolling.

“I strolled in not knowing anything and said, Hi, I’d like to learn,” said the Calgary resident.

Now 54, McKinley has been practicing TM for 33 years. He says he values the rest it brings to his nervous system and body.

“There are times when distractions interrupt my peace of mind,” he said, but the stability that twice-daily meditation brings stays with him. “I still do TM exactly the way I was taught, but there’s growth in my experience. The quality of silence and settled-ness, it’s expanded into more aspects of my day.”

Setting the mind to rest

TM is a simple technique based on ancient yogic practices from India and renewed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the middle of the 20th century. It aims to bring the body and mind into a settled state of rest, without any concentrated effort.

A 1978 study in Hormones and Behaviour showed TM reduced cortisol–the ‘stress hormone’–by 30 per cent. A 1987 study published in Psychosomatic Medicine showed TM reduced hospitalizations and doctor visits among seniors, with the biggest reduction–about 70% –in people over 40.

In his 2018 book Strength in Stillness, longtime TM practitioner Bob Roth said the surge in interest in TM is partly due to an epidemic of chronic stress and related illness, and medication’s inability to prevent or cure it. He points to four decades of science showing TM’s capacity for improving brain and cognitive functioning, cardiovascular health and emotional well-being.

Help with medical issues

For Ruth Yanor, TM provides a priceless “reset button”. Seven years ago, she was weathering the debilitating effects of sleep apnea, in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. 

“I was wrung out from poor quality sleep, and pretty close to not being able to function. Nothing was helping,” said the Edmonton resident.

An incident at a cross-walk–where she was hit and dragged by a truck–sent her to the hospital with rib fractures and lung punctures. An allergy to opioids meant Yanor was only given extra strength Tylenol to deal with her pain, so her physician suggested enrolling in a TM program.

“Meditating would clear things. I could keep the pain out of my mind, until someone would ask ‘how’s your pain’,” she said.

Now 63, Yanor concedes that while TM hasn’t corrected her sleep apnea it has been invaluable in allowing her to function over the day. 

“I calm my mind down with TM. It’s so wonderful to have this practice.”

Yanor’s instructor, Ami Stadnick, says the simplicity of TM relies on the mind’s natural capacity to settle, despite its tendency to be distracted.

“It may be a favourite piece of music or a conversation. Our attention, at least momentarily, is (wired) to jump to that,” said Stadnick, a registered psychologist. “We know that if given the opportunity, the mind would rather be in a restful state. TM sets the conditions so the mind will move to finer levels of activity. It is nature at work.”

At the Edmonton TM centre (there are centres across Canada, including in Edmonton and Calgary), Stadnick handles requests ranging from people who need to focus in a stressful workplace, to medical referrals to military veterans wanting a medication-free way to deal with anxiety. As a licensed TM practitioner, Stadnick has continuing access to seminars and follow-up training as needed.

For more information about Calgary and Edmonton TM centres, go to https://ca.tm.org/en/transcendental-meditation-calgary or https://ca.tm.org/en/transcendental-meditation-edmonton.

Veterans benefitting from TM

TM is now being offered to Canadian veterans and their families thanks to the Canadian Women’s Wellness Institute and a grant from Veterans Affairs Canada. As part of an overall initiative to bring benefits to people in at-risk situations or who are suffering from PTSD, a TM pilot program has been offering veterans and their family members TM instruction and a twice-daily home practice, along with follow-up meetings.

“We know veterans are not prone to sharing their experiences,” said Stadnick, a TM instructor in the pilot program. “Their peer group is always looking for a way to treat PTSD in a more natural way.”

A 2021 report on the program showed participating veterans, who averaged 51 years of age, went from higher levels of stress, depression, anxiety and anger to significantly lower ones after only 3 months of TM practice. Family members also experienced significant decreases in stress and anxiety levels.

Out of the 36 participants, half reported improvements in general health, depression and fatigue. About 60% indicated a better relationship with their spouse and family members, while 86% reported a considerable reduction in stress.

The program is now extended into 2023 in Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton, Montreal and Fredericton. If you know any veterans who might like to enrol in the TM program, contact Ami Stadnick at astadnick@tm.org.

. . . . .

Update from Canadian Women’s Wellness Initiative on their extended grant from Veterans Affairs Canada

Veterans Affairs Canada announced their renewed grant for another two years to the Canadian Women’s Wellness Institute on their website: Recipients of the 2021 Veteran Family Well-Being Fund and published a Veteran story: Bruno Guevremont: Changing mind, changing self. In the article, Bruno describes the benefits he receives from his TM practice.

In 2019, he also trained in Transcendental Meditation, a simple mental technique that teaches practitioners how to settle their minds and their bodies, and reinforce the mind-body connection. “I did lots of research into different ways to care for your mental health, and I read that meditation can be good for you,” he recalls. “After meditation, I feel so chill, so incredibly peaceful. It helps you achieve a position of wellness, so that you can make the right decisions in life for yourself,” says Bruno.

See What if you could give yourself a mental health break every day? @WTHRcom 13News Anchor @JuliaMoffitt13 reports on the benefits of #TranscendentalMeditation.

For more information on Transcendental Meditation in your country, visit www.tm.org/choose-your-country.

Alan J. Steinberg’s debut novel reminds me of the age-old quest ‘To Be Enlightened’ I first read about in Somerset Maugham’s ‘The Razor’s Edge’

July 30, 2021

“The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard.” — Katha-Upanishad.

If you are a seeker, To Be Enlightened by Alan J. Steinberg, MD may inform and inspire you. The theme is reminiscent of Somerset Maugham’s novel, The Razor’s Edge*, which was made into a movie, twice.

In that story, Larry Darrel, traumatized from the war, postpones his marriage to travel, study, and find himself. He goes to Europe, and eventually India, where he meets a guru who prepares him for a profound experience of transcendence. Transformed, he returns to the world he left behind. The post-war economic recession had impacted his friend who is psychologically distraught. His former fiancee is now married to him. Larry later gets involved with an old friend who has suffered much and tries to save her. His ex is not content to have let him go and stirs up trouble. Complications lead to tragedy. In the end, Larry is free to live his life on his own terms; in the world, but not of it.

In this story, the main character, Abe Levy, a philosophy professor, already meditates. Unlike a greater part of the previous century, meditation and yoga have become ubiquitous in the west. But Professor Levy is not content with his twice-daily meditations. He is in a rush ‘To Be Enlightened’ and may risk his marriage and job to try and achieve it. The story has some surprising twists and turns along the way, enough to have kept this reader turning pages.

From the book description:

To Be Enlightened is a cosmic love story that follows Professor of Philosophy Abe Levy as he grapples with what it means to love both his wife, Sarah, and the ocean of silence within. It is also an intellectual exploration of the most intimate of subjects: our consciousness.

Abe Levy’s long tenure as a philosophy professor has motivated thousands of students to ponder age-old questions in light of New Age ideas. Though Abe is passionate about his teaching, he is obsessed with a powerful childhood dream of heaven. To return to that heaven, he must reach enlightenment in his lifetime. Day after day, Abe settles into deep meditation, reaching the very cusp of his goal but unable to cross the threshold. Desperately, he commits to doing whatever it takes, even if it means abandoning his wife for a more ascetic life—a decision that sets off a cascade of consequences for Abe, Sarah, and those he loves the most.

I found it interesting that the theme of each chapter was prefaced with a relevant profound quote from the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, reputed author of the Tao Te Ching and founder of Taoism.

This is Dr. Alan Steinberg’s debut novel, and it is a worthy one. I recommend it for anyone who doesn’t know much about meditation, as well as those with a meditative practice.

The classroom discussions reveal interesting perspectives between western philosophy and the Vedic knowledge brought out by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique. And Abe’s and his wife Sarah’s experiences in and out of their TM practice are very relevant to the story’s unfolding.

The book is an enlightening read. I enjoyed how other readers responded to it and appreciated Susan Miller‘s insights in her San Francisco Book Review. Here is a link to an excellent interview with the author.

You can download the first chapter at his website Alan J. Steinberg, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram. Dr. Steinberg publishes articles on meditation in Psychology Today. Visit his linktr.ee for links to articles, book reviews, and more.

UPDATE: Alan’s book won a 2022 Nautilus Book Awards, a Silver Winner (Cat. 1-10; 07 B – Fiction; Large Publisher, or Large Hybrid Publisher). Inviting imaginative storytelling that includes evolving human capacities, and can involve visionary positive futures and the resilience of the human spirit.

May 17, 2022: Los Angeles Author Alan J. Steinberg, MD Wins National Book Award. Cosmic Love Story Draws From Writer’s Own Experience with Spiritual Growth.

###

*Scroll down in this blog post about my favorite romantic movies to the subheading LEAVING ROMANCE BEHIND TO FIND ONESELF to read more about Maugham’s novel and the two films based upon it.

Another novel about a meditating philosophy professor worth reading is, “The Best Of All Possible Worlds” by B. Steven Verney.

This little poem, “Morning Prayer,” by Deborah J. Brasket, just might leave you feeling sanctified

March 21, 2021

Enjoy this profound blog post by Deborah J. Brasket: Like Flowers Falling Everywhere: A Poem. Click on the title to see an accompanying painting by Odilon Redon. This beautiful little poem, aptly titled “Morning Prayer,” is soft and mysterious, filled with an intimate silence that just might leave you feeling sanctified.

“Morning Prayer”
Deborah J. Brasket

Everywhere I look I see you,
I see us. This fragile hand,
this blue pen, this yellow pad.

These fingers gently folded,
Embracing the eagerness of
your movements across the page.

This tender paper accepting
All we write. These words that
rise up and lay down, so simple.

You are what I feel. This beating heart,
this circling breath, this wide sphere of
silence that enfolds us. Your soft sigh.

The day waits. It pours out of us whole
and clear, unending. How kind you are.
Kindness like flowers falling everywhere.

* * * * *

I asked a writer-artist friend who she thought is speaking in the poem, and to whom. She nailed it with this reply: “It sounds like the poet is speaking to herself about her writing life, and the love she feels for it.”

This reminds me of what B. Nina Holzer wrote in her lovely book, “A Walk Between Heaven and Earth,” A Personal Journal on Writing and the Creative Process. This edited journal entry is on the back cover:

Talking to paper is talking to the divine. Paper is infinitely patient. Each time you scratch on it, you trace part of yourself, and thus part of the world, and thus part of the grammar of the universe. It is a huge language, but each of us tracks his or her particular understanding of it.

You can see the complete journal entry here: Burghild Nina Holzer inspires us to write and discover who we are and what we have to say.

Speaking of kindness and writing about morning rituals, here are two related poems: “Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye, and one I wrote, “Sanctifying Morning.” It was published in Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace.

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

February 27, 2021

Wendell Erdman Berry (born August 5, 1934) is an American novelist, poet, essayist, environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer. He has published more than 50 books. Berry is an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, a recipient of The National Humanities Medal, and the Jefferson Lecturer for 2012. He lives in Port Royal, Kentucky. Click here to listen to him read this poem, and 5 others posted at the On Being website.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

(The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, Counterpoint, March 1, 2009)

Two other poems of his posted on this blog: Wendell Berry’s stepping over stones in a stream shows us how he writes a poem and takes a stand | Wendell Berry’s “No going back” is about the generosity of the evolving self through time.

Another great American nature poet is Mary Oliver. I created a memorial post after I discovered she had passed. It contains links to some of her beautiful poems that I liked and posted over the years, as well as articles, interviews, and readings: RIP: Mary Oliver. Thank you for sharing your poetic gifts with us. They are a national treasure!

An unforgettable incident 50 years ago during intermission at a Montreal Place Des Arts concert

February 11, 2021

I remember this incident as if it was yesterday, even though it happened around 50 years ago. I had purchased a ticket to see a well-known rock group perform that evening at Place Des Arts, Montreal’s newest and most beautiful arts center at the time.

I had learned Transcendental Meditation a few years earlier and was conscientious about getting both 20-minute meditations in every day. The morning one was easy, but fitting in the evening session could sometimes be a bit of a challenge depending on where I was.

There was a long intermission between performances, when people could go to restrooms or get refreshments on the mezzanine. As audience members around me got up to leave, I decided to stay and do my evening meditation. I closed my eyes and meditated undisturbed. I could hear the buzz of people socializing on the other side of the closed doors to the concert hall, but it didn’t bother me.

After I finished, I went out to see what was happening. People were milling about and talking. There were several oval-shaped bars located on the floor with a few servers behind them. Some people had formed separate lines on all sides leading up to them to purchase drinks or snacks. I joined one of the lines closest to me. I felt calm, relaxed and refreshed, and was in no hurry.

We were moving slowly. Some people spoke casually among themselves. The lady in front of me was antsy. She kept looking at the barman at the front of our line serving customers, wanting him to hurry up and get to her. Frustrated, she blurted out, “He’s everywhere but in front of him.”

“He’s everywhere but in front of him.”

I looked and noticed the barman taking an order from the person in front of him. He then ran to serve a drink to someone further down the bar. Next, he gave change to a customer who had just paid for their drink from another side. He was all over the place.

After seeing how busy he was, I rearranged her words from a different perspective and said, “But everywhere is in front of him!”

“But everywhere is in front of him!”

She anxiously looked again, and this time noticed that he was quickly trying his best to serve as many people as possible. My observational joke had broken the tension. She laughed and said, “That’s a good one.”

I was just as surprised as her at what had spontaneously come out of my mouth. I smiled and said, “You like it? It’s yours.”

Visibly relaxed, she smiled and thanked me. Good thing I had done my TM! Just goes to show you the effect we can have on each other for good.

(more…)

Good Medicine Haiku: Take quality time for yourself as this crazy year comes to a close

December 28, 2020

December 29, 2020, my son Nathanael emailed to say he was planning to go offline and take some downtime to close out this crazy year. I sent him this haiku, and he replied: GOOD MEDICINE. I used it as the title.

Good Medicine Haiku

Trust inner feelings
Let go; settle in silence
Honor your essence

© Ken Chawkin

So if you’re wanting to forget 2020 ever happened and are looking to refresh for 2021, think of this Good Medicine Haiku as a prescription to take a much-needed, guilt-free time-out. Try a digital diet, meditate, go within—take quality time for yourself. We owe it to ourselves. Peace out.

Wishing you a Happy Holidays, regardless of dietary restrictions! Enjoy the gift of laughter.

December 25, 2020

Laughter is the best gift we can give each other during these stressful times. A friend sent out several humorous videos with holiday wishes. One, to me, was the funniest. It reminded me of earlier times around the family dinner table. Maybe not as extreme, but that’s where the humor lies, by making us laugh at ourselves through exaggeration.

Here’s the hilarious short video CBC Comedy posted from 22 Minutes: How to deal with dietary restrictions at Christmas dinner. Catering Christmas dinner to everyone’s diet can be a difficult task these days. Luckily, there are some easy solutions.

Enjoy your holidays, with or without family. Hopefully, next year will be a better one for us all. For more laughs, see: Good cartoons teach us a lot if we’re willing to learn and laugh at our little foibles and neuroses.

Another hilarious holiday video was posted by Saturday Night Live 5 years earlier called A Thanksgiving Miracle – SNL.

Jerry’s Last Mission was not just in WW2; he later helped bring peace to today’s troubled veterans

November 11, 2020

This week, Nov 9-13, 2020, is ‘Jerry Fest’, a 5-Day free, Sneak-Peak Screening and Virtual Celebration of Veteran’s Day, honoring the life of Jerry Yellin with the release of a new documentary film, ‘Jerry’s Last Mission’.

Here is a press release that was sent out announcing this week’s activities: Ed Cunningham Announces David Lynch Foundation and Regnery History to Host ‘Jerry Fest’. 5-Day Virtual Festival Celebration of Veteran’s Day and WW2 Fighter Pilot will include free screenings of the Feature Documentary ‘Jerry’s Last Mission’ and Q&A sessions with the filmmakers.

The two virtual Q&A sessions take place on Veteran’s Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 8 pm ET hosted by Regnery Publishing, and on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 8 pm ET hosted by the David Lynch Foundation. Both will include Yellin’s family, producers Ed Cunningham and Melissa Hibbard, and director Louisa Merino. Check the film’s website for zoom links. 

The film’s website is www.jerryslastmission.com and the social media addresses are facebook.com/jerryslastmission, @jerrys_last_mission_film on Instagram and @jerrylastmiss1 on Twitter. The film’s distribution rights are represented by Scott Kaplan of Domino Content (www.dominocontent.com).

The NJArts wrote a great article about the film in time for Veteran’s Day: War and inner peace: Moving documentary ‘Jerry’s Last Mission’ available for free viewing. [PDF] Here’s the film’s trailer.

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, a young Jerry Yellin signed up to become a fighter pilot. He flew P-51 missions over Iwo Jima, including the last official bombing raid of the war over Japan. He was the only one left in his squadron to survive. He returned home a hero, but suffered for decades from what is now known as PTSD. Thanks to his wife, Helene, Jerry learned the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique, which transformed his life.

Decades later, when Jerry heard about the high rate of suicides among today’s veterans, he inspired the David Lynch Foundation to start Operation Warrior Wellness, which provided scholarships for veterans and their families to learn Transcendental Meditation.

So Jerry’s last mission was not only at the end of WW2, but also decades later during the latter part of his life, when he made it possible for American veterans of foreign wars to heal their PTSD by learning TM.

Last year The Fairfield Ledger published this 2-page cover story: Jerry Yellin laid to rest with full military honors. See more stories on this blog.

Just found another great report on the film, this one by News 12 The Bronx: Hate turns to love: ‘Jerry’s Last Mission’ tells the story of WWII veteran coping with horrors of war. The story of a World War II fighter pilot from New Jersey who flew the last combat mission over Japan is now the subject of a new documentary film – “Jerry’s Last Mission.”

I cropped a photo of Merino and Yellin from this excellent TV news story.

Director Louisa Merino and Jerry Yellin

Additional news coverage

In addition to the NJArts and Bronx News 12 reports, these new articles came out: Baristanet: Limited Pre-Screening of ‘Jerry’s Last Mission’ Will Honor New Jersey WWII Veteran, and this comprehensive article by Claire Barrett, who interviewed Louisa Merino and Michael and Steven Yellin for The Army Times, Observation Post: ‘Jerry’s Last Mission’: How WWII’s last combat pilot became a lifelong testament of the human spirit. Steven Yellin was also interviewed by KTVO-TV3’s Beth Waldon: New film helps Fairfield man understand father’s fighter pilot experiences in WWII. Click the title to see a video of the full report with the news anchor’s introduction and conclusion to Beth’s report embedded here.

This article, with photos from Michael Yellin, came out November 24, 2020: Montclairian’s father, Jerry Yellin, a WWII hero.

2021 UPDATE

The film will have an exclusive release through Utopia Distribution’s ALTAVOD on November 11, 2021, Veterans Day, and will be available December 4 on Apple TV and Apple iTunes. Jerry’s autobiography, originally published as Of War And Weddings in 1995, has been re-released as Jerry’s Last Mission by Armin Lear Press to coincide with the release of the documentary film. Find out more in their press release: ARMIN LEAR RELEASES JERRY’S LAST MISSION CONCURRENT WITH DOCUMENTARY

Who was Bungalow Bill from the Beatles White Album and what happened to him? He tells us!

June 29, 2020

Do you remember The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill that John Lennon wrote and sang on the Beatles White Album? It was based on a real person who was on the same Transcendental Meditation Course the Beatles had attended in Rishikesh, India with Maharishi.

Richard Cooke III was there with his mother, Nancy Cooke de Herrera, who was a publicist for Maharishi at the time. Maharishi had assigned Nancy to look after the Beatles during the course.

I don’t know if Richard stayed for the whole TM training course, but he took time off to go on an elephant-riding tiger-hunting trip while he was in India. He killed a tiger and was proud of his accomplishment, as was his mother, who related the story to Maharishi. John happened to be in that meeting. Richard and his mother are referenced in the song’s lyrics.

A friend sent me this new article, which brings us up to date. Here is the continuing story of Richard “Rikki” Cooke III in his own words: My Last Hunt, published in Chasing the Light.

It’s interesting how Maharishi’s response and John’s song profoundly altered the trajectory of Richard’s life. He decided to trade in his gun for a camera and did a different kind of shooting from then on. Learn more about Richard A. Cooke III at rikkicooke.com and National Geographic.

This photo shows Nancy with the Beatles and other celebrities attending the course at the ashram in Rishikesh. She’s the tall blond woman behind John Lennon and next to Paul McCartney. Others in this photo are: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, George Harrison, Mia Farrow, John Farrow, (Mia and Prudence Farrow‘s brother) and Donovan Leitch. A larger photo shows Pattie Boyd in front of Nancy, and Jane Asher and Cynthia Lennon next to Donovan.

Meeting the Beatles in India film by Paul Saltzman

Update: Sept 9, 2020: Speaking of that time, a new film, Meeting The Beatles In India, about Paul Saltzman’s brief stay there, premieres tonight, 7pm, online at Gathr.com. Here’s an announcement about the film from the national TM Office of Communications with a message from the director. Here are a few film reviews: Cryptic Rock, NYS Music, and Variety. Paul’s website: https://thebeatlesinindia.com, and trailer.

I saw the film tonight. It was well done, personable, and revealing, as was the post‑screening discussion and Q&A with Emmy Award-winning director Paul Saltzman, and surprise guest Rikki Cooke III, aka “Bungalow Bill.” In the Q&A that followed, Rikki explained why he thought the remaining Beatles left the ashram abruptly. It made a lot more sense than the usual rumor mentioned in the article. I posted a comment (below) on the Variety article of what he said including related material.

There are several interviews posted on YouTube. Beatle Brunch host Joe Johnson spoke with Paul Saltzman on a zoom call about the film. This is another good interview published in the Cleveland.com. And this one from the BBC: When a ‘heartbroken’ backpacker met The Beatles in India.

International music journalist Jeff Slate wrote an article for The Daily Beast about the film: My Transformative Time With the Beatles in India. He contributed the usual rock history and interviewed Paul Saltzman, Jenny Boyd, Pattie’s sister, and Deepak Chopra, a close friend of George Harrison. In the Q&A that followed the premiere, Jeff heard Rikki Cooke’s explanation of why he thought the Beatles had left the ashram. Jeff appreciated this different perspective saying it was “one for the record.”

The documentary film, plus exclusively filmed Q&As moderated by Jeff Slate with Paul Saltzman, Jenny Boyd Levitt, Rikki Cooke, and Stephen Maycock from events in India, Germany and London are available on Gathr starting Friday, Sept 11, 2020. Total run time is 2hrs 20mins: movie, 1hr 20mins; Q&A Highlights, 1 hour.

I later found this excellent movie review by Beatles fan and Michigan State Theatre Programming and Media Coordinator Nick Alderink: This Week: Turn Off Your Mind, Relax and Meet the Beatles in India.

CTV News anchor Angie Seth interviewed Paul Saltzman at his home in Oakville, Ontario about his film and what it was like Meeting the Beatles in India. You can see it here.

Dec 21, 2020, Bob Roth announced on Instagram that a free rental of the film will be available between December 24th 2020 and January 1st 2021 thanks to @LynchFoundation and @TM_Program.

June 8, 2021, The Irish Times: Saltzman has been left with more than some priceless holiday photos. What memory does he still hold on to from that week? He replies, instantly: “Doing my first 30-minute meditation. It was fun meeting The Beatles, but that was secondary to the transformation of my inner life.” – Guardian

June 12, 2021, Paul Saltzman spoke to Mayank Chhaya about his story of meeting The Beatles in India. You can see this wonderful interview on Mayank Chhaya Reports YouTube channel.

In one incident, when Paul was in London, he describes how he was invited by a filmmaker friend to join him in a private first screening of a film they were working on. It turned out to be Yellow Submarine!

A surprised Mayank comments on this as another example of serendipity, things as if magically happening in Paul’s life. Paul then talks about the importance of listening to his soul, his intuition. That’s when unexpected things occurred.

Paul tells Mayank: “I do know that when we truly listen to our hearts, that’s the best guidance system on the planet. When we truly open ourselves to hear our own soul’s guidance, it never leads us wrong. It’s when we don’t listen to our inner guidance that we get …. (Mayank interrupts saying: “That’s when things go wrong.”) Maybe Paul was going to say that we get into trouble, i.e., we suffer.

It reminds me of what Maharishi said about being self-referral and enjoying the support of nature as a result of regular practice of Transcendental Meditation.

Mayank Chhaya Reports: The Beatles in India

My comment to the Variety article:

Ken Chawkin                                                              September 9, 2020 at 10:39 pm

I saw the film tonight and enjoyed it. I stayed online for the Q&A that followed with director Paul Saltzman and surprise guest Richard “Rikki” Cooke III, aka, Bungalow Bill. One of the questions asked was why the Beatles had left the ashram, and did it have something to do with Maharishi supposedly making a pass at one of the female course participants. That story was a fabrication created by a jealous Magic Alex to draw John Lennon out of there. But Cooke had another explanation, and it had nothing to do with Alex, although he said he stirred up a lot of trouble while he was there. I had also read about this explanation in a book years ago. The Beatles had told Maharishi of their desire to make a documentary film about him and his message of TM to help create world peace. Maharishi was amenable and they were excited to do it. Unfortunately, Charlie Lutes, the leader of the TM movement at that time, had already signed a deal with Four Star Productions, and they had dispatched a film crew to Rishikesh, India. Cooke said when the Beatles found out, they were disappointed, upset, and decided to leave. Rikki said he saw them walk out the north gate at the same time the film crew were coming in through the south gate. He said it was an unfortunate misunderstanding. I had also heard that when John and George had gone to speak with Maharishi beforehand, most thought it was to ask about his making a pass at a girl. But the real reason may have been to verify the rumor of a Four Star film crew coming to make a documentary. If so, they would not want to be involved with it in any way, and would be leaving. With both John and George gone we may never know for sure, although it seems more plausible. Of course, John would write Sexy Sadie in retaliation. He had originally used Maharishi’s name, but George convinced him to change it to Sexy Sadie. Years later, George would visit Maharishi, with the help of Deepak Chopra, to apologize for John’s behavior at that time. Maharishi said he was not upset with John, regardless of what he had said, that he loved them. Deepak had told Maharishi that when The Beatles had played on the Ed Sullivan Show, there were no crimes committed in America. When Maharishi heard that, he called them angels, and said he could never be mad at them. Chopra said that George broke down, and was emotionally relieved with that karmic burden now off his heart. In separate interviews, both Paul and George said there was no truth to those accusations about Maharishi, which they felt were unfortunate.

(PS: I later noticed that all comments were removed in the archive of the Variety article. Thinking that might happen I saved and included it here.)

September 4, 2020, The Daily Beatle published this excellent review: Watch Meeting The Beatles in India.

Paul Saltzman is a two-time Emmy Award winning Toronto-based film and television producer-director known for over 300 productions. In March 26, 2010, he spoke at TEDxWaterloo on My life in Art. His talk opens with his story of how he went to India to work on a film and received a letter from his girlfriend that she had left him for another. Brokenhearted he traveled to Rishikesh to find Maharishi’s ashram to learn Transcendental Meditation. He describes meeting the Beatles and them welcoming him into their fold. The latter part of his talk is about a film he made with Morgan Freeman, Prom Night in Mississippi, and his work with Moving Beyond Prejudice.

Paul concludes his talk sharing wise advice from his own life’s journey up to that point, to be open to receive what the universe is waiting to give us, and to be willing to look at ourselves, our prejudices, to talk about them openly, and to change. This reminds me of a poem by Kukai, Singing Image of Fire, “all things change when we do,” and this poem by Vaclav Havel, It Is I Who Must Begin. Change begins within, and it starts with me.


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