Archive for the ‘Peace’ Category

Cliffhouse and Arbutus blossoms inspire haiku by Ken Chawkin and paintings by Betsy Randel

May 15, 2017

Today, I posted this haiku and the story behind it with these images on a website page about Arbutus Tree blossoms. I kept expanding and refining the story and decided to post it here as well. It’s approved and ready to be shared: Arbutus Flower Inspires Haiku.

The Cliffhouse Cottage deck

About 20 years ago, a friend of mine took me on a holiday weekend getaway to Galiano Island. We stayed at The Cliffhouse Cottage. It was beautiful there! I remember sitting on the deck at dusk looking out over the tranquil ocean. Everything was completely still. Quiet. I heard a small sound, like something had fallen from somewhere, and wondered what it was. I bent down and found a small white flower beside my chair. It resembled a tiny bell. I then looked up and saw a cluster of flower blossoms in the tree above me. My friend said it was an Arbutus Tree. That experience inspired this haiku.

Cliffhouse Deck at Dusk

Tiny bells call me
Arbutus blossoms falling
Sounding the Silence

© Ken Chawkin

The poem was later included in a grouping titled: 13 Ways to Write Haiku: A Poet’s Dozen, and published in The Dryland Fish, An Anthology of Contemporary Iowa Poets, December 12, 2003.

Galiano Island Art Cards by Betsy Randel

My friend, Betsy Randel, also painted some Art Cards of the Arbutus Tree and The Cliffhouse. You can see them in the Island Life Art Cards section of her website, Art that Heals, and more of her beautiful artwork there.

A Remembrance of Maharishi by James Powell

May 10, 2017
May 4, 2017 | Santa Barbara Independent | Opinion | In Memoriam
His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (photo by Al Bourdet)

His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi 1911*-2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
By James Powell

The first time I met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was in Malibu, on the beach.

It was a typical summer day in Southern California. Not much was happening. There was a south swell. From time to time a sun worshiper atop a towel would flip over, a seagull would sail off into the fog, or a large set of waves would come crashing in.

As I recall, I stood on the beach with some of my surfing buddies. We were probably dressed in the surfer’s uniform of the era: corduroy pants and white Penney’s T-shirts covered by Pendeltons, not tucked in. Unlike most surfers on most beaches that day, however, we each held in our hands a bouquet of flowers.

Suddenly cars arrived. Doors were flung open. A cameraman emerged, and next some guys in suits. A brown, sandaled foot from within the car could be seen feeling for the ground, and then—bearded and wearing a long, flowing, white dhoti—an Indian man stepped out onto the dirt road. He seemed enveloped in a nimbus of such serenity and light that, seeing him, the effect was similar to what one feels deep in a canyon before dawn, when suddenly the sun bursts over the rim.

With the camera now trained on us—the surfer-boy extras in a documentary film—Maharishi approached, clearly enjoying the eternity in each step as he floated across the sand. As he drew near, something happened that I was not at all prepared for. My soul began to swoon. In place of the crashing of the waves, which now seemed far in the distance, was an immensely beautiful sea of silent consciousness. It was, to put it mildly, simply adorable. Lost in it, I could neither speak nor move. When Maharishi tugged on my flowers, I was unable to release my grip. He looked into my eyes, touched my hand, and my fingers opened.

It would be impossible to forget the blithe beauty of those eyes. He looked into each of ours, playfully. After accepting our flowers he looked out to sea, and then, regarding us again and smiling like the happiest man on earth, he asked, “Are you enjoying the ocean?”

Thus began my transcendental studies—lessons such as I had never known. The classroom was the Heart; the assignment was to locate the point within where the soul loses its boundaries and becomes absorbed in something infinite.

Typically, by the time Maharishi arrived at his seat in any of the countless lecture halls he spoke in around the world, he would be hugging to his chest hundreds of flowers accepted from students greeting him on his way in. And in each one of those exchanges was a moment as spiritually transforming as the one I had known on the beach. Yet, Maharishi’s aim was not to establish a personality cult. Each and every flower he accepted in each and every lecture hall he would place reverently before the image of his beloved teacher, Guru Dev, to whom he dedicated every instant of his life. And he tirelessly encouraged each of us to dive into the ocean of consciousness his Guru Dev embodied, by diving deep within our hearts during meditation.

Maharishi, in speaking of his teacher, always emphasized that the events in a spiritually illumined life are not so important. What is important is the state of his or her enlightenment. So I will not list all Maharishi’s many accomplishments throughout the world. Perhaps something of his level of presence can be felt through these few words.

Maharishi visited Santa Barbara on several occasions because some of his dearest friends lived here: Walter and Rae Koch, the family of Tom and Susan Headley, and Arthur and Christina Granville. Over the past few decades, teachers at Santa Barbara’s Transcendental Meditation center instructed more than 10,000 Santa Barbarans in meditation. In addition, Santa Barbara was at one time the home of the fledgling Maharishi International University, now located in Fairfield, Iowa.

“Are you enjoying the ocean?” Although those were the first words I had ever heard him speak, through the years I realized that they contained his entire teaching. For Maharishi was absolutely certain of one fact: His soul was forever floating within an ocean of unbounded bliss. He was well aware that the state of life he was living was adorable, and that anyone could begin to live it.

* The year of Maharishi’s birth is unknown but is believed to have been between 1911 and 1918.

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Personal note: I remember reading this beautifully written remembrance of Maharishi when it first appeared, March 13, 2008, in the Santa Barbara Independent. The film being made about Maharishi at the time was never completed. But Alan Waite, who brought out the film crew, would later go on to make, at Maharishi’s request, a film about him called, Sage for a New Generation (1968). It won an award in 1969 for best documentary film at the first Hollywood Film Festival. The judges said they liked the “patchwork style of film-making” when they gave Alan the award. Segments of the film were later included in the International History Channel documentary on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi that I helped produce.

I had attended Maharishi International University, MIU, in Goleta, California, in 1974, and moved to the Fairfield, Iowa campus to complete my last course before returning to Montreal, Canada. MIU would later change its name to Maharishi University of Management, MUM, www.mum.edu.

(more…)

Follow-up study suggests large advanced TM groups reduced murder rates in large US cities

March 30, 2017

Large groups practicing the advanced Transcendental Meditation program were associated with significant reductions in murder rates in US urban areas during the period 2007–2010

A follow-up study in the Journal of Health and Environmental Research examines a novel proposed approach to help reduce murder rates in large US urban areas. 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 28.4% reduction in murder rates in 206 US urban areas, preventing an estimated 4,136 deaths.

JHER 2017 Fig 1. Reduced Murder Rate in 206 Urban Areas

A slightly rising trend in the urban murder rate during the baseline was reversed significantly when the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi group exceeded 1,725 participants in January 2007 (vertical dashed line).

Follow-up study suggests group meditation reduced murder rates in large US cities

Following up on a 2016 study on group meditation that found a 21.2% reduction in the national homicide rate during the period 2007–2010, a new study focusing on 206 large US urban areas found an even greater decrease of 28.4% in the murder rate. In both studies, the reductions during the period 2007–2010 were in comparison to the baseline period 2002–2006.

In their study, published in the Journal of Health and Environmental Research, the authors suggest that these results are consistent with the hypothesis that a sufficiently large group practicing the Transcendental Meditation® technique and its advanced program, the TM-Sidhi® program would lead to reduced societal stress, as reflected in reduced rates of murder and violence. This group practice is said to create a positive effect in the environment due to a hypothesized “field effect of consciousness.”

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 at that time.

“In view of the recent increases in murder rates in large US cities, the results of this prospective social experiment should be of particular interest to government policy makers seeking an effective method of reducing urban violence,” said lead author Dr. Kenneth Cavanaugh.

“This study and 17 other peer-reviewed studies suggest that one’s individual consciousness is directly connected to an underlying, universal field of consciousness, and that by collectively enlivening that universal field through the Transcendental Meditation technique, such a group can have a positive effect on the quality of life in society,” added coauthor Dr. Michael Dillbeck.

28.4% reduction compared to previous four-year period

The study found that a slightly increasing trend in murder rate during the baseline period 2002 to 2006 shifted significantly to a declining trend during the four-year period 2007 through 2010. As a result, the urban murder rate was reduced 28.4% relative to the 2002–2006 average. The researchers estimated 4,136 murders in the 206 cities were averted by the significantly reduced trend in murder rates.

They calculated that the probability that the reduced trend in murder rates could simply be due to chance was 1 in 10 million million.

Rising murder rates cause concern

Despite long-term declines in US murder and other violent crime rates from their peak in the early 1990s, recent increases in these rates have led to heightened concern among policy makers and the general public.

Beginning at historically low levels not experienced since the early 1960s, the national murder rate (murder and non-negligent manslaughter) increased 10.8% in 2015, the largest increase in 25 years. Ten large cities with an average population of about one million experienced a disproportionately large surge in homicides during 2015. Preliminary data indicate that continued increases in national murder rates in 2016 were also being driven by a handful of large US cities.

“The 2015–2016 increase in US murder and violent crime rates, especially in urban areas, highlights the need to consider new, alternative approaches to reducing violence that might help address this important national issue,” said Dr. Dillbeck.

Using time series analysis to compare trends

The researchers first calculated a baseline trend for monthly murder rates during 2002–2006 for all 206 urban areas over 100,000 population for which uninterrupted FBI data were available. They then used time series intervention analysis to compare that baseline with the corresponding trend for the intervention period 2007–2010.

A slightly rising trend in the urban murder rate (see Figures 1 and 2) during the baseline was reversed significantly when the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi group exceeded 1,725 participants beginning in January 2007 (vertical dashed line in Figure 1). This declining trend continued through 2010. (The irregular ups and downs of the murder rate shown in Figure 1 are largely due to seasonal fluctuations around the trend.)

G25. Urban murder bw

This chart shows the slightly rising trend in the urban murder rate 2002-2006 (left bar), the declining trend 2007-2010 (middle bar), and the highly significant change in trend (right bar).

A hypothesized “field effect of consciousness”

The Transcendental Meditation technique is said to allow the mind to settle down to quieter states and ultimately experience “pure consciousness” or “pure awareness,” in which the mind is aware but without an object of thought. EEG research and subjective reports suggest the existence of this unique state. Research has found that experience of this state results in benefits such as reduced stress and increased brain integration.

According to Dr. Cavanaugh, “The basis for the hypothesized effect on society is that consciousness in its pure form, 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 will positively influence all others in society, leading to development in the same holistic direction as experienced by individuals practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique.”

Reduction not explainable by factors such as policing

The authors noted that reductions in the trends of murder rates occurred at the predicted time and in the predicted direction, and this reduction could not be predicted from baseline trends or seasonal cycles.

The researchers also were able to rule out other alternative explanations. The reduction in murder rates could not be explained by such factors as unemployment and national economic conditions, changes in incarceration rates, police strategy and police technology, urban demographics, police reporting standards, or temperature changes. And for the first time in a major economic downturn since 1945, the murder and violent crime rates failed to rise during the severe recession of December 2007 to June 2009.

The authors point out that the study’s findings are especially noteworthy because these 206 large urban areas pose a particularly difficult challenge to any proposed initiative to help reduce urban rates of murder and violence. These cities experience higher poverty rates, lower educational levels, higher unemployment, greater social instability, and other predictors of higher rates of violent crime than the rest of the US.

A total of eighteen 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.

Fourth study in a series

The study, titled “Field Effects of Consciousness and Reduction in US Urban Murder Rates: Evaluation of a Prospective, Quasi-Experiment,” was published in the Journal of Health and Environmental Research, March 2017.

This article is the fourth in a series that comprehensively evaluates the impact of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi group on the 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 the US national homicide rate 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.

The third in the series, published in the March 2017 issue of SAGE Open, found a highly significant reduction of 30.4% in the US drug-related death rate and 12.5% in the rate of infant mortality. The researchers estimate that 26,425 drug-related fatalities and 992 infant deaths were averted by the significantly reduced trends in fatality rates.

In view of these findings, the authors invite governments to implement and evaluate this scientifically validated approach to reducing violence and other negative trends in society.

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Field Effects of Consciousness and Reduction in US Urban Murder Rates: Evaluation of a Prospective, Quasi-Experiment. Kenneth L. Cavanaugh and Michael C. Dillbeck, Institute of Science, Technology, and Public Policy, Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield, Iowa. DOI: 10.11648/j.jher.s.2017030301.13 (PDF)

Source: EurekAlert/AAAS

Physician recommends wider use of evidence-based mind-body interventions for prisoners

February 1, 2017

Medical doctor calls for mind-body approaches to help prisoners reduce stress, trauma, and recidivism

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A group of female inmates practicing Transcendental Meditation experienced significant reductions in trauma symptoms compared to a control group. Photo credit: The Oregon Department of Corrections*

A randomized study published online January 17, 2017 in The Permanente Journal on 22 female prisoners found that those practicing Transcendental Meditation for four months had significant reductions in total trauma symptoms compared with a control group. And a similar study in the same journal published October 7, 2016, involving 181 male prisoners found a 47% reduction in total trauma symptoms compared to a non-meditating control group.

In an editorial, published February 1, 2017 to accompany the two studies on Transcendental Meditation in their Winter 2017 print edition, Charles Elder, MD, MPH, FACP, a clinician and researcher with Kaiser Permanente, called for wider use of evidence-based mind-body interventions for prisoners.

Advantages of mind-body interventions for prisoners

Dr. Elder cited many of the advantages of these interventions.

Charles Elder, MD, MPH, FACP

Charles Elder, MD, MPH, FACP

“Mind-body interventions can provide the patient with a simple self-help tool that can effectively reduce anxiety, help treat substance abuse, reduce inmate recidivism, and help address a range of medical conditions,” he wrote, citing research on Transcendental Meditation that supports these benefits.

In addition to these benefits, he points out that a mind-body intervention can be cost-effective. Since Transcendental Meditation has been shown to reduce recidivism — the percentage of inmates returning to prison after their release — it can save money that would otherwise be spent on incarceration. And, he points out, a prisoner who becomes a productive member of society provides an economic benefit, instead of a deficit.

Rebecca Pak of The Women’s Prison Association agrees with Dr. Elder, “The results inside correctional facilities and schools with Transcendental Meditation have been simply astounding. If we shifted our focus from punitive responses to interventions designed to improve mental and physical health, we would have much greater impact.”

Convenience of mind-body interventions

Dr. Elder also describes the convenience of mind-body approaches.

“Once taught the technique, an individual can use the skill for the duration of his or her life, as a stress management tool, providing ongoing benefits across a range of domains…. In addition to helping the inmate cope with the stress of incarceration, there is a range of additional ‘side benefits,’ ranging from reduced recidivism to improved cardiovascular health.”

He says a trained instructor can take Transcendental Meditation directly to the prisoners, rather than their going to a clinic or meditation center. And direct personal instruction is better than trying to learn a mind-body intervention online, since many may be unable or unwilling to engage an online format.

Effectiveness of Transcendental Meditation

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Sanford Nidich, EdD, lead author

Led by Sanford Nidich, EdD, Director of the Maharishi University of Management Center for Social and Emotional Health, the two recent studies published by The Permanente Journal were conducted at three prisons in Oregon. The hypothesis was that Transcendental Meditation would help prisoners deal with serious trauma and stress. Surveys have shown that prisoners have one of the highest rates of lifetime trauma of any segment of society, with 85% having been a victim of a crime-related event, such as robbery or home invasion, or physical or sexual abuse.

This trauma leads to stress and poor lifestyle choices, including crime and substance abuse. In addition to these recent studies, earlier ones have found that Transcendental Meditation helps inmates deal with trauma and stress and reduces recidivism. Here is a sampling, with some listed in the editorial:

• 2017 — the study described above that found reduced trauma in female prisoners in Oregon

• 2016 — the study mentioned above that found a 47% reduction in total trauma symptoms in male prisoners in Oregon over the course of the four-month study, including a reduction in anxiety, depression, dissociation, and sleep disturbance, as well as a significant decrease in perceived stress

• 2003 — A study of 17 subjects at La Tuna federal penitentiary in Texas showed a reduction on the MMPI psychasthenia scale, suggesting a reduction in obsessive–compulsive behavior, and a decrease in social introversion.

• 2003 — A retrospective followup on 152 inmates who had learned Transcendental Meditation at Walpole prison in Massachusetts found that these inmates were 33% less likely to have returned to prison after 30 days compared to a control group that participated in counseling, drug rehabilitation and religious activities, and 47% less likely compared to all non-meditating control subjects.

• 2003 — A retrospective analysis of 248 inmates at Folsom State Prison used Cox regression analysis to calculate that prisoners who learn Transcendental Meditation are 43.5% less likely to return to prison.

• 1987 — A study of 259 inmates who had learned Transcendental Meditation at several different prisons in California found that they were 40% less likely to have returned to prison one year after release compared to matched controls, and 30% less likely after six years.

• 1978 — A study of 115 inmates at Folsom Prison in California found a reduction in anxiety, negativism, and suspicions, as well as improved sleep.

“The overall body of research suggests that Transcendental Meditation could be used more widely to help prisoners deal with trauma and stress,” said Dr. Nidich, lead author of the recent studies conducted at Oregon prisons.

Source: Mind-Body Training for At-Risk Populations: Preventive Medicine at its Best. [PDF]

About the Transcendental Meditation Technique

Transcendental Meditation® (TM®) is a simple, natural technique practiced 20 minutes twice each day while sitting comfortably with the eyes closed. The TM technique is easy to learn and enjoyable to practice, and is not a religion, philosophy, or lifestyle. Unlike other forms of meditation, TM practice involves no concentration, no control of the mind, no contemplation, no monitoring of thoughts. It automatically and effortlessly allows the active thinking mind to settle down to a state of deep inner calm. For more information visit www.tm.org.

*Photo: The Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, Oregon.

MarketWired: Medical doctor calls for mind-body approaches to help prisoners reduce stress, trauma, and recidivism

Related posts: New study shows Transcendental Meditation reduces trauma symptoms in female prisoners and Transcendental Meditation reduced stress and trauma symptoms in male prisoners in 4 months

Celebrating the Glorious Life of Sally M Peden

January 17, 2017
Sally Peden - 1992

Sally Peden, May 26, 1947 – October 1, 2016

A repost celebrating the glorious life of Sally M Peden, which includes descriptions of her peaceful and graceful transition, memorial service, and Vedic cremation ceremony. Many beautiful tributes were added that give a glimpse of how special she was. Included is a poem I wrote about Sali’s passing, and descriptions of the auspicious times of her death, and spreading of her ashes in India’s holy Narmada River. May she reside in the highest heaven.

Source: An early attempt at some kind of closure with a poem on Sali’s passing and auspicious times 

Recently added: Final entries leading up to and after Sali’s passing

New study shows Transcendental Meditation reduces trauma symptoms in female prisoners

January 17, 2017

image

The first study to specifically focus on reducing stress in female prisoners has found that Transcendental Meditation significantly reduces trauma symptoms. Women have become the fastest growing prison population in the U.S., and research shows they suffer from higher rates of mental and emotional trauma, and higher rates of sexual abuse than men. This randomized controlled trial, published in The Permanente Journal, follows a recent study on reduced trauma in male inmates through Transcendental Meditation.

Significant reduction in trauma

The results showed that after four months of practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique, the women inmates in the meditation group had significant reductions in total trauma symptoms, including intrusive thoughts and hyperarousal compared with controls. Trauma symptoms were measured using the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist-Civilian (PCL-C).

‘This study is a valuable addition to the research literature in women’s mental health, showing a natural and effortless alternative approach to reducing trauma symptoms,” said lead author Dr. Sanford Nidich, director of the Center for Social and Emotional Health at Maharishi University of Management. “It further replicates an earlier randomized controlled trial with Transcendental Meditation (TM) in male prison inmates suffering from high levels of trauma symptoms. Previous studies have shown reduced trauma in other populations, including veterans and African refugees with the TM program.”

Comments from the subjects

Those practicing Transcendental Meditation in their prison cells said they felt a lot better—less stressed, with a greater sense of inner freedom and resilience. Read some of the dramatic changes in their own words, and more details about this study in the press release.

The study was funded by the David Lynch Foundation.

Expanding preventive medicine to include mind-body approaches

In addition to the study on TM, the January 2017 issue of The Permanente Journal includes a companion editorial by Charles Elder, MD, MPH, FACP, titled, “Mind-Body Training for At-Risk Populations: Preventative Medicine at its Best.”

According to Charles Elder, MD, Kaiser Permanente, Northwest, “A principle advantage of the TM technique is a time-tested, standardized intervention protocol…. Once taught the Transcendental Meditation technique, an individual can use the skill for the duration of his or her life, as a stress management tool, providing ongoing benefits across a range of domains. In addition to helping the inmate cope with the stress of incarceration, there is a range of additional ‘side benefits,’ ranging from reduced recidivism to improved cardiovascular health.”

Related: See this recent study explaining how and why Transcendental Meditation is effortless, distinguishing it from other practices.

Transcendental Meditation reduced stress and trauma symptoms in male prisoners in 4 months

January 1, 2017

Prisoners have one of the highest rates of lifetime trauma of any segment of society, with recent surveys showing that 85% have been a victim of a crime-related event, such as robbery or home invasion, or physical or sexual abuse. Trauma is associated with higher rates of recidivism (returning to prison) and mental and physical health conditions, including cardiovascular disease.

A randomized controlled trial of 181 male Oregon state correctional inmates found that the Transcendental Meditation program significantly decreased total trauma symptoms, anxiety, depression, dissociation and sleep disturbance subscales, and perceived stress compared to controls over a four-month period. Trauma symptoms and perceived stress were assessed using the Trauma Symptoms Checklist and the Perceived Stress Scale.

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Within the TM group, a 47% reduction in total trauma symptoms was observed over the course of the four-month study. Further post-hoc analysis showed a 56% reduction within the TM group for those with the highest level of trauma symptoms above the mean in baseline trauma scores.

Compliance with TM practice was high. Of those randomized to learn the TM program, 88% completed the initial seven-step TM course (total of five sessions) and over 80% were regular with their daily TM practice over the course of the four-month study, which included weekly meetings to ensure continued correct effortless practice.

“To date this is the largest randomized controlled trial with the Transcendental Meditation program on trauma symptoms,” said Dr. Nidich, lead author of the study and director of Maharishi University of Management Center for Social and Emotional Health. “These findings, along with previous published research on veterans, active military personnel, international refugees, and other at-risk populations provide support for the value of the Transcendental Meditation program as an alternative treatment for posttraumatic stress.”

“I have watched inmates learn Transcendental Meditation and become more human after a long and isolating period of becoming less human,” said study co-author Dr. Tom O’Conner, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Western Oregon University. “TM helps to awaken, deepen, and solidify the kind of transformational process that we so badly need in our overburdened and costly correctional system.”

The study, Reduced trauma symptoms and perceived stress in male prison inmates through the Transcendental Meditation program: A randomized controlled trial, was published in The Permanente Journal, and funded by the David Lynch Foundation

Read more valuable information about this study in the press release, from where this content was excerpted, on EurekAlert!/AAAS.

NCBI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5101089/

Another study, this one done with female prisoners, also in Oregon, will be published later this month.

How and why Transcendental Meditation is effortless, distinguishing it from other practices

December 31, 2016

imageStudents at Maharishi University of Management practice the effortless technique of Transcendental Meditation twice a day on campus. This study involved 87 students who had been practicing TM from one month to five years. Credit: Maharishi University of Management

As the value of meditation becomes widely recognized, researchers are increasingly trying to understand the differences among approaches. A new study published in Brain and Cognition reports subjective experiences and cortical activation patterns that distinguish the Transcendental Meditation technique from other meditation practices.

It seems TM is able to easily activate the Default Mode Network (DMN), a deeper more integrated structure in the brain, when other types of meditation requiring some form of effort turn it off.

For a clearer explanation of how and why the TM technique is effortless, and can be easily learned and practiced by anyone, with immediate results, read this report: Research validates the defining hallmark of Transcendental Meditation—effortlessness.

For more information on Maharishi University of Management, visit www.mum.edu, and Transcendental Meditation, www.tm.org.

An early attempt at some kind of closure with a poem on Sali’s passing and auspicious times

December 28, 2016

Celebrating the Glorious Life of Sally Monroe Peden

Sally Peden, May 26, 1947 – October 1, 2016

Sally M. Peden, May 26, 1947 – October 1, 2016

This photo of Sali was taken in the summer of 1992, about a year before we would meet. She arrived to register us for a large advanced meditation course in Washington, DC. When Sali came up to me to ask my name and check it on her list, two thoughts immediately entered my mind: Too bad I just got married (again); Too bad she’s on Mother Divine (a course for single women). Our lives would drastically change—my second marriage would end and I would eventually return to Canada, later leave to join Purusha (a course for single men) and travel the world; she would leave her way of life and end up at MUM in Fairfield, Iowa working for John Hagelin’s ISTPP and the NLP. We would meet there 10 years later in the fall of 2003, as if for the first time. A beautiful friendship would grow and transform our lives, a story worth writing one day.

Sally M. Peden, passed peacefully and gracefully on Saturday, October 1, 2016, 11:17pm, during the evening of the first day of the Nine Days of Mother Divine. Her Memorial Service and Vedic Cremation Ceremony were held on Wednesday, October 5, 2016, at the Behner Funeral Home in Fairfield, Iowa, USA.

Sali had devoted her life in personal service to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi since 1971. She traveled the world with him as a personal assistant and lived for many years at the International Capital for the Transcendental Meditation movement in Seelisberg, Switzerland working on many important projects. Sali was very humble, the sign of a great soul. She accomplished untold tasks for Maharishi, which pleased him, but never felt the need to draw attention to herself, just pure dynamic devoted service.

Many emails from around the world poured in praising Sali. I’ll reference a few here.

Sheila Chalmers had worked closely with Sali at International on several projects. In her tribute to Sali, which was read aloud, Sheila described Sali’s brilliant mind, amazingly focussed work ethic, and how much she learned from her.

Emily Levin, a close friend of Sali’s, sent this wonderful tribute to Sali, which was also read aloud. Maharishi had paired them up early on, and Emily shines a glorious light on Sali and their fun-filled friendship.

Some other people who used to work with Sali spoke at her Memorial Service. Alarik Arenander, a neuroscientist from the early days of Maharishi Eureopean Research University in Seelisberg, described an incident when they were recording an EEG of a meditating subject. Maharishi happened to enter the lab with an important guest. The scientists showed Maharishi the EEG brainwaves being printed out from the moving ink pens. Maharishi asked, “What is that?” Researchers again explained the brainwaves. After asking several times, since the researchers were not ‘getting it,’ Maharishi pulled apart the long ream of neatly folded EEG paper emphatically pointing to the long non-fluctuating line at the bottom below the EEG. The researchers had an ‘aha’ moment when they examined the breath rate signal, which indicated extended periods of no breathing. They had been looking to find a marker for transcending in meditation and there it was, right in front of them, unnoticed, until Maharishi pointed it out. Sali was meditating in the next room, and it was her clear orderly mind and refined nervous system that brought out the understanding of breath suspension during Transcendental Meditation as an indicator of transcendence! That, along with the orderliness of coherent brain functioning producing relaxed alpha waves. The rest is history!

Gerry Geer, an MUM faculty member and ISTPP director of publications, described her extraordinary personality and some of the amazing things she had accomplished early on in her career. Gerry first met Sali around 1970 when he dropped into the Cambridge TM Center to find out what it was all about. She inspired him to learn TM and to become a teacher. Decades later they would work together at the ISTPP. Read Gerry Geer’s tribute to Sali. In it he mentions a very special incident he witnessed between her and Maharishi. It speaks volumes!

Valerie Gangas, a friend and author, posted a personal reaction to that very special day celebrating Sali, and our relationship, on her blog: Life in Love with You. It was a powerful revelation for her! I am so thankful she wrote it. Also definitely worth reading!

Dying, Dharma and Devotion

In the weeks leading up to Sali’s transition, I was reading two books to her. The first was an enlightened description of the nearing death experience, clearly delineated by Kathleen Dowling Singh in her reassuring book, The Grace in Dying: How We Are Transformed Spiritually as We Die. I believe this book prepared us for what was to come, to both let go and allow it to happen naturally.

Sali would soon be put back on Hospice for added care, and moved to a private room, which gave us the needed privacy for such an intimate experience. She would pass within a few days, at an auspicious time in the Vedic calendar.

The second book was The Ramayana: A New Retelling of Valmiki’s Ancient Epic–Complete and Comprehensive, written by Linda Egenes, a friend, and Kumuda Reddy. It is an inspiring story as relevant today as it has been throughout the ages, of dharma, duty, triumphing over evil; enlightened leadership; and an ideal love between an evolved man and woman. Listening to that story kept our attention focused on something spiritually elevating during her final days.

I got as far as the end of Chapter 36, where Hanuman, after finding Sita, consoles and reassures her that Rama is preparing an army to free her from her abductor, Ravana, king of the rakshasas. This comes as a great relief to Sita who was at her lowest with no hope in sight.

For the previous two days and nights, Sali’s breathing pattern consisted of short quick breaths, in and out. It was at this point in the story that her breathing began to change. It became softer, slower, and then, stopped. I waited for another, very feeble attempt, then put one hand over her heart and the other on her head. Not finding any sign of life in the body, these words came into my mind: “It’s done. The karma is over.” With a sense of relief and finality, I said: “Peace, Peace, Shanti, Shanti,” and lovingly kissed her forehead, our last goodbye. I felt a profound peacefulness deep within me, which I could not fully comprehend. The answer would come later, in a word, while meditating in India, where I wrote 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

As promised, I did continue reading the rest of The Ramayana to Sali, wherever she might be, that evening and the following morning, finishing it at the funeral home, after they had picked up her body and brought it there. Her memorial and cremation would take place a few days later, still within the auspicious Nine Days.

Narmada River, Brahmasthan, Atirudrabhishek

At the luncheon in Revelations following Sali’s cremation, one of our friends, Sheila Ross, suggested I take the cremains to the holy Narmada River, where some of Maharishi’s ashes had been placed. She said it was also close to the Brahmasthan, geographic center of India, where meditation courses were being held, and thousands of Maharishi Vedic Pandits were reciting Atirudrabhishek, an ancient Vedic performance to create world peace.

At the invitation of my family, I did go to India, a little over a month after Sali’s cremation, to spread her ashes from a boat at that location near the Gwari Ghat. It turned out to be during a most auspicious time—a celebration of the holy day of Kartika Poornimah, November 14, 2016, also known as Devi Dipavali, the Festival of Lights of the Gods—one of the most spiritually significant days in the Vedic calendar, during the biggest full moon in 70 years, the supermoon! Truly befitting someone of Sali’s spiritual merit.

Staying at the Brahmasthan afterwards for three weeks was healing for me. It was a powerful and blissful experience visiting the Maharishi Vedic Pandits in their large meditation hall, listening to them perform their Vedic recitations! You can sample some of them in these eCards, enhanced with audios, videos and slideshows.

To get an example of Sali’s sweetness and our special relationship, see this previous post from December 8, 2016—Capturing an authentic moment in writing—about Being with Sali on August 1, 2012, during another full moon.

I am so thankful for the support of our families, the Slusers, Kaplans, Mitchells, and Petch Peden and Robert Harper, and for many of our friends who helped handle so many details, especially Kate Ross and Jennifer Hamilton! I also appreciate acupuncturist Sarah Brooks, the staff at Parkview Care Center and Hospice Compassus for their tireless care of Sali, and sometimes me.

Recently Added

Celebrating the Glorious Life of Sally M Peden; Final entries leading up to and after Sali’s passing; and this new poem, Haiku for Her. 

Enjoy some of the Zen Poetry of Ryōkan

July 3, 2016

Zen Poet RyōkanA friend loaned me a copy of Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf, Zen Poems of Ryōkan, translated by John Stevens. A delightful little book, his poems are deceptively simple, yet go straight to the heart. A Zen master, Ryōkan was also considered one of the greatest calligraphers of all time in East Asia. Living as a hermit, he spent much of his time writing poetry, doing calligraphy, and communing with nature.

The Translator’s Introduction ends with this sage advice from the poet:

Good friends and excellent teachers—
Stick close to them!
Wealth and power are fleeting dreams
But wise words perfume the world for ages.

Ryōkan’s poems are pure, honest, direct. Here are a few beauties that caught my attention as I read them aloud to Sali.

It’s a pity, a gentleman in refined retirement
……….composing poetry:
He models his work on the classic verse of China,
And his poems are elegant, full of fine phrases.
But if you don’t write of things deep inside your own
……….heart,
What’s the use of churning out so many words?

 —————

In the stillness by the empty window
I sit in formal meditation wearing my monk’s surplice.
Navel and nose in alignment,
Ears parallel with the shoulders.
Moonlight floods the room;
The rain stops but the eaves drip and drip.
Perfect this moment—
In the vast emptiness, my understanding deepens.

—————

At night, deep in the mountains,
I sit in meditation.
The affairs of men never reach here:
Everything is quiet and empty,
All the incense has been swallowed up by the endless
……….night.
My robe has become a garment of dew.
Unable to sleep, I walk into the woods—
Suddenly, above the highest peak, the full moon
……….appears.

—————

When all thoughts
Are exhausted
I slip into the woods
And gather
A pile of shepherd’s purse.

Like the little stream
Making its way
Through the mossy crevices
I, too, quietly
Turn clear and transparent.

—————

The Lotus

First blooming in the Western Paradise,
The lotus has delighted us for ages.
Its white petals are covered with dew,
Its jade green leaves spread out over the pond,
And its pure fragrance perfumes the wind.
Cool and majestic, it rises from the murky water.
The sun sets behind the mountains
But I remain in the darkness, too captivated to leave.

—————

Bamboo

The thick bamboo grove near my hut
Keeps me nice and cool.
Shoots proliferate, blocking the path,
While old branches reach for the sky.
Years of frost give bamboo spirit;
They are most mysterious when wrapped in mist.
Bamboo is as hardy as pine and oak,
And more subtle than peach or plum blossoms.
It grows straight and tall,
Empty inside but with a sturdy root.
I love the purity and honesty of my bamboo,
And want them to thrive here always!

—————

Leave off your mad rush for gold and jewels—
I’ve got something far more precious for you:
A bright pearl that sparkles more brilliantly than the
……….sun and moon
And illuminates each and every eye.
Lose it and you’ll wallow in a sea of pain;
Find it and you’ll safely reach the other shore.
I’d freely present this treasure to anyone
But hardly anyone asks for it.

—————

Keep your heart clear and transparent
And you will never be bound.
A single disturbed thought, though,
Creates ten thousand distractions.
Let myriad things captivate you
And you’ll go further and further astray.
How painful to see people
All wrapped up in themselves.

—————

I watch people in the world
Throw away their lives lusting after things,
Never able to satisfy their desires,
Falling into deep despair
And torturing themselves.
Even if they get what they want
How long will they be able to enjoy it?
For one heavenly pleasure
They suffer ten torments of hell,
Binding themselves more firmly to the grindstone.
Such people are like monkeys
Frantically grasping for the moon in the water
And then falling into a whirlpool.
How endlessly those caught up in the floating world
……….suffer.
Despite myself, I fret over them all night
And cannot staunch my flow of tears.

—————

Even if you consume as many books
As the sands of the Ganges
It is not as good as really catching
One verse of Zen.
If you want the secret of Buddhism,
Here it is: Everything is in the Heart!

—————

Chanting old poems,
Making our own verses,
Playing with a cloth ball,
Together in the fields—
Two people, one heart.

The breeze is fresh,
The moon so bright—
Together
Let’s dance until dawn
As a farewell to my old age.

See some of Ryōkan’s quotes at goodreads. Here’s one I liked:

“In all ten directions of the universe, there is only one truth. When we see clearly, the great teachings are the same. What can ever be lost? What can be attained? If we attain something, it was there from the beginning of time. If we lose something, it is hiding somewhere near us.”
Ryokan

Here is a goodreads description of his life introducing Sky Above, Great Wind: The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan.


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