Posts Tagged ‘diabetes’

The New York Times: Look Who’s Meditating Now

March 19, 2011

Look Who’s Meditating Now

Evan Sung for The New York Times
POSTER BOY Russell Brand with David Lynch at the December Met fundraiser for Mr. Lynch’s foundation, which promotes Transcendental Meditation.

By IRINA ALEKSANDER
Published: March 18, 2011

RUSSELL BRAND, the lanky British comedian, has made a career of his outrageous antics. While a host at MTV UK, he went to work dressed up as Osama bin Laden. At the network’s annual music awards, he likened Britney Spears to a “female Christ.” And he was fired from the BBC after leaving raunchy messages on the voicemail of a 78-year-old actor, a comic bit that even his country’s then-prime minister felt compelled to denounce.

It is jarring then, to say the least, to hear Mr. Brand, 35, speaking passionately and sincerely about the emotional solace he has found in Transcendental Meditation, or TM. Yet there he was in December, onstage at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (as his new wife, the pop singer Katy Perry, waited backstage), describing how TM has helped him repair his psychic wounds.

“Transcendental Meditation has been incredibly valuable to me both in my recovery as a drug addict and in my personal life, my marriage, my professional life,” Mr. Brand said of the technique that prescribes two 15- to 20-minute sessions a day of silently repeating a one-to-three syllable mantra, so that practitioners can access a state of what is known as transcendental consciousness. “I literally had an idea drop into my brain the other day while I was meditating which I think is worth millions of dollars.”

Mr. Brand was the M.C. at a benefit for the David Lynch Foundation, an organization that offers TM at no cost to troubled students, veterans, homeless people, prisoners and others. Like many other guests in the room, Mr. Brand has been personally counseled by Mr. Lynch, the enigmatic film director, who has been a devout practitioner of TM, founded in 1958 by the spiritual leader Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, since its first wave of popularity in the late ’60s. That is when Mia Farrow, after her divorce from Frank Sinatra, joined the Beatles in the Maharishi’s ashram in Rishikesh, India; when George Lucas started meditating and was rumored to have based the Yoda character in “Star Wars” on the Maharishi (the resemblance is eerie); and when the talk show host Merv Griffin, after being introduced to the technique by his tennis buddy, the actor Clint Eastwood, invited the Maharishi to be on his show in 1975.

Since then, the celebrity endorsement, and therefore the enrollment numbers, had quieted down. That is, until the last three years when, according to the national Transcendental Meditation program, enrollment tripled.

At Trinity College in Hartford, the women’s squash league began meditating together after every practice last year. The Doe Fund, an organization that assists the homeless, has begun offering TM to its residents along with computer skills and job training. And Ray Dalio, the billionaire hedge-fund manager of Bridgewater, has long credited the success of his funds to his daily practice.

The Transcendental Meditation program attributes the spike to a series of recent studies that suggest TM can help reduce blood pressure and stress, and to the relatively recent affordability of TM. (The adult course, which had ballooned from $75 in the ’60s to $2,500 in 2007, dropped, because of the economy, to $1,500 in 2008.) No less important has been Mr. Lynch’s foundation, started in 2005, for which enlisted celebrities like Mr. Brand, interrogated often by news outlets about their diets and alternative lifestyle remedies, have been preaching about the technique.

“It’s like, imagine the ripples on top of an ocean,” Dr. Mehmet Oz, who meditates in an armchair in an enclave off his bedroom, said at Mr. Lynch’s benefit. “And I’m in a rowboat, reactively dealing with the waves and water coming into my boat. What I need to do is dive into the deeper solace, the calmness beneath the surface.”

The actress Susan Sarandon meditates once a day for 20 minutes in bed. “It helps me chill out and focus,” she said. (Ms. Sarandon said she doesn’t practice TM specifically, but was at the benefit to gather insight.)

The singer Moby, another guest, has meditated in the back of a taxicab. “Transcendental Meditation has given me a perspective on agitation,” he said. “That it’s a temporary state of mind and I don’t necessarily need to take it that seriously.” Moby said the technique helped him quit drinking more than a year ago. “I used to think that TM was for weird old hippies,” he added. “But then I heard that David Lynch was involved, and that made me curious.”

ON the afternoon before the benefit, Mr. Lynch, 65, arrived at the museum, holding hands with his wife, Emily Lynch, 32, and was escorted by a museum employee to a green room downstairs. Mr. Lynch, like a cartoon character, has maintained the same uniform for decades: a pressed white shirt under a boxy black suit and a hedge of gray hair. He scooped up a soggy egg-salad sandwich from a tray and explained what brought him to the practice.

“I was not into meditation one bit,” Mr. Lynch said, in his laconic Missoula, Mont., drawl that years of living in Los Angeles has failed to dilute. “I thought it was a fad. I thought you had to eat nuts and raisins, and I didn’t want any part of it.”

Mr. Lynch was persuaded by his sister, Martha, when he began having marital difficulties with the first of his four wives, Peggy, in the early ’70s. “I had a whole bunch of personal anger that I would take out on her,” he said. “I think I was a weak person. I wasn’t self-assured. I was not a happy camper inside. Two weeks after I started, my wife comes to me and says, ‘This anger, where did it go?’ I felt a freedom and happiness growing inside. It was like — poooft! — I felt a kind of smile from Mother Nature. The world looked better and better. It’s an ocean of unbounded love within us, so it’s real hard to get a conflict going.” (Still, a year later, the couple divorced.)

It’s easy to shrug off such utterances as hokey, New Age prattle — who can forget Jeff Goldblum’s flaky character in “Annie Hall” on the phone, complaining that he’d forgotten his mantra? — but less so when the person reciting it has dreamed up his most widely admired, vivid films on the days when he was dropping out of consciousness for at least 30 minutes a day.

“Artists like to say, ‘I like a little bit of suffering and anger,’ ” he said. “But if you had a splitting headache, diarrhea and vomiting, how much would you enjoy the work and how much work would you get done? Maybe suffering is a romantic idea to get girls, but it’s an enemy to creativity.”

A version of this article appeared in print on March 20, 2011, on page ST1 of the New York edition. It was also published Saturday, March 26, 2011, in the TheLedger.com: Transcendental Meditation: Celebrities, Recent Biological Studies Increase Interest in Discipline

Hollywood Today reports on American Indian Conference

September 20, 2009


American Indian Conference to Focus on Health, Sustainability

September 20, 2009

Stocel+drum

STOLCEL of the WSANEC First Nation performs traditional recitation at international conference in Holland

Leaders of Native Indian tribes from around the US and Canada will gather on the campus of Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, for an international conference September 25-27 entitled “Building Healthy, Sustainable American Indian Communities.”

Conference speakers include Joe A. Garcia, president of the National Congress of American Indians; Robert Cook, president of the National Indian Education Association; Lucille Echohawk, strategic advisor for the Casey Family Programs; and Kevin Skenandore, acting director of the Bureau of Indian Education.

Conference hosts and participants include the Hocak Elders Council, Inc., the Indian Health Services (IHS), the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIE), Winnebago Tribal Health Services (WTHS), the Winnebago Treaty Hospital-IHS, and the David Lynch Foundation.

For more information see conference website and video on TM and Diabetes Among Native Americans: http://www.americanindiansustainableconference.org/

See Indian Country Today article, Sustainability quest: http://bit.ly/4vNhWo

Also News From Indian Country article, Indian Country leaders meet in Iowa to explore new approaches to sustainable communities: http://bit.ly/JUOM7

Canadian First Nations participants include STOLCEL [John Elliott], Tekahnawiiaks [Joyce King], and Tim Paul. STOCEL is a cultural and language custodian for his [Saanich] People and speaks extensively on culture and language and history; Tekahnawiiaks [Joyce King] is currently the Director of the Akwesasne Justice Department and is on the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne; and Tim Paul, is Executive Director of the Maliseet Nation Conservation Council of New Brunswick. http://mncc.ca/

STOLCEL will be receiving an honorary Ph.D. from M.U.M. for his lifelong work to revive the mother tongue of the Saanich People, his contribution as Co-Founder of FirstVoices, the world’s first web-based Aboriginal language archive, and for his discovery of the connection between the traditional language of his people and the underlying intelligence of Nature available in the sounds and structure of Veda, which he made in collaboration with M.U.M. founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. [See BACKGROUNDER on STOLCEL]

Tekahnawiiaks [Joyce King] will be speaking twice at the conference: on Education, and on Safeguarding Culture and Language. She lives on the Akwesasne Reserve near Cornwall, Ontario, along the border between Canada and NY State. Her bio is available online: <http://www.tekahnawiiaks.com/bio.html>.

Tim Paul will speak on his own experience with TM and the lowering of his blood sugar levels, as well as his keen interest in the “eco village” model at MUM, and the desire of the Maliseet Nation Conservation Council to incorporate many of the “sustainable technologies” demonstrated there, in his own Maliseet communities throughout New Brunswick.

The conference will showcase Consciousness-Based education, prevention-oriented health care, renewable energy, organic agriculture, and cultural preservation.

Researchers will also present the results of several controlled studies on the effects of the Transcendental Meditation® technique for reducing acute stress and behavioral problems among hundreds of at-risk American Indian youth at the Winnebago (Nebraska), Pine Ridge (South Dakota), and Passamaquoddy (Maine) reservations.

Findings to date show the Transcendental Meditation technique promoted higher scores on standardized state tests of mathematics and reading, 25% less absenteeism, a 20% drop in disciplinary incidents, and 30% higher graduation rates among the meditating young people compared to controls.

“The timing is perfect for this conference because the need is so great among the tribes,” said John Boncheff, who is co-director of the Transcendental Meditation program at the Winnebago reservation. “The Transcendental Meditation technique is not only helping students perform better in school, but it’s also helping both adults and children to overcome the terrible epidemic of diabetes, which strikes up to 80 percent of all American Indians.”

Dr. Boncheff said that it’s also helping American Indians reconnect with their spiritual heritage and traditional culture.

—————————–

BACKGROUNDER

STOLCEL [John Elliott]

(Photos available upon request)

STOCEL is a descendant of the hereditary family of Chiefs of the WSANEC [Saanich] People and lives on the Tsartlip Reserve near Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. He is the Co-Founder of ‘First Voices’, the world’s first web-based Aboriginal language archive. This web-based archive allows predominantly oral tradition languages of any aboriginal nations to be recorded, uploaded, saved, and learned in perpetuity by future generations online, rather than becoming obscure or obsolete when the Elders or fluent speakers pass away. As a result of his initial inspiration, there are now over 60 First Nations archiving their languages online, with 35 of those now publicly available for First Nations’ youth and non-mother tongue speakers to learn their languages: <http://www.firstvoices.com/>.

STOCEL is the Chair of the Subcommittee on Language for the First Nations Education Council for British Columbia, as well as the Chair of the Saanich Native Heritage Society, and is an active member on the Board of Governors of the First People’s Cultural Foundation. He has been teaching, developing curriculum, and preserving aboriginal languages for thirty years.

STOLCEL holds First Nations’ Language Certification from the British Columbia College of Teachers. He has taught in all grades and is now teaching Grades 7-10 in the SAANICH Tribal School as well as SENTOTEN for adults at the University of Victoria.

STOLCEL is being honored with of the degree of Doctor of Natural Law Honoris Causa by Maharishi University of Management for his work to bring out the connection of traditional language and the underlying field of Nature that upholds every culture in peace and progress.

In STOLCEL’s words: “There is never time enough time in the day for all the work that has to be done. Our languages are the key to ancient knowledge. Inside each language is the pattern of how to live in harmony with the earth and all the living things. More today, than ever, this knowledge is needed. Each time another language dies forever, our ancient connections to all life, our knowledge of the plants the animals, the trees and our mother earth is lost.”

Canadian Contact: Christopher Collrin, 506-471-5598, collrin@gmail.com

US Contact: Ken Chawkin, 641-470-1314, kchawkin@mum.edu


%d bloggers like this: