Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Award-winning film on leadership features MUM professors F. Travis, R. Schneider and H. Harung

September 28, 2019

I had the pleasure of hosting Silvia Damiano when she visited Maharishi University to interview some of our faculty for her documentary film, Make Me a Leader, a brain-based approach to leadership.

Silvia Damiano is a scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist and filmmaker. Silvia’s scientific background and curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade-long journey of research into optimal brain functioning and the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life. She founded The About my Brain Institute in 2009, with the purpose of democratizing leadership and neuroscience.

Silvia’s recent About My Brain Institute newsletter contained exciting news: My Creative Journey to Hollywood. Our film wins Best Documentary & Best Director! We wanted to share the good news. Here is Jim Karpen’s article published in the Oct 2, 2019 issue, page 4, of The Review. I added links from our faculty’s names to trailers containing some of their input.

Award-Winning Film Presents Faculty Research

Filmmaker Silvia Damiano has her EEG assessed by Professor Fred Travis in the documentary Make Me a Leader.

A documentary on brain-based leadership that includes interviews with Professors Fred Travis and Robert Schneider, and former adjunct professor Harald Harung, recently won Best Documentary Feature and Best Documentary Director at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards.

The filmmaker, Silvia Damiano, came to campus to conduct interviews.

In his segment, Dr. Travis emphasizes the importance of a leader having a clear mind. Dr. Harung talks about the importance of mind-brain development in becoming a good leader. And Dr. Schneider explains that an optimally functioning brain depends on an optimally functioning physiology. The film, titled Make Me a Leader, also shows Dr. Travis taking Ms. Damanio’s EEG.

A practitioner of the Transcendental Meditation technique, Ms. Damiano is the founder and CEO of About My Brain Institute.

The documentary can be viewed at aboutmybrain.com/makemealeader for $10. A trailer that includes Dr. Harung and Dr. Travis can be viewed on YouTube.

The film describes how to develop the leaders of the future and suggests a new mindset based on science that integrates the entire biological system from the brain down.

Ms. Damiano offers leadership training and wrote in an email, “I am happy I was able to showcase the amazing work of Fred and Harald. I speak about them all the time.”

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Related post: MUM @maharishiuni professors explore secrets of world-class performers in World-Class Brain book, includes links to relevant studies and presentations.

@MaharishiU Sustainable Living students build adobe house from scratch in Texas desert

December 19, 2013

MUM Students Build Adobe House From Natural Desert Materials

Maharishi University’s Sustainable Living students study natural building and travel to the Texas desert to put up a 14′ x 14′ adobe bunkhouse made primarily from indigenous materials mum.edu/AdobeHousePR

MUM students build adobe house from scratch in Texas desert

MUM students build adobe house from scratch in Texas desert

As a continuation of the Sustainable Living Program at Maharishi University of Management where students learn how to build a tiny house, a group of 12 students traveled to the Texas desert during their October Natural Building class and spent 11 days putting up a 14 x 14 adobe house made primarily from local materials.

They first made 850 adobe bricks from soil near the construction site, created a frame of posts and beams from dead spruce trees harvested beforehand on campus, and then topped the structure with a waterproof thatched roof made of river cane.

“It really has an amazing feel,” said course instructor Mark Stimson. “It’s rectilinear and oriented toward the cardinal directions, and adobe walls give it an ancient, grounded feeling.”

Intended to serve as a bunkhouse for future visitors, it sits on land owned by Mr. Stimson and his wife that’s adjacent to Big Bend National Park. Also on site is a tiny house students built last year.

In addition to learning practical construction skills, the students had the opportunity to experience an extraordinary landscape that includes deep vertical canyons, distant mountains, and rock-outcroppings dating back 500 million years, fossils, petrified wood, and a hot spring on the Rio Grande River. Plus the occasional tarantula and scorpion.

“The students had a transformative experience,” Mr. Stimson said. “They’ve never seen anything like this desert, with its vast scale. The heights and distances reset your perspective on things.”

Mr. Stimson’s desert site is 80 miles from the nearest town on a road too rugged for ordinary cars. The students prepared and canned all their food in advance. That alone was a learning exercise in planning and execution.

They traveled to the site via the Sustainable Living Department bus powered by biodiesel fuel that was made by the students and staff member Steve Fugate.

Every aspect of the construction required learning new skills. The students began their work on campus, creating a plan and estimating the amount of materials they would need.

Once on site, the students learned to sift the soil used for the bricks, moisten it with water, and then use forms to create the bricks. Once skilled, they were able to make a brick in less than a minute.

But then the bricks, all 17,000 lbs. of them, had to be carried up a long hill. The students formed a chain, and accomplished the task with aplomb.

“The students were confronted with many challenges in this remote desert region,” said Stimson, “but in the process they learned a lot about teamwork, leadership, self-sufficiency, and how to be flexible in the changing conditions they encountered.”

He related an incident of the students trying to prepare and dry adobe bricks, when an early morning desert fog prevented the sun from drying them out. It happened three or four days in a row. Of the many things they planned for, he said, the desert wasn’t one of them! But the sun burned it off by noon each day, and the adobe blocks dried enough to be used.

In order to comply with Maharishi Vedic℠ architecture, they learned how to perfectly align the building by using the North Star and the meridian transit off the sun.

“It’s within a quarter or even one-eighth of a degree of being perfectly aligned,” Mr. Stimson said.

He said his desert site is intended to serve as a retreat for campus groups and students in other departments, as well as the Sustainable Living students.

MUM students complete adobe house from scratch in Texas desert

MUM students complete adobe house from scratch in Texas desert

Commenting on the success of this course and the happiness of the students who participated in it, Professor Lonnie Gamble, Co-Director of the Sustainable Living Department said, “They’re happy because they’re taking their part in creating the world that they want to live in. I think it brings out a great joy, a great satisfaction, something that many of them have been looking for at other institutions before they’ve come here.” http://link.mum.edu/AdobeHouse

Part of this report was taken from The Review, Vol. 29, #6, November 27, 2013. For more information visit http://link.mum.edu/AdobeHousePR.

Read the description under this video posted on the MaharishiUniversity YouTube channel with more details describing how the students prepared for their trip, built their tools when they got there, gathered and processed the local materials to construct the adobe house.

Founded in 1971, Maharishi University of Management (MUM) offers Consciousness-Based℠ Education, a traditional academic curriculum enhanced with self-development programs like the Transcendental Meditation® technique. Students are encouraged to follow a more sustainable routine of study, socializing and rest without the typical college burnout. All aspects of campus life nourish the body and mind, including organic vegetarian meals served fresh daily. Located in Fairfield, Iowa, MUM is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in the arts, sciences, humanities, and business. Visitors Weekends are held throughout the year. For more information, call the Admissions Office at 800-369-6480 or visit http://www.mum.edu.

Source: PRWeb: http://www.prweb.com/releases/MUM-SL/AdobeHouse/prweb11363060.htm

Research breakthrough: High brain integration underlies winning performances

June 18, 2012

Research breakthrough: High brain integration underlies winning performances

World-class performers in management, sports and music often have uniquely high mind-brain development

Scientists trying to understand why some people excel—whether as world-class athletes, virtuoso musicians, or top CEOs—have discovered that these outstanding performers have unique brain characteristics that make them different from other people.

A study published in May in the journal Cognitive Processing found that 20 top-level managers scored higher on three measures—the Brain Integration Scale, Gibbs’s Socio-moral Reasoning questionnaire, and an inventory of peak experiences—compared to 20 low-level managers that served as matched controls. This is the fourth study in which researchers have been able to correlate the brain’s activity with top performance and peak experiences, having previously studied world-class athletes and professional classical musicians.

“What we have found,” says Fred Travis, director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, “is an astonishing integration of brain functioning in high performers compared to average-performing controls. We are the first in the world to show that there is a brain measure of effective leadership.”

“Everyone wants excellence,” says Harald Harung of the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences in Norway. “Yet, current understanding of high performance is fragmented. What we have done in our research, is to use quantitative and neurophysiological research methods on topics that so far have been dominated by psychology.”

Dr. Travis, Dr. Harung, and colleagues have carried out a total of four empirical studies comparing world-class performers to average performers. This recent study and two others have examined top performers in management, sports, and classical music. In addition, a number of years ago Dr. Harung and colleagues published a fourth study on a variety of professions, such as public administration, management, sports, arts and education.

Measured Brain Activity

The studies carried out by the researchers include measurements of the performers’ brains by using electroencephalography, EEG. Hospitals use this equipment and method to determine possible brain injuries after traffic accidents. EEG, however, can also be used to look at the extent of integration and development of several brain processes.

The researchers looked at three different measurements that all reflect how well the brain works as a whole: 1) Coherence, which shows how well the various parts of the brain cooperate, 2) Amount of alpha waves, which reflect restful alertness, and 3) How economically or effectively the brain works.

The three measurements are then put together in an expression of brain refinement, the Brain Integration Scale.

World-class performance has so far been mostly regarded from a psychological point of view, especially speaking of management. Researchers often explain management skills as a result of special personal or psychological characteristics that some have, and others don’t.

“Our research in brain activity and brain integration is done from more of a natural science angle. By such means, we hope we are closer to an effective and comprehensive understanding of why some succeed better than others,” says Harung.

In all the groups of top performers, measurements were checked by using control groups. The controls were average performers, such as low-level managers or amateur musicians. The data gave one surprising result: Among the musicians, both the professionals and the amateurs turned out to have a high level of brain integration. In the two other studies, this measurement showed major differences between the persons with top-level performance and the control groups.

“We believe that for musicians, the explanation might be that classical music in itself contributes to such integration, regardless of your performance level,” says Dr. Harung.

Peak Experience

The researchers found it’s not just that their brains function differently; the world-class performers also had particular subjective experiences that were associated with their top performances.

Called peak experiences, these experiences are characterized by happiness, inner calm, maximum wakefulness, effortlessness and ease of functioning, absence of fear, transcendence of ordinary time and space, and a sense of perfection and even invincibility.

The first study was done on world-class athletes selected by the National Olympic Training Center in Norway and the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences. Besides screening athletes’ brains using EEG, each athlete was interviewed about their experiences while performing at their very best. The result was a wide range of peak experiences.

Former cross-country skier Thomas Alsgaard, who won 11 gold medals in Olympic Games and World Championships, said:

“The senses are so open that you have the ability to receive signals that are almost scary: In a way it is a ‘high.’ I receive an unbelievable amount of information. Much, much more—10-20 times more information—than what I manage to take in if I sit down and concentrate and try to perceive things. But I am so relaxed. And the more relaxed I am, the more information I register.”

Another athlete who participated in the research is the Norwegian handball keeper, Heidi Tjugum, who was part of the Norwegian national team that won one World Championship, one European Championship, two European Cups and a number of silver and bronze medals. She says:

“Sometimes I have felt that I am an observer—I just watch what happens. This is a good feeling. It is a very beautiful feeling; it is not that I feel I don’t have control. But it goes by itself—in reality I do not have to initiate anything at all. Extremely here and now—nothing else matters.”

These statements are similar to those the researchers gathered from other top-class performers, both among the musicians and the business leaders. As seen, they found a significant difference amongst the top performers and controls on several quantitative measures.

“Therefore, there must be some common inner attributes and processes that make top performers able to deliver at top level, regardless of profession or activity,” says Travis. “We found this common inner dimension to be what we called higher mind-brain development.”

Higher mind-brain development includes that various aspects and parts of the brain work together in an integrated way. Among world-class performers this integration is especially well developed.

Presenting a New Theory

The researchers have developed a new theory, a Unified Theory of Performance, which suggests that higher levels of mind-brain development form a platform for higher performance, regardless of profession or activity.

“It seems like these mind-brain variables represent a fundamental potential for being good, really good, in the particular activity one has decided to carry out,” says Harung.

For all three recent studies the researchers also found that top-level performers outscored the control groups in a test of moral development. Higher moral development implies an expanded awareness where one is able to satisfy the interests of other people and not just their own needs. Harung finds it remarkable that high levels of performance, in a wide spectrum of activities, are connected to high moral standards.

“This should give an extra push to act morally, in addition to a better self-image, fewer sleepless nights and a good reputation,” Dr. Harung says. “The key to top-level performance, therefore, seems to be that we make more use of our inherent capabilities.”

Implications of the Research

The discovery that the brains of world-class performers have similar characteristics raises some important questions, such as: 1) Is there a way one can develop one’s brain to have more of these characteristics and thereby perform at a higher level? And 2) Can measuring a person’s brain predict the potential for someone to be a world-class performer?

These and other researchers have actively explored whether meditation techniques, for example, can help to actively cultivate one’s brain. Research by Dr. Travis and others has found that Transcendental Meditation practitioners do have greater EEG coherence, greater presence of alpha waves, and, in some advanced practitioners, a very efficiently functioning brain. A coherent brain is a high-performing brain.

In addition, researchers have been exploring possible applications to predict performance ability in general and leadership ability in particular. For example, if a corporation has preliminarily selected five candidates for its CEO position, the above measures could be administered to aid in the final decision. Or these measures can be used to assess the effectiveness of training or education in increasing an individual’s performance capacity.

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Scientific Literature

1. Harung, H. S., Travis, F., (2012) Higher mind-brain development in successful leaders: testing a unified theory of performance. Cognitive Processing Vol 13, Number 2, 171-181, DOI: 10.1007/s10339-011-0432-x

2. Harung, H. S. (2012). Illustrations of Peak Experiences during Optimal Performance in World-class Performers: Integration Eastern and Western Insights. Journal of Human Values, 18(1), 33-52, doi:10.1177/097168581101800104

3. Travis, F., Harung, H. S., & Lagrosen, Y. (2011). Moral Development, Executive Functioning, Peak Experiences and Brain Patterns in Professional and Amateur Classical Musicians: Interpreted in Light of a Unified Theory of Performance. Consciousness and Cognition, 20(4), 1256-1264

4. Harung, H.S., Travis, F., Pensgaard, A. M., Boes, R., Cook-Greuter, S., Daley, K. (2011). Higher psycho-physiological refinement in world-class Norwegian athletes: brain measures of performance capacity. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, Vol 21, Issue 1, pages 32, February 2011, doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2009.01007.x

5. Harung, H. S., Heaton, D. P., Graff, W. W., & Alexander, C. N. (1996). Peak performance and higher states of consciousness: A study of world-class performers. Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp. 3-23

Related Articles

New study sheds light on “peak experiences” in world-class performers | New research looks at brain integration in top athletes and in long-time meditators | ‘Brilliant minds’—New Research on the Brain State of Virtuoso Musicians and How it Relates to TM | ScienceDaily: Musicians’ Brains Highly Developed | Freakonomics: Do Musicians Have Better Brains?

Source: EurekAlert!

Latest Study

Does Practice Make Perfect Or Are Some People More Creative Than Others? Study finds brain integration correlates with greater creativity in product-development engineers. The study was discussed on TMHome: Brain integration, the key to creativity, citing Medical News Today’s report on the study. Science writer Fiona Macrae had some questions for researchers Fred Travis and Yvonne Lagrosen before she completed her article for The Daily Mail: Forget ‘practice makes perfect’ – meditation is the key to success, study claims.

Candy Crowley visits KRUU-FM before delivering Commencement Address at Maharishi University

May 28, 2012

Dennis Raimondi, Burt Chojnowski, and KRUU-FM station manager James Moore enjoy a short visit with CNN’s Candy Crowley. She was in Fairfield, Iowa to deliver the Commencement Address at Maharishi University of Management, May 26, 2012. (Photo taken by Ken Chawkin)

During her recent visit to Fairfield, Iowa to deliver the Commencement Address at Maharishi University of Management, CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley visited the local community-supported solar-powered radio station, KRUU-LP 100.1 FM, to tape an interview on Speaking Freely with Dennis Raimondi. The show aired Saturday, May 26, 2012 and Monday, May 28 at 1:00 and 6:30 pm. The complete interview is archived at: http://kruufm.com/node/13289. Station manager James Moore also posted a photo and quote from Candy on her love of radio.

Dennis mentions that Candy was one of the first to make it possible for other women to become broadcast journalists. She thanks him for that observation, if it is true, but did not set out to purposefully make that happen. With television being a visual medium, she says, “I’m clearly not the 20-something blonds that are currently on TV. But you can do it your way, you can be who you are, and do what you want. You might have to work a little harder, you might have to be that much better. … You have to be so good at what you do that they can’t ignore you.”

Burt Chojnowski of Fairfield First! Buzz also produced a film of Dennis’s interview in the KRUU-FM studio: Candy Crowley on Speaking Freely with Dennis Raimondi. This Candy Crowley on Speaking Freely – Unplugged version includes the pre-interview banter starting off with her reciting the Gettysburg Address! Burt also enjoyed asking and posting 3 Questions with Candy Crowley.mov about her impressions of Fairfield, writing, and leadership, also recorded on May 26, 2012.

Candy told Burt she had lived in Iowa before, in Des Moines, for 5 years, and could probably see herself living here in Fairfield. She said, stepping off the plane, you can really feel yourself breathing deeply, for the first time. Burt asked Candy what she would say to women in third-world countries to inspire them to become leaders. She said the best leaders, not the ones that got the most votes, but the ones who did something, are the best listeners. “A leader has to be able to take the hopes and desires of the people looking to him or her and make it into reality. Well, what’s the first step of that—what are those hopes and desires? The leaders listen first, and if you skip that step, you’re never gonna be a leader.” Speaking of leaders, a big thank you to Bob Roth for listening and bringing Candy Crowley into the studio despite her tight schedule!

CNN anchor Candy Crowley gives Commencement Address at Maharishi University of Management is now available on the YouTube channel.

See Fairfield Ledger: Crowley speaks to M.U.M. grads and CNN’s Candy Crowley to give Commencement Address at Maharishi University of Management.


CBS/FOX News: Kelsey Minor’s Report: Meditation Town: Fairfield Iowa’s Key to Education Success

May 18, 2012

MEDITATION TOWN: Fairfield Iowa’s Key to Education Success

Kelsey Minor visits Maharishi School for a special report on Fairfield Iowa’s Key to Education Success, on FOX 28 News at Nine and CBS 2 News at Ten, May 17, 2012.

Thursday, May 17 2012, 10:05 PM CDT | Kelsey Minor | FOX 28 | CBS 2

Tiffany O’Donnell: On the surface it looks just like any other Iowa town square, but if you look a little closer, you’ll find it’s international flare.

Jack Miller: And that’s not the only reason people are flocking to Fairfield. It’s the center of a meditation movement. And our Kelsey Minor spent some time there to uncover the big mystery behind how meditating is helping the people there thrive. Kelsey?

Kelsey Minor: I know Tiffany’s excited about it; she’s been there. Jack, you need to get there.

You don’t often hear of Iowa being associated with meditation, but it’s happening right here in Eastern Iowa, and it’s in the process of shaping some of our state’s youngest minds, as well as the minds of Fairfield’s leaders.

FAIRFIELD, IA (KGAN/KFXA) — Tucked deep in Iowa’s flatland, among the barns and fields, is one of the 12 great places Mother Earth News says you’ve probably never been. It’s Fairfield, Iowa, and something’s been happening in this city of 95-hundred, a mystery, until now.

“Trust me, we want to get the secret out. We’d love for people to come and discover our community. We believe that’s happening now,” says Mayor Ed Malloy.

This small place, less than a two-hour drive away from Cedar Rapids, has its international flavor with its Indian restaurants and Italian coffee houses. But that’s not the mystery. I have to bring you here, to the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment, where for nearly four decades, the simple act of meditating, twice a day, everyday, has attracted all sorts of people, including the students in this private school.

“We’ve been the kind of pioneering or flagship school for this approach we call Consciousness-Based education,” says Head of School, Dr. Richard Beall.

It’s like any other college prep school across the State of Iowa but here the students, faculty, and staff all take time to practice Transcendental Meditation or T-M.

“So we are taking a significant amount of time in the morning and afternoon, bookends, before and after school, to practice meditation and yoga, so that our kids when they go into the classroom are wide awake,” Beall said.

Those 20 minutes, says school officials, rids everyone of stress making it easy to learn and perform better.

“Of course there are cynics out there who may say that this doesn’t work, and your argument against that would be what,” CBS 2’s Kelsey Minor asked.

“We kind of welcome skepticism because you can put it to the test and I think it stands up really well,” says Beall.

And so far it has. This consciousness-based learning helps send more than 95 percent of its seniors to top colleges and universities across the country. They always score in the top one percent in Iowa’s standardized test, not to mention the top honors in Math, Science, the Arts, and Sports.

“All that’s evidence that something good is happening here,” says Beall.

But this isn’t just a school thing. Roughly 25 percent of Fairfield’s population practices TM, including Mayor Ed Malloy who’s been practicing for 38 years.

“The science shows that there is an influence of reduction of crime and stress,” says Malloy.

A town that takes TM seriously.

“You have arrived right when people are first arriving for their meditation,” says resident Jim Mayhew.

Each day between four and five o’clock the cars and the people start to arrive, joining together in large numbers for meditation groups. This is the end result of that rush hour traffic—a parking lot full of cars, their owners meditating inside these golden domes. It’s a town like no other, and the people who practice TM say what they do inside these domes helps create change. And it all started here, at the school where consciousness-based learning is helping to shape tomorrow’s leaders.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child and I couldn’t imagine a better village,” says student Caroline Fulcher.

(A great village it is indeed.) Now Transcendental Meditation has become so popular that other schools across the country are now implementing the program for its students. As for Fairfield, there’s plenty to do there, and if you haven’t been already, they sure would like to see you.

In the studio, Kelsey Minor, FOX 28 News at Nine/CBS 2 News.

Links to see this news report on FOX 28 News at Nine: http://www.kgan.com/shared/newsroom/top_stories/videos/kgan_vid_11222.shtml, and on YouTube for CBS 2 News at Ten, which includes introductory comments by the news anchors: http://youtu.be/FZdOStcEkC4.

Related stories on Fairfield: Video segments of Oprah’s Next Chapter on OWN: Oprah Visits Fairfield, Iowa—“TM Town”—America’s Most Unusual Town | The Iowan: Sizing Up Small Towns: Rethinking Success in Rural Iowa: Fairfield Thinks Inclusively | The Cultural Oasis of The Midwest: Fairfield, Iowa | Finding peace in Fairfield by Diane Vance


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