Tag - transcendental meditation

Treating PTSD with Transcendental Meditation

by William T. Hathaway

We live in traumatic times. The shock waves from wars, terror attacks, and spree shootings reverberate through our society and impact us all. For the direct victims and their family and friends this can be life shattering. Many of them suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a debilitating condition that can last for decades unless properly treated.

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Soldiers are highly affected. Over half a million US troops deployed since 2001 suffer from PTSD. It cripples their functioning and places them at great risk for violent and self-destructive behavior including alcoholism or drug abuse, depression, anxiety, emotional numbness, family abuse, employment problems, and suicide. More US soldiers and veterans from the Iraq War have died from suicide than from combat. 6,500 soldiers and vets take their own lives every year.

Fortunately, treatments are now available, and some of them can also protect us from the condition before trauma strikes. They can build up an inner immune system that keeps the stress from devastating us.

One approach that has been shown to be highly effective is Transcendental Meditation (TM). Research on its trauma-healing effects began in the 1980s with Vietnam War veterans who had been suffering from PTSD for over a decade. After three months of TM 70% of them were free of clinical symptoms (Journal of Counseling and Development, 1985). In 2011 the journal Military Medicine reported a 40-55% reduction in PTSD in current war veterans, including reduced depression, flashbacks, and painful memories. Ten studies published in professional journals have shown TM rapidly heals PTSD.

Most of the government-sponsored research has been on soldiers and veterans, but massive numbers of civilians, particularly women, also suffer from PTSD. With this group TM has also been proven effective. A study on female prisoners and two studies on Congolese war refugees with high levels of symptoms showed that within four months the majority became non-symptomatic. Ninety percent of Congolese war refugees with PTSD became non-symptomatic within 30 days of learning and practicing TM (Journal of Traumatic Stress, April, 2013; February, 2014). The stories of their trauma and recovery are posted at www.ptsdreliefnow.org.

Research also indicates TM can protect us against PTSD before the trauma strikes. It does this by increasing our resilience, the ability to think clearly and act effectively in the midst of stress without being overwhelmed by it and afterwards to quickly recover from the ordeal. It’s a quality we all need now, an inner shield against trauma that defends us in advance from the damage.

A Stanford University study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology reported TM is twice as effective as other meditation or relaxation techniques for decreasing anxiety. Greater resistance to stress was confirmed in studies in Psychosomatic Medicine, Journal of Counseling and Development, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, and International Journal of Neuroscience. For more information and citations on the research: https://www.davidlynchfoundation.org/veterans.html and http://www.ptsdreliefnow.org/the-research.html.

About the author:

William T. Hathaway’s personal story of recovery from trauma as a Special Forces veteran is published at http://www.dmd27.org/hathaway2010.html.

 

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Visit to the Brahmasthan

maharishi mahesh yogi

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

By William T. Hathaway

I recently visited the ashram that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi built at the central point of India, the Brahmasthan. Two thousand Vedic pandits live there, meditating and performing ceremonies.

I’ve been doing Transcendental Meditation for many years and have had wonderful results in my active life — clearer thinking, less stress, more energy — but I’ve had very few experiences while meditating. A couple of times a year I might have a moment when the thoughts thin out enough for me to sense there is a field of silence underlying them. Very rarely I’ve glimpsed a bit of glow coming from that underlying field. I treasure these few moments.

In my first program in the yogic flying hall I felt deep silence as soon as I started meditating. And it didn’t go away as it always had before. It lasted, and it glowed. When I started the sutras, I gradually became aware that the silence had an energy to it, an inner dynamism. As I went on, joy began radiating from it like sunlight.

When I started yogic flying, I could sense this whole field was alive, filled with divine Beings. There was Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesh, and others whose names I didn’t know. There was Maharishi, Guru Dev, and Shankara. As I made great leaps, they told me, “We are bringing you up! We are bringing you up!” They were raising me into the air, but like cosmic parents they were also raising me into the full adulthood of higher consciousness. And amazingly enough, as good parents, they loved me.

I could perceive that they weren’t dwelling only in the transcendent but were permeating the whole atmosphere of the Brahmasthan. Then they weren’t just permeating the place but also permeating me. Then they were me. At this, I was totally enveloped in divine love. I was divine love. The unity of creation became a living reality. I had heard this statement before, but now it was no longer abstract. It was me. And this is going on all the time in full glory whether I’m perceiving it or not.

For the next four weeks I didn’t perceive it at all, just my usual mantra and thoughts, sutra and thoughts. Then at the end of the final Vedic chanting ceremony of my visit, I felt a sensation in the area of my heart. It was Maharishi! He was suddenly there, as if he’d just popped in. Then I realized he had been there all along, but I had only now become aware of him, as when a statue is unveiled and you can finally see it. This was no statue though, but a living presence. I remembered the section of the puja that describes the guru as “ever-dwelling in the lotus of my heart.” I could see this wasn’t a figure of speech but a statement of fact. Devotion poured from me to him, and I basked in his approval.

People were leaving the hall, and as I stood up, his presence expanded to become like a hollow tube running from the top of my head to the base of my spine. My awareness was centered inside the tube, and I was perceiving everything from this inner core of silence. This is my Brahmasthan, I suddenly knew. People too have Brahmasthans, a transcendental center out of which activity manifests.

I started walking, but I wasn’t walking. I ate a prasad banana, but I wasn’t eating. Walking was happening and eating was happening, but I wasn’t doing them. I was observing it all like a king on a throne enjoying the activity of my kingdom but not involved in it, totally free within myself. This is delightful, I thought, but what is it?

This is the Self, Maharishi explained. The one great Self that enlivens the universe. You are in the Self now, and that is separate from activity.

That sounds like enlightenment, cosmic consciousness, I thought.

Yes, Maharishi told me. Just a glimpse of what awaits you.

Gradually the glimpse faded, and my real identity became overshadowed by relative activity. Now that I’ve had these experiences, though, I know my deeper reality and I’ll never be the same again.

About the author

William T. Hathaway’s first book, A World of Hurt, won a Rinehart Foundation Award. His new novel, Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness, concerns the environmental crisis: www.cosmicegg-books.com/books/wellsprings. He was a Fulbright professor of creative writing at universities in Germany, where he currently lives. A selection of his writing is available at www.peacewriter.org.

 

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The Healing Power of Meditation

By William T. Hathaway

I suffered a brain injury at birth. An EEG test showed chaotic, abnormal brain waves, and in school I had attention deficit disorder. I couldn’t concentrate and my thoughts were cloudy. My grades were mediocre, and I flunked out of my first university. I wanted to become a writer, but my writing was disorganized and unclear. In despair I took marijuana and other drugs, but they made my thoughts even foggier.

Then I started Transcendental Meditation. My thoughts became clearer, and I didn’t want drugs anymore. I could concentrate. And I could write. One of my essays gained me entrance to a much better university, Columbia in New York City, and this time my grades were so good I received a scholarship. My first novel won a Rinehart Foundation Award, and I became a professor of creative writing. I’ve now published eight books and many shorter pieces.

My EEG now shows normal, orderly brain waves with no sign of damage. TM healed my birth injury and gave me access to my talent and mental abilities. Without meditation, this change would not have occurred.

How did it happen? Physiologists have discovered that during Transcendental Meditation nourishing blood flow to the brain increases by 20%. Our brain waves become more coherent, synchronizing and coordinating across both hemispheres, an indication of more integrated mental functioning. The whole brain becomes more activated, and that gives us access to more of our potential. In the blood stream arginine vasopressin, a hormone that improves memory and learning ability, increases, as do serotonin and melatonin, hormones that indicate relaxation and well being. Adrenalin, cortisol, blood lactate, and blood pressure decrease, indicating lessened anxiety. TM produces mental and physical rest that is twice as deep as in sleep, although we’re fully awake. This rejuvenating state enables the body’s self-healing mechanism to repair the damage from traumatic events and illnesses. With these blockages gone we are more able to develop our full capabilities.

For more information on the effects of TM on attention deficit disorder: http://www.davidlynchfoundation.org/schools.html.

Research on the physiological changes: http://www.truthabouttm.org/truth/TMResearch/TMResearchSummary/SummaryContinued/index.cfm – physiology.

William T. Hathaway’s new book, Lila, The Revolutionary, is a fable for adults about an eight-year-old Indian girl who sparks a world revolution for social justice. Chapters are posted on www.amazon.com/dp/1897455844. A selection of his writing is available at www.peacewriter.org.

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The Healing Power of Meditation

by Krista Noble

Esperance Ndozi, a devoted wife and mother, used to live a peaceful life in Sudan. But everything changed when her beloved husband passed away.

“After his death, [my in-laws] turned against me,” Ndozi says. “They tortured me—almost killed me.”

Esperance fled with her children from Sudan to Uganda. Here, she hoped to begin a new life. But the horrors of Esperance’s past haunted her day and night. She slept fitfully and wept uncontrollably.

“My mind [was] all the time thinking too much, too much,” Ndozi says (Nzodi, 2009).

Ndozi was suffering from posttraumatic stress (PTS). Symptoms of PTS include flashbacks, persistent fear, uncontrollable anger, depression, insomnia, drug abuse and more (David Lynch Foundation, 2013). Victims of PTS often become incapable of caring for themselves or their families.

Ndozi was not alone in the challenges that she faced. It is estimated that 100 million Africans suffer from PTS (David Lynch Foundation, 2013). These men and women have experienced the trauma of war, terrorism, violence, sexual abuse or natural disasters.

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An Unexpected Opportunity

In Uganda, Ndozi’s life took an unexpected twist. A charitable organization called African PTSD Relief (www.DavidLynchFoundation.org/Africa) offered her the opportunity to learn Transcendental Meditation.

Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a simple, natural technique that involves sitting with the eyes closed for 20 minutes twice a day. The technique releases stresses from the physiology, creating a unique state of deep relaxation. TM supports healthy, coherent cognitive functioning. The practice is not linked to any doctrine, religion or philosophy (David Lynch Foundation, 2013).

Transcendental Meditation had already proven successful in treating PTS among former soldiers. In a 1985 study, TM significantly diminished the PTS symptoms of Vietnam War veterans (Brooks & Scarano, p. 212-15). TM was shown to be more effective than psychotherapy in achieving this goal.

African PTSD Relief wanted traumatized refugees like Ndozi to benefit from Transcendental Meditation just as the American veterans had. Hoping for an improved quality of life for herself and her children, Ndozi agreed to learn TM.

A Profound Transformation

Within 10 days of beginning Transcendental Meditation, Ndozi noticed a profound change in herself. She describes her experiences in an online interview (Ndozi, 2009).

“When you start meditating,” she says, “your mind, your body relaxes. You feel [you’re] out of [the] outside world. You are just in your [own] peaceful world.”

According to Ndozi, the feeling of peace endures after each 20-minute TM session.

“No negativity,” she says, smiling broadly. “No, it doesn’t come near me now.”
Ndozi began to enjoy deep sleep at night, and found an escape from her uncontrollable tears.

“When the mind is fresh,” she says, “you see, even if you want me to cry now, I can’t.” Ndozi laughs. “I can’t! It is not there in me.”

When she recalls the traumatic abuse that she endured, Ndozi feels detached from the memory.

“Now, I feel like it was in somebody [else’s] body,” Ndozi explains. “Not me. Me, I’m free. I’m a free woman!”

Scientific Verification

Was Ndozi’s response to TM typical, or was it an anomaly? Two recent studies involving Congolese refugees shed light on the issue.

According to Refugees International, “For more than two decades, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has struggled with ongoing conflict in its eastern provinces. Today, an estimated 2.6 million Congolese are internally displaced, and more than 460,000 have fled their homes into neighboring countries” (2013).

African PTSD Relief decided to sponsor an experiment. The foundation taught TM to 21 Congolese refugees, with 21 others serving as a control group.  All of the refugees suffered from high levels of PTS (Rees, 2013, p. 295-298).

Scientists wondered if the impoverished circumstances of the refugees would inhibit their TM practice.

“They did not have a home,” says Dr. Fred Travis, neuroscientist and Director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management. “They did not have a job. They probably didn’t have a chair to sit in.”

The first study took place over a period of 135 days. Within 30 days of practicing TM, ninety percent of the participants had reached “non-symptomatic levels” of PTS. These levels remained low for the rest of the study. By contrast, the non-meditating control group did not show any reduction in symptoms (Rees, 2013, p. 295-298).

The second study produced even swifter results. Within the first 10 days of practicing TM, the participants enjoyed a significant decrease in their PTS symptoms. Once again, after 30 days, these symptoms were virtually gone. TM did not cause any adverse effects in either study (Rees, 2014, p. 112-115).

Colonel Brian Rees, a Medical Doctor with a Masters degree in Public Health, was impressed by the outcome of the two studies.

“We anticipated improvement, but I didn’t expect this magnitude of change,” says Rees, the lead author of the studies (LeBano, 2013).  “The continued improvement at four months also led us to conclude that TM may be a very worthwhile intervention for anyone suffering from posttraumatic stress.”

Although preliminary, the two studies have yielded highly significant results. African PTSD Relief predicts even greater health benefits with sustained TM practice.

TM: A Cure for PTS?

Will TM become a standard treatment for PTS? Dr. Travis shares his thoughts.

“If the scientific community pays attention to ongoing research,” he said in an interview, “they cannot help but seriously consider Transcendental Meditation as an intervention to address posttraumatic stress.”

African PTSD Relief is eager to spread the benefits of TM. In 2011, the foundation sponsored an initiative to teach Transcendental Meditation to 10,000 PTS victims in Africa (David Lynch Foundation, 2013).

Some mainstream organizations have already noticed the healing powers of TM. In January 2013, the U.S. Veterans Administration allocated $2.4 million to a TM-PTS relief study among former American soldiers (David Lynch Foundation, 2013).

From veterans to refugees, TM is bringing hope to those suffering from past traumas. Ndozi, for one, is excited about the opportunities that this technique represents.

Speaking of TM, she says, “This is wonderful. This is wonderful for me and…the whole world should know that.”

Source Contacts

Shapiro, David. Founder and President of African PTSD Relief. Suite 314, 1000 Purusha Place, Romney, West Virginia 26757. Telephone: 845-228-8861 Skype: davidshapiro1008, Email:  davidshapiro108@gmail.com

Travis, Fred, PhD. Neuroscientist and Director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management. Dean, Graduate School Chair, Maharishi Vedic Science Department Office. Phone: 641-472-1209Fax: 641-470-1316Skype: fredtravisWebsite: drfredtravis.com

References

Brook, Robert D., et al. (2013). Beyond Medications and Diet: Alternative Approaches to Lowering Blood Pressure. A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association. Hypertension, 61:00.

Brooks, James S., and Scarano, Thomas. (1985). Transcendental Meditation in the Treatment of Post-Vietnam Adjustment. Journal of Counseling and Development 64:212-15.

Bukenya, John. (2011). Unpublished interview. African PTSD Relief. www.davidlynchfoundation.org/Africa.

David Lynch Foundation. (2013). African PTSD Relief. David Lynch Foundation forConsciousness-Based Education and World Peace. Retrieved from www.davidlynchfoundation.org/Africa.

LeBano, Lauren. (2013). Transcendental Meditation Reduces Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress. Psych Congress Network. Retrieved fromhttp://www.psychcongress.com.

Maharishi Foundation USA. (2014). What’s the Evidence? Transcendental Meditation. Retrieved from www.tm.org/research.html.

Ndozi, Esperance. (2009). African PTSD Relief. David Lynch Foundation forConsciousness-Based Education and World Peace. Retrieved from http://www.davidlynchfoundation.org/africa#video=goWNosrfFvI.

Rees, Brian, et al. (2013). Reduction in Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in Congolese Refugees Practicing Transcendental Meditation. Journal of Traumatic Stress 26: 295-298.

Rees, Brian, et al. (2014). Signi?cant Reductions in Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in Congolese Refugees Within 10 Days of Transcendental Meditation Practice. Journal of Traumatic Stress 27: 112-115.

Refugees International. (2013). Overview. DR Congo. Retrieved from www.refintl.org.

Schneider, Robert H., et al. (2012). Stress Reduction in the Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes 5: 750-758.

 

About the author
Krista Noble is a freelance writer living in Fairfield, Iowa.  She has practiced Transcendental Meditation for 14 years

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