Ana Horn ’12
In 1968, The Beatles made their infamous pilgrimage to India along with New Age jazz musician Paul Horn and singer Donovan. What many don’t know is why they were all there.
The group traveled that far to learn one thing: Transcendental Meditation (TM). Thanks to them, TM became all the rage in the 1960s. As of the 2000s, it is offered in school curricula around the world.
While many people probably haven’t heard of Transcendental Meditation, some people probably do know that recently, McCartney, Starr, Donovan, and Horn all reunited under the same roof for a benefit concert. This concert, held by the David Lynch Foundation, focused on increasing and promoting awareness of TM.
TM is not the traditional meditation that most people imagine. Thought of as the CEO of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, the region of the brain located behind the forehead, regulates your rationality skills and ability to plan. It also has the ability to retain knowledge and use better judgment.
Fatigue, high blood pressure, low self-esteem and depression all relates back to one thing: stress.
When emotions and physical conditions such as these take control of the mind, the prefrontal cortex diminishes and leaves way for more primitive, spontaneous reactions.
By practicing Transcendental Meditation, the prefrontal cortex reactivates and takes place of primitive thoughts. The resurgence of the prefrontal cortex enhances the mind to become more active.
TM is known for its benefits toward stress and substance abuse reduction. According to the David Lynch Foundation, “drug and alcohol abuse is fueled by stress…[meditation] reduces stress…[and] there is less of a desire for drugs and alcohol.” In a high school known for its high stress levels and substance abuse, the benefits of TM could easily be seen.
In Fairfield, Iowa, these results are seen at the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment (MSAE). Much like Staples, MSAE is renowned for its programs in the arts, theatre, and science. But there’s one major difference between the MSAE and Staples.
At the MSAE, you won’t see students filing into class and sitting in a slump, staring at the clock. Instead, each day begins with complete silence, for five to ten minutes a day.
This isn’t meant to punish or induce boredom. Ken Chawkin, a teacher and meditator for 42 years, stated in his article “Meditation in the Classroom” that students at the MSAE “find it easy to do and enjoy practicing together in class.”
If TM is just sitting down and closing your eyes, how could it possibly reap any benefits?
TM isn’t just sitting and doing nothing, though. TM is a simple technique in which the mind “goes beyond the thought process and arrives at the silent source of thought within. The body also settles down to a state of least excitation allowing for deep rest, twice as deep as sleep, dissolving deeply rooted stresses.”
TM is simple, effective, and easy to learn. With the amount of pressure put on students at Staples, it’s shocking that anything gets done.
Through the practice of Transcendental Meditation, that could all change. Instead of playing dodgeball for 45 minutes a day, students could be relaxing and releasing stress.
The instantaneous release found from TM would be almost immediate.
“It takes about one hour a day, over four consecutive days to learn how to meditate properly and begin to experience the benefits,” said David Lynch. Rather than walking into class cramming in last minute notes, students would be able to come in prepared and ready to learn.
For those students who find they’re procrastinating more often than actually studying, TM could help there, too. Instead of pulling an all-nighter just to finish an essay, with TM, there’s no need. It becomes easier to sit down and focus on the task at hand.