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Feature: Transcendental Meditation
PBS Translate This Article
9 July 2005
On 9 July 2005 PBS reported:
On Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, PBS's reporter Lucky Severson focused on the juxtaposition of Maharishi University of Management and its associated population of 3,000 practitioners of the Transcendental Meditation Programme (TM) with the surrounding rural population of Fairfield, Iowa. The reporter began by interviewing students and faculty on the practical benefits of TM, and finished by investigating the relationship between the simple mental technique and religion.
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The report introduced Fairfield by saying that it became the 'nerve centre' of the Transcendental Meditation Programme when founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi started what is now the Maharishi University of Management (M.U.M.) in a bankrupt Presbyterian campus in the small Iowa town.
At MSAE, the K-12 school also established in Fairfield, Severson talked to several sixth graders, all who had learnt TM in third grade. The girls agreed that the technique made them feel more focused and calm. '. . .Over the years, it just makes you feel so much better,' one girl said.
Severson went on to talk to students at the nationally accredited M.U.M., which offers advanced degrees in management, education, and other fields and has about a thousand students from all over the world.
Alisia Devlin, an M.U.M. student from London told the PBS reporter about her experience with TM, 'It just flipped my life to the other side in all positive ways—all the negativity, all the. . . hurt. . .it just fell away.'
Severson observed that M.U.M. even has a brain research lab on campus where technicians trace the effects of meditation on student volunteers.
Dr Fredrick Travis, Director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at M.U.M. reported that during the practice of the Transcendental Meditation Technique you can actually see a greater level of integration in brain functioning.
Dr John Hagelin, a quantum physicist and director of the Institute of Science, Technology, and Public Policy at M.U.M. said that the results of the technique are 'all positive and self-evident'.
'Transcendental Meditation is a powerful technique to turn human awareness powerfully within, to experience deeper levels of mind. And that correlates with things like IQ, creativity, learning ability, academic performance, moral reasoning, intellectual achievement, scholastic achievement,' Hagelin said.
Fairfield Mayor, Ed Malloy, who is also a meditator, told Severson that the town had become a 'model community for the 21st century'. Dozens of new businesses and hundreds of new jobs created by meditators have led to Fairfield being dubbed the 'entrepreneural Mecca of the Midwest' and 'Silicorn Valley'.
Severson observed, 'Where else in small town America would you find five Indian restaurants, three Thai, and more hybrids than Hummers?'
Despite the general good feelings between meditators and non-meditators, Severson said that there is some concern in town that it might not be 'possible to be both a meditator and a believer'.
That concern comes primarily from local religious leaders who have had a hard time attracting new members. Severson talked to Greg Crawford, a pastor of the Jubilee Christian Fellowship, who believes that his lack of new members is due to competition from the Transcendental Meditation Programme.
Others Severson talked to said they believed that TM is derived from Hinduism, which 'takes away from the experience of Christ'.
Severson noted that M.U.M. students did not agree with that thinking.
Jenoa Kohn, an M.U.M. student said, 'I'm a spiritual person, but I don't think that, you know, TM is something that I do that is separate. It's like brushing your teeth twice a day.'
Severson observed that some of the confusion could come from the numerous Indian traditions that have been transplanted into the meditation community. There is a lavish Ayurvedic health spa outside of town, the official language of Maharishi Vedic City is Sanskrit, and many buildings in both Fairfield and neighbouring Maharishi Vedic City adhere to the principles of Vedic Architecture.
Severson concluded his report by saying the 'TM'ers believe any conflict will eventually fade away. They believe if they can accumulate enough mediators in Fairfield and Vedic City, peace and harmony will pulsate from the Iowa prairie throughout the world.'
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