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Monday, February 16, 2009

Article Published in US Medicine after 9/11

Transcendental Meditation Proposed As Homeland Defense - Matt Mientka
WASHINGTON-Less than 80 minutes after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack began on the World Trade Center in New York City and just 15 minutes after one of the four hijacked jetliners burrowed into the southwest side of the Pentagon here, a renowned terrorism expert from India delivered a pre-planned overture to the Bush administration to halt plans for the National Missile Defense Shield-a solution he said would only invite more enmity and asymmetrical terrorism.
"You know what is happening today and if the missile shield was present today this [still] would have happened. The shield would not protect against airliners," said retired Maj. Gen. Kulwant Singh, PhD, of the Indian Army, who led India's fight against its own intransigent terrorism problem for nearly 30 years.
Rather, Dr. Singh proposed a so-called Vedic defense shield, which would protect America by reducing global tensions via the field of consciousness believed by quantum mechanics scientists to connect everything in the universe. Dr. Singh proposed that the U.S. institute a "department of peace" that would train enough people, the square root of one per cent of the population, or approximately 8,000 individuals, to effectively influence global populations through the use of transcendental meditation. Ostensibly, the meditation would work like a radio transmitter to broadcast "coherence," or feelings of harmony, to human populations via the interconnecting unified field.
Dr. Singh's American backers, including Lt. Col. Richard Neate, USAF (ret.), said they realize the idea sounds far-fetched to the general public but said that approximately 600 research studies conducted by 212 institutions in more than 30 nations have supported the efficacy of transcendental meditation on reducing collective and individual stress in human beings. In fact, more than 50 peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Conflict Resolution and Science have featured studies on the subject of transcendental meditation's effect on collective stress.
"The unified field theory is pretty standard in quantum physics now and is not controversial," said John L. Davies, PhD of the Center for International Development and Conflict Management and professor in the department of government and politics at the University of Maryland at College Park. Dr. Davies said his work as a social scientist focuses on interpreting the work of physicists "to try to make sense of what we're seeing" in quantum mechanics.
According to Dr. Davies, the generally accepted theory of the unified field posits that all physical phenomena in the universe, including gravity, nuclear reactions, electromagnetic forces and human consciousness is connected, bringing new meaning to the expression "no man is an island." He added, "It's another perspective to get us out of the habitually narrow way in which we conceive ourselves as isolated from each other except as far as we bump into each other."
Also according to Dr. Davies, current research on meditation subjects who utilize the specific Vedic technology, rather than simple meditation or prayer, verifies that not only does an individual's brain waves become more "coherent" during meditation, but that individuals in meditation groups exert an influence on one another, a networking of sorts. Dr. Davies, who co-authored a paper published in the Proceedings of the American Statistical Association, Social Statistics Section in 1990, which was presented at the American Psychological Association Convention in Boston that year, credited the warming of relations between the United States and the former Soviet Union in part to the effects of transcendental meditation by a group that convened in the early 1980s in Fairfield, Iowa.
Dr. Davies said the public tends to over-credit leaders such as former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, while ignoring the underlying levels that, for example, actually propelled Gorbachev to power. "You've got to look at this stuff as part of a multi-level dynamic that goes on in society [to which] we are all connected in many different ways," he said.
Dr. Davies told U.S. MEDICINE, however, that he believes the U.S. should deploy a national missile defense system-in addition to a Vedic defense shield-if the military can do so at a reasonable cost. "We need to look at all the ways possible for improving relationships internationally, to be able to improve the stability of our society as well," he said.
Following the well-orchestrated Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S., said Michael Dillbeck, PhD, a research scientist and professor at Mahareshi University of Management (MUM) in Fairfield, Iowa, there is little doubt that the country is vulnerable to enmity and must explore a new, fundamental protection in addition to current plans to shield the nation from ballistic missiles. Dr. Dillbeck said he supported Dr. Singh's proposal that the U.S. train a sufficient number of military or government personnel to practice transcendental meditation on a full-time basis.
Dr. Dillbeck told U.S. MEDICINE, "the human nervous system has the capability to experience the consciousness in its deeper level, as a field," which he said is responsible for the group and individual benefits of transcendental meditation.
NIH-Funded Meditation Studies
In fact, while Dr. Singh and others attempt to sell the group benefits of transcendental meditation to the U.S. government, the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) in Bethesda, Md. is more interested in the individual health benefits of transcendental and other forms of meditation and prayer.
For example NCCAM provided a $1.4 million grant to the Johns Hopkins Center for Cancer Complimentary Medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore to study the effect of prayer in black women with breast cancer. Dr. Adrian Dobbs, MD, MHS, the lead researcher, acknowledged the complexity of the research and said that for this study researchers will simply measure the effect of individual meditation or prayer on the subjects' levels of stress hormones rather than their breast cancer outcomes. "It's very difficult to prove whether or not meditation helps clinical breast cancer," Dr. Dobbs said, explaining that the five-year study will follow only 100 subjects.
NCCAM spokesperson Anita Green told U.S MEDICINE last month that the agency in 1999 awarded another four major grants to study the hypothesized individual benefits of meditation, including a $7.5 million grant to MUM to conduct research over a five-year period.
Green said that $1.5 million of that award was given to MUM researcher Dr. Robert Schneider to study the effects of transcendental meditation on both older blacks with coronary vascular disease and older black women with coronary vascular disease.
According to Dr. Schneider, the U.S. government and private institutions have provided $17 million in funding to MUM for the study of transcendental meditation during the past 13 years. Presently, MUM is conducting research with a consortium of institutions, including Drew University Medical Center in Los Angeles, the Moorehouse Medical School in Atlanta and the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.
Dr. Schneider said that while Dr. Singh spoke here of the collective benefits of the ancient Vedic technology, his work focuses on the individual health benefits of the technique. He said MUM's previous randomized, controlled studies had shown that the Vedic technique reduced blood pressure in subjects with hypertension by twice as much as other relaxation techniques and exactly as much as medication. Referring to a MUM study that was published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, Dr. Schneider said, "The program was effective in reducing hardening of the arteries as measured by ultra-sound of the cartis artery walls, which parallel the arteries in the heart and brain.
Dr. Schneider said that MUM has since begun to study primary, secondary and tertiary stages of heart disease, studies he said have large implications for public health given that coronary heart disease is public health enemy number one in the industrialized world.
The Vedic technique is unique from other forms of relaxation, he added, because it allows the individual to enter a deep, profound state of rest while his or her mind achieves an enhanced state of wakefulness. Physiologically, he said researchers have measured decreased levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, in addition to lowered blood pressure. Yet, researchers seem to know less about the other effects of transcendental meditation: the psychological track that underpins the physiological benefits.
The Vedic Technology
The ancient Vedic technology is not a religion, philosophy or lifestyle, Dr. Singh told U.S. MEDICINE in an interview, but is a technology scientifically proven to positively affect individual and group health. The technique is simple enough to require only 90 minutes of training per day for five days, he said, and slows the practitioner's physiology to allow the mind to tap into the unified field of consciousness.
According to Dr. Singh, the meditation of one person can effect as many as 99 other individuals while a larger group of meditation practitioners, reaching a critical mass, can reach exponentially higher numbers of people. The Mahareshi Effect, named after Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi, who revived the technology some 42 years ago, is said to effect friends and enemies indiscriminately-as would radio waves-and thereby reduces violent crime, social tensions and even helps the environment.
Dr. Singh said that Mahareshi experimented on Dec. 17, 1983 by assembling 7,000 "yogic flyers," or transcendental meditation practitioners, in Fairfield, Iowa for three weeks of meditation. "A global Mahareshi effect was seen whereby conflict reduced worldwide by 30 per cent and the effect was seen all over the world," he said.
Vedic technology would provide an effective defense against terrorism and warfare, said Dr. Singh, because the actual cause of war has less to do with the actions of leaders and more to do with a "lack of coherence, disharmony and tension" across societal levels. "We are convinced that we can create world peace by having a few groups, two to three, of 8,000 [yogic flyers]. Dr. Singh added that the governments of Japan, Sri Lanka, Columbia, Indonesia and Nepal are considering incorporating Vedic technology into defense and said his proposal had been well received by his American audience during his recent visit. "I think with all of this [terrorism] today, America needs a new approach to protection," he said.
Dr. Singh's world tour to promote Vedic technology as a homeland defense has been taken seriously, his backers said, because of his distinguished 35-year career fighting terrorism and insurgency in India stemming from the dispute with neighboring Pakistan over the barren, mountainous Kashmir province. Dr. Singh's backers were quick to emphasize that he once commanded 20,000 Indian troops and coordinated the activities of 150,000 troops in total to fight terrorism in India.
The Bush administration commented after the Sept. 11 attack, however, that American vulnerabilities to asymmetrical terrorism in no way obviate the need to defend the country from the growing threat of ballistic missiles.

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