On March 31st The David Lynch Foundation hosted a sold-out conference at New York City’s Air and Space Museum. CNN anchor Soledad O’Brian was conference chair and the title of the conference was “Women, Violence and Meditation.”
The main focus of the conference was the scientific research on the helpfulness of one form of meditation, Transcendental Meditation, for victims of trauma. The use of the TM technique to heal anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies in persons who have experienced trauma was explored.
Dr. Fred Travis, a neuroscientist from the Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition explained to the group that traumatic stress creates a veil of fear through which a person experiences the world. “You are hyper-vigilant, vulnerable, you think people don’t understand you,” said Dr. Travis. “Because this is what your brain is telling you.”
According to neuroscience traumatic experience turns on the amygdala, the non-verbal area of the brain and the seat of the fight or flight response. To recover Dr. Travis said, “We need an experience that is the opposite of trauma—an experience that is holistic and not fragmented, an experience that is silent and not chaotic. When a person transcends, moves beyond thought and emotion, during meditation the fear signals from the brain get turned off.”
“Why did this happen to me?” is often the biggest question and main source of confusion and pain that a victim of trauma, rape or abuse must live with. We can’t always explain the reasons for acts of violence, yet through the regular experience of peacefulness gained through meditation we can overcome its effects.
Deep within us—beyond the subconscious—is the silent transcendental field of our awareness, which remains untouched by life’s negative impressions. Meditation moves us from the surface busyness of the mind to this field. It does this in an effortless, natural and easy way. From the regular practice of this experience arises a power of reassurance that can pervade every fiber of our being, so that we become whole—healed and at peace.
Does it Really Work?
A handful of controlled studies support the effectiveness of the TM technique in alleviating PTSD. There has been research ranging from Vietnam War Veterans to soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece by W. Scott Gould, Deputy Secretary of the Veteran’s Administration, “Transcendental Meditation has received substantial attention at the Department of Veteran Affairs, the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health.” He says the VA has embarked on a series of clinical investigations into the effectiveness of all forms of meditation.
Tara Wise Jones, executive director of the National Women’s Veteran’s Association of America said that Transcendental Meditation saved her life. “It calmed my mind, helped to restore my nurturing nature, restored my femininity and has helped me to become a better thinker. Once I learned, I didn’t have to depend on anyone else, it makes me feel good inside mentally and physically.”
In our book Healing Depression the Mind-Body Way Sandra and I suggest practice of the TM technique for healing depression. We give a review of significant research and explain the process of learning. This technique must be learned through a trained teacher. The fact that such a subtle yet powerful mental technique can be taught at all is amazing, but of course it cannot be learned from a book.
TM does work. It does heal anxiety and depression and we hope that you will look into its benefits. You can learn more about the TM technique through Healing Depression the Mind-Body Way or online by clicking on tm.org.
As always, Sandra and I wish happiness and good health for you!