With many veterans returning home from war, a big topic as of late is how to help soldiers of Iraq and Afghanistan deal with the invisible wounds they suffer from and relieve the effects of Post-traumatic stress disorder.
One tool for doing just that has roots here in the Heartland. Transcendental Meditation has been proven to relieve stress and greatly reduce the effects of PTSD. Fairfield is at the center of developing Transcendental Meditation, or TM, and the practice also has some big-name supporters. Oprah was recently in Fairfield to experience TM i Maharishi's Dome of Knowledge, and others like Dr. Oz, Jerry Seinfeld and Clint Eastwood swear by the practice.
Another TM follower, at Maharishi University in Fairfield, is living proof that TM changes lives. Jerry Yellin is a World War II Veteran, who flew 19 long-range missions in Japan when he was just a teenager. He lost several men on those missions and had several "zone experiences" that left him, in his words, "an empty shell" when he returned from war. At 22 years old, he had no purpose in life. But that changed thirty years later, when he discovered Transcendental Meditation.
"I'm 88 years old now. I run in the swimming pool 40 minutes, three or four times a week. I've written books, I'm active in the world and I'm going to keep going," Yellin said. "My life was changed by Transcendental Meditation and other people's lives have been changed now too."
Those other lives include hundreds of veterans. After the suicide of a close friend's son who served in the Army, Yellin founded Operation Warrior Wellness, in cooperation with the David Lynch Foundation, to help veterans and war heroes find peace through TM.
"We have hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of success stories," he said. "Those who couldn't sleep, now sleep. Those who smoke, now do not. It changes lives."
The process is surprisingly simple. As Yellin noted, anyone can learn Transcendental Meditation after dedicating five or six hours of their time. You learn the technique through seven steps: Introductory Lecture, Preparatory Lecture, Personal Interview, Personal Instruction and three rounds of Verification and Validation of Experiences.
Yellin believes even the greatest skeptic can profit from giving TM a try.
"It has nothing to do with what you're thinking. It has everything to do about how you're thinking. So it's not a what, it's not a philosophy, it's not a religion, it's not a belief," he said. "You don't have to change your life, you become better at what you're doing. So that's what I would say to anyone that's skeptical. Try it, you may like it. You don't have to like it, but you may like it."
A study conducted at Norwich University Corps of Cadets in Vermont took 30 Cadets and trained them in TM, and did not train another 30. After two months, the 30 practicing TM had significantly better grades and experienced and increased quality of life in alertness and attitude. The 30 non-practicing asked to be included in the program.
The technique can work for non-war-related issues as well, such as migraines, sleep and weight problems or high blood pressure.
Either way, the goal is clear: to increase health and self-actualization no matter the situation, to produce a more complete individual.
To learn more about Transcendental Meditation, visit their website, tm.org.