Mantras can't make miracles

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Mantras can't make miracles

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<b>Although meditation can help ease stress, it won&#39;t cure what really ails students, society</b>

By Lara Loewenstein
Thursday, May 3, 2007

Film director David Lynch has the answer to the itching question of how to stop school shootings forever - he&#39;s going to teach 1 million students transcendental meditation. I&#39;m almost waiting for Tom Cruise to announce his plan to convert a second million to Scientology.

Transcendental meditation is a practice in which participants sit comfortably with their eyes closed and recite a mantra for 20 minutes, twice a day. Unlike other forms of meditation, TM is not meant to involve any form of concentration or effort other than finding the time to practice it. Courses to learn TM cost about $2,500.

It almost sounds like nap time. Expensive nap time. But the David Lynch Foundation wants to teach us. For free.

Or rather, they want to fund UCLA to teach us - he&#39;s providing the funds for schools that want to include TM in their curriculum in order to end school violence. All the schools have to do is contact him. Unfortunately, I don&#39;t think UCLA is going to take up the offer.

Unfortunate because TM does have some proven benefits - namely, reducing blood pressure and stress.

But TM is not proven to stop violence. And honestly, I don&#39;t know what problems Lynch thinks people have that can all be eased with TM. Maybe all his frustrations with film directing can be fixed. But TM isn&#39;t going to put an end to concrete problems college students face such as paying school loans.

And it certainly isn&#39;t going to solve mental instability, seemingly the cause of the recent Virginia Tech shooting.

But even with all the things TM won&#39;t do, during the Web cast on Tuesday, Lynch, so-called quantum physicist John Hagelin and singer-song writer Donovan gave me an idea of what TM would do.

After telling their personal stories about discovering TM, Hagelin described specifically how TM works. According to him, meditation allows the mind to settle inward, causing the brain to be more coherent before finally coming to a sense of unity where you realize we are all part of the same entity. He even provided useful charts - to aid those who aren&#39;t scientifically minded - that detailed how the state of unity in TM is the same as the "unified field of natural laws of nature."

My, that&#39;s an eloquent phrase.

But besides not knowing exactly what a quantum physicist is, I also don&#39;t know what this unified field has anything to do with any sense of unity I might achieve through meditation.

But I&#39;ll give Hagelin points for creativity. After all, he has a Ph.D. from Harvard.

According to Hagelin, Lynch and Donovan, it&#39;s this sense of unity that people achieve via TM that will bring about world peace and consequently end school violence.

They even stressed how by using their technique we won&#39;t need to debate gun control anymore. Because once everyone knows TM, nobody will want to use a gun even if they have access to one. They&#39;re going to be too busy enjoying their higher consciousness.

I love it; it&#39;s so simple and free of politics. And totally fantastical.

Not only is TM not going to cure all ills that cause violence, I don&#39;t understand where Lynch, Hagelin and Donovan expect people who are, say, in the process of applying to Harvard to find time to meditate for 40 minutes a day.

Still, methods to reduce stress and blood pressure and increase happiness should be studied.

But considering how much trouble I have sitting still, I&#39;d like to see some non-pseudo, and unbiasedly authored, studies comparing happiness and stress release related to smoking pot on a daily basis, swing dancing or getting laid.

But even with my attention issues, I still want to learn TM. I&#39;m just not paying $2,500.

I quickly sent an e-mail to the David Lynch Foundation on Tuesday requesting to be taught.

He hasn&#39;t responded yet. I doubt people requesting to learn TM are the ones at risk for becoming gunmen.

So I started by teaching myself.

But the "how to" for TM is pretty secretive. I suppose they really want that $2,500. I had to settle for plain meditation with a non-unique mantra - "hamsa."

So I sat down in a comfortable position and tried it, saying "ham" when I breathed in and "sa" when I breathed out.

Hammmm ... saa.

I fell asleep after five minutes.

And now I don&#39;t have time to do my problem set. Thanks, David.

I&#39;m sure meditation works for some people, but I&#39;m going to go back to my nap.

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Original Source:<a href=http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/news/2007/may/03/mantras_miracles/>The Daily Bruin - May 3, 2007</a>

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Lara Loewenstein

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2007-07-15

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Sara Hood

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Saba Riazati <editor@media.ucla.edu>

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eng

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Lara Loewenstein, "Mantras can&#39;t make miracles," in The April 16 Archive, Item #716, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/716 (accessed November 28, 2014).