By Vasylyna Burger
1. You co-operate with a Ph.D. from Ukraine. How did you meet each other?
Mykola L. Didukh, Ph.D., is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National University of Kyiv Taras Shevchenko. He serves as the national leader of the Transcendental Meditation® (TM) organization for Ukraine. We are both teachers of the Transcendental Meditation program. I met Dr. Didukh while he was visiting Maharishi University of Management (M.U.M.) in Fairfield, Iowa USA, where I serve as Executive Director at the Center for Advanced Military Science (CAMS), a think tank at M.U.M.’s Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy.
One of the founding goals of M.U.M and the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s worldwide TM organization is “to solve the age-old problem of crime and all behavior that brings unhappiness to our world family.” War is a terrible human behavior which causes great suffering and hardship. Dr. Didukh and I work together because we both agree that Invincible Defense Technology (IDT) is the most effective way to end and prevent war, terrorism, and crime, as scientific research has repeatedly shown. For this reason it could create victory before war for the military of Ukraine if they would use it.
What stimulated you to start this work across continents?
As of this writing, Ukraine may well be on the brink of major war; the precarious situation that exists today could escalate in hours into an international confrontation. Similarly, there are other dangerous “hot spots” across the globe where war is occurring or could soon break out. If something is not done soon to “cool” them down, many commenter’s have voiced concerns that perhaps these trigger points could start World War III. The time to act is now.
2. In your article you say that the Prevention Wing could consist of military personnel and/or any other sizable group within the nation. Why do you focus on military?
It is not always ideal or practical for students or other large groups using IDT to assume total responsibility for protecting their nations. For instance, in one country after the establishment of a student-based IDT coherence-creating group, students went on their usual vacation break. During this crucial time, no fully operational IDT group was completely protecting their nation. Unfortunately, their nation’s collective stress built up to a dangerously high level and conflict broke out on the border of a neighboring country.
Unlike students, military professionals are under oath and paid to always be on call 24/7 to defend their nations. This is why militaries traditionally stagger leave, and this is also why they should ultimately be responsible for establishing at least one large group of military IDT experts. This can be easily done by funding, staffing and maintaining a Prevention Wing of the Military. This elite, highly trained unit would meditate together using IDT twice daily, ideally in one location, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. In this manner, their nation would always be fully and safely protected.
Is there any significant difference between the meditation practice of military service personnel and that of civilians, except for higher level of discipline?
There does not appear to be any difference in results if the proper TM protocol is carefully followed.
3. What criteria are used to choose members of a Prevention Wing?
Anyone who can think a thought can practice the TM technique. However, in order to learn the more advanced TM practice that the Prevention Wing members use, it is ideal to carefully select warriors who are most committed to regular meditation practice in order to gain maximum positive coherence-creating societal effects.
4. What is Transcendental Meditation and how long does it take to start its advanced collective practice?
The TM technique is a simple, effortless, nonreligious practice, now demonstrated to reduce a wide variety of stress-related problems in more than 350 peer-reviewed research studies published in over 160 scientific journals. It is practiced sitting comfortably for 20 minutes twice a day and is easy to learn and enjoyable to experience. The TM technique allows the mind to settle from high levels of activity to deep inner silence and calm, thereby providing a profound level of mental and physical rest, clearing out deep-seated stress, and revitalizing overactive nervous systems. Its advanced practice known as the TM-Sidhi program is most effectively done collectively with a coherence-creating group. Under ideal conditions the TM-Sidhi program can be learned after just a few months of regular TM practice.
5. How does it feel to meditate in a large group? Does it resemble savasana in yoga or something else?
Many people report that their experiences during group practice of the TM technique and with its advanced practice are much deeper and more powerful than when done alone.
Unlike savasana yoga postures, the TM technique and its advanced programs are done sitting up because a reclined position can dull the mind too much. Lying down can bring about sleep, and also prevents the type of discernment necessary for the deepest transcendence.
Do they use some breathing techniques to clear their minds?
The TM technique and its advanced programs are simple and effortless and therefore do not themselves involve breathing practices, which usually necessitate some degree of focus or control. But yoga postures and breathing exercises can certainly provide benefits to life.
6. What are the problems people usually come across when they start Transcendental Meditation?
Again, TM is easy, simple and effortless; even children can learn and practice it. Some people mistakenly think that they must use effort in order for it to work properly, but these concerns are all addressed and resolved during the TM course of instruction.
7. You must have met people who are quite skeptical about effectiveness of such meditation and are not eager to start.
Yes, some people are skeptical that such profound and wide ranging benefits can be achieved through such a simple practice. Fortunately, the effectiveness of the technique does not depend on belief or disbelief; even the most skeptical person who learns the practice will derive all the benefits that the TM technique provides so naturally.
What advice do you give to those who lack confidence or motivation?
We invite everyone to visit http://tm.org, the official website of the TM organization-especially the webpage http://www.tm.org/videocafe, which provides online videos where people from all walks of life including students, educators, and veterans describe how the TM technique has decreased their anxiety and stress, improved their health and wellness, and reduced symptoms of PTSD, autism and ADHD. Then, go to your local TM center to attend a free TM introductory lecture.
8. How long does it take to practice until the first results can be observed? How often do the groups meditate to make the effect long-lasting?
Every individual is different, and thus the results can be different, but most people notice the benefits of TM practice even in the first few days. And with regular practice, these benefits are cumulative over time.
Likewise, with the practice of large advanced coherence-creating groups, positive and measurable effects on social trends including war, terrorism, and crime can be seen in just a few days. Such outcomes have been documented in peer-reviewed studies. Many of these studies are discussed in my paper referenced below.
Dr. David R. Leffler (Fall 2009). A New Role for the Military: Preventing Enemies from Arising – Reviving an Ancient Approach to Peace. Journal of Management & Social Science (JMSS), Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 153-162. This peer-reviewed journal was published by the Institute of Business & Technology BIZTEK in Pakistan. The abstract was published in Session 6, p. 44, of the proceeding of the “International Sociological Association Research Committee 01 Seoul National University & Korea Military Academy International Conference on Armed Forces & Conflict Resolution in a Globalized World.” July 14 – 17, 2008, Seoul, Korea. The paper was also presented at KIDA, the Korea Institute of Defense Analyses. Paper available at: http://davidleffler.com/preventing-enemies.html
9. If a military person practices Transcendental Meditation, will it have some effect on his personality, views and lifestyle?
There are similarities in the personalities and worldviews of military, police and law enforcement professionals because their lives as the protectors of society are often dangerous and highly stressful. In an article published in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin (pp. 26-32, May 2009) entitled Brain Functioning as the Ground for Spiritual Experiences and Ethical Behavior, neuroscientist Dr. Fred Travis (more about him later) describes the potential benefits of the Transcendental Meditation program for those in law enforcement, concluding “research has indicated that practice of the TM technique leads to increased frontal brain integration, faster habituation to stressful stimuli, and higher moral reasoning.” He asserts that inner experiences during TM practice enliven frontal coherence in the brain, which builds global circuits that allow us to place individual experiences in a larger framework. In this vein, spiritual experiences could provide the inner armor to protect military and police personnel from the noxious effects of stress and negative experiences.
It is well known that stress-related problems can ultimately lead to poor health. Today’s military and police personnel need – and deserve – every opportunity to regain and/or sustain their health. Research also shows that practitioners of the TM technique rise to a higher level of overall physical and psychological wellness. For instance, a pioneering study in Psychosomatic Medicine (1987; 49:493-507), a mainstream medical journal, monitored for five years the medical care utilization of 2,000 people who regularly practiced the TM technique. The findings: 50 percent fewer doctor visits and hospital admissions than among nonmeditators of comparable age, gender, profession, and insurance terms. The cost savings in health care alone would justify implementation of the TM program by military and police, especially in this era of reduced financial budgets.
A study on the health care cost effectiveness of the TM program was published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, 2011 Sept.-Oct.; 26(1):56-60. The study, conducted by Dr. Robert Herron, director of the Center for Health Systems Analysis, found that people with consistently high health care costs experienced a 28 percent cumulative decrease in physician fees after an average of five years practicing the stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation technique compared with their baseline.
What do members of Prevention Wing of the Military say about benefits of meditation for their personal development?
The TM program has already been implemented in Latin American countries such as Ecuador. For instance, an Ecuadorian Military Police general was very receptive to the idea of meditating officers and decided to have his warriors instructed in the TM technique on 8 March 2010. As a test case, the general selected two units from training centers where young cadets received six months’ basic military police training before being sent to operational units. Each training unit had 300 cadets who were taught the TM technique, and 200 of these received advanced training in the practice. The general set the time and place for the cadets to practice their meditation program in a group in accordance with their duty routine.
Were the cadets willing participants in such an unusual endeavor? Again, yes. A study was conducted by Ecuadorian army psychologists to assess the value of the TM program after officers had been practicing it for one month. Their results? Over 96% of the military police officer cadets thought the TM technique was a very practical activity. Why were they convinced? As the study showed, 92% felt their performance in activity had improved and they were better able to deal with stress; 96% declared their relationships with others had improved; and 95% said their practice of the TM technique was completely satisfying. Because of these impressive results, militaries in other Latin American countries as well as in Africa and Asia are now implementing the TM program.
10. Could such impressive results be obtained with other types of meditation?
Research by Dr. Frederick Travis, the Director for the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management, shows that all meditation practices are not the same. Different meditation techniques use different procedures, have different effects on brain functioning, and so lead to different results.
Travis reports that “recent studies show meditation practices have been classified into three categories: Focused Attention, Open Monitoring, and Automatic Self-Transcending.” Techniques in the Automatic Self-Transcending category transcend their own procedure – they take the attention out of thinking, analyzing, controlling, or watching to a state of pure consciousness (also known as Transcendental Consciousness, a state beyond psychophysiological conditioning). The TM technique is in this category. Research indicates highly integrated functioning of the brain during TM practice.
The TM technique is also different because it turns one’s attention inward to experience deeper levels of thought, until one goes beyond active thinking and the mind comes to a state of complete inner rest while remaining wide awake inside. Global alpha EEG is seen during TM practice, indicating that the brain is functioning in an integrated orderly manner. The brain functions with significantly greater coherence, the mind is freed from disturbing thoughts and feelings, and the body gains deep rest. This state is called restful alertness. After meditation, this experience of inner wakefulness, calm, and peace gradually infuses into the rest of activity.
As noted above, the benefits of TM practice have been confirmed by extensive scientific research, including meta-analyses published in peer-reviewed journals (meta-analysis is a statistical scientific method used to compare large amounts of scientific research). Meta-analyses provide more evidence for the superior effectiveness of the TM technique over other practices in the areas of anxiety reduction, reduced high blood pressure, self-development, physiological relaxation, improved psychological outcomes, and decreased use of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. They show that that TM practice results in higher levels of self-actualization and greater decreases in anxiety than other meditations. In the bigger picture, research on TM practice reports significant effects on psychological measures – improved moral reasoning, creativity, cognitive flexibility, coping and problem solving; improved health – reductions in blood pressure and in hospitalization; and significant improvement in social interactions.
It should also be mentioned that no other program for self-development has been scientifically validated as a means to prevent war, terrorism and crime. A paper that discusses and summarizes all of the studies (available at the time of its publication) about the societal coherence-generating ability of the TM technique and its advanced practice is referenced below.
Dr. David R. Leffler, Dr. Kurt Kleinschnitz, & Dr. Kenneth G. Walton (1999, May 1). An alternative to military violence and fear-based deterrence: Twenty years of research on the Maharishi Effect. Security and Political Risk Analysis (SAPRA). Paper is available online at: