www.CBNNews.com November 10, 2007 CBNNews.com
- Pencils, papers, books and... relaxation mats - could be coming to a school near you.
It is estimated that the number of public, private and charter schools in the nation exposing children to a Hindu-based meditation practice will reach 100 by next year - a 75 percent increase since 2006.
Supporters of this practice, known as Transcendental Meditation, say it is not religious and has no harmful side effects. But many disagree. Mainstreaming Meditation
Over the past four decades, Hindu-based meditation practices have been making steady headway into mainstream culture. You may be most familiar with the image of a person sitting in a yoga posture, chanting "ohm" while resting their hands upon their knees - palms up.
But today, not only has this practice known as transcendental meditation, become a part of mainstream, it has crept into the public school system with increasing force.
Just this month, 1960s pop star Donovan announced he was joining film director David Lynch to open the Invincible Donovan University, in an effort to inject the mind-altering practice into education.
Lynch, who founded the David Lynch Foundation, has actively promoted transcendental meditation in schools across America for years.
The director has toured the U.S. with Donovan to increase the number of schools and colleges using their techniques to "help" students relieve the crime, stress and violence on campuses.
From 2005 to 2006, the David Lynch Foundation gave more than $3 million to fund TM practices at 20 public, private and charter schools in the U.S. Quiet Time in Schools
One elementary school in Washington D.C. has already incorporated TM as part of its everyday curricula.
IDEAL Academy principal Dr. George Rutherford argues that meditation helps students deal with outside stress so they can focus on their schoolwork.
"And if a child comes in and they're stressed out, how do we expect them to learn?" Rutherford asked News 21
. He says that TM is the answer.
"It feels like you're floating on clouds," 5th grade student Jami Jones told the news service. She takes part in a daily 10-minute classroom meditation, where she recites her mantra. Should TM Be Used in Schools?
But the claim that TM is not a religious practice has not been supported in the court room.
A 1977 decision by a U.S. district court made it clear that TM and all of its affiliated teachings "are religious in nature within the context of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution."
The case was Alan B.Malnak v. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. District Judge H. Curtis Meanor ruled that the textbook entitled "Science of Creative Intelligence" was also religious in nature, and violated separation of church and state.
Despite this ruling, many state-funded schools continue to endorse the practice.
In October 2006, students and faculty members of Terra Linda High School in San Rafael, Calif., made plans participate in a TM club funded by the David Lynch Foundation. Lynch had promised to give a $175,000 grant to the public school
The support was retracted, however, after parents became aware of the campus program.
Still, Terra Linda's principal Carole Ramsey supported the TM program, ignoring the parental concerns raised. In report from The Associated Press
, she accused "a few individuals" for stirring up "an environment that has led to the withdrawal of this grant."
Ramsey said the school would continue to urge students interested in TM to find other similar programs. TM's Harmful Effects
Although the TM movement touts positive benefits, many detrimental effects have been documented. A German study published by the Institute for Youth and Society reports that psychological disorders and illnesses accompany 76 percent of those who practice TM. The study showed that of those practicing TM: 63 percent experienced fatigue, 52 percent underwent "states of anxiety," 45 percent suffered from depression, 39 percent exhibited nervousness, 39 percent showed signs of regression, 26 percent had nervous breakdowns, and 20 expressed suicidal tendencies.
Students who performed well at school before practicing TM were included in the study, making it even more unclear that TM has any positive effect on the student. In fact, in the German study, 61 percent found it hard to maintain their workload. Only 13 percent said they could handle more. Another 56 percent had decreased concentration
, and only 16 percent claimed an improvement.
Dr. William Hathaway, psychology professor at Regent University
, said he does not believe TM lives up to its claims.
"If it is just used as a de-stressing method, then I am not aware of any evidence that TM is a better route to this goal than simple rest or other quieting activities," he said.
Hathaway also compared TM to Christian meditation.
"I will say, however, that Christian and Biblical meditation can be distinguished from Eastern meditation, as its deliberate focus is on God," Hathaway said.
"We may also try to 'quiet' the nervous system, but we focus on an encounter with the divine Other, not an alleged self within." The TM Experience
TM doctrine declares that stress is the originator of all personal tribulations. However, one former TMer says the practice is not only religious in nature, but deceitful.
"TM doctrine teaches that absolutely all personal difficulties and restrictions are caused by 'stress,' which is some 'abnormality' in the nervous system," Joe Kellet said on his web site
. Kellet is now working to expose the deception behind TM.
Kellet argues that TM teaching claims participants can reach "Cosmic Consciousness," by taking part in a "simple relaxation exercise" twice a day for 20 minutes.
He adds that the "exercise is supposed to produce people who are morally perfect, people who will 'perform spontaneous right actions' in everything they think and do. and will receive 'support' from something called 'nature." When he taught TM teacher, Kellet admits that he regularly deceived his students.
"As a teacher I frequently lied to people 'for their own good" because 'they weren't ready yet' to receive the full truth, and so did my friends who were teachers," Kellet said on his Web site.
"We didn't think of it as 'lying.' We thought we were giving people as much truth as they could handle." He said one of the frequent lies is that TM is not a religion. Is TM a Religion?
Christian apologists argue that the rituals TMers must go through in seeking to relieve stress don't comply with claims that the practice is not religious. "TM, however, is not a neutral discipline that can be practiced without harm to the individual," Christian authors Josh McDowell and Don Stewart said in their Handbook of Today's Religions.
"In actuality, TM is a Hindu meditation technique that attempts to unite the meditator with Brahman, the Hindu concept of God." In fact, McDowell and Stewart said that the religious content of a simple initiation ceremony TM instructors read contain phrases that hail, give offerings and bow down to Hindu gods. Sources: The Washington Post, The Associated Press, The Independent, News 21, Handbook of Today's Religions, CBN News, Institute for Youth and Society, Dr. Bill Hathaway, www.Suggestibility.org, www.Behind-the-TM-facade.org Translate Page Print Page Email to a Friend