Author's Note


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3
What is Stress?
Reducing Stress

Slowing Aging Process
Solution to Health Costs
Science Charts

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Site Home Page



C H A P T E R 3 

Healthy Mind / Healthy Body

"I believe that your mind controls your body, and I'm convinced that Transcendental Meditation has kept me not just mentally healthy, but also physically healthy and in very good shape," says Mike Fitzgerald, Director of the Washington State Department of Community Trade and Economic Development. "I have a lot to do, and I would never have the high energy level that I have without Transcendental Meditation."

Mr. Fitzgerald directs a newly formed department with a $700 million annual budget, 420 employees, and a broad and diverse range of responsibilities.

On a typical day Mr. Fitzgerald will help the governor and the state legislature formulate their policies on GATT and NAFTA. He'll make decisions on what kind of taxation package his department will put to the legislature to give incentives for small businesses. He'll meet with a group of community leaders to try to determine how to restructure a local economic development grant that will allow them to take new initiatives in their community. He'll also meet with local government representatives to determine how to improve and expand access to the state's early childhood education programs.

Mr. Fitzgerald learned Transcendental Meditation at a friend's recommendation.

"I notice, almost instantly after meditating, a relief from the pressures of the day, and a new clarity, a new freshness, and a new energy," says Mr. Fitzgerald, whose day starts at 5:30 a.m. and ends at 7:30 p.m. when he gets home to his family in Issaquah, a city 10 miles east of Seattle.

"I'm in very good physical shape, and Transcendental Meditation has helped me a lot with that because it keeps stress at a minimum. I don't overeat. Meditating also helps to keep me calm and thoughtful and restful and reflective. It's my lifeline in a very chaotic world."

Mr. Fitzgerald says Transcendental Meditation can play a key role in solving social ills.

"The tendency of our society is to deal with events and symptoms, not causes," he says. "We deal with the symptoms of too much violence, not the causes of it. We deal with the symptoms of disease, not the causes of it. The basic cause is that people are full of stress. Transcendental Meditation goes to the heart of the problem. It releases stress and makes individuals healthier and more self-reliant, and puts them in a position where they can start to solve their own problems."

"It is fortunate for the field of health today that one technique exists to take care of the very basis of an individual's life -- pure consciousness -- and thereby to restore and maintain perfect health on all levels of mind, body, and surroundings." -- Maharishi

What Are the Trillion Dollars Used for?

The United States has one of the most technologically sophisticated and advanced health care systems in the world. Each year we spend over one trillion dollars on health care -- more than 12% of the entire gross national product (GNP). By the year 2000 that amount could spiral to as much as 18%.

What are the trillion dollars used for? Preventing illness? Securing the health and well-being of every American?

No. As just about everyone knows, that huge sum of money is used mainly for treating disease. And according to many health experts, up to 90% of those diseases could have been prevented.

How? By effectively reducing stress, which is a prime causal factor in a majority of disorders -- from headaches and the common cold to serious illnesses such as heart disease and many forms of cancer.

What Is Stress?

To understand how you can reduce stress and therefore prevent disease, first we should define it. Stress is not a deadline to meet at work, a term paper, or even a traffic tie-up during rush hour. Stress is how we react, physically and mentally, to these experiences.

Some days we're better at it; some days we're not. If we've slept well at night and wake up fresh and rested, we're apt to handle any demand during the day far better than if we run into it, headlong, on a Friday afternoon at the end of a long week.

Stress, then, can be understood to be any structural or material abnormality in the body (tight neck muscles, high blood pressure, tension headaches, etc.) that is caused by overloading the machinery of experience, the senses.

Any overload can cause it. The sudden flash of a bulb from a camera can create stress in the eyes. Too much exertion or excitement can cause stress -- or not enough rest. Any experience, positive or negative, can create stress if the system is unable to handle it.

Is Stress the Spice of Life?

Some say that stress is the spice of life. People who thrive on the continual stimulation of new challenges, new responsibilities, new pressures would hate to live without stress.

It's true that new opportunities and new challenges are essential for a fulfilling life. Eliminating stress from your life does not mean eliminating these challenges. Rather, it means eliminating their negative side-effects -- chronic fatigue, anxiety, headaches, indigestion, insomnia, etc. -- which severely restrict your capacity to be healthy, successful, and enjoy what you do.

How to Manage Stress?

How, then, can you live your life fully and not be victimized by stress?

There are many "stress management techniques" available today that try to minimize stress by training people how to better organize their time, their responsibilities, and their work and home environments.

These techniques often give advice on how to avoid high-pressure situations, recommend mental imagery exercises, and advocate changes in lifestyle to reduce stress. Some suggest de-escalating career goals.

Are these the basics of stress management?

No. They may be helpful in their own right, but they are not the "bottom line" on stress management.

What is the bottom line?

Rest. The very deep rest gained during 20 minutes of Maharishi's Transcendental Meditation allows the body to rejuvenate itself and throw off the accumulated stress and fatigue that has built up over years.

It helps to normalize high blood pressure, reduce high cholesterol levels, improve bronchial asthma, provide relief from insomnia -- even improve reaction time and athletic performance.

Without this rest, you can only hope to "manage" stress and struggle to organize your schedule to cope with growing stress in life, not eliminate it.

Don't Manage Stress, Prevent and Eliminate It

With this rest you don't just manage stress, you prevent new stress from accumulating today and you eliminate stress built up from the past. Research shows that you'll improve your health, increase your energy, and promote the clarity of your mind and the creativity and orderliness of your thinking. Then you'll be better prepared to meet all of the responsibilities in your life without creating more stress and strain and without reducing or shying away from any new commitment or challenge. At the same time you'll grow in the capacity to enjoy life to its fullest.

"I have been using Transcendental Meditation in my practice as a stress-reduction modality for the past 20 years," says Steele Belok, M.D., clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "I have found that it is not only an effective tool to use in anxiety-related disorders, but it also has significant physiological effects. I have seen positive effects on hypertension, cholesterol, asthma, and insomnia. In addition, for patients who are healthy and who are interested in prevention and health promotion, I have found Transcendental Meditation to be highly effective in enhancing their physical and mental well-being. These effects have been corroborated by a growing body of scientific literature showing the effectiveness of Transcendental Meditation in these and other areas."

[ Top of Page | Chapter 3 cont.]