Author's Note

Introduction

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  (cont)

Healthy Mind / Healthy Body

Reducing the Effects of Traumatic Stress

There are the normal stresses and strains of daily life -- and then there is the devastating impact of traumatic stress. Transcendental Meditation has also been found to be a potent antidote to the effects of extreme stress -- what doctors have termed "post-traumatic stress syndrome." For example, a 3-month study of Vietnam veterans found that veterans who learned Transcendental Meditation improved significantly compared to veterans who were participating in a counseling program. The veterans practicing Transcendental Meditation were found to be less emotionally numb and had reduced alcohol abuse, insomnia, depression, and anxiety. They also showed a decreased severity of "delayed stress syndrome" (Journal of Counseling and Development 64: 212-214, 1985).

Transcendental Meditation also helps those who are recovering from the trauma of a serious illness, and those who have suffered through the stress of other major traumas, such as a serious auto accident.


Martha Gray, 48, is a data architect who develops computing systems for the Boeing Company in Seattle. In March 1992 Martha was diagnosed as having breast cancer. She had surgery -- a lumpectomy -- and afterwards underwent six months of chemotherapy and then radiation treatments. Doctors told Martha that her prognosis was good. But by the end of her treatments, Martha was in a deep depression.

"I went to a breast cancer support group, and I discovered that depression was almost an accepted way of life," Martha recalls. "The majority of the women -- and I mean the majority of the women -- who were in that group were on some sort of anti-depressants. After all that I had been through, I realized that I just did not want to live my life in anxiety and fear."

Martha had been doing a lot of reading and had heard about Transcendental Meditation. She learned the technique at the Transcendental Meditation Center in Seattle on June 19, 1993.

"It has absolutely changed everything for me," Martha says. "My outlook is completely different. I'm positive; I'm happy. Transcendental Meditation releases the stress. That's been the key. Before I would try to laugh off the anxiety, or disregard it, or stuff it back down, or try to ignore it, or try to be brave -- all the things you try to do to manipulate the fear and try to keep going. With Transcendental Meditation the stress is released and it's gone. It's been tremendously freeing.

"When people talk about all the problems that a cancer patient faces, they forget to realize that the family and spouse also go through a tremendous amount of anxiety and anguish and fear. Because my husband, Fred, started Transcendental Meditation also, it's been a wonderful thing for him, too."

Fred Gray, 48, is a final-assembly flight-line inspector for Boeing. He gives each Boeing 747 a final review before the $160 million aircraft is delivered to an airline. Fred says that Transcendental Meditation keeps him relaxed on the job -- "I have a very stressful occupation" -- and happier within himself. He also sees a big change in Martha and in their relationship together.

"Transcendental Meditation has calmed Martha a great deal," Fred says. "She doesn't dwell on the fear of the possible recurrence of her illness. Her health has skyrocketed. Chemotherapy had really disrupted her body. Now she's vivacious and healthy and alert. Since we started meditating, we also have a much better relationship. We look at each other and nod in agreement. We don't have to express so many things verbally anymore; we just understand what's going on."

Martha encourages others facing recovery from a major illness to practice the technique.

"Transcendental Meditation is the key to regaining a sense of well-being and purpose in your life. After having what some people would consider a catastrophic illness, it's a must. It's something that restores a sense of balance and enthusiasm for life. You won't be afraid, and you'll be able to make plans for the future without some dread. I honestly wish I would have discovered this a long time ago, because in my own mind, my life would have been different."

Martha has just had a 2-year check-up and her doctors say that everything is fine.

"It helps so much to be able to sit down twice a day and just quiet ourselves," Martha says. "Transcendental Meditation has created a stress-free, happy way of life for both of us."


"I had so much physical and emotional stress from the accident," says Gail Tomura, an artist living in West Los Angeles. "Transcendental Meditation is the first thing that helped because it gives me such profound rest. It's finally allowing that deep stress to be released. In the 3 months I've been meditating, I've made more progress with all of my treatments than I have in the past 8 years."

Gail was a bright 28-year-old graduate student working towards a masters' degree in fine arts at Claremont College in southern California. On July 18, 1986, she was driving at dusk along a narrow winding road near Fullerton when she was hit head-on by car speeding at 60 miles an hour.

Gail was lucky to be alive. She broke a leg, an arm, and two ribs, fractured her skull, and suffered what her doctors called a "mild-to-moderate" head injury. She began an intensive program of physical therapy and cognitive therapy. She said that she felt like she was walking with a thick fog around her head. She had to relearn to read, concentrate, follow directions, and find things on a map. She had been an avid reader, devouring three to four books a month. Now, if she was lucky, she could read three to four books in a year.

Determined to recover, she made slow but steady progress for 6 years. She wasn't back to 100% yet, but she was getting close, when on June 24, 1992, Gail was in another car accident. It was minor-no broken bones-but it somehow brought back her old symptoms. Her headaches returned and so did her backaches and neckaches. Gail's doctor put her on an intensive program of 4-days-a-week physical therapy and recommended counseling. It didn't help. She tried some alternative therapies. She didn't get any better. She said that she lost hope and began to sink into a depression.

Gail had read something about Transcendental Meditation and decided to give it a try. On December 4, 1993, she learned the technique at the Transcendental Meditation Center in Pacific Palisades.

"The fog is gone," Gail says now. "My mind is clearer than it has been since the accident. I am able to read more, and my comprehension is excellent.

"Before I started meditating I used to have tremendous fatigue doing anything. If I had one day of activity, I had to have a full day of rest in bed. If I cooked a meal or went to the grocery store, I was exhausted. Now, for the first time in 8 years, I don't have a fatigue problem. I have much more energy, and I rarely get tired. I feel healthier -- mentally, emotionally, physically -- than I have since my accident."

Gail's art career is taking off. She does painting and drawing, and for the first time she is finding that she doesn't have to solicit shows; curators are starting to call her, and collectors are buying more of her work.

"Transcendental Meditation has helped me in so many ways. It has given me hope of being able to get beyond anything in my life-beyond chronic pain, beyond my own insecurities, beyond anything."

 

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