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Running head: TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION

Transcendental Meditation: Helping our Veterans with PTSD and our Children with
ADHD/ADD
Rachel Page
Texas A&M University

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A major reason for writing this paper was my desire to bring awareness to all the great
benefits of Transcendental Meditation. I have always known about mediation but I wasnt aware
of how much of a need there was in the Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
and Children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
(ADHD) community until I started researching what I could learn for this paper. The first thing
that I came across was a quote from Bob Roth who, is an Executive Director of the David Lynch
Foundation for Transcendental Meditation, who said, We have very active levels of the mind,
but every human has deep within them a silent level of calm in their mind. So transcendental
meditation is an effortless way of having your active mind settle down. While experiencing that
inner calm, the body gains a very deep state of rest, that rest eliminates stress, you have more
energy, it wakes up the brain, and you guys can do your job. It reduces high blood pressure and
reduced the mortality rate by 50%. After I read and reflected I knew that I wanted to learn
everything I could about Transcendental Meditation and how it is taught to these very different
groups of students.
Soldiers and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
I decided to attend the Veterans with PTSD meditation class first, because I wanted to see
how Transcendental meditation works with Adult PTSD patients. I emailed the instructor to ask
her if I could observe her class and she was more than happy to let me join. She explained that in
order for me to receive the full benefits I would have to attend 3 full classes. She also
encouraged me to do some research on PTSD before I attended the class so that I could
understand some of the terms that she used and connect with the testimonials that were given
after each class. I was surprised to find out that, Over half a million U.S Troops deployed since
2001 suffer from PTSD. Yet less than 20% will receive adequate care due to lack of effective

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treatments, fear of stigma or insufficient government resources. Half of those with PTSD wont
receive any care at all. Left untreated, PTSD cripples functioning and places veterans at great
risk for violent and self-destructive behavior, including:
1.)
2.)
3.)
4.)

Alcoholism or drug abuse


Severe depression, anxiety or emotional numbness
Family and employment problems
Suicide- today, more than 6,500 vets die by suicide every year (Lynch, 2008)

Many of our soldiers have gone off to war and have come back to face a war within their minds.
That war is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSDs effect on our veterans can cause
painful memories or uncontrollable emotions that can occur in the mind so many people try to
stay active. If staying active isnt enough, they could eventually turn to drugs and alcohol.
Meditation helps create new muscle memory; actually rewriting the brain to enable veterans to
absorbs and recover from stress. The brains rewiring is what neoscientist recognize as
newoplasticity, the ability of the brain to change neural pathways. For patients with PTSD, it
means increasing their ability to hold disturbing images and memories without reacting in an
emotionally negative way. As you develop skills at meditation, you gain the art of
acknowledging an emotion when it comes, accepting it but not doing what we usually do,
which is immediately react to it (Wood, 2015.) Meditation rewires the brain so that the person
with PTSD learns to recognize the thought and redirect your thinking pattern to something else.
Meditation has been shown to have significant healing benefits, enabling veterans to find a safe,
quite place within themselves from which they can deeply relax and begin to sort out these
troubling experiences and visions. Increasingly, meditation is seen as a critical complement to
other forms of therapy and as an important alternative or complement to anti-depressant drugs

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that numb, but do not cure patients with PTSD (Wood, 2015). Fortunately these meditation
methods can be taught to anyone, not just patients with PTSD so I was able to sit in on the class.
The Observation
Transcendental Meditation is recommended to be done at least 40 minutes a day. 20 minutes in
the morning and 20 minutes in the evening. So when the soldiers arrived they were told that they
had a few min to socialize, visit one another and grab a mat. Each person can either bring their
yoga mat to the community center or they can borrow one to sit and lay down on during the
activity. After everyone is situated and seated, the teacher then leads them through different
body- sensing techniques. Each meditation session was 30 mins long with a seven step process.
1.) Figure out the best time for you to meditate 2x a day.
Meditating in the morning allows that person to start the day with a clear head. This
practice also calms the mind from any negative thoughts or nightmares that many PTSD
patients suffer. The second time should be whenever you feel peak tension.
2.) Find a time where you can be alone.
PTSD patients should find a place that is quiet and undisturbed. Your mind should be able
to connect to the sacred atmosphere.
3.) Make yourself comfortable
Find a balance between focus while meditating a relaxing.
4.) Choose a Mantra
PSTD patients should choose one or two words that have a positive meaning.
5.) Say your Mantra for 20 min ( or however long your meditation session is.)
Each Mantra needs to be repeated slowly and precisely while pronouncing the words
clearly during the meditation.
6.) Focus on your Mantra.
Focusing on your Mantra means letting go of all of your thoughts and thinking about the
meditation and the words that you are speaking to yourself during the Mantra.
7.) Ease your mind back to the present.
After the PTSD patient has meditated they will slowly bring their awareness back to the
present.

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Transformational Learning
The learning theory that the instructor used was the Transformational Learning Process.
Transcendental Meditation supports Mezirows description of the Transformational Learning
process. When I spoke with the instructor after class, she told me that her first objective has
always been to explain the great benefits to Transcendental Meditation. When I asked her, what
the reasoning behind that was, She said that Meditation isnt widely accepted as something to
help PTSD patients but an ineffective practice and waste of time. Also, like most men, some
were trained early to avoid conversations about religion, sex or politics of any sort. Her goal was
erase any stereotypical notions about meditation and try and change their minds so that the
patient could be more receptive to the class. I immediately recognized this as trying to change
their meaning scheme from Mezirows Theory. She went on to say that if she was able to change
their point of view (meaning scheme) then the class participates would be able to help others
meditate. Mezirows Psychocritical Approach brings awareness to our habit of mind and our
point of views. Mezirows theory concerns how adults make sense of their life experiences.
Mezirow defines leaning as the process of using a prior interpretation to construe a new or a
revised interpretation of the meaning of ones experience in order to guide future action. He
differentiates between types of meaning structures, including frame of reference, habits of mind,
and points of view. Mezirow indicates that a frame of reference is a meaning perspective, the
structure of assumptions and expectations through which we filter sense impressions. It involves
cognitive, affective and conative dimensions It provides the context for making meaning
within which we choose what and how a sensory experience is to be constructed and / or
appropriated (as cited in Wiessner & Mezirow, 2000.)

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Children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
(ADHD) Community
Just as adults can have PTSD and ADD/ ADHD, so can children? My next assignment
was to observe how children with ADHD benefit from Transcendental Meditation. After doing
some research I found a program that helped children understand and deal with their diagnoses
of ADD/ ADHD with Transcendental Meditation. William Stixrud, a professor at the George
Washington University School of Medicine, says, ADHD researchers report a dramatic
reduction in stresss, anxiety, and depression in ADHD students practicing the Transcendental
Meditation technique. I wanted to observe how this program introduced and taught
Transcendental Meditation practices to children and their parents. The program director told me
that they worked with the curriculum from the David Lynch Foundation and that explained to me
the child and parents should leave the program and be able to:
1.
2.
3.
4.

-Achieve better attention skills


-Achieve emotional control
-Improve memory retention
Achieve organizational Skills

5. Reduce stress and anxiety


6. Achieve behavior regulation
Each child had to be recommended by a teacher, tutor or someone that was in charge of their
education. Also each child had to be evaluated so that they could customize the classes to fit the
childs needs. The program was an extensive 15 day cycle with two 60 min sessions planned
each day. Every session comprised of 20 min of Transcendental Meditation and 40 min of
sensory experience and activities. The Transcendental Meditation was first because the child

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needed to clear their mind of any thoughts or stressors that was happening around them and
concentrate on the sensory portion after.
Sensory Learning
The sensory portion concentrated on:
1.)
2.)
3.)
4.)
5.)

Cognitive Development,
Language Development
Social Development
Emotional Development
Physical Development

Sensory Learning, she (Amann) maintains, is inherently sematic because by definition, it is how
we access information through our senses; we then relate that information to our experiences and
extrapolate meanings significant to our lives.(Baumgartner p.195). Through cognitive
development, the child was asked to work through problem solving task and activities.
Cognitive training that is focused either on specific skills (e.g. working memory, attention, or on
broader and mixed skills, has been investigated in both typically developing children and in
children with special needs (e.g. attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning
disabilities (Murphy 2015.) During Language development exercises, the child has a sensory
experience by talking about exciting or interesting experience. The social and emotional
development ties into helping the child realize that they are in control of their actions. The
teacher plays with the child and offers different viewpoints so that the child understands the
others may have different opinions. Physical Development in Sensory Learning Development
ensures that the child is able to give their bodies instructions to accomplishing task such as
running. Lastly, Sensory Learning in creative development aspect uses creative thinking skills to
open the childs curiosity and build self-esteem.

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Meditation
After 40 minutes of Sensory Learning task, it was time to reflect on those activities
through meditation. The Transcendental Meditation Portion used five types of Meditation
Techniques:
1.)
2.)
3.)
4.)
5.)

Mindful Meditation
Reflective Meditation
Creative Mediation
Concentration Meditation
Heart Centered Meditation

The program is only is only15 days so each guided meditation was taught three times. The
Concentration Meditation technique was the starting point and the focus of the first class; and the
goal was to teach the children how to recognize a distracting situation and keep mental focus on
the task at hand. Mindful Meditation emphasizes accepting the situation that you are in.
Reflective Meditation is like Process Reflection in our book. Learning in Adulthood describes
this as Thinking about ways to deal with the experience that is problem solving strategies
(Baumgartner Pg. 145) Reflective Meditation helps the student to reflect on that topic and if
there is a distraction, their mind returns to that topic. Creative Meditation and Heart Centered
Meditation draw on the qualities of our minds such as gratitude compassion and humility.
Creative Meditation called for each student to come to their particular session with an open
mind. (The effects of Focused Attention meditation (FA) and Open Monitoring meditation
(OM) on divergent and convergent creative thinking. During FA meditation, participants had to
focus attention to particular parts of the body while during Open Monitoring meditation; they
had to open the mind to any occurring thought or sensation, accepting the latter with a
nonjudgmental attitude.(Capurso & Fabbro, 2014) Creative Meditation also draws on one of

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Transformative Leaning Key Concepts: Experience. Experience is integral to learning. One of
the assumptions of andragogy is that adults bring with them a depth and breadth of experience
that can be used as a resource for their and others learning (as cited in Knowles, 1980). These
experiences come in different dimensions. For example a direct embodied experience is an
immediate encounter in the here and now, planned and unplanned, involving us physically,
emotionally, sensually, mentally and perhaps spiritually (as cited in Fenwick, 2003). Other
dimensions of experience include vicarious experiences, collaborative experiences and
introspective experiences such as meditation. One of the reasons why the children have to have
15 consecutive days of Transcendental Meditation and Sensory Learning is so that the children
can commit store the practice to their Long Term Memory. The teacher explained that if they
repeatedly taught the practice of meditation, they could consciously recall it through their lives
and repeat it during moments of reflection. The storage capacity of working memories is
estimated to be from five to 30 seconds. Long-term Memory however has an enormous capacity
for storage and part of the memory structure that retains information for long periods of time (pg.
394). The goal is to relate the stored information of the knowledge of Transcendental Meditation
to different learning experiences for the rest of their lives. While it is clear that the more we can
relate new information to already stored information, the better we will remember it, it may also
be that storage of new information sometimes affects previously learned information (Pg. 398)
At the end of the 15 day period, the child visibly improves concentration and maintains focus
without being distracted. Also the child gained long term memory retrieval which was measured
each day throughout the sensory learning exercise.
Reflection

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The Transcendental Meditation class for children with Learning Disorders class taught
me a lot memory and connecting past learning experiences to new experiences. The program had
many strengths such as finding things in common between students and teachers and paring them
up during the sensory lessons. As they did those relationships became stronger and students were
able to perform better in class. Educators have struggled to find ways to close the gap of
commonalities between teachers and students. Strong relationships between teachers and
students make a difference.
The weaknesses that I saw with the Veteran PSTD program was the focus on the
Meditation in the class room but not so much the focus on life outside of the class. This class
also should focus on how to handle different situations that may stress out these two groups of
patients. In the Self in Self- Development, Michael Newman says even though a group may
come together with the same background or cause, the individual long term learning This is
the pattern for a lot of adult education. The group exists only for the length of the program that
has brought the group together. But in activist education there can be a difference. The group that
gathers together is made up of people with a common background, or from the same
neighborhood, or with the same interests or political aims, or who share the same disadvantage
or oppression. They are already a group, or from the same larger category, before the program
meets, and they continue as a group after the program is over. The concern of the participants and
the educator is with the collective learning and with how the group as a unit makes use of the
learning in the collective action it takes (Newman, 2008). Overall the classes were very
interesting and I can successfully say that I have mastered the Art of Transcendental Meditation.

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Reference Page
https://www.davidlynchfoundation.org/military.html
-Newman, M. (2008). The "Self" in Self-Development: A Rationalist Meditates. Adult
Education Quarterly: A Journal Of Research And Theory, 58(4), 284-298
-Murphy, C. B., Moore, D. R., & Schochat, E. (2015). Generalization of Auditory
Sensory and Cognitive Learning in Typically Developing Children. Plos ONE, 10(8),
1-17. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0135422
- Capurso, V., Fabbro, F., & Crescentini, C. (2014). Mindful creativity: The influence
of mindfulness meditation on creative thinking. Frontiers In
Psychology,4doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2013.01020