"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
- Thomas Edison
"The last meta-analysis, published in the May/June 1998 issue of the prestigious American Journal of Health Promotion is particularly exciting because its scope is huge--an overview of a total of 597 studies involving an estimated 20,000 subjects and comparing the effects of more than thirty methods of relaxation. This study destroys the myth according to which all forms of meditation or relaxation yield similar results."
Developing Consciousness is not a Luxury
We have finished reading the document entitled Health Renewal (a discussion paper) prepared by the Premier's Health Quality Council. Considering all the factors needed to establish a new structure for proper healthcare management, an image comes to mind. We see an immense tree with complex ramifications. This tree is far from being healthy. It does not bear the fruits we expected. It has become a costly burden.
What to do with this tree? Should we cut it, burn it and start from scratch? Unthinkable! 750,000 people depend upon its existence. What would a wise gardener do? How would he take care of the trunk, the hundreds of branches, the thousands of leaves and of all the fruits that are starting to take shape? Surely, trying to solve the problem at the level of the diverse elements is mind boggling. The gardener knows he must act from the level that is common to all parts of the tree, i.e. the sap. He can enrich the sap by watering the roots. The solution is simple and economical. The enriched sap will impartially nourish all aspects of the tree and it will flourish.
The Element Common to All People: Consciousness
Let's use this analogy and consider our object of interest. What is the element common to all people working in our healthcare system and to all those who are using it? What is common to all people whatever their age, profession, culture, and environment. We are all conscious but at different degrees. When we make choices, are we fully alert, satisfied and relaxed or are we tired, stressed out and frustrated? When we come to work in the morning, what percentage of our potential are we using? Are we in top shape or are we carrying the burden of days, months and years past? The quality of our actions depends upon the quality of our thoughts which in turn depends upon our level of consciousness.
Is it possible to develop our potential so as to become more self-sufficient or are we condemned to limited resources? Are we bound to make the same mistakes over and over and to be the football of circumstances? From our experience, we--the authors of this text--can answer that it is possible to systematically develop our potential and use it to make better decisions, to be healthier and improve our social behaviour and environment. The knowledge and technology that allow such development are not new. They come from the most ancient tradition of knowledge on
Earth, the Vedic tradition of India. Unfortunately, this knowledge had been misunderstood, misused and shrouded in a veil of mysticism for hundreds of years.
A Timely Revival of the Technology of Consciousness
For the last 50 years, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has revived the knowledge and technology of consciousness. The technique he teaches, Transcendental Meditation (TM), yields surprising results that have prompted numerous scientists to examine it from all angles. In fact, since the first scientific study done in 1968 by Dr. R. K. Wallace, more than 600 other studies have been conducted in 210 universities and research centres of 30 countries. So far 120 studies have been published in the best peer-reviewed scientific journals. Several meta-analysis which are the most rigorous quantitative means to reviews a body of research have found the TM studies to be highly consistent.
The last meta-analysis, published in the May/June 1998 issue of the prestigious American Journal of Health Promotion is particularly exciting because its scope is huge--an overview of a total of 597 studies involving an estimated 20,000 subjects and comparing the effects of more than thirty methods of relaxation. This study destroys the myth according to which all forms of meditation or relaxation yield similar results. It shows the Transcendental Meditation technique to be far superior to all other forms of meditation and relaxation in the areas of anxiety reduction, blood pressure reduction, physiological relaxation, self-actualization, improved psychological outcomes, and decreased use of cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs. TM provides a very deep state of rest that allows the body to regain balance more quickly and the mind to function with greater clarity, alertness and coherence.
For the first time in history, the objective means of modern science and the subjective methods of the Vedic tradition are shaking hands. Both fields of science are now agreeing about the nature of the most fundamental level of existence and on the fact that it is at this level that problems are most easily solved. Trying to solve them at a more superficial level is not only difficult, it is also costly. Let us remember that a wise gardener does not waste his time on each branch or leaf.
To become more efficient in our endeavours, we have invented technologies that allow us to do less and accomplish more. In spite of these inventions, we do not seem to be more happy. Why? We neglect to come back to our real home by experiencing the most settled and most unified level of our awareness. We are lost in the chaos and noise of the world of diversity. The objects have become predominant. We are assaulted by a flood of data and stimuli that are more and more difficult to process.
A Unique State of Restful Alertness: Self-Referral Consciousness
Maharishi's TM technique is the technology of consciousness par excellence. It allows the conscious mind to effortlessly experience the source of thought --transcendental consciousness: the origin of all creative processes. This process is similar to the flow of a river that naturally moves towards the ocean until it merges with it. TM is practised twice a day, 15-20 minutes morning and evening. During the practice, the conscious mind settles down and experiences a unique state of restful alertness. As the body becomes deeply relaxed, the mind transcends all mental activity and experiences the simplest form of awareness--self-referral consciousness. The repeated experience of this state unfolds the full creative potential of the individual. The deep rest gained during the practice simultaneously dissolves accumulated stresses.
Experiencing restful alertness daily enlivens the qualities of creativity, dynamism, order, organizing power, efficiency and self-sufficiency. We become more aware of our personal needs and spontaneously find more easily the resources that allow us to reach our goals without damaging society and environment. Being more alert we avoid situations and behaviours that cause imbalances in daily life. Experiencing daily the common source of all aspects of life, it's easy to communicate with others. Spontaneously we act more in accord with Natural Law that administers the whole cosmic life.
It is easy to learn the TM technique. People of all intellectual levels, ages, cultures, religions are practising it on all continents. Is it necessary that all people practice TM in order to stop the waste of our resources? No, a small percentage of the population will suffice. However, it is urgent that the population be better informed about the validity and efficiency of this most useful tool of prevention. Those who are interested in taking better care of their health and avoiding the danger before it arises will be able to take advantage of it and the work of those reorganizing our healthcare system will be greatly simplified.
Sharing Information and Implementing Real Prevention
Our government must examine these studies and share the information with New Brunswickers even when their conclusions appear too good to be true. Let's not forget that many inventors have seen their discoveries misunderstood and laughed at before the public realized how realistic and reliable they were. New Brunswick can play the role of a pioneer by making the development of consciousness a priority and favouring preventive measures.
Other governments are already showing the way. In England, learning TM is covered by Medicare when prescribed by a medical doctor. In the last ten years, the National Institutes of Health of USA have granted $10.5 million to Dr. Robert Schneider and his team of scientists to support their research on preventive measures, including the TM technique. Dr. Schneider's studies have been published in the journal Hypertension of the American Heart Foundation. They have shown the problems of high blood pressure affecting 45 millions of North Americans could be greatly reduced by the regular practice of the TM technique. These encouraging results have also been published in the American Journal of Cardiology, Psychosomatic Medicine, Ethnicity and Disease, and the American Journal of Managed Care. Dr. Schneider's studies have shown TM to be very efficient in reducing stress hormones and cardiac problems. As a result, healthcare utilization drops and longevity increases.
The Government of New Brunswick has been informed about these results. In early December of 2000 Premier Bernard Lord and Dr. Denis Furlong, Minister of Health and Wellness, were invited to attend a presentation that would be given by Robert Herron, PhD, (Director of the Research Department at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, USA) and Dr. Raju Hagela (President of the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine). These two experts were willing to come and explain how proven preventive techniques--easy to implement and cost effective--could significantly improve the health of New Brunswickers while saving millions of dollars to the taxpayers. Dr. Herron is the principal investigator and author of a recent study made with the data of the Quebec RAMQ that appeared in the May/June 2000 issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion. This study showed a 13.78% annual decrease in healthcare costs each year for six years for individuals practicing the Transcendental Meditation program compared to matched controls.
The Premier's Health and Quality Council has also been informed about these outstanding results. Considering that we are proposing a scientifically validated program that can reduce significantly the operational cost of the health department of NB while improving the quality of life everywhere it is highly questionable that the Council has not shown any interest in our offer. Is it so overwhelmed by problems and complaints that its members don't have time to hear about proven time-tested solutions?
Money Does Not Solve Problems; Knowledge Does
At all levels of our healthcare system, stress continues to wreak havoc. Its effects grow at an alarming rate. Money will not solve the problem. Proper knowledge will bring lasting relief because it has organizing and nourishing power. Investment in education and information about scientifically tested preventive measures that have withstood the test of time is more than urgent. We have used the word investment because the returns will be beyond all expectations.
Let's not forget that the government reflects the quality of collective consciousness. For such investment to happen now, all responsible people need to put prejudices, biases, and party politics aside and participate in this endeavour rather than wait for a crisis or a catastrophe to happen. Who will rise to the occasion, take the time to become well informed about the benefits of the TM program and by all means encourage the government to invest in this highly effective program of prevention? We invite wise investors with a long-term vision, dynamic youth who want solid foundations for their life, and all men and women who want to develop their full potential to join in this collective endeavour. Health is not achieved in isolation. Health is much more than the mere absence of disease. Health is wholeness.
Miville Couture & Laurent Maltais
Teachers of the Transcendental Meditation program
Saint John (635-3347) and Moncton (855-2300)