“Oprah’s Next Chapter” (3/25/12) takes Oprah Winfrey and her camera crew to Fairfield, Iowa to meditate as she discovers what about transcendental meditation has this community in its grasp! The preview discussed a little about what will be aired tonight, but much of tonight’s show remains as mysterious as this community and its practices. Here is what we learned during the broadcast~
Fairfield, Iowa claims to be the healthiest city in the United States with a population of just under 10,000. There is no crime and it has become the center of the transcendental meditation movement in America. The show starts out with some testimonies from Hollywood stars who practice TM such as Clint Eastwood who has been a follower for more than forty years as well as Russell Brand who states his discovery of TM has helped him overcome drug addiction and Ellen DeGeneres who tells about its relaxing benefits.
What is transcendental meditation? Those who practice it describe it as NOT a religion or cult but a way of life; an emotional and physical healing process which includes the de-stressing and quieting of the mind. It is silent meditation (or reflection) which is practiced twice a day for twenty minutes in the two golden domes which have been built in Fairfield. It is estimated that more than 6 million people worldwide engage in this form of lifestyle which has been proven to have unexplained health benefits. Dr. Oz is a proponent of TM stating it can reduce the risk of heart disease by 40% as well as assist in weight loss.
Oprah Winfrey meets with the Paul and Carol Winer who moved from Georgia to Iowa and are a part of the transcendental movement in Fairfield. They talk about why they came, which was to take part in a transcendental meditation camp and stayed because it felt “right.” In Fairfield, Iowa is the Maharishi University of Management as well as Maharishi Vedic City which is where more than 800 men from India who are training to be professional meditators whose goal in life is to bring world peace are housed.These pundants practice meditation and chanting eight hours a day and the pilgrimage to Iowa is for 2-3 years. It is believed in this practice that certain sounds nourish nature and transcend distances so the collective peace will engulf the world.
Another unique sight in this small town worlds apart from any other in the United States is the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment which is a private school for the education of children from kindergarten through senior high. There are approximately 200 students from more than 30 countries who attend this school whose focus is on a consciousness type of education. Those who are under the age of ten perform walking meditation twice a day which involves the silent reciting of a word as they walk the halls for five minutes. The older students meditate at the beginning and end of school in the Hall of Bliss where they learn yoga, breathing techniques, and sitting meditation with the girls and boys practicing separately. This is how adults meditate as well with the men in one golden dome while the women meditate at the Bagambhrini Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge. Both domes are only open to advanced meditators.
Oprah Winfrey talks with a few of the students who express what this form of physical and spiritual healing and centering has done for them personally to find out they feel more able to be who they are, focus on life and studies, and be able to more easily interact with others. She talks with a U.S. Navy Seal, Troy Van Beek, who gave up being a sniper and protector to the Afghanistan president for a more calm and fulfilling lifestyle in Fairfield, Iowa. He attended the Maharishi University of Management and received a degree in sustainability where he met Amy who had created an innovative community structure geared toward green living which was built in Fairfield. He states he made the transition because he found the town to be based in understanding spirituality and evolving.
It was maharishi’s belief that through individual meditation one could gain clarity of the world around them and group meditation magnified this enlightenment to allow a world consciousness of understanding. According to those who met with Oprah, transcendental meditation can be learned by anyone but it costs (what doesn’t?) about $1500-2000 for the lifetime program where one progresses from beginner through advanced and on to professional if chosen. There are scholarships and no one has been turned away because of a lack in ability to pay. As Oprah leaves, there is the essence of this lifestyle wished to be expressed~
Nowhere can a man withdraw to a more untroubled quietude than in his own soul. Grant yourself this withdrawal continually and refresh yourself!
Image courtesy of OWN