TM, Stress and Addiction
June 30, 2014

 

400px-Fireworks_on_Canada_DAYOn the 4th of July I watched the fireworks from the Oakland hills, where I enjoyed a panoramic view of the entire San Francisco Bay area. From that broadened perspective, the chaos of civilization looked like a perfectly coordinated organism, the ever-flowing traffic the veins and arteries, the pulsing Golden Gate bridge display as the heart, the firework displays of at least nine different townships firing off like neurons in what appeared to be a beautifully coordinated synchrony.

Sometimes I wish that researchers and doctors—who focus so intently on a particular fragment of the human body, on one broken or painful area—could draw back and see our minds, bodies and emotions from a wider perspective, as a perfectly functioning organism with every part working in perfect harmony with the other.

It seems that the cost of the modern, fragmented approach to medicine, which rarely views the individual as whole person, is becoming unsustainable, both monetarily and in terms of human suffering. Take a recent feature aired on Good Morning America by Aditi Roy, which revealed that there is a sharp rise in deaths in women who have overdosed on pain medicine. The stats are alarming:

  • More women die from prescription pill overdose than cervical cancer.
  • A new report from the Centers for Disease Control says that a woman is admitted to the ER for a prescription pill overdose every three minutes.
  • The number of deaths from prescription pain-pill overdose has jumped 400% between 1999 and 2010.

Why the dramatic rise in death in women from overdosing on prescription drugs, especially painkillers? First of all, doctors say that women are more likely to suffer from painful conditions such as fibromyalgia and migraines, often treated with prescription pain pills. And from there women are more likely than men to overdose due to lower body mass. So some women are taking the medications for their prescribed purpose, to relieve pain, with fatal consequences. Clearly we have a healthcare crisis when a patient with a headache takes the prescribed medicine and ends up dying.

More worrisome, CDC experts report that there doesn’t seem to be a significant rise in conditions that might require severe prescription painkillers. “Rather, the pills are increasingly used to treat moderate pain that might well be eased by other means, like physical therapy,” the New York Times recently reported. In other words, a pain problem that could be cured through therapeutic massage and exercise is being treated with pills that can kill.

The CDC recommends that doctors educate their patients on the risks of painkillers. Surely, this is a good idea. Yet words about the dangers of addiction are not going to cure the underlying stress that makes a woman become addicted to painkillers in the first place.

And clearly, for many women who are overdosing due to addiction or other problems, rising stress levels are a major component. Stress and addiction go hand in hand. Case in point: in the NY Times article “Sharp Rise in Women’s Death from Prescription Drug Overdose of Painkillers, reporter Sabrina Tavernise says that Appalacian women who were addicted to painkillers “blamed the changing nature of American society. The rise of the single-parent household has thrust immense responsibility on women, who are not only mothers, but also, in many cases, primary breadwinners. Some who described feeling overwhelmed by their responsibilities said they craved the numbness that drugs bring. Others said highs made them feel pretty, strong and productive, a welcome respite from the chaos of their lives.”

In other words, the painkillers were not only removing the pain, but providing emotional support for women who are under tremendous stress. But at what price? Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says that women are more likely than men to be given prescriptions of psychotherapeutic drugs, like antidepressants and antianxiety medications—and thus many of the overdose deaths are due to taking a combination of these drugs and pain medication.

It seems to me that doctors and researchers need to step back a moment and look at the whole woman, to see what will ease her stress and pain in a holistic and natural way. What a woman under stress needs is a way to relieve anxiety, depression, pain and addiction all at the same time—without the harmful side effects.

That sounds like a tall order—impossible, really. Yet by stepping back and seeing the whole woman, you can see that if we had a way to dissolve stress, to go deep within and experience our true nature, which is unbounded, infinite and whole, then every aspect of our lives would improve. A little like taking care of a plant—if you water the root, every part of the plant will blossom.

The Transcendental Meditation technique allows us to do exactly that—to transcend and experience our true nature which is unbounded, infinitely happy and powerful; to release stress and heal our minds, bodies and emotions.

The research backs this up—showing that women who practice the Transcendental Meditation technique experience significantly less addiction, pain, anxiety and depression. Let’s look first at addiction: Norman Rosenthal, M.D., an NIH senior researcher and clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School who has a private practice in Washington, D.C., has prescribed the Transcendental Meditation technique to his patients who suffer from anxiety, stress, depression and addiction. In his book Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation, he writes about the research on TM and addiction, “Transcendental Meditation showed a large effect in treating both cigarette smoking and addiction to street drugs, with other treatments examined coming in a distant second.”

Dr. Pamela Peeke, M.D., Ph.D., also an NIH researcher and author of The Hunger Fix, read Dr. Rosenthal’s research on TM and addiction and decided to start TM herself. From there, she was so impressed with the results that she decided to study how TM made it possible for people to overcome addiction by enhancing the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that helps us to say “no.”

“I found that TM practice had a profound influence on the ability to maintain vigilance and calm,” she says. “It also helped people do the one thing that is so difficult in addiction—to adapt to life’s stresses without resorting to self-destruction. TM helps them stay on track by augmenting the pre-frontal cortex.”

The research on Transcendental Meditation as a means to relieve anxiety, depression and the fight-or-flight stress response is equally strong.

And it’s important not to forget that the practice of Transcendental Meditation has been shown to directly relieve pain itself. According to Dr. Christopher Clark, M.D., co-author of Contemporary Ayurveda, “Research shows that regular practice of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique reduces back pain, headache and chronic pain. The TM technique also resets the body’s perception of pain and anticipation of pain. Research also shows that the Transcendental Meditation technique will reduce pain-related stress, insomnia and even depression. These chronic symptoms are often associated with low back or chronic back pain, which afflicts up to 40% of the population at some point in their lives.”

For thousands of women today, the practice of TM is like an oasis in the desert. It gives us that important re-charge time, when we can dive within and get in touch with our deepest, most authentic selves, and at the same time draw back from the hectic daily rush and experience the exquisite beauty and harmony of mind, body and spirit. We not only deserve this time for ourselves, but we need it to stay healthy and strong in a changing world.

Linda Egenes is a health writer and author of six books, including Super Healthy Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Maharishi Ayurveda, co-authored with Kumuda Reddy, M.D.

(I originally wrote this post for Transcendental Meditation for Women Blog, September 1 2013. Reprinted with permission. Photo © Leafsan67, used with permission from Wikicommons.)

 

Categories: Uncategorized

BY LINDA EGENES

IMG_0077I had never heard of the word “childism” before reading Claudia M. Gold’s review of the book Childism: Confronting Prejudice Against Children by the late author Elisabeth Young-Bruehl.

Young-Breuhl, an analyst, political theorist and biographer, calls attention to the way human rights of children are threatened in America today. Childism is defined as “a prejudice against children on the ground of a belief that they are property and can (or even should) be controlled, enslaved, or removed to serve adult needs.”

These are strong words, hard to apply to the parents I know. Yet when she cites the growing epidemic of ADHD and now bipolar disorder among our nation’s children, and the way that children are routinely medicated into acquiescent behavior, Young-Breuhl can’t help but wonder if children are being properly represented in our society.

She also wonders why children and families are not given more support in our society. The scarcity of social services for kids (and the fact that pediatricians, pediatric child-care workers and school teachers are among the lowest paid professionals in America) are contributing factors to childism.

Not to mention that in other developed countries, there are much lower rates of child abuse and neglect, a phenomenon that Young-Bruehl attributes to the widely available social services available to help troubled children and troubled families. In many other developed countries, she writes, “children have a range of preventative and development-oriented services: universal health care, health services, and parent support services in homes after the birth of a child; maternal and parental leaves for infant care; developmental preschool programs; after-school programs; and economic supports of various kinds.”

While I had never thought of America as being prejudiced against children (on the contrary, I thought of us as being a child-centered society), no one can dispute that parents in this country are pretty much on their own when it comes to raising their kids, even when both parents work outside the home, and even when single mothers earn the living and care for their children at the same time.

As Dr. Gold points out, childism in America is a societal problem, not a failing of most parents. “Most individual parents, given the opportunity to be heard and supported, are not childist,” writes Dr. Gold. “They long to help their children, not merely control them.” Yet when behavioral problems arise, parents are left with few choices.

The problem can be summed up in one sentence of Young-Breuhl’s, that “children whose development is not being supported cannot be protected.” As the great social reformer and statesman Frederick Douglass observed, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

There are, of course, a wide range of causes of health problems in children, such as poor diet, genetics and toxic stress. Toxic stress is defined by Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child as “severe, uncontrollable, chronic adversity.” Experiencing toxic stress while in the womb or during early childhood can be a major cause of mental and physical illness later in life—and even is thought to disrupt the architecture of the brain. As research on the developing child continues to grow, organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (APA) are pushing for a fundamental change in America’s early childhood policies and services to help prevent the effects of toxic stress on children.

Until that happens, families can take a big step in preventing both everyday stress and toxic stress by learning stress-reduction methods such as the Transcendental Meditation technique. Children are sensitive to a mother’s stress and reportedly have higher stress themselves when the mother is overworked, anxious or depressed. So moms who practice the TM technique twice a day can help reduce stress in themselves and their children.

The Transcendental Meditation technique is easy to learn and effortless to practice, and parents find it’s a powerfully effective stress buster. Research reveals that TM practice produces a state of profound relaxation, much deeper than ordinary rest and accompanied by increased alertness and orderly brain function. Regular practice results in decreased anxiety and depression, reduced insomnia and hypertension.

And for your average kid who may not be suffering from toxic stress, TM is a gentle way to lessen the everyday stress caused by peer pressure, academic competition and family stress. When children meditate, their grades improve without more effort. It makes sense—when your mind is more calm, you can learn without struggle.

TM is also a proven way to reduce ADHD without harmful side effects. Recent studies found that students with ADHD who practice the Transcendental Meditation technique showed significant reduction of ADHD symptoms within three to six months. And girls with ADHD need help just as much as boys. Girls often go undiagnosed and untreated because ADHD symptoms in girls manifest more as a quieter inability to focus rather than the more obvious disruptive behavior typically found in boys with ADHD.

Cognitive learning expert Sarina Grosswald, EdD, has led pioneering research on ADHD and meditation. Dr. Grosswald explains that Transcendental Meditation works very differently from how the drugs work. “Meditation is not a quick fix. But, over time, TM allows the brain to create the neural connections that correct the underlying problem. The drug is an immediate fix because it’s an amphetamine, but when it wears off, the problem remains—the lack of brain integration.”

The TM technique is a cost-effective approach that can be a lifelong tool for managing ADHD and it’s many challenges while improving IQ, academic achievement, and better relationships between children and their peers, family members and teachers. Best of all, unlike medication, the TM technique has no negative side effects.

Other learning disabilities can also be helped through TM, such as dyslexia. Having struggled with severe dyslexia since childhood, Dana Farley, now a college graduate, says, “I had a lot of insecurities when it came to school. Since starting TM in high school, I’m not putting myself down all the time. The negative thoughts just don’t appear. Instead of thinking, ‘I can’t do this’ I’m thinking ‘Why not?’”

Learning the Transcendental Meditation technique is a way to empower children of all ages from within—and that is the opposite of childism.

Watch video

Linda Egenes writes about green and healthy living and is the author of six books, including Super Healthy Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Maharishi Ayurveda, co-authored with Kumuda Reddy, M.D.

(I originally wrote this post for Transcendental Meditation for Women Blog, May 5, 2014. Reprinted with permission.)

Photo by Linda Egenes

 

BY LINDA EGENES

dreamstimefree_259955You know the feeling—you dread going to bed because you aren’t going to fall asleep anyway. If stress is keeping you awake at night, you aren’t alone. Millions of Americans have fallen into a vicious cycle, with stress during the day causing them to be too tense or worried to sleep well at night. And then the lack of sleep, in turn, creates more stress on the job and at home.

Since the pace of life is not likely to slow down (let’s face it, all those time-saving electronic devices have just made everything more busy), it’s time to learn how to manage the stress during the day—and sleep better at night with these ayurvedic sleep remedies.

Create a Routine to Reduce Stress

For any sleep difficulty, Maharishi Ayurveda recommends that you go to bed well before 10:00 at night. That’s because after 10:00, a more active, Pitta-quality sleep sets in. If you fall asleep before then, you’ll imbibe more slow, restful, Kapha qualities. Your sleep will tend to be deeper, and you’ll find it easier to fall asleep. Almost anyone can experience deep, restful, Stage 4 sleep by doing just this one thing—going to bed before 10:00 at night.

Being more physically active during the day can also help you sleep better at night. Sleep researchers, for instance, have documented that a brief period of moderate exercise three to four hours before bed, such as taking a brisk walk after dinner, can help deepen sleep. Other studies link physical fitness with improved sleep quality.

To relax your neck and shoulders as well as your back and abdomen, doing simple, light yoga postures before bed can release tension and help you drift into sleep.

Calm Your Mind

Practicing the Transcendental Meditation® technique has been shown to be the most effective way to reduce stress and improve mental and physical health, according to over 600 research studies at the most prestigious universities and research institutes throughout the world. It helps you to focus, to be more creative, and to accomplish more during the day—so you can rest without worry at night.

Make Your Bedroom an Oasis of Calm

Create a timeless bedroom and keep time pressures away from your sleeping place. If you have to use an alarm clock, put it in a place where you can’t see it. Preserve your bedroom as a comfortable, relaxing haven, a place for warm, intimate and relaxing relationships. Keep heated discussions, intense brainstorming, television watching, computer work, and monthly budgets out of your bedroom.

Especially avoid violent, suspenseful TV shows before bed. Instead, surround yourself with influences that cultivate your peace of mind while you fall asleep. Before bed, take pleasant breaths: using Slumber Time Aroma therapy or lavender will allow the relaxing scents to go directly to your olfactory lobe. This will help to induce sleep, sometimes within minutes.

Listening to soothing music, saying bedtime prayers, and practicing positive affirmations can help you move in the direction of being more and more peaceful.

If you’re going to be thinking of something, recall your fondest memories, particularly of childhood, where you had soothing, blissful, wonderful sleep, or when you had an amazingly restful vacation. Invite those thoughts instead of ones that cause you worry and stress.

Create Balance with Herbal Supplements

study at the University of California at San Diego by Dr. Paul Mills showed that the Worry Free herbal supplement is effective in reducing day-to-day worries and also reduces cortisol levels (a hormone associated with stress).

Blissful Sleep, which is designed to help you fall asleep naturally, has a three-fold action. Some of the herbs, such as Indian Valerian, help a person to relax into sleep. Other herbs, such as Ashwagandha, restore the body’s own inner intelligence to improve the quality of sleep. A third group of herbs helps to deal with any difficulties resulting from prolonged sleep deficiency, such as issues related to the immune system and weakened coordination between heart and mind.

Due to the synergistic combination of a variety of herbs, there are no side-effects. There is no groggy feeling (as created by modern drugs and by some single-ingredient natural remedies), but instead people report a fresh feeling of enthusiasm, increased ability to concentrate, reduced stress, and better managing ability.

Do You Know Your Sleep I.Q.?

Even if the quality of your sleep seems good, you might not be getting enough sleep at night. In assessing your sleep health, you also need to look at how you feel during the day. For example:

  • Do you experience such things as dullness, poor muscle tone, or a lack of spontaneity?
  • Do you have a tendency to be bored or feel unhappy?
  • Or, on the other hand, do you have tension, fear and excess worry?
  • Do you suffer from decreased cooperativeness, loss of acceptance of constructive criticism, irritability, temper outbursts, lowered attention span, impaired recent memory, decreased sex drive, physical complaints such as headache or backache, or decreased interest in personal care?
  • Are you addicted to coffee, cigarettes, and stimulants, or even alcohol or drugs?
  • Are you noticing a reduction in general health and joy in living?

If you answered “yes” to a majority of these questions, it might be a cue that your stress levels are too high and you’re not sleeping enough, or deeply enough, for your health.

(I originally wrote this blog for the Maharishi Ayurveda Blog [MAPI], July 3, 2012. Reprinted with permission. Photo © reprinted with permission from Dreamstime.com

Categories: ayurveda, healthy living

BY LINDA EGENES

Dilled Beans—a light cooling side dishEating local foods in season is all the buzz these days, the smart way to support the environment and the local economy. Yet according to ayurveda, the traditional health care system of ancient India, eating seasonal foods is also the best way to prevent disease.

Food is Medicine

As every Iowan knows, each season brings a dramatic change in temperature and humidity. In ayurveda there are only three seasons: the cold and dry fall/ winter (Vata season), the cool and wet spring (Kapha season), and the hot summer (Pitta season).

“As any particular season wears on, imbalances start building in your body, and if these imbalances are not addressed, they can get more rooted in the physiology and become a chronic condition,” says Dr. Sankari Wegman, an ayurvedic expert at The Raj Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center, a world-class spa  in Maharishi Vedic City that serves organic, locally-grown vegetables, fruits and herbs from the city’s farm and greenhouses for its clients’s meals, and to the public for Sunday brunch.

According to ayurveda, by the end of summer, your body becomes, well, hotter. It’s more susceptible to heat rash, skin breakouts, and fatigue. And because the mind, body and emotions are connected, the mounting heat can be expressed as irritability and anger. More serious health problems resulting from too much heat in the body include ulcers, eczema and heartburn.

The ayurvedic solution is simple: use your food as medicine.

“If during summer you eat foods that are the opposite of hot, such as cooling, light foods, you can reduce the heat in your body,” says Dr. Wegman. “You’ll feel cooler, and at the same time prevent serious health problems from developing.”

Six Tastes of Ayurvedic Cooking

Ayurvedic cooking is based on six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent and pungent.

  • Sweet: milk, butter, ghee (clarified butter), rice, wheat, and small amounts of raw sugar.
  • Sour: yogurt, lemon, aged cheeses and pickled foods using vinegar.
  • Salty: anything with salt.
  • Pungent: chilies, ginger, cumin, cayenne, black pepper, spicy foods
  • Bitter: leafy greens, basil, lettuce, nettle, bitter melon (available in Asian markets), Japanese eggplant, turmeric, fenugreek seeds, barley, jicama and aloe vera.
  • Astringent: lentils and other pulses, beans, tofu, quinoa, sprouts, apple, pear and pomegranate.

“In ayurvedic cooking, we include all six tastes in every meal,” says Dr. Wegman. “The problem with our modern diet is that it mostly contains only three tastes: sweet, salty and sour. Think of your average junk-food meal, and you’ll find those tastes in abundance. But because the body also craves bitter, astringent and pungent tastes, when you don’t get them in your diet, your health suffers.”

A Summer Palette of Tastes

While every ayurvedic meal includes the six tastes, the idea is to use them in different proportions depending on your individual body type and season.

In the hot summer season, for example, the ayurvedic cook includes more sweet, bitter and astringent tastes, as these are more cooling.

And just as important as the foods you include are the foods that you minimize during a particular season,” says Dr. Wegman. “In summer, you want to reduce heat by reducing the pungent, salty and sour tastes.”

Dr. Wegman also recommends seasoning your foods with mild spices and herbs during summer. “Many people find that their digestion is slower when the weather is hot, so it’s wise to eat lighter,” she says. “You can give your digestion a boost with cooling spices, such as cardamom, coriander, fennel, dill, turmeric, mint, basil, and cilantro.

Fortunately, the cooling ayurvedic foods—basil, cucumbers, summer squashes and broccoli—are the exact foods you’ll find in your own garden and farmer’s market during summer. So buy fresh, buy local, and buy what’s in season—and you’ve taken the first step to a healthy ayurvedic diet.

Ayurvedic Summer Foods Available Home-grown in Iowa:

  • Milk products: Organic milk, butter and ghee (clarified butter)
  • Fruits. Organic grapes, cherries, sweet berries, melons, plums.
  • Vegetables: Organic asparagus, cucumbers, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, fennel,  celery, okra, green beans and summer squashes like zucchini.
  • Herbs: Cilantro, mint, basil, dill.

Recipes

Dilled Green Beans
(from The Raj Recipe Book, available at The Raj Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center)

(serves 12–that’s kind of big, but I guess this is ideal for a summer party. I could cut it down if you need to)

  • 3 lbs. green beans
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 3 T ghee (clarified butter)
  • a pinch of aesofetida (hing) to taste
  • 1 T dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

Bring water to boil and add beans. Cover and reduce heat. Cook 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Drain beans and plunge into cold water, strain again and set aside.

Heat ghee in a wok or frying pan, add aesofetida and cook 30 seconds. Add beans and stir occasionally until thoroughly heated. Add the dill, salt and pepper. Toss well and serve.


Fennel Soup with Watercress Purée
(from The Raj Recipe Book, available at The Raj Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center)

Ingredients: (4-6 persons)

  • 1 Tbl. butter
  • 1 large leek, white part only, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 large fennel bulbs, quartered and sliced
  • 2 Tbl. chopped fennel green
  • 1 medium-sized red potato, sliced or chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 6 1/2 cups cold water.

Fennel bulb served with leeks makes a sweet-tasting soup, while the watercress adds a lively flourish. Fennel is so flavorful that ther’s no need to make a stock. In fact, using water for the liquid allows the full taste of the vegetables to come forward completely unmasked.

Serve this soup with just a swirl of watercress purée or enrich with with a spoonful of ghee (clarified butter). A handful of little croutons, sauteed in butter, always adds a nice cruncy touch to puréed soups.

Wash and slice all the vegetables first. If the inner core of the fennel is tough and stringy, remove it with a paring knife, but usually even a well-developed core will be tender.

Plum Chutney
(from The Raj Recipe Book, available at The Raj Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center)

The following recipe is good for pacifying Pitta dosha and makes 1 1/2 cups.

  • 1 1/2 c. red or purple plums
  • 1/2 Tbl. peeled, fresh ginger root, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. each cloves, mace, cinnamon, coriander and turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. fennel
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. grape juice
  • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • grated peel of one orange

Dry roast the ginger root, spices and fennel seeds. Add plums, salt, juice, sugar and grated orange peel.

Raise the heat slightly, and stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook the chutney about 1/2 hour.

In ayurveda there are only three seasons: the cold and dry fall/ winter (Vata season), the cool and wet spring (Kapha season), and summer (Pitta season), which can be scorching hot.

For more information on ayurvedic cooking, visit http://www.theraj.com/ or www.mapi.com.

(I originally wrote this article for Radish Magazine, July 2008. Reprinted with permission.)

Keeping Kids Healthy
June 20, 2014

IMG_0020When you look at health statistics for children, there is a heartbreaking trend toward more disease during the past two decades. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control tell us that 9.5% of children currently suffer from asthma, 8.4% have been diagnosed with ADHD, and a shocking 18% are not just overweight, but clinically obese.

In a Huffington Post piece, “The Last Well Child,” pediatrician Lawrence Rosen, M.D., remarks that he recently saw a healthy child in his office, which was such an unusual event that it got him thinking. He wonders if our health care system isn’t actually a disease-treatment system in disguise—and with so much emphasis on labeling, classifying and treating disease, we are doing our children (and ourselves) a great disservice.

Dr. Rosen whimsically wonders if he shouldn’t start each appointment with the question, “Tell me what is right with your child today.” He wonders if researchers aren’t creating a disease mindset by establishing ever-stricter parameters for disease diagnosis (for example, children with a cholesterol score above 170 are diagnosed with and treated for hypercholesterolemia; that same disease used to start with a score above 170). When insurance companies pay doctors more for cases involving disease treatment than it does for health prevention, doctors are forced to code every complaint as a disease, which then leads to treating children for conditions that wouldn’t have been treated in the past.

Personally I agree—there is something wrong with a society in which disease is considered the norm rather than the exception. Yet we not only have to think more in terms of wellness, we have to give parents and children scientifically proven tools to improve wellness—tools for keeping kids healthy. There is greater awareness today about diet and exercise, for instance, but we all know that talk is not it enough—it takes a certain consciousness for parents and teachers to create an environment in which healthy choices are easy for the child. And at some point in every child’s growth, it takes a heightened awareness of their own to make healthy choices when outside the safe environment of the home.

That’s why practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique is a marvelous way to improve well-being for children and adults alike. Children and adults who practice TM lower their stress rates and improve their ability to think clearly—and thus find themselves spontaneously making healthier choices. When kids are able to dissolve stress instead of store it in their minds and bodies, they find it easier to realize their stomach is full and stop eating before the third cookie. When, as a parent, you take time to meditate and recharge after work, it could be a lot easier to spend time exercising together as a family after dinner instead of flopping in front of the TV in exhaustion.

And there are other side benefits of practicing the TM technique. Research shows that it helps kids raise their grades, stay focused, overcome ADHD, say “no” to substance abuse, and lower blood pressure. In fact, it helps bring balance to many areas of life—mind, body, behavior and even the environment. Which makes me think we need a new definition of wellness—not only the absence of disease, not only “a patient who has not been completely worked up” by his doctor (as Dr. Rosen defined it), but a person who is happy, successful, free of stress and disease, and thriving. It doesn’t seem too much to expect for ourselves or our children.

(I originally wrote this post for the Transcendental Meditation for Women Blog, August 1 2013. Reprinted with permission.)

Categories: Uncategorized

IMG_0411Soaking up the sun’s rays used to be considered a safe summer pastime. My friends would slather suntan oil over their bodies and relax in the sun for hours. Somehow I never got the hang of it, though—I felt hot and irritated, and no matter how hard I tried to get a tan, I’d usually last only five minutes before running under the nearest tree to cool off. Other times, I’d get caught with a sunburn.

Now we know that too much sun damages your skin. Excessive sun exposure can result in those unsightly brown spots, burns, sensitive skin, and even skin cancer. The ultraviolet rays of the sun, which are stronger due to a thinning ozone layer in recent decades, generate free radicals that accelerate wrinkling, drying and aging of the skin as well.

How Pitta Dosha Affects Your Skin in Summer

From the ayurvedic perspective, your body is made of five different elements. Fire, called tejas, has the qualities of transformation, burning, reflecting, shining, and sharpness. The fire element is found in the mind-body operator Pitta dosha, which governs the metabolic functions of the body and is characterized by heat and sharpness.

In particular, the fire element is found in the subdosha Bhrajaka Pitta, which governs the enzymatic changes of the skin. People with Pitta dosha predominant in their body type—i.e. those with a warm complexion or fair hair—are especially susceptible to sun exposure (which is why I could never spend hours in the sun like my dark-haired, olive-toned friends).

Normally, there is a natural balance in the skin—the skin has natural means to moisturize and cool itself. If Bhrajaka Pitta gets overheated, though, the ultraviolet rays from the sun penetrate the skin, causing the overheated skin to destroy its own moisturizing functions. When this happens, such highly photosensitive people get sunburned even with a few minutes’ exposure to the sun. If this happens on a daily basis, it can cause early aging, because there isn’t enough moisture to prevent wrinkles and age spots from forming.

No matter what your skin type, the summer season’s extra heat and sun can increase Pitta dosha and affect your skin. Here are five Ayurvedic skin care tips to keep your skin cool and moist all summer long.

1. Eat Cooling Foods. To prevent summer skin damage, you’ll want to avoid foods or behaviors that increase Pitta dosha. Eating red chili peppers, vinegar, or sour foods will heat your body. Consuming leftovers, alcohol, genetically modified foods, or foods with lots of preservatives will also aggravate Pitta dosha. Avoid pungent, sour, or salty foods and favor the sweet, astringent and bitter tastes. This will have a cooling effect on your body and mind. Flavoring your foods with Organic Pitta Churna will have a balancing effect in summer.

2. Chill with cooling aromas. Diffusing Pitta Aroma oil or Blissful Heart Aroma oil as you sleep, taking  Blissful Joy tablets after lunch and dinner, and adding a teaspoon of Organic Rose Petal Preserve to water or milk (see recipes, this issue) can all help in keeping your skin cool in summer.

3. Moisturize from the inside. Drink plenty of pure water and Organic Pitta Tea, and eat more squashes, cantaloupe, and watermelon. Stay away from strong, chemical-laden, artificial skin creams, lotions, soaps, or shampoos, as these directly aggravate Bhrajaka Pitta and increase your sensitivity to sun damage.

5. Cool your emotions to protect your skin. Heated emotions can also heat the skin. This is because different subdoshas of Pitta govern the emotions and the skin, so they are closely linked. Watching violent movies, living with people who are angry, or feeling too much anger yourself can heat the emotions, and through them, your skin. You can see the connection between heated emotions and heated skin, because when people get angry, their faces turn red.

6. Protect your eyes. There is also a connection between the eyes and the skin, because both are governed by Pitta dosha. Wear sunglasses and a sun hat to protect your skin and eyes. When the eyes get overheated, that heats the emotions, and the heat reflects back to the skin. In the evening, splash your eyes with cool water. Apply a little Organic Rose Water to a cotton pad, and then lie down with your eyes closed and the pad over your eyes for five minutes. Do this daily for a refreshing effect on your eyes, and consequently a cooling effect on your emotions and skin. You’ll feel the emotional stress subsiding.

7. Prevent heat build-up with cooling coconut oil massage. In summer, you can massage your skin with coconut oil, which is a traditional youth-promoting face cream. Or try Soothing Herbal Massage Oil,as it has sesame oil as its base and contains cooling herbs. Using the Rose Herbal Cleansing Bar or Sandalwood Herbal Cleansing Bar in the bath or shower also cools and soothes the skin.

8. Use cooling skin care products. If your face and hands get mildly sunburned, try applying the juice from an aloe vera plant to your skin, as it’s considered the best natural means for dealing with sunburn. The Youthful Skin Clay, Youthful Skin Cleansing Bar, and Youthful Skin Cream will help cool and rejuvenate your skin, as they all contain Pitta-pacifying agents. Youthful Skin Cream is a botanical collagen-supporting face cream and also helpful for sun-damaged skin, because it pacifies Pitta dosha in the blood and the skin, and also supports the moisturizing function, so that heat cannot burn and dry out the skin. It is not a sunscreen, but it protects the skin from the inside. The Youthful Skin Clay squeezes out heat and balances Bhrajaka Pitta, cooling and nurturing sunburned skin.

9. And of course, wear sunscreen. By cooling your skin inside and out, you can enjoy the summer sun without damage.

(I originally wrote this blog for the Maharishi Ayurveda Blog [MAPI], June 25,2012. Reprinted with permission.) 

Photo credit: Linda Egenes

BY LINDA EGENES

IMG_2668Non-cystic acne is the scourge of teenagers and usually disappears once they are past those difficult years, but for some it continues on and off all their life. From the ayurvedic perspective minor acne can involve all three doshas (mind/body principles), but Pitta dosha and rakta dhatu (blood) are the main culprits. To learn how to get rid of acne, you need to first identify the dosha most involved. Pitta acne, the most common, is all about redness and excess heat, while Vata involves more dryness and Kapha more oiliness.

Here are three Ayurvedic detox programs to choose from based on your predominant dosha: Pitta, Vata-Pitta or Kapha-Pitta. Each program includes a detox, diet & herbal recommendations, facial mask recipe and a tea recipe.

Start with a 15-Day Deep Detox Program –

Pitta Acne Program – most common

• Taking 2 tablets of Herbal Cleanse before going to bed each night will cleanse the bowel. • Taking 2 tablets of Elim-Tox-O morning and evening will cleanse the liver, blood, sweat glands and the elimination system. • Taking 2 tablets of Genitrac morning and evening will purify the urinary tract and assist the removal of toxins.

Once you finish the 15-day detox, now is the time to start taking 2 Radiant Skin tablets AM and PM on an empty stomach with warm water. If the skin still has some irritation or redness after finishing the detox, you may add an extra 2 tablets of Radiant Skin at bedtime. Also continue 2 tablets of Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus) at bedtime. Radiant Skin is an herbal formula that purifies and strengthens the liver, cleanses the blood tissue of toxins, reduces excessive heat and oiliness, and enhances digestion. Its beneficial effects can have a dramatic effect in fighting acne, redness and other skin sensitivities, leaving your skin radiant and blemish-free. Sandalwood helps balances Pitta in the skin (sensitivity) and helps keep the skin clear. Neem is a traditional detoxifier, which helps cleanse the body of toxins. Acne can often be aggravated by emotional stress. If that is the case, it would help to add Stress Free Emotions to the daily regimen. To help pacify Pitta emotions, try aroma oils containing rose oil or sandalwood oil such as Blissful Heart or Cooling Pitta aroma.

Pitta Diet Restrictions:

It’s best to avoid food that aggravates Pitta, such as hot spicy foods or fermented foods like yeast, vinegar, pickles, soy sauce, yogurt, tomato sauce and alcohol. Other foods to avoid include tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, eggplant and seafood. Also try to avoid mixing incompatible foods such as milk with sour fruits or melons; equal amounts of honey and ghee; and milk or yogurt with any sour foods. Favor sweet juicy fruits, green leafy veggies, and squashes. Have ½ cup of aloe vera juice after meals with ½ tsp. of Turmeric powder added.

Face mask Mix: 1 tsp. of colloidal oatmeal powder, 1 tsp. of ground red lentil powder, 1 tsp. of Youthful Skin Herbalized Clay, ½ tsp. of marshmallow root powder, ¼ tsp. Turmeric, a pinch of rose petal powder with some Organic Rose Water and whole milk until you have a smooth paste.

Apply to skin; leave for 5 minutes; wash with cool water. Apply Youthful Skin toner after washing. Spray skin during the day with Organic Rose Water. Lightly dab a little Youthful Skin Cream to moisturize.

Tea Boil 3 cups of water with 1 tsp. of fennel seeds, 1 tsp. of Indian sarsaparilla, ½ tsp. coriander seeds, ½ tsp. of cumin seeds and a pinch of manjistha.

Let sit 5 to 10 minutes, then strain into a thermos and sip all day.

Vata-Pitta Acne Program

To get rid of acne that is both Vata and Pitta, you will have the redness but more dryness. Follow the Vata diet with Pitta restrictions. It’s best to have less cold food and drinks, or dry and rough food.

15-Day Deep Detox Program –

• Taking 2 tablets of Herbal Cleanse before going to bed each night will cleanse the bowel. • Taking 2 tablets of Elim-Tox-O morning and evening will cleanse the liver, blood, sweat glands and the elimination system. • Taking 2 tablets of Genitrac morning and evening will purify the urinary tract and assist the removal of toxins.

Once you finish the 15-day detox, now is the time to start taking 2 Radiant Skin tablets AM and PM on an empty stomach with warm water. If the skin still has some irritation or redness after finishing the detox, you may add an extra 2 tablets of Radiant Skin at bedtime. Also continue 2 tablets of Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus) at bedtime. Radiant Skin is an herbal formula that purifies and strengthens the liver, cleanses the blood tissue of toxins, reduces excessive heat and oiliness, and enhances digestion. Its beneficial effects can have a dramatic effect in fighting acne, redness and other skin sensitivities, leaving your skin radiant and blemish-free. Sandalwood helps balances Pitta in the skin (sensitivity) and helps keep the skin clear. Neem is a traditional detoxifier, which helps cleanse the body of toxins.

Acne can often be aggravated by emotional stress. If that is the case, it would help to add Stress Free Emotions to the daily regimen. To help pacify Pitta emotions, try aroma oils containing rose oil or sandalwood oil such as Blissful Heart or Cooling Pitta aroma.

Pitta Diet Restrictions: It’s best to avoid food that aggravates Pitta, such as hot spicy foods or fermented foods like yeast, vinegar, pickles, soy sauce, yogurt, tomato sauce and alcohol. Other foods to avoid include tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, eggplant and seafood. Also try to avoid mixing incompatible foods such as milk with sour fruits or melons; equal amounts of honey and ghee; and milk or yogurt with any sour foods. Favor sweet juicy fruits, green leafy veggies, and squashes.

Face mask Mix: 1 1/2 tsp. of colloidal oatmeal powder, 1 tsp. of ground red lentil powder, 1 tsp. of Youthful Skin Herbalized Clay, ½ tsp. of marshmallow root powder, ¼ tsp. turmeric, a pinch of rose petal powder with some Organic Rose Water and whole milk until you have a smooth paste.

Apply to skin; leave for 5 minutes; wash with cool water. Apply Youthful Skin toner after washing. Spray skin during the day with Organic Rose Water.

Tea Boil 3 cups of water with: 1 tsp. of fennel seeds, 1 tsp. of Indian sarsaparilla, ½ tsp. coriander seeds, ½ tsp. of cumin seeds and a pinch of manjistha.

Let sit 5 to 10 minutes, then strain into a thermos and sip all day.

Kapha-Pitta Acne Program

For Kapha-Pitta acne, you will have the redness but with more oiliness. Follow a Kapha dietwith Pitta restrictions.

hhhh15-Day Deep Detox Program – • Taking 2 tablets of Herbal Cleanse before going to bed each night will cleanse the bowel. • Taking 2 tablets of Elim-Tox morning and evening will cleanse the liver, blood, sweat glands and the elimination system. • Taking 2 tablets of Genitrac morning and evening will purify the urinary tract and assist the removal of toxins.

Once you finish the 15-day detox, now is the time to start taking 2 Radiant Skin tablets AM and PM on an empty stomach with warm water. If the skin still has some irritation or redness after finishing the detox, you may add an extra 2 tablets of Radiant Skin at bedtime. Also include 2 tablets of Organic Digest Tone (Triphala Plus) at bedtime.Radiant Skin is an herbal formula that purifies and strengthens the liver, cleanses the blood tissue of toxins, reduces excessive heat and oiliness, and enhances digestion. Its beneficial effects can have a dramatic effect in fighting acne, redness and other skin sensitivities, leaving your skin radiant and blemish-free. Sandalwood helps balances Pitta in the skin (sensitivity) and helps keep the skin clear. Neem is a traditional detoxifier, which helps cleanse the body of toxins.

Acne can often be aggravated by emotional stress. If that is the case, it would help to add Stress Free Emotions to the daily regimen. To help pacify Pitta emotions, try aroma oils containing rose oil or sandalwood oil such as Blissful Heart or Cooling Pitta aroma.

Pitta Diet Restrictions: It’s best to avoid food that aggravates Pitta, such as hot spicy foods or fermented foods like yeast, vinegar, pickles, soy sauce, yogurt, tomato sauce and alcohol. Other foods to avoid include tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers, eggplant and seafood. Also try to avoid mixing incompatible foods such as milk with sour fruits or melons; equal amounts of honey and ghee; and milk or yogurt with any sour foods.

Face mask Mix 1 tsp. of colloidal oatmeal powder, 1 tsp. of ground red lentil powder, 1 ½ tsp. of Youthful Skin Herbalized Clay, ½ tsp. of marshmallow root powder, ¼ tsp. Turmeric, a pinch of rose petal powder with some Organic Rose Water and whole milk until you have a smooth paste.

Apply to skin; leave for 5 minutes; wash with cool water. Apply Youthful Skin toner after washing. TIP: Adding a few drops of lemon juice to the toner will help with extra oiliness. Spray skin during the day with Organic Rose Water. It’s best to avoid the moisturizer if you have really oily skin.

Tea Boil 3 cups of water with 1 tsp. of fennel seeds, 1 tsp. of Indian sarsaparilla, ½ tsp. coriander seeds, 1 tsp. of cumin seeds and a pinch of manjistha. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes, then strain into a thermos and sip all day.

(I originally wrote this blog for the Maharishi Ayurveda Blog [MAPI], May 17, 2012. Reprinted with permission.) 

460px-Baby_teeth_in_human_infantIt’s so easy to love a baby. The super-soft skin, the miniature fingers and toes, and the smell—pure heaven. Just being around a baby makes all of us—men or women—feel more gentle, more protective, more tender.

Yet it seems that girl babies, in particular, have a greater effect on their dads—they make them feel more generous, to the point of donating more to charity and paying their employees more. And this is backed up by research. In a fascinating new study, researchers found that the mere presence of female family members, even infants, was correlated with more giving. Male chief executives tended to raise wages for employees after the birth of a daughter, while the birth of a son caused executives to reduce wages for their workers (likely to claim more resources for his growing family).

As just one example of how the birth of a daughter can inspire greater generosity, twenty years ago Bill Gates was planning to wait a quarter century to start giving away his wealth, but a year later, after his marriage to Melinda and the birth of his daughter, he started the foundation that has made him one of the most generous philanthropists in history. He also credits his mother for influencing him to give.

And apparently girls also affect their brothers in a similar way. In his NY Times article “Why Men Need Women,” Adam Grant, a professor at Wharton School who has written extensively about giving more to increase profits in business, writes, “Social scientists believe that the empathetic, nurturing behaviors of sisters rub off on their brothers.” He cites studies that reveal that boys with more female siblings are spontaneously more generous. (This made sense to me, as my husband, who has a twin sister and thus spent nine months in close proximity to her, is an especially generous and compassionate human being.)

This spontaneous effect on men’s impulse to give more is also a reason for women to assume more leadership positions in society, says Grant. Just by being in the boardroom, for example, women can tilt the thinking to more compassion, to more inclusiveness, to freer sharing of information, to better treatment of employees.

And because women are also known to bring diverse perspectives, collaborative styles, dedication to mentoring and a keen understanding of female employees and customers, this can result in greater profits.  “We already know from considerable research that companies are better off when they have more women in top management roles, especially when it comes to innovation,” writes Grant. He cites recent studies showing that between 1992 and 2006, companies that added women to their top management teams generated an average of 1 percent more economic value, which on average meant more than $40 million. But Grant goes on to wonder aloud whether some of these benefits come simply because the presence of women makes their male peers want to be better human beings.

I loved this idea, that women have a softening effect on men without even having to do anything extra. Just by being ourselves, we can change the world for the better.

I am reminded of this reality every day as I take time for my twice-daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique. As I close my eyes and allow my awareness to settle, I transcend the concerns of my daily life and sink into pure Being, the unified wholeness that is my own essence and the essence of every woman and man and creature and plant on earth. When I come out, I feel more peaceful, more harmonious, more happy. And that has an effect on everyone around me. Ask any mom or any school teacher—it’s the days when you feel tired and crabby that the children start fighting. When you’re relaxed, the kids respond to that calming influence and are calmer too.

As Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation technique wrote in Science of Being and Art of Living more than 50 years ago, “Thought waves are much more powerful than the waves of speech and action. Through every thought, word, and action we are creating some wave in the atmosphere, but thought waves are especially penetrating. If we are joyful, happy, and full of kindness and love for the whole world, we receive love from every quarter.”

Based on my personal experience, and the research on the TM Technique, I feel that if women nourish themselves by dipping into the transcendent on a regular basis, they are better able to nourish their families, friends, employees, colleagues and communities—not by doing more, but by Being. What a wonderful thought—just by being our true selves, we can have a profound and lasting positive effect on those around us.

Linda Egenes is a health writer and author of six books, including Super Healthy Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Maharishi Ayurveda, co-authored with Kumuda Reddy, M.D.

(I originally wrote this post for the Transcendental Meditation for Women Blog, September 1 2013. Reprinted with permission.)

Here I am writing at  the Oakdale Farms Writer's Retreat Photo by Cheryl Fusco Johnson.

Here I am writing at the Oakdale Farms Writer’s Retreat Photo by Cheryl Fusco Johnson.

It turns out I have a job that puts me at risk for depression. Writers, artists and other creatives are on a list of the top ten jobs linked to depression posted on Health.com in 2012. Understandably, caregivers, health-care workers and teachers are in the top ten, but writers? The article cites irregular paychecks, uncertain hours, and isolation as stressful elements of the job.  Creative people may also have higher rates of mood disorders, with 9 percent reporting an episode of major depression in the previous year.

From another perspective, just being a woman puts me at risk for depression. Nearly twice as many women suffer from depression than men, research shows, most likely because the female brain is wired in a way that makes women more susceptible to stress. Women are affected by lower levels of stress than men, produce more stress hormones than men and recover from stress less quickly.

Depression can take different forms for women than for men. For instance, depression in the winter months, called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD, hits more women than men, as does depression caused by hypothyroidism. Women are also more likely to suffer from “atypical” depression. This means that the normal signs of depression are eating less, sleeping less and losing weight, but in many women, the opposite happens: women who are depressed may sleep more, eat more and gain weight.

Reading this makes me grateful that I started the TM technique early in life, at age 19. Because the TM technique lowers stress, it helps protect the brain from many psychological diseases, including depression. In fact, research shows that the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique reduces the risk of depression by almost 50 percent over the period of a year. That is significant for women of any age.

Radio host Howard Stern tells the story of his mother’s struggle with severe depression on the David Letterman show. “I was 18 years old. I was in college. My mother was severely depressed—her sister had died and she took it very, very hard. I was worried about her. I get a call one day from this happy, elated woman and I wonder, ‘Who is this?’ and it’s my mother. She tells me she was watching the Johnny Carson Show and she saw Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and she went on and learned Transcendental Meditation. My mother sounded transformed. She said to me, ‘Come on, I want to take you down to the TM Center.’ I did it. And it’s the easiest thing I ever did. I have been doing it since I was 18. I love to do it after the show. I find it very relaxing.”

Like Howard Stern’s mother, many women today find themselves overwhelmed with depression at some point in their lives (79% of antidepressant prescriptions are written for women, and 1 out of 3 women who visit a doctor leave with a prescription for an antidepressant).

If you know someone who is exhibiting signs of depression (see the signs below), encourage him or her to get help from a medical doctor immediately. This is especially important if someone has been depressed for a long period of time, because suicide is a very real risk of chronic depression.

Typical Signs of Depression (from WebMD):

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

There are many causes and types of depression, and while the Transcendental Meditation technique cannot cure all of them, it can be an effective adjunct to medical care, because it is a natural and enjoyable way to prevent and relieve depression without the negative side effects.

According to Dr. Nancy Leibler, author of Healing Depression the Mind-Body Way, “Severely depressed people often believe they will never feel better. Because the TM technique gives us a feeling of fulfillment and calmness, it also gives hope.””

Linda Egenes is a health writer, blogger and author of six books, including Super Healthy Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Maharishi Ayurveda, co-authored with Kumuda Reddy, M.D.

(I originally wrote this post for Transcendental Meditation for Women Blog, July 1 2013. Reprinted with permission.)

Here’s the compete video and transcript of Jim Carrey’s fantastic graduation speech at Maharishi University of Management, May 24, 2014. The Golden Dome at MUM was packed and the crowd cheered throughout the talk.

May 26, 2014 at 4:54pm

 

Jim Carrey at #MUM Graduation

Jim Carrey at #MUM Graduation
Photo by Linda Egenes

Thank you Bevan, thank you all!

I brought one of my paintings to show you today. Hope you guys are gonna be able see it okay. It’s not one of my bigger pieces. You might wanna move down front — to get a good look at it. (kidding)

Faculty, Parents, Friends, Dignitaries… Graduating Class of 2014, and all the dead baseball players coming out of the corn to be with us today. (laughter) After the harvest there’s no place to hide — the fields are empty — there is no cover there! (laughter)

I am here to plant a seed that will inspire you to move forward in life with enthusiastic hearts and a clear sense of wholeness. The question is, will that seed have a chance to take root, or will I be sued by Monsanto and forced to use their seed, which may not be totally “Ayurvedic.” (laughter)

Excuse me if I seem a little low energy tonight — today — whatever this is. I slept with my head to the North last night. (laughter) Oh man! Oh man! You know how that is, right kids? Woke up right in the middle of Pitta and couldn’t get back to sleep till Vata rolled around, but I didn’t freak out. I used that time to eat a large meal and connect with someone special on Tinder. (laughter)

Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you. How do I know this? I don’t, but I’m making sound, and that’s the important thing. That’s what I’m here to do. Sometimes, I think that’s one of the only things that are important. Just letting each other know we’re here, reminding each other that we are part of a larger self. I used to think Jim Carrey is all that I was…

Just a flickering light

A dancing shadow

The great nothing masquerading as something you can name

Dwelling in forts and castles made of witches – wishes! Sorry, a Freudian slip there

Seeking shelter in caves and foxholes, dug out hastily

An archer searching for his target in the mirror

Wounded only by my own arrows

Begging to be enslaved

Pleading for my chains

Blinded by longing and tripping over paradise – can I get an “Amen”?! (applause)

You didn’t think I could be serious did ya’? I don’t think you understand who you’re dealing with! I have no limits! I cannot be contained because I’m the container. You can’t contain the container, man! You can’t contain the container! (laughter)

I used to believe that who I was ended at the edge of my skin, that I had been given this little vehicle called a body from which to experience creation, and though I couldn’t have asked for a sportier model, (laughter) it was after all a loaner and would have to be returned. Then, I learned that everything outside the vehicle was a part of me, too, and now I drive a convertible. Top down wind in my hair! (laughter)

I am elated and truly, truly, truly excited to be present and fully connected to you at this important moment in your journey. I hope you’re ready to open the roof and take it all in?! (audience doesn’t react) Okay, four more years then! (laughter)

I want to thank the Trustees, Administrators and Faculty of MUM for creating an institution worthy of Maharishi’s ideals of education. A place that teaches the knowledge and experience necessary to be productive in life, as well as enabling the students, through Transcendental Meditation and ancient Vedic knowledge to slack off twice a day for an hour and a half!! (laughter) — don’t think you’re fooling me!!! — (applause) but, I guess it has some benefits. It does allow you to separate who you truly are and what’s real, from the stories that run through your head.

You have given them the ability to walk behind the mind’s elaborate set decoration, and to see that there is a huge difference between a dog that is going to eat you in your mind and an actual dog that’s going to eat you. (laughter) That may sound like no big deal, but many never learn that distinction and spend a great deal of their lives living in fight or flight response.

I’d like to acknowledge all you wonderful parents — way to go for the fantastic job you’ve done — for your tireless dedication, your love, your support, and most of all, for the attention you’ve paid to your children. I have a saying, “Beware the unloved,” because they will eventually hurt themselves… or me! (laughter)

But when I look at this group here today, I feel really safe! I do! I’m just going to say it — my room is not locked! My room is not locked! (laughter) No doubt some of you will turn out to be crooks! But white-collar stuff — Wall St. ya’ know, that type of thing — crimes committed by people with self-esteem! Stuff a parent can still be proud of in a weird way. (laughter)

And to the graduating class of 2017 — minus 3! You didn’t let me finish! (laughter) — Congratulations! (applause) Yes, give yourselves a round of applause, please. You are the vanguard of knowledge and consciousness; a new wave in a vast ocean of possibilities. On the other side of that door, there is a world starving for new leadership, new ideas.

I’ve been out there for 30 years! She’s a wild cat! (laughter) Oh, she’ll rub up against your leg and purr until you pick her up and start pettin’ her, and out of nowhere she’ll swat you in the face. Sure it’s rough sometimes but that’s OK, ‘cause they’ve got soft serve ice cream with sprinkles! (laughter) I guess that’s what I’m really here to say; sometimes it’s okay to eat your feelings! (laughter)

#JimCarrey at #MUMgraduation

Jim Carrey at MUM Graduation

Fear is going to be a player in your life, but you get to decide how much. You can spend your whole life imagining ghosts, worrying about your pathway to the future, but all there will ever be is what’s happening here, and the decisions we make in this moment, which are based in either love or fear.

So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it. I’m saying, I’m the proof that you can ask the universe for it — please! (applause) And if it doesn’t happen for you right away, it’s only because the universe is so busy fulfilling my order. It’s party size! (laughter)

My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant, and when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job and our family had to do whatever we could to survive.

I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love. (applause)

That’s not the only thing he taught me though: I watched the effect my father’s love and humor had on the world around me, and I thought, “That’s something to do, that’s something worth my time.”

It wasn’t long before I started acting up. People would come over to my house and they would be greeted by a 7 yr old throwing himself down a large flight of stairs. (laughter) They would say, “What happened?” And I would say, “I don’t know — let’s check the replay.” And I would go back to the top of the stairs and come back down in slow motion. (Jim reenacts coming down the stairs in slow-mo) It was a very strange household. (laughter)

My father used to brag that I wasn’t a ham — I was the whole pig. And he treated my talent as if it was his second chance. When I was about 28, after a decade as a professional comedian, I realized one night in LA that the purpose of my life had always been to free people from concern, like my dad. When I realized this, I dubbed my new devotion, “The Church of Freedom From Concern” — “The Church of FFC”— and I dedicated myself to that ministry.

What’s yours? How will you serve the world? What do they need that your talent can provide? That’s all you have to figure out. As someone who has done what you are about to go do, I can tell you from experience, the effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is. (applause)

Everything you gain in life will rot and fall apart, and all that will be left of you is what was in your heart. My choosing to free people from concern got me to the top of a mountain. Look where I am — look what I get to do! Everywhere I go – and I’m going to get emotional because when I tap into this, it really is extraordinary to me — I did something that makes people present their best selves to me wherever I go. (applause) I am at the top of the mountain and the only one I hadn’t freed was myself and that’s when my search for identity deepened.

I wondered who I’d be without my fame. Who would I be if I said things that people didn’t want to hear, or if I defied their expectations of me? What if I showed up to the party without my Mardi Gras mask and I refused to flash my breasts for a handful of beads? (laughter) I’ll give you a moment to wipe that image out of your mind. (laughter)

But you guys are way ahead of the game. You already know who you are and that peace, that peace that we’re after, lies somewhere beyond personality, beyond the perception of others, beyond invention and disguise, even beyond effort itself. You can join the game, fight the wars, play with form all you want, but to find real peace, you have to let the armor fall. Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world. Don’t let anything stand in the way of the light that shines through this form. Risk being seen in all of your glory. (A sheet drops and reveals Jim’s painting. Applause.)

#JimCarrey at #MUMgraduation

Jim Carrey reveals his two-story masterpiece in all its glory

(Re: the painting) It’s not big enough! (kidding) This painting is big for a reason. This painting is called “High Visibility.” (laughter) It’s about picking up the light and daring to be seen. Here’s the tricky part. Everyone is attracted to the light. The party host up in the corner (refers to painting) who thinks unconsciousness is bliss and is always offering a drink from the bottles that empty you; Misery, below her, who despises the light — can’t stand when you’re doing well — and wishes you nothing but the worst; The Queen of Diamonds who needs a King to build her house of cards; And the Hollow One, who clings to your leg and begs, “Please don’t leave me behind for I have abandoned myself.”

Even those who are closest to you and most in love with you; the people you love most in the world can find clarity confronting at times. This painting took me thousands of hours to complete and — (applause) thank you — yes, thousands of hours that I’ll never get back, I’ll never get them back (kidding) — I worked on this for so long, for weeks and weeks, like a mad man alone on a scaffolding — and when I was finished one of my friends said, “This would be a cool black light painting.” (laughter)

#Jim Carrey's masterpiece at #MUMgraduation

Jim Carrey’s masterpiece in black light

So I started over. (All the lights go off in the Dome and the painting is showered with black light.) Whooooo! Welcome to Burning Man! (applause) Some pretty crazy characters right? Better up there than in here. (points to head) Painting is one of the ways I free myself from concern, a way to stop the world through total mental, spiritual and physical involvement.

But even with that, comes a feeling of divine dissatisfaction. Because ultimately, we’re not the avatars we create. We’re not the pictures on the film stock. We are the light that shines through it. All else is just smoke and mirrors. Distracting, but not truly compelling.

I’ve often said that I wished people could realize all their dreams of wealth and fame so they could see that it’s not where you’ll find your sense of completion. Like many of you, I was concerned about going out in the world and doing something bigger than myself, until someone smarter than myself made me realize that there is nothing bigger than myself! (laughter)

My soul is not contained within the limits of my body. My body is contained within the limitlessness of my soul — one unified field of nothing dancing for no particular reason, except maybe to comfort and entertain itself. (applause) As that shift happens in you, you won’t be feeling the world you’ll be felt by it — you will be embraced by it. Now, I’m always at the beginning. I have a reset button called presence and I ride that button constantly.

Once that button is functional in your life, there’s no story the mind could create that will be as compelling. The imagination is always manufacturing scenarios — both good and bad — and the ego tries to keep you trapped in the multiplex of the mind. Our eyes are not only viewers, but also projectors that are running a second story over the picture we see in front of us all the time. Fear is writing that script and the working title is, ‘I’ll never be enough.’

You look at a person like me and say, (kidding) “How could we ever hope to reach those kinds of heights, Jim? How can I make a painting that’s too big for any reasonable home? How do you fly so high without a special breathing apparatus?” (laughter)

This is the voice of your ego. If you listen to it, there will always be someone who seems to be doing better than you. No matter what you gain, ego will not let you rest. It will tell you that you cannot stop until you’ve left an indelible mark on the earth, until you’ve achieved immortality. How tricky is the ego that it would tempt us with the promise of something we already possess.

So I just want you to relax—that’s my job—relax and dream up a good life! (applause) I had a substitute teacher from Ireland in the second grade that told my class during Morning Prayer that when she wants something, anything at all, she prays for it, and promises something in return and she always gets it. I’m sitting at the back of the classroom, thinking that my family can’t afford a bike, so I went home and I prayed for one, and promised I would recite the rosary every night in exchange. Broke it—broke that promise. (laughter)

Two weeks later, I got home from school to find a brand new mustang bike with a banana seat and easy rider handlebars — from fool to cool! My family informed me that I had won the bike in a raffle that a friend of mine had entered my name in, without my knowledge. That type of thing has been happening ever since, and as far as I can tell, it’s just about letting the universe know what you want and working toward it while letting go of how it might come to pass. (applause)

Your job is not to figure out how it’s going to happen for you, but to open the door in your head and when the doors open in real life, just walk through it. Don’t worry if you miss your cue. There will always be another door opening. They keep opening.

And when I say, “life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you.” I really don’t know if that’s true. I’m just making a conscious choice to perceive challenges as something beneficial so that I can deal with them in the most productive way. You’ll come up with your own style, that’s part of the fun!

Oh, and why not take a chance on faith as well? Take a chance on faith — not religion, but faith. Not hope, but faith. I don’t believe in hope. Hope is a beggar. Hope walks through the fire. Faith leaps over it.

You are ready and able to do beautiful things in this world and after you walk through those doors today, you will only ever have two choices: love or fear. Choose love, and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart.

Thank you. Jai Guru Dev. I’m so honored. Thank you.

Older Posts »