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The solution to the troubles plaguing Israel's education system won't cost billions of shekels to fix. Moreover, there is no need to strike to demand it - it is ready and waiting. What is the solution? Twice daily Transcendental Meditation (TM), according to international expert Dr. Ashley Deans.
"Practicing Transcendental Meditation twice a day for 15 minutes each time leads to brain coherence all the time," Deans said at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.
"Transcendental Meditation moves the brain from agitated anxiety to restful alertness. We reach a space of inner silence and then the body follows and settles down," Deans explained.
Sound like a crackpot theory? "There have been over 600 scientific research studies at 250 universities in 30 countries," Deans noted.
"The great part is you don't even have to believe in it for it to work, because it's a mechanical technique," he added.
According to the scientific studies, TM works by aligning all parts of your brain so that you use all of it at the same time. In TM parlance, you reach the unified field. That is a giant reservoir much like an ocean but without the waves, Deans explained.
"You transcend the subtlest thought," he said.
The result is a more focused, less stressed consciousness.
According to Deans, the major problem in education, and in the world in general, is stress. In education, stress is caused by the attempt to cram as much knowledge into a student's brain as possible and then teaching to the test. That stress then initiates the fight or flight mechanism which in turn forces our brain to respond at its most basic, primitive levels. That fight or flight mechanism bypasses the frontal lobe where higher order rational thinking takes place, according to Deans. TM reduces that stress, thus reducing violence, ADHD, and generally improving both students' and teachers' outlooks, said Deans.
TM has been introduced in 170 schools around the world, including other conflict areas such as Belfast and South Africa. The Belfast school saw results within a week, Deans claimed.
There is also no problem introducing it into religious school systems.
"There is no religious problem. It is not religious. It doesn't involve belief in God or really in anything at all. You can even believe it won't work and it will still work," Deans said with a slight smile.
It is also much more cost effective than multi-billion shekel reform plans. It costs NIS 7,000 for an adult, but package deals for schools reduce that to NIS 1,750 per person. That cost could be borne by teachers, money set aside for wellness programs and private donors, Deans suggested.
Director David Lynch recently pledged to underwrite anyone willing to start meditating during a recent visit to Israel.
The basis of TM is two sessions of meditation. There is no twisting oneself into a pretzel, just sitting quietly with one's eyes closed. The process can be learned in seven steps. The first step is a 45-minute introduction lecture. The second is another 45-minute preparatory lecture. The third and fourth steps are one on one with the instructor. First, a 15-minute personal interview, followed by a one-and-a-half hour session to learn the technique. Steps five through seven offer more knowledge about the technique and are when questions are answered.
Dr. Alex Kutai, head of the International Meditation Society of Israel, who organized the press conference, said he had spoken to the Education Ministry's National Supervisor for Violence about introducing the program in schools. According to Kutai, she had no problem with it as long as it was an extracurricular activity, not during formal teaching hours, and as long as no outsiders came in to teach it. The latter would not be an issue, because teachers are trained in TM before the students are, Kutai elaborated.
Deans, who has a PhD. in physics from Canada's York University, is the Director of the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment in Fairfield, Iowa.
Deans is convinced that his technique will raise the status of teachers in Israel, as well.
"Once test scores begin to go up, and violence in schools drops, the status of educators will rise," he concluded.
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