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Stress relief through Transcendental Meditation

It was at about the 12-mile mark of David Brinkman’s daily 17-mile run when the stress began to dissipate and the clarity necessary to run a “Top 20 HIV/AIDS Charity” like D.A.P. began to return.

But when a severe back injury put an end to the “extreme exercise” that supplied the dose of endorphins necessary to calm his mind, he needed a new stress reduction regimen. He chose Transcendental Meditation – more commonly known as TM – which has been learned by more than six million people of all ages, cultures, and religions.

David, who has been meditating for about five years, says, “Meditation is a way to access your own intuition by cutting through negative emotions that sometimes cloud our judgment,” David says. “For me, it’s a way to reconfirm that what I’m contemplating is not about ego, anxiety, or fear. What I choose to contemplate and what drives all of us at D.A.P. – staff and board – is serving humanity, right here in our own backyards. For me, when I can access that, everything falls into place.”

When he introduced TM to D.A.P. during the winter All-Staff Meeting, David told employees that meditation aligns with Building Connections, D.A.P.’s organizational philosophy of “connecting the best in me with the best in others.” It’s D.A.P.’s way of encouraging all employees to be ever-present and judgment-free in their daily interactions … with each other, with clients and patients, with volunteers, with donors … with everyone.

Twenty-eight D.A.P. employees jumped at the chance to learn TM. In fact, there was more demand than we could initially accommodate. David hopes to make the training to available to more staff – and to clients.

That’s because TM is particularly useful in an AIDS service environment according to the David Lynch Foundation, whose mission is to heal traumatic stress and raise performance in at-risk populations. Their target audiences for the benefits of TM are diverse, including school children, military veterans with PTSD, the homeless … and those living with HIV.

Dennis Rowe, director of Transcendental Meditation Palm Springs and certified teacher, says “Transcendental Meditation is a simple and natural process that allows participants to experience a peaceful silence deep within the mind. They sit quietly with their eyes closed and use a mantra that allows the mind to settle down into a peaceful, relaxed state. During that time, serotonin, the chemical that maintains mood balance, increases. At the same time, cortisol, a stress hormone, decreases while blood vessels expand. As you meditate, you just experience deep rest.”

San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s Clinical Services Director Jeffrey M. Leiphart, PhD, uses TM with their clients and says “As stress rises, the immune system, which is already is under attack by the HIV in a person’s system, falters. Anything the HIV-infected person can do to interrupt that and provide a sense of relaxation and safety will be immune-enhancing. TM is a great example of that.” Norma, one of their clients, says “TM has helped me tremendously – not just in releasing stress but also increasing my number of T cells. And lowering my blood pressure to the point I no longer need medication.”

TM works by changing the blood flow to the brain, an effective way to manage anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, and cognitive ability, many peer-reviewed studies show. This becomes a potent medicine to reduce cholesterol, congestive heart failure, stroke, metabolic syndrome or pre-diabetes, and pain. Meditation also unlocks potential for intelligence, creativity, and learning.

David says “For me, it’s simple … when you find an effortless way to reduce stress, you have an important tool for dealing with the stress of modern-day life. I hope D.A.P. can bring that to our clients.”