The BBC Stress Test and Transcendental Meditation

by Martin Creese on 26/07/2011

The BBC has launched a nationwide Stress Test. It’s an important investigation into the causes and consequences of stress in London and throughout the country. The Stress Test highlights the importance of Transcendental Meditation in combating the negative effects of stress.

The BBC Stress testThe test has been featured on Radio 4’s All in the Mind. It tries to unravel the complex web of causes that contribute to stress in our lives. These include biological factors, such as genetic make-up, and social factors, such as family, work and financial matters. The stress test will also look at how well we react to the events that shape our lives.

A team from the University of Liverpool, led by Professor Kinderman, will analyse the results in the hope of deciding the fundamental causes of stress for the majority of people.

Life is miserable when you’re tired

But the survey misses an important point: life is simply miserable when you’re tired. Many people in London know just how extensively tiredness and burnout undermine the quality of their lives.

Professor Kinderman says the word ‘stress’ can describe any negative or difficult emotion (‘I’m suffering from stress’) but it also describe the causes of these emotions (‘my job is stressful’). Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation, had a well-conceived definition of stress. ‘Stress,’ he said, ‘ is anything that impedes the normal functioning of the nervous system.’ Tiredness can come high on the list.

Maharishi considered someone normal if they can know infinite peace at the same time as being engaged in dynamic activity. In other words he considered that a normal person is an enlightened person.

It’s not possible of course to escape from one’s genes or to avoid all of life’s traumas, but there is a lot that we can do to protect our well-being. Professor Kinderman lists a series of sensible and practical steps: nurture and value family ties, balance your finances, take regular exercise.

Woman meditatingLife is bliss

Surprisingly the BBC survey does not mention Transcendental Meditation. This effortless mental technique allows the mind to know complete peace, while the body experiences a very deep level of rest. This experience of restful alertness is enjoyable and revitalizing. Regular practice reduces, and eventually eliminates, deep-seated stress. When stress goes, life blossoms.

The Stress Test follows on from another BBC survey, this one into wellbeing. ‘Wellbeing,’ Professor Kinderman writes, ‘is the ability to develop your full potential’. Looking at the quality of life from this perspective is very much in line with the World Health Organisation which encourages policy-makers in mental health to focus on health and wellbeing, rather than sickness and ill health.

It’s also in line with Maharishi’s approach. He was not much concerned with why people don’t live life to the full. He was much more interested in teaching people how to experience the full value of life. Don’t spend time analyzing the darkness, he would say. Just switch the light on. Throughout his life he taught a simple technique that eliminates stress and strain.

The BBC’s Wellbeing Scale explores the origins and causes of happiness. Unsurprisingly the academics who developed it at the Universities of Liverpool, Manchester and Edinburgh found that happiness is a combination of physical health, good relationships and sound psychological health.

Unbounded peace and energy

While these surveys are undoubtedly useful – NHS Trusts are seeing how they might be applied in practice – they lack a vital dimension. They do not take account of an experience that everyone is capable of – direct experience of the source of thought. This is a reservoir of unbounded silence and energy that is readily available through Transcendental Meditation. Once you know how to tap into this reservoir, peace and energy flow into your daily life.

Why should anyone suffer when they have the source of infinite peace and energy within them? Quite simply, they might not know it’s there, or they might not know how to gain access.

It is possible that Professor Kinderman and his colleagues are not aware of the hundreds of studies that have been carried out into Transcendental Meditation since the early 1970s. These studies have been conducted at universities and institutes around the world. They constitute a substantial body of evidence validating the benefits of Transcendental Meditation.

Professor Kinderman and his colleagues are very welcome to come to an introductory talk held every Wednesday evening at 7.00pm at the Victoria TM centre in London.

Anyone who is interested is welcome to come to an introductory talk. They’re free and without obligation. Just call Anna Creese, TM teacher, and book a place: 07974 697 607.

All courses are approved by Maharishi Foundation.

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