Robert Schneider is coming to Sydney.
No, not the comic, another one.
It seems to be the year of the medical academic for the Sydney Transcendental Meditation centre. First Fred Travis, and now, Robert Schneider (MD etc). Both are traditional-looking middle-aged academic men, thin-faced, male pattern balding, who know what they are talking about. Robert Schneider adds the glasses and the little beard. But unlike the traditional academic male, they both smile and laugh on their Youtube videos and lack the usual angst.
Robert Schneider wrote a book a few years ago on called Total Heart Health. It was well reviewed, and is a comprehensive overview of how TM and all Maharishi’s approaches can help heart health. Indeed, heart health provides a lynch pin around which Schneider gets a chance to talk about much of the research done on TM etc over the years. Given that stress is strongly linked with heart problems, the link makes intuitive sense, and the emotional heart is usefully linked with the physical heart to draw in the psychological side of the issue, and mental illness and the effect of TM on such things as serotonin and nor-adrenaline and so on. Bedtime reading it is not. However, it covers a lot of material in a reasonably readable way.
The reason for this year’s international tour is more recent. He has just finished, and had published, a ten-year study on TM and heart health, which has had a very good response from the medical establishment, particularly the American Heart Association, a very prestigious institution. There is a video of him talking about it, linked to above, which shows that he is pretty chuffed.
What the study shows is not just that TM helps the heart. Studies galore have been done over the years showing that. But they have tended to show that TM helps manage the risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, stress, smoking and alcohol consumption. This study cuts to the chase, and followed at risk people for an average of 5 years each, and showed a 47% lower than normal incidence of the ‘hard endpoints’: strokes, heart attacks and deaths. Cholesterol medication gets results of 30-40%. What’s more, and this would be good news for many, that result included irregular meditators. Regular ones, and ‘regular’ is defined as at least once a day J, got a 66% reduction in these events.
The control group did intense lifestyle changes, what’s more. The TM group concentrated on TM and a few basic lifestyle modifications.
Dr Schneider also talks about epigenetics in his book, and there is a link above to a talk he gave on what that means. It is a relatively new field of biology. It used to be thought that you were stuck with your DNA. But the DNA in the physiology is affected by 3 things that can be influenced:
1. It comes wrapped, and the wrapping can be altered, which affects whether a particular gene is expressed or not;
2. Certain molecules can attach themselves to DNA, which can also affect its expression; and
3. DNA has ‘caps’ at the end of the strands, which protect it, like shoelaces. These caps, called ‘telomeres’, deteriorate with age and can be damaged. There is a study on the substance these caps are made of showing that TM is a big help in preserving them.
The workshop on October 12 sounds like it is about Ayurveda, and an introduction to TM as well. Given that the book is quite heavy to read, the workshop would be a good way of covering the material with less effort. Plus, for those interested in Ayurveda, who go to the talks by Dr Tim Carr, there would be the opportunity to find out more.
For the full details of Dr. Schneider’s tour CLICK HERE.
CLICK HERE to see TIME magazine’s related story – Strongest Study Yet Shows Meditation Can Lower Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke.