The Quiet Time/TM Programme

What is Quiet Time with the Transcendental Meditation programme for schools?

The Quiet Time with Transcendental Meditation programme (Quiet Time/TM programme) consists in adding for a few minutes at the beginning and at the end of the school day the twice-daily practice of a simple, scientifically documented psycho-physiological technique, Transcendental Meditation, that has been found to be effective for the development of brain functioning, cognitive performance, personality integration, and positive social behaviour. No changes in the educational curricula are required other than this addition which can be incorporated as the main element of a ‘Quiet Time’ programme in the school. Students who volunteer and whose parents approve, practice the Transcendental Meditation technique during the Quiet Time moments while others are engaged in non-academic activities such as quiet reading or rest.

This programme addresses the root-cause of negative attitudes and violence by directly promoting the psycho-physiological well-being of all students and learners, including those with a minority or disadvantaged background (migrants, ethnic minorities, etc.).

What is the Transcendental Meditation Technique?

Transcendental Meditation is a very simple, natural technique that allows your body to settle into a state of profound rest and relaxation and your mind to achieve a state of inner peace and alertness. After learning it in just few days from a certified TM teacher, it is practiced for 15/20 minutes two times a day, comfortably seated, with eyes closed. This technique is very easy to learn and enjoyable to practice, therefore also young children can practice and enjoy it, and once learned, it’s an investment for life.

During Transcendental Meditation the mind settles down gradually towards the source of thought, and so naturally also the body obtains a significant deep rest that promotes and eliminates those deep-rooted stresses that are recognized as the main causes of psychosomatic illnesses. It’s an effortless technique for “recharging your mind and body” and creating a brighter, more positive state of mind.

The rest obtained by TM practice results to be qualitatively superior than normal sleep and thus capable of awakening the inner intelligence of the body responsible for our health and eliminating deep stresses reducing biochemical markers of cortisol and plasma lactate.

(American Journal of Physiology235:R89–R92,1978).

It produces spontaneously inner calmness and a wider vision of life, reducing irritability and aggression, increasing tolerance and the ability to appreciate themselves and others. Consequently, behaviour becomes naturally more harmonious and interpersonal relationships are more cordial and fulfilling

(Journal of Offender Rehabilitation 2003; 36: 89–95, and Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2003;1(1): 10).

Meta-analysis has also found this to be unique to the Transcendental Meditation technique compared to other forms of meditation or relaxation

(Journal of Offender Rehabilitation 2003; 36 (1-4): 97–126; Permanente Journal 2014 ;18(1):19–23).

Quiet Time/TM programme: a whole-school approach

Being a whole-school approach promoting inclusive education, the practice of Transcendental Meditation is offered to teachers, administrators and other school staff from the beginning of the implementation process, and also the parents are strongly engaged in the programme and are accurately informed about the good practice adopted. Parents are also offered the possibility to learn the TM technique if they wish.

The FRIENDS project identified this novel approach as adaptable and replicable to different educational setting, as having the potential of becoming mainstream for its main characteristics:

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It is easy to learn

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It can be easily implemented at all levels of education, from early child education to upper secondary education
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Favouring a comprehensive whole school policy framework that creates a more healthy and inclusive school environment, better relationships between pupils and teachers, and increasing parents’ involvement
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It is religion and philosophy neutral
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Easily implementable through a new policy, or integrated as a supporting tool for the already existing national policies, in answer to social exclusion and fostering migrants’ integration
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Qualified instructors are available in the participating countries and across Europe, facilitating project’s up-scale and sustainability in other European educative contexts

The Quiet Time/TM Programme for social inclusion

 

The Quiet Time/TM programme has been the subject of hundreds of published peer-reviewed studies, including randomized control trials (RCT) that is a type of scientific experiment, which aims to reduce bias when testing a new approach or phenomenon. People participating in the trial are randomly allocated either to the group receiving the treatment under investigation or to a group receiving standard treatment as the control group.

The results obtained showed a general tendency of holistic students’ development across different dimensions: cognitive, affective, physiological, behavioural, and the social one. It has been also observed a reduction of risk factors associated with minority and disadvantaged learners and early school leavers.

Relevant social inclusion’s studies show:

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Greater appreciation of others

University’s students practising the Transcendental Meditation Programme developed more positive and constructive relational patterns than the control group (Perceptual and Motor Skills 64: 1003–1012, 1987)
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Greater altruism

Individuals participating in the Transcendental Meditation Programme were found to have a strong concern for the welfare of others (Western Psychologist 4: 104–111, 1974)
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Increased tolerance

Secondary students who learned the Transcendental Meditation Programme showed increased tolerance after 14 weeks, in contrast to control students who did not receive the Programme (Dissertation Abstracts International 38(7): 3372B–3373B, 1978).

The uniqueness of the present proposal is that it promotes social inclusion by directly addressing the psycho-physiological conditions of the student that contribute to more effective learning in the classroom and to the reduction of environmental stress of all types. Based on previous published results, the FRIENDS project will identify enablers and barriers for scaling up the experimentation and for producing policy advice with the potential to be transferred into policy actions and policy making creating an impact at the European level.

Overall, the program has been shown to overcome the predictive power of demographics.

Current practice in schools

“Quiet Time should be in every school!”

— Carlos Garcia, Superintendent, San Francisco Unified School District.

The Quiet Time/TM programme has been adopted successfully in many schools worldwide, including very difficult ones in terms high rates of youth behaviour challenges, teacher turnover, and academic achievement gaps. The programme obtained excellent results attracting the interest of Regional and National governments all over the world including the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, India, Kenya, Uganda, Jamaica, Ecuador (in military school), Brazil, and USA. By introducing meditation to the entire school community—students, teachers, and principals alike—this innovative programme has effectively restored a positive culture of academics and well-being in high need school communities.

An explanatory exposé of Quiet Time/TM programme implementation in USA can be found at the following link of David Lynch’s Foundation https://www.davidlynchfoundation.org/pdf/Quiet-Time-Brochure.pdf (this Foundation was started in 2005 by David Lynch for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace and actively teaches TM to adults and children in countries everywhere giving special support and attention to the marginalized ones.

At European level, there are two schools (governmentally supported) that are currently implementing the chosen good practice in the UK and in the Netherlands with an experience of 30 years implementing QT/TMP: Maharishi School Trust Limited, partner in the FRIENDS project, and Stichting Maharishi Onderwijs Nederland.

Maharishi School Trust Limited (see http://maharishischool.com) is a UK Department for Education funded Academy/Free School providing education to students from the ages of 4 to 16 through separate primary and secondary Schools. Maharishi School’s maxim is “The World is My Family”, this because every student from all over the world and of all religious faith and of no religious faith is welcomed to join the school community, developing their own full potential through daily Transcendental Meditation practice. Maharishi Onderwijs Nederland’s’ purpose is to have schools in the Netherlands where all the children enjoy Quiet Time with Transcendental meditation. Both schools are non-religious, non-denominational and non-selective schools welcoming all pupils of all cultures, nationalities, and religions. The aspect of knowledge and learning (what you know) is important in each school, but a Maharishi school puts a stronger emphasis on the knowledge of who you are – and how you can develop this from the quietness within yourself.

The two schools are partners of an ongoing EU project called EUROPE – “Ensuring Unity and Respect as Outcomes for the people of Europe” (https://europe-project.org/) funded by Erasmus+ KA3 and implemented in public schools of 3 European countries as Portugal, Sweden and the Netherlands. The project’s aim is to upscale, assess the relevance, impact, and scalability of the Quiet Time/TM approach, more specifically as an instrument to prevent violence, violent radicalization and promoting social inclusion, in different European contexts and disseminating its results and benefits.

In the 2017, the assessment by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills in Maharishi School Trust Limited (UK) was rated as ‘Outstanding’ for personal development, behavior and welfare.

Relevant to the objectives of the FRIENDS project is what the official reports states: “Children behave well and show respect for each other. They understand about taking turns and helping when a classmate is struggling or upset. … Pupils’ attitudes and behaviors are outstanding. They are very keen to learn, they listen well and are able to express their carefully considered views respectfully. Pupils care for each other and make a major contribution to ensuring that their school is cohesive, safe and orderly. Pupils are happy and content.” (Maharishi School Trust Limited UK, 2017: Assessment by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills in the United Kingdom, publication on the Champ news journal, 20th December 2017, p. 6,   https://www.champnews.com/papers/pdf/K5117.pdf).

TM’s Application in other fields

The Transcendental Meditation during its 60 years of history has been implemented in various social contexts:

Prisons

TM also had a very positive experience in the prison sector. One example: with the “Freedom Behind the Barriers through the Practice of Transcendental Meditation” project, TM was proposed in February 1995 to the prisoners of the Belluno’s prison, then presented and authorized by the Supervisory Authorities of Venice. The project was funded by the local authorities (at provincial and municipal level) and the Foundation of the former Cassa di Risparmio of Verona (now Unicredit).

Transcendental Meditation and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD

The Transcendental Meditation Association participated at the “XIII Conference of the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ESTSS)”on the 20th anniversary of ESTSS’s constitution. On this occasion, it was presented the scientific based research “Transcending trauma: effectiveness on Transcendental Meditation practice for combating PTSD”.

Extreme forms of stress can cause extreme levels of harm to the human mind and body, triggering a condition called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

People who suffer from PTSD include war veterans, victims of violent crimes, rape or abuse, victims of accidents, natural disasters or people who lived some other radical stressful situation.

Because of such events, the brain may switch to a hyper vigilant mode in which one expects a threat to own life always and everywhere.

Individuals with PTSD suffer from poor sleep, develop memory and decision-making problems, distrust others and often fall into the trap of substance abuse in their attempts to self-medicate. While traditional therapies have often failed to help such individuals, Transcendental Meditation has turned out to be a promising cure.

The research “Transcending trauma: effectiveness on transcendental meditation practice for combating PTSD” showed how TM practice contributed to reduce post-traumatic stress disorders and giving benefits in alleviating the related symptoms.

study of Vietnam War veterans (see https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1810367/) suffering from PTSD demonstrated that after three months of doing the Transcendental Meditation technique, symptoms such as alcohol usage, high startle response, emotional numbness and anxiety decreased as compared to a control group who received only psychotherapy. Research indicates that meditation has a positive effect on problems that often arise in PTSD sufferers, such as hypertensiondepression, and substance abuse.

Recovery from PTSD usually takes some time, but adding relaxation techniques such as meditation, revealed to speed up the whole rehabilitating process.