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Podcast - Transcendental Meditation Interview With Bob Roth
by Chris Forte and Bob Roth
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9 August 2016
Chris Forte: Meditation—we all could use it.
Guest speaker Bob Roth: We'll learn more about meditation and his history.
Bob Roth is one of the most experienced and sought-after TM teachers in the country. For forty years Bob has taught Transcendental Meditation and authored a book by the same name; he is currently serving as executive director of the David Lynch Foundation, that brings TM to inner cities children in underserved schools, to veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and to victims of domestic violence; is also the director of the Center for Leadership Performance that brings TM to Fortune 500 companies and is host of Sirius Radio's weekly program ''Success without Stress'. Welcome to the Humble Warrior podcast and thank you for taking time in your busy schedule to talk to us.
Bob Roth: Nothing is more important than talking about the value of meditation in these stressed-out days.
Chris Forte: How did you learn about TM, Bob? We want to learn of new methodologies for dealing with stress.
Bob Roth: That goes 'way back to June 28, 1969; I've been meditation for 47 years. I was 18 years old, was going to school full time and working full time. I wasn't into drugs or being a hippy, in fact, I was a law student had wanted to become a US senator—I had worked for Bobby Kennedy while he was the presidential nominee . . .
A friend introduced me to the possibility of starting TM—it was really not a part of my vocabulary, he said it was not a religion or philosophy, but a natural technique to access the peace and calm that is inside every one of us, while at the same time giving the body as state of rest deeper than sleep. I thought ''well, how much of this do I have to believe?'' because I was a skeptical person, but he said I could be 100 percent skeptical; it had nothing to do with belief. So I learned it and liked it from the first—it was so relaxing and rejuvenating.
I thought that I would like to bring TM to inner city school kids and veterans—my father was a World War II vet.
Chris Forte: Has the practice changed over the 47 years or is it still exactly the same?
Bob Roth: I use an example. As you mentioned before, there are lots of different meditations, and science now has a clear understanding about the different types of meditations.
This example: you're sitting on a little boat in the middle of the ocean and suddenly there are 30 to 40 foot swells—you think the whole ocean is in upheaval. But you realize the ocean, in reality, is a mile deep. That the depths are by [the ocean's] very nature, silent. Turbulent on the surface, quiet in the depths.
This is an analogy for the mind—the surface of the mind is the thinking mind, the ''monkey mind'', the ''gotta, gotta, gotta'' mind! With Transcendental Meditation, deep within the human mind, in every one of us right now, is already a silent, peaceful, wide awake, source of our unlimited creativity. TM, which can be done without believing in it, is a very simple technique that gives effortless access to quieter levels of the mind, and over time, that silent level of the mind.
So to answer your question, has my practice changed: it has changed in the depth, the meditation is the same, but there is deepening of the practice. I think that of most importance [however] are the benefits to my daily life. Whether you take a shallow dive in a lake or a deeper dive, in both cases you're getting wet. The refreshment of that—is what carries over—so the clarity, the equanimity, the energy, the power that I felt immediately after meditation 40-plus years ago, now stays with me all the time.
Because the ocean is not just the waves and then the silence, but the ocean is everything at all times. And that's what TM reveals. Inner silence with outer dynamism.
Chris Forte: I've learned different types of meditation styles but now have taken TM—I love the technique in itself [done] 20 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes in the evening . . . it is very powerful. Can you talk about what [the organization teaching TM] has done across the country?
Bob Roth: Meditation,we would all agree, is becoming more and more mainstream, people don't necessarily understand what it means. There are legitimate types of meditation, there are bogus types . . . it used to be thought that all meditations were the same, it really didn't matter. Then the brain research came along and identified the three basics types of meditation.
We know that research shows the brain is different whether listening to heavy metal, or the Bach Brandenburg Concertos, or studying math—different experiences have different effects on the brain.
The first type is called focused attention—a zen-like type of meditation—difficult, because you are trying to stop waves on the surface of the ocean. But it is an effective, cognitive meditation to teach you discipline. The brain wave patterns are very fast and are called gamma brainwaves.
The second type of meditation is called ''open monitoring''. Mindfulness. That's like not stopping the waves but observing the rise and fall of the waves. To dispassionately observe your thoughts, feelings, moods—your environment, body functions . . . that natural flow—this creates beta waves. You can take a moment and get some calm from that.
The third type is called ''self-transcending''. This includes Transcendental Meditation. In the ocean analogy, we're not stopping the waves or observing them—we're diving within the ocean and accessing the quieter, deeper levels of the mind, the more creative levels of the mind—the source of the thought; that settled unbounded level of own inner inner self. When this happens, the body achieves a state of rest deeper than sleep; stress and tensions are automatically dissolved, and the brain creates waves called ''alpha 1'' indicating a deep, deep state of inner wakefulness.
All three have their value; they are different tools, like doing different exercises in a work-out.
Chris Forte: A fantastic description of the different types of meditation.
Bob Roth: The David Lynch Foundation—is a charitable organization—that works in partnership with the Transcendental Meditation organization. We have identified the epidemic of trauma and toxic stress among at-risk, underserved populations: like veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or inner city school kids growing up in crime or violence ridden neighborhoods, or women and children who have been victims of domestic violence, or women who have been victims of sexual abuse. Very, very traumatic.
There is no pill you can take to prevent trauma and no pill that can cure it. There is no pill for a veterans suffering from PTSD—nothing is working.
Based on 40 years of scientific research and on over 380 peer-reviewed studies the simple, effortless practice of TM for 20 minutes twice a day, provides the body with such a deep state of rest, the hidden wounds of trauma the psychological stress, stress in the nervous system, the brain—heals itself, by itself. The stresses we absorb in our nervous system they dissolve.
A veteran who hasn't slept because of PTSD for weeks or months, after starting TM, now they are sleeping six, eight, ten hours a night. Naturally. The David Lynch Foundation is dedicated to bringing TM to everyone and anyone in the world suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress.
Chris Forte: In diving a little deeper into the foundation—does it go in conjunction, like with veterans, with any other organization like counseling?
Bob Roth: Great question! It's done in support, in concert, an adjunct to any other standard of care. So if we're working with veterans they could be on medication, in couseling, there can be many different approaches. If it's a child who suffers from high levels of anxiety and learning disorders, from ADHD, if stress is getting in their way, or too many medications with hazardous side effects—learn TM. [The child does] it for 10 minutes twice a day. What [research] finds is their learning improves, they get calmer and their more receptive, they benefit more from the other strategies. It's never a stand-alone; it's always in context with the whole picture.
You exercise different muscles for a complete workout. There are many different exercise that you do to exercise different muscle group.
Fine—so there are three different meditation types—you do TM first thing in the morning for that deep, inner silence and you get energized throughout the day, it wakes up the brain throughout the day . . . but during the day things can get tough, so in the middle of the day you have another tool that you can use. There are so many things you can use instead of taking medication. More data shows these different approaches are effective without [taking] medications.
Chris Forte: What attracted me to this practice is the research and the [shorter time of the practice]. What advice can you give to someone to give meditation a shot? How can one get started?
Bob Roth: The need is greater than ever before. The epidemic of stress has been called the ''black plague of the 20th, 21st century.'' We're not talking about growing up [in a highly stressed inner city] but this is daily stress—it's killing us. Affecting our cardiovascular system, it's undermine our immune system, our digestive system . . . The only alternative has been taking drugs, or too much wine . . .
Meditation comes along, we say, ''where do I start, what do I do?'' . . . it could be good . . . ''but I can't sit quietly for 20 minutes—I'd jump out of my skin!'' Or, ''I don't want to start a new religion''. But again, not all meditations are the same. I teach Transcendental Meditation, because, as I say, I'm kind of a skeptical guy and I have a really busy mind and find TM very easy, very enjoyable; and it doesn't get in the way of other practices, such as the meditations of martial arts.
TM is taught by a non-profit organization and does give some scholarships. If you can pay, some of your fee goes to teaching veterans at no charge. It's best to learn it from a certified teacher of TM—and not from other means like books; it's like trying to learn to swim from a book.
Chris Forte: Thank you Bob. I've learned TM and know that the TM teachers will work with you in any type of situation that you're in and it is a great practice.
Listen to the Humble Warrior Podcast Episode 38 with Bob Roth
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