Honchos turn to transcendental meditation

MUMBAI: Stressed out? Do what corporate honchos and their executives do to unwind. No, not by downing a peg or two of Glenfiddich, but by meditating.

Executives who are increasingly looking for some way to strike the ideal work-life balance are seeking refuge in transcendental meditation (TM), a meditation technique developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Many of those who have undergone the program vouch for the benefits. “We have found it very effective both personally and professionally,” says V S Vasan, head of manufacturing at Marico Industries. “The practice of transcendental meditation  has enhanced our ability to handle pressure and stress,” he says.

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Marico started the TM program at its Pondicherry factory less than a year ago. The objective, according to Vasan, was to build a culture that focused on effective team building. “The program was conducted for all the team members and we have a session of TM in the workplace itself everyday,” he says.

The group meditation sessions takes place at about 4 o’clock at the factory to ensure that almost everybody can participate.

The program has worked so well for Marico that it is planning to expand it to other plants as well. “In the next two to three months we will be starting the TM program for our staff at the Jalgaon factory and later extending it to the workforce,” says Mr Vasan, who has been practicing TM for the last six months. “I can feel the change,” he says, adding that he finds TM particularly helpful when he is travelling.

Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique forms the basis of the Maharishi Corporate Development Programme, a program specifically designed for corporates. Over 100 Indian corporates have taken courses in Maharishi’s TM technique, either formally or informally with groups of executives enrolling for the program.

Among them are ACC, AirTel, Bank of America, BHEL, BPL, Eicher Tractors, ESPN-Star Sports, Eveready Industries, GE Capital, Godrej, Hero Honda, Hewlett Packard, HSBC, JK Tyres, Marico, Maruti, Motorola, Oberoi Hotels, Ranbaxy, Reckitt & Colman, RPG Group, Siemens, Tata group of companies, Wipro Infotech and Xerox.

According to Lane Wagger, who heads the Maharishi Corporate Development Programme, the practice of TM improves health at many levels – mind, body, soul, corporate health, and societal health.

By enhancing the “health” of individuals, the technique has an impact on corporates as well. “A healthy company would be dominated by harmony, coherence, higher creativity, job satisfaction, low absenteeism, and team work. Higher profit would be the by-product of good corporate health. Poor corporate health is characterised by conflict, corruption, disharmony, accidents, and problems,” he says.

Dr Wagger, who has an an MBA and a PhD in administration, has been teaching TM around the world for 30 years. “For the past 8 years, I have been in India conducting courses for large companies,” he says.

He adds that Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation technique comes from India’s ancient Vedic tradition, and is being used by companies all around the world.

“In the US, many companies  like General Motors and IBM have been using TM for over a decade. In Japan, over 150 companies, including Toyota and Sumitomo, also offer TM to their personnel,” says Dr Wagger.

The health benefits of TM is what has interested most executives, he adds. There have been a number of studies to validate the benefits of TM. Mr Wagger quotes a recent study on TM, published in Hypertension, the journal of the American Heart Association, which found TM  significantly reduces risk factors for heart disease, including hypertension, high cholesterol, anxiety, hostility, and smoking.

“Within the first three months of learning TM, the technique produced reductions in blood pressure equivalent to those produced by anti-hypertensive drugs, but without the adverse side effects,” he says.

Another study in The Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, found that “individuals practising TM had 87% less hospitalisation for heart disease than the norm. In addition, people over 40 years of age, had 74% fewer doctor visits. “

While TM has taken the corporate sector by storm, it has to be said that other forms of meditation are also beneficial.

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Times News Network, India
Oct. 1, 2003

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