Proponents want schools to introduce meditation

A group of people who practice Transcendental Meditation want officials to consider introducing the technique into Lexington’s public schools.

At a news conference Tuesday, Janet Smith, chairwoman of the Committee for Successful, Stress-Free Schools, cited studies about the benefits of Transcendental Meditation, including one conducted in schools in Augusta, Ga.

In that study, black students who meditated 15 minutes at school and 15 minutes at home for several months had fewer discipline problems and absences than a control group, and lower blood pressure.

Vernon Barnes, a researcher at the Medical College of Georgia who was the primary author of the study, said in a telephone interview from Georgia that blacks were chosen because they tend to have more high blood pressure problems.

Smith said the committee has started making preliminary contacts with Fayette County school officials but declined to identify the officials.

Karen Acar, a spokeswoman for Fayette County schools, said she had not heard of the committee. She referred questions to another official, who could not be reached for comment.

Schools in Augusta were closed Tuesday for spring break, and officials there could not be reached for comment. But Superintendent Charles Larke was identified by the Augusta Chronicle last week as a key supporter of the studies.

Several people attended the news conference and sang the praises of TM and its chief practitioner, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

“One thing the maharishi wanted people to know is about the scientific aspects of TM, because too many people think it’s a religion,” said Richard Knittel, a retired chiropractor who lives in Versailles.

“I wouldn’t want to live without it,” he said.

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Associated Press, USA
Apr. 7, 2004

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