Young TM’ers Earn a Standing Ovation
It’s Thursday at 6:00 a.m., and we are huddled outside of a 15-seater van in the parking lot of New Village Girls Academy, a Los Angeles-based charter school. The “we” includes five young students who all practice Transcendental Meditation: Aylin, Luz, Evelin, Shawntelle, and Kim. We are all eager to hit the road.
We are heading to Southern Oregon University (SOU) where these five young women have been invited to present their successful participation in New Village’s Quiet Time Program to a large group of professional educators at a Holistic Teaching and Learning Conference.
The New Village Quiet Time Program was funded by a David Lynch Foundation grant in Fall 2010. The daily Quiet Time schedule includes two 15-minute sessions, when those who practice TM can meditate, while others sit quietly to recharge.
Scientifically documented benefits of Quiet Time with TM around the US have shown decreased stress levels, depression, insomnia, anxiety, drop-out rates, suspensions, as well as improvements in focus, energy, GPA and graduation rates. After just a few months of incorporating the twice-daily Quiet Time sessions into the school curriculum, the staff at New Village witnessed a marked transformation in the school climate to a safe, peaceful and supportive atmosphere for academic and emotional growth.
Aylin shared how she understood TM’s role in relaxing her when she briefly transferred to a school without Quiet Time and became overwhelmed without the extra rest (she returned to NVGA soon after with a new appreciation for meditation). “My mind is at ease and I get a fresh start every Quiet Time. I went from getting Ds and Fs to a straight A student. I never understood the value of TM until I didn’t have it anymore. Now I meditate twice a day and never look back,” wrote Aylin.
Luz shared how TM improved her relationship with her sister; Evelin, about how TM helped her manage time between raising her son and completing her schoolwork; Shawntelle, about how her social skills greatly increased; and Kim, about how TM significantly reduced her insomnia.
“I have had bad insomnia for three years and this affected my education and social behavior, which caused a great strain on myself. But when it came time for TM at my school, I soon found myself in a state of blissful silence. It was like I had fallen asleep, but was more aware,” Kim wrote.
They went from shaking in their shoes while presenting in front of each other, to hyping each other up for the big day. After countless edits, public speaking workshops, and rehearsals, we are on our way.
We arrive at SOU at 7 in the evening, and are presented keys to a dormitory lodging on campus. On Friday, we take a tour: the girls are thrilled and inspired—it’s their first taste of college life, and they soak up every bit of it. That evening, they practice their speeches. Naturally, each one is anxious about their public speaking debut. Despite all the hours of work, presenting before a large audience can give anyone a fright!
It’s Saturday morning, and after yoga and TM practice, the girls rehearse one last time, put on their most professional attire, and proudly march on stage. Each girl shines. In fact, they steal the show! Every audience member pays rapt attention— you can hear a pin drop. Some audience members are in tears because they are so deeply moved. When the girls finish, they are met with a standing ovation, and then literally mobbed by educators lining up to congratulate them on their impressive speeches. The students glow.
Sunday morning, we climb back into our 15-seater van and bid farewell to Ashland. We will never forget all the fun and all that was learned on the trip. Aylin, Luz, Evelin, Shawntelle, and Kim discover that with practice and hard work, they have the power and ability to move people. Through the successful delivery of their experiences, they gain confidence in themselves. They experience college life, try new things, and return to Los Angeles all the wiser for having explored unchartered territory. These five Transcendental Meditation students realize they were a part of a remarkable Academy at New Village, one which interests and intrigues listeners. Most of all, they learned that people do care about what they have to say.