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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: YellowBeard ()
Date: September 13, 2004 04:26PM

The Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) cult was founded in 1920 by Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952), not long after being invited to speak at the International Congress of Religious Liberals in Boston as an Indian delegate sponsored by the Unitarian Church. After his well received talk at the Congress, Yogananda lectured across the United States, spellbinding audiences with his immense charisma and fantastic tales about yoga-induced mystical powers. By 1925, he arranged the purchase of the former Mt. Washington Hotel property in Los Angeles to establish his headquarters for his newly established Hindu-Christian hybrid religion (along with plenty of colorful personal improvisations). This property came to be known as the Mother Center where Yogananda's personal quarters were not far from those of the young female nuns that were quickly incorporated into the cult. Self-Realization Fellowship became an American church in 1935 under the laws of California.

Self-Realization Fellowship is the first Kriya Yoga cult to be started in the United States. Kriya Yoga offshoot cults have later been established by break-away SRF Yogananda disciples, such as the "Ananda Church of Self-Realization" and the "Solar Logos" UFO cult.

Self-Realization Fellowship's main recruiting strategy is similar to Scientology's, they present a fictional work to the public and pawn it off as a legitimate piece of literature when in fact its real purpose is solely to attract members. These works are Dianetics, disguised as a self-help book, and Autobiography of a Yogi, disguised as a "real" autobiography of a man's spiritual adventures in India.

Yogananda's "Autobiography of a Yogi" is a tale of mystical gurus doing all sorts of fantastic things such as materializing extra bodies, teleporting themselves, reading and implanting thoughts in people's heads, levitating, and even rising from the grave. The readers then learn that they too can do these marvelous things if they become submissive and subservient to a true master of the yogic arts -- an enlightened guru. The readers also conveniently learn that the author is one such true spiritual master who has even talked to Jesus Christ in a state of cosmic consciousness and has arrived to enlighten all in the West who enter into a guru-disciple relationship with him.

Yogananda claimed to be in tune with "original" Christianity as taught by Jesus himself by communing with him in a state of cosmic consciousness. Yogananda spoke of references to Kriya Yoga symbolically hidden in the King James Version of the Bible. He also projected the idea of Kriya Yoga references into Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat, the Bhagavad Gita, and pretty much any religious text he could manage to slip it into.

Kriya Yoga is Self-Realization Fellowship's flagship meditation technique, which is claimed to speed up the evolution of man's consciousness. One has to pass through a series of other lesser meditation techniques before they can receive initiation into Kriya. These meditations incorporate thought reform techniques.

One of the early practices that the student is taught is the Hong-Sau meditation technique (in which oxygen deprivation is used), where the student repeats a mind-numbing mantra and is encouraged to decrease their oxygen intake with the ideal state to be obtained being breathlessness. Yogananda dispels the fears of the practitioner by claiming that the prana (life force energy) will directly feed the cells of the body, forgoing the need for oxygen.

The Aum Meditation technique is then taught after Hong Sau in which sensory deprivation is used. The eyelids and ears are held tightly sealed with the fingers while chanting a mantra and trying to listen to a mystical vibratory sound.

With all the meditation techniques, the symbol of the cult is visualized constantly and is taught to be considered as the practitioner's "Third Eye". This symbol represents the teachings of the cult and keeps the ideology on the practitioners' mind while they practice sensory and oxygen derivation techniques that break down one's critical thinking abilities.

The disciple is taught that the Guru (Yogananda) is a representative of God sent to help them to attain spiritual enlightenment. And if the disciple abandons the Guru, they are actually abandoning the help of God. This is a simple, yet effective tactic to maintain the membership of the cult through fear and guilt.

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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: Sylvia ()
Date: September 14, 2004 07:45AM

.
Hey Yellowbeard,

Thanks for the quick take on Kriya Yoga and Yogananda. Wow. I would say that stopping breathing should be on the list of ‘Things Not To Do’ in one’s spiritual quest. Who needs brain damage? But, some people like the ‘living on the edge’ aspect of dangerous practices like that. It makes them feel cool and special. I suppose that some people have had something like a ‘near death experience’ that way, and may perceive some being of light bestowing ‘enlightenment’ on them. That could be a problem.

It sounds like Yogananda falls into the ‘manic-depressive’ group leader category, or some other mental illness anyway. I started to explain my hypothesis about how spiritual leaders got their start in the ‘Nutritional Aspect of Recovery . . .’ thread in the RECOVERY section on this board. It’s about altered states of consciousness that result from starvation. Whoever in a starving tribe had the best ‘vision’ or ‘dream’ about how to solve the problem became the ‘shaman’ or leader of the tribe. (Maybe I’ll write a whole book about it someday. No, you do it.)

Stopping breathing creates the same effects as starvation. It’s just a little quicker. I’ll put it on my list of tips on ‘How To Become A Crazed Spiritual Leader: You Too Can Ruin People’s Lives’! It'll be right after the entry on 'Hyperventilation - aka rebirthing, conscious connected breathing, breathwork'.

My goodness, is there nothing that people won’t do to get high?

Sylvia

.

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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: Claire ()
Date: September 14, 2004 09:46AM

SRF has a large center in Encinitas, CA. Pretty gardens, spacey staff. Yogananda didn't exactly starve, he was quite rotund. Oh, excuse me, that's pran, not blubber.

This local group had some scandals not too far back, but I don't remember what the situation was.

I remember some kids did the hyperventiliation thing in high school, but I was always too chicken.

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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: YellowBeard ()
Date: September 14, 2004 04:27PM

Claire wrote:

Quote

Pretty gardens

Largely maintained by a voluntary labor force that works without pay and with dubious expansion efforts by the organization, at least at their Mount Washington headquarters site:

“... SRF ... wants to build as part of a planned $40 million headquarters expansion ... by trying to avoid producing an Environmental Impact Report while naïvely seeking quick approval for the project. ... Daniel Wright, who heads a group opposed to the church's plans. "What it tells us is that they're positioning themselves to try and ram this project through over all concerns in the community." ... SRF's initial attempts to make nice with its neighbors have long since given way to hardball tactics. In the months leading up to the initial unveiling of its plans last year, SRF members infiltrated and essentially neutralized the venerable Mount Washington Association, many of whose members were opposed to its plans. ... To further show that it means business, SRF has hired some of the most influential and politically connected lobbyists in town. They include Consensus Planning Inc., which has been a force behind the push for expansion of LAX, and Steve Afriat, former campaign consultant to City Councilman Mike Hernandez. ... Thus far, the church has spent more than $200,000 on lobbyists, including $26,000 during the first three months of this year, the most recent period for which records that it is required to file with the city are available. ...”

Full article at:
[www.culteducation.com]


Claire wrote:

Quote

spacey staff

From the staff I've encountered, they've been either really spacey and out-to-lunch or tightly wound with a hint of anger. Most seemed to be on the spacey side though.

You know how when two people are walking toward each other, you step aside to let them by, but they step aside in the same direction, then you step aside again the other way with them doing the same. I did that little dance by accident one time with one of the monastics on the grounds -- he looked like he wanted to rip me to pieces with his bear hands after.


Yogananda's meditations were touted to revitalize the cells of the body with [i:94366fe6d8]pranic[/i:94366fe6d8] energy. His [i:94366fe6d8]Hong Sau[/i:94366fe6d8] technique of oxygen deprivation was suppose to slow the heart-rate as well, and get this -- when mastered, it's suppose to completely stop! I bet when you do master oxygen deprivation, your heart would stop. But this is suppose to be a good thing. It's suppose to rest the heart from it's constant work, extending one's lifespan.

Yogananda (1893-1952) died at age 59 of a heart attack. The average male life expectancy for someone living in the United States circa 1950 was 66 years.

So his technique didn't exactly revitalize his heart and extend his life beyond the average person's.


Claire wrote:

Quote

Yogananda didn't exactly starve, he was quite rotund.


Yes, he was a big boy. Like most cult leaders, he didn't seem to practice what he preached. He encouraged regular fasting, which he surely didn't engage in himself. He also taught that celibacy was important for spiritual development, but let's see how he actually lived:

From the Los Angele Times, Wednesday, October 25, 1939:

“... Determined that he shall not become a vanishing Hindu, process servers were conducting a far-flung search yesterday for Swami Yogananda, Indian cultist accused in a sensational $500,000 damage suit, of amazing goings on with feminine followers. ... Aiding in the search was the plaintiff, Nirad Ranjan Chowdbury, also known as Sir Nerode, former associate of Yogananda ... Picturing highly irregular practices in the cult quarters on Mount Washington, the plaintiff declared that the swami "has young girls in the immediate vicinity of his room going in and out all hours of the night."
The younger girls are kept segregated from older women, Chowdbury charges, adding: "Young girls have free access to the rooms of said Swami Yognanda and that said Swami Yogananda forbids said young girls who attend him from going out with other men and forbids them to go out at all except with him." At his Encinitas palace, Chowdbury charges, Yogananda maintains caves and rooms for meditation "that are not in keeping with the standard of religious meditation..." and that "the places of mediation are too secretive and ornate of construction to be used for the purpose of spiritual mediation, all of which is contrary to spiritual practices, contrary to Hindu philosophy and contrary to the purposes and objectives of the partnership." ... Chowdbury said yesterday that while a graduate student at Harvard he met Yogananda, who then was lecturing in the East, became interested in the swami's teachings, and was made a partner with the swami in the cult only to be "frozen out" last January, after the long-haired cult leader had transferred his interests from the East to Los Angeles, where he is said to have attracted as followers scores of Los Angeles women and girls. ... At the cult headquarters, a crisp young woman attache reported that the swami is due back today. He lectured in San Diego Monday night, she said.”

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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: YellowBeard ()
Date: September 14, 2004 07:50PM

Sylvia wrote:

Quote

Stopping breathing creates the same effects as starvation. It’s just a little quicker. I’ll put it on my list of tips on ‘How To Become A Crazed Spiritual Leader: You Too Can Ruin People’s Lives’!

:D


The aim of most spiritual practices is to alter consciousness. Some are more effective and/or more dangerous than others. The goal is generally to experience bliss and a feeling of oneness.

“The tricks played by the meditating mind are based in physiology. Over the past year Dr. Andrew Newberg of the University of Pennsylvania scanned the brains of eight longtime practitioners of Buddhist meditation, snapping images of blood flow within the brain while they were meditating and comparing them with images taken when they were not. The scans tracked increased blood flow to the frontal lobe -- used for concentration and focusing -- during meditation. But blood flow to the parietal lobe, which calculates the boundaries of your body in relation to its environment -- "You are not the chair, you are sitting on the chair, the chair is on the floor" -- decreased. Other parts of the brain also activate during meditation -- the limbic system, which is the heart of emotion and memory, and core areas that control heart rate, blood pressure, and arousal.”

-- [i:bce1891648]Warning: Meditating May be Hazardous to Your Health[/i:bce1891648]; San Francisco Weekly, Aug. 28, 2002; By Sandy Brundage.


Psychedelics, meditation, fasting (aka starving yourself), oxygen deprivation or it's opposite: hyperventilation, inducing states of high physical or mental stress, and other ways (that I'm sure I'm missing here) all basically shoot to achieve bliss and a feeling of oneness.

In many religious circles, we're taught that bliss and oneness is our true state of being, and that we meditate, etc. to reclaim this lost primordial state. But these states are just as fleeting as any other type of highs, although these can be some of the most exciting highs that we can experience.

Although one doesn't always reach the particular states that they are after. One can just as easily fall into hellish states when altering consciousness just as easily as "Divine" ones. One can also go stark raving mad in this pursuit as well.

“After attending an extended rounding course in Europe [Victim #6] in a fit of severe depression severed his testicles, slit his wrists and throat with broken glass. ...

[Victim #8] Director of MIU-Press at the ASCI-NY facility was housed in a padded room from 1974-1976. During this period he would howl, scream and continually threw himself into walls only during his practice of TM.”

-- A few example's from Kropinski's List of TM Casualties
[www.trancenet.org]


Short circuiting the parietal lobe to experience oneness does not always make someone view the world as a harmonious unity. Many times it can breed megalomania by suggesting that they are the one true Self that multiplicity springs from. And sometimes just intense disassociation results.

But even if someone is able to experience most of the positive effects without too many side-effects, their mind becomes a ripe ground for indoctrination in these states, and a decreased ability to distinguish fantasy from reality results.

“... That evening I additionally "cognized" that I was not really human. I was an incarnated "deva" (analogous to an angel) and, what's more, so was MMY. We had been peers working together on a spiritual plane as "devas" for aeons. But I had done something spiritually wrong (the fallen angel gig) whereas MMY had continued on a spiritually upward path. Now MMY had deserved to incarnate here and lead the spiritual regeneration of this planet, and I was getting a chance to incarnate here also as a human being and redeem myself by helping him. ...”

[www.suggestibility.org]


Physical and mental side-effects of meditation and other spiritual practices are sometimes called [i:bce1891648]Kundalini[/i:bce1891648], which is considered an energy that is released from the base of the spine and then works it's way up to the brain. Ultimately the Kundalini energy is suppose to lead not only to permanent Enlightenment, but to supernormal powers as well. Needless to say, no one has been able to demonstrate any of these paranormal abilities without resorting to parlor tricks.

If one looks into some of the Kundalini support groups, a lot of people suffering from mental illness will be found, and no "enlightened" beings that have worked their way through the process are anywhere to be found.

The negative effects that we start to experience from intense meditation and other practices are a warning sign to slow down. When people heed this warning, the effects usually quickly subside. It's a natural process like when you touch something hot, you pull away. But if something motivates you to keep your hand on the hot object, you're going to hurt yourself. I feel that's what the belief in Kundalini does. It tells people that what they're going through is just a natural part of the process and they need to just stick it out and work through it. But no one is working through it this way -- they're just working their way into psychiatric wards.

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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: Sylvia ()
Date: September 15, 2004 03:30AM

.

BRA-VO Yellowbeard!

I have been finding the same information this summer. I have been trying to decide on a way to warn two of my nephews that they need to 'watch it' with meditation. Manic-depression runs in our family and my nephews are already on psychiatric drugs. AND, they are hanging out at the local Zen Center, and probably making their symptoms worse.

'Kundalini' is a real phenomenon. It's a brain and central nervous system over-stimulation problem. I know, I've experienced it, and it is NOT fun.

So, thanks Dude. You wrote a very concise page that I can add to the info I already have. I'll probably read it to them over dinner this weekend.

Sylvia

.

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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: YellowBeard ()
Date: September 15, 2004 02:19PM

They may find the full article helpful, "Warning: Meditating may be hazardous to your health", which is a really good article and can be found at:

[www.culteducation.com]

or

[www.religionnewsblog.com]


The following case example from "Thought Reform Programs and the Production of Psychiatric Casualties", might be helpful too:

“Kirk illustrates the splitting or doubling of the self that occurs when one drops an ordinary world view and accepts the alternative world view trained through exposure to a thought reform program. Professionals who treated Kirk diagnosed his condition as relaxation-induced anxiety that evolved into panic attacks and atypical dissociative states.

He affiliated with a mantra meditation group, initially attempting to "empty the mind" of all reflective thoughts for a few minutes each morning and evening. The mantra, supposedly a meaningless word, is the Sanskrit name of a Hindu deity.

Kirk has an advanced degree in a physical science from a prestigious university. A friend took him to a free lecture on how to reduce stress in one's life. Kirk was not stressed, but responded favorably to the lecturer's charts and graphs alleging scientific proof that meditation was accomplishing feats unknown to mankind -- except through the group leader's methods. Because of its seemingly scientific basis, Kirk paid his fees and began meditation lessons. These lessons began with short periods of meditation, which soon lengthened and were combined with prolonged periods of chanting and hyperventilation.

After a few months he began to have bouts of chest pains, fainting spells, palpitations, and lassitude. When he complained at the meditation center of his symptoms, he was assured these were normal signs of "unstressing" and evidence that he was reaching a higher state of consciousness. Hence, Kirk discounted his distress, accepting it as the price he had to pay to reach the leader's promised goal. Had Kirk not been following the meditation practice with simultaneous involvement with the group, he probably would have abandoned the practice as soon as he started having these adverse reactions.

During one panic attack, he was taken to an emergency room where a physician attributed his condition to "stress and pressure." He stopped meditating for a few days, and the symptoms disappeared. However, the group instructed him to increase the time he chanted, hyperventilated, and meditated. Over the years his condition worsened. Panic attacks continued; he reported he felt "spaced out" and forgetful, and he began to let his career, social life, and intellectual development decline. Upon advice from the group leader, to help his deteriorating condition, he frequently spent 8 hours a day for an entire week, chanting, hyperventilating, and meditating. He spent several individual months on such a regime.

His distress increased. He was markedly dizzy and objects seemed swirl, float, and waver in the air. He felt nauseous, disoriented, distraught and confused. At work he began to lose confidence in his abilities and worried that he had slipped into insanity.

He soon found himself unable to focus on his surroundings: when he did, things appeared distorted, obscure, and foreign. He felt overwhelmed by anxiety, depression, nausea, and debilitation. He took a week off from work and sat crying in his apartment in an apparent state of depersonalization and derealization, accompanied by a multitude of odd sensations and mental contents. He visited several general practitioners who could not diagnose his symptoms.

One day while driving he lost his memory. He was unable to recall who he was or where he was going. He parked and went into a restaurant. When he left, it took him 2 hours to find his car because he had forgotten where he had parked.

Soon after this transient but alarming amnesic episode, he resigned from his job because he could no longer instruct workers as part of his technical job. When he had to speak he felt faint, lost track of what he was saying, and was unable to function.”

Full article can be found at:

[www.culteducation.com]

or

[www.refocus.org]


Meditation may not necessarily always be bad. As long as they know what warning signs to look for (which these articles provide) and they back off when and if they arise, they should be ok.

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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: September 15, 2004 07:25PM

In my opinion, meditation should be appreciated as a resource but should never, ever have the effect of becoming addictive, or of estranging a practitioner from friends, family or activities he or she has formerly enjoyed.

At most, a meditator may choose to live a less hectic life, but if the practice is healthy, it should be apparent that the person has retained a capacity to enjoy themselves, and continue to relish activities he or she enjoyed before becoming a practitioner. And even if a practitioner decides to live more quietly than before, he or she should retain social skills and have the ability to socialize with a wide range of people if necessary.

A reputable meditation teacher would also tell you who is likely to benefit from meditation and which people should avoid it. A good teacher will also tell you the exact indications that you're over-doing meditation and need to back off, just as a coach teaches athletes how to spot signs of over-training and when reduce training load until one has recovered.

Once, I asked my therapist whether there are people who should avoid Zen meditation or Insight Meditation/Vipassana. (These methods do [u:4d452761cd]not [/u:4d452761cd]aim at producing bliss states, and you're actually supposed to [u:4d452761cd]avoid [/u:4d452761cd]seeking any kind of result. There is no marathon chanting, and no hyperventilation--making Zen and Insight meditation quite different from TM and the various 'shakti/kundalini' practices). At the Zen centerse, there is some some chanting as part of religious services, but these are chanted texts, not repetitive mantras)

My therapist said that many persons who are clinically depressed (that is, their depression has a strong biochemical component) would be well-advised to [i:4d452761cd]avoid [/i:4d452761cd]Zen & Insight meditation, especially long retreats, until they've been stabilized. If a person has untreated clinical depression, the ego-relaxation produced in Zen/Insight meditation could cause the person's depression to get worse.

*[i:4d452761cd]It is also a very good idea to start with just one day retreats, then try 2 or 3 day retreats and see how you respond, both during the retreat and then after you've returned home[/i:4d452761cd].

Persons with severe personality disorders (narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder) might also be at risk of suffering depression if they were to engage in a form of meditation that relaxed ego.

For persons with schizophrenia, ego-relaxing meditation is counter indicated.

One can do Zen/Insight meditation and participate quite successfully in multi-day retreats if one has bipolar disorder, but only if your condition is stable, you have taken full responsibility for your self care (which includes the right balance of sleep and diet)--and [i:4d452761cd]only [/i:4d452761cd]if you're on a combo of medication that works, and you're not trying to self-medicate on alchohol or street drugs.

(In Zen and Insight meditation, bed time is usually 9 pm to 4:30 or 5 am, usually with a 2 hour break in late afternoon. You'll be able to get enough sleep under these conditions, and if not, most places can accommodate people with medical concerns who need to sleep 1 to 2 hours later in the morning.

***ALERT [i:4d452761cd]It is not uncommon for persons on multi-day retreats to discover that they need less sleep. I've been on a number of multi-day retreats, and noticed that after about 3 days, most of us were getting up earlier and earlier, hours before we even had to get up. Even though we were doing quiet sitting meditation, just following breath and noting our thoughts and emotions, something about this apparently reduced our need for sleep. So, this could be an issue for persons with bipolar--if you're bipolar and consider doing a multi-day retreat, make sure to do it at a place where you can easily leave if you discover you're getting de-stabilized and need to go home. That means making very sure you have transportation arranged in advance![/i:4d452761cd]

Diet at these places is vegetarian. If you need a lot of protein, you must make sure to bring your own supply of protein powder with you. If they refuse to let you do this, go to another practice center)

At a well run meditation center, their intake form will ask whether you have any medical or emotional condition that could affect your ability to do the retreat, and if you're on any medications.

*With what we know today, NO reputable teacher or meditation center should ever claim or even hint that thier practice is harmless and beneficial to everyone. Not everyone is in sufficient condition to train for a triathlon, and not every person is in proper condition to undertake committed meditation practice. A good coach would never, ever tell someone with a chest cold 'You're ready to train for a marthon'--that coach would tell you to go home and go to bed until you've recovered.

In her book [i:4d452761cd]Call No Man Master [/i:4d452761cd](available on Amazon.com) Joyce Collins-Smith gave a detailed description of an 8 to 10 year period she spent as a dedicated practitioner of TM. She was also administrative assistant to Maharishi during his earliest years in London.

After she left Maharishi and stopped practicing TM, Collins-Smith plunged into a dangerous depression, and after she recovered, she found that after a lifetime as a fiction writer, she could no longer create stories. Only after many years could she resume a career as a writer, but could only write non-fiction. She was unable to resume her formerly enjoyable and lucrative career of writing novels.

Collins-Smith reported meeting other artists who took up TM and discovered they were unable to care about or enjoy the arts they'd formerly loved. And even in her early years with Maharishi, Collins-Smith noticed a very high turn over among the support staff: over time, meditators became passive, zoned out, inefficient - and had to be replaced!

Despite her grim description of the casualty rates among early TM practitioners, and the heavy price she herself paid for her devotion, Collins-Smith remained strangely forgiving of Maharishi, seeing him as having started with fundamentally good intentions, but in the end, corrupted by power.

She apparently could not give up her idealizion of MMY, despite what appears to be very clear evidence that he knew that his TM harmed people--and continued to push it.

In this article,

[unstress4less.org]

we have the following information:

'Of these biochemical changes, the implications for the increase in brain neurotransmitter, serotonin, are significant and wide-ranging in their potential negative consequences. (See TM & Serotonin: Model of Effects. )

Here are some of the biochemical alterations (abstracts below):
Increase in brain neurotransmitter, serotonin


Change in secretion and release of several pituitary hormones "similar to the effects of synthetic anxiolytic and tranquilizing agents such as benzodiazepines"

Increased AVP secretion

Loss of normal diurnal rhythm for the hormones ACTH and beta-endorphin

Increased phenylalanine

An increase of carbon dioxide

STUDY: Serotonin, noradrenaline, dopamine metabolites in transcendental meditation-technique. Bujatti M, Riederer P J: Neural Transm 1976;39(3):257-67

The highly significant increase of 5-HIAA (5-hydroxyindole-3-acetic acid) in Transcendental Meditation technique suggests systemic serotonin as "rest and fulfillment hormone" of deactivation-relaxation...


STUDY: Serum hormonal concentrations following transcendental meditation--potential role of gamma aminobutyric acid. Elias AN, Wilson AF Department of Medicine, University of California Medical Center, Irvine, Orange, USA: Med Hypotheses 1995 Apr;44(4):287-91

Transcendental mediation (TM) is a stylized form of physical and mental relaxation which is associated with changes in the secretion and release of several pituitary hormones. The hormonal changes induced by TM mimic the effects of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). It is hypothesized that TM produces changes in pituitary hormone secretion by enhancing hypothalamic GABAergic tone, and its anxiolytic effects by promoting GABAergic tone in specific areas of the brain. This mechanism is similar to the effects of synthetic anxiolytic and tranquilizing agents such as benzodiazepines that bind to components of the GABA-A (GABAA) receptor. TM, therefore, may produce relaxation by enhancing the effects of an endogenous neurotransmitter analogous to the effects of endorphins in runners who reportedly experience a 'runner's high'.


STUDY: Hormonal control in a state of decreased activation: potentiation of arginine vasopressin secretion. O'Halloran JP, Jevning R, Wilson AF, Skowsky R, Walsh RN, Alexander C: Physiol Behav 1985 Oct;35(4):591-5

Behaviorally induced stress is associated with increased arginine vasopressin (AVP) secretion. In this report we describe a phasic conditioned response of AVP secretion yielding 2.6-7.1 times normal plasma concentration of this hormone in association with a physiological state of decreased activation, that associated with the mental technique of "transcendental meditation" (TM) in long-term practitioners (6-8 years of regular elicitation). Such a very large phasic response of AVP was previously unknown in the normal physiology of AVP.


STUDY: ACTH and beta-endorphin in transcendental meditation. Infante JR, Peran F, Martinez M, Roldan A, Poyatos R, Ruiz C, Samaniego F, Garrido F Clinical Analysis and Immunology Service, Virgen de las Nieves Hospital, Granada, Spain: Physiol Behav 1998 Jun 1;64(3):311-5

We have evaluated the effect of Transcendental Meditation (TM) on the hypothalamo-hypophyseal-adrenal axis diurnal rhythms through the determination of hormone levels. Blood samples were taken at 0900 hours. and at 2000 hours. These samples were taken from 18 healthy volunteers who regularly practice TM and from nine healthy non-meditators. Cortisol, beta-endorphin, and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) were measured at both hours. TM practitioners showed no diurnal rhythm for ACTH and for beta-endorphin (ACTH, pg/mL, mean +/- SE; 13.8+/-1.2 - 12.1+/-1.5/beta-endorphin, pg/mL; 14.4+/-1.5 - 17.2+/-1.9, at 0900 hours and 2000 hours, respectively), in contrast to control subjects, who showed normal diurnal rhythm for these hormones and for cortisol (ACTH, pg/mL; 19.4+/-1.9 - 11.9+/-2.2/beta-endorphin, pg/mL; 25.4+/-1.7 - 17.7+/-1.1/Cortisol, ng/mL; 201.4+/-13.2 - 71.3+/-6.5, at 0900-2000 hours, respectively, p < 0.01 in the three cases). Practitioners of TM with similar anxiety levels to those of the control group showed a different pattern in the daytime secretion of pituitary hormones. TM thus appears to have a significant effect on the neuroendocrine axis. Because cortisol levels had a normal pattern in the TM group, these results may be due to a change in feedback sensitivity caused by this mental technique.


STUDY: Behavioral alteration of plasma phenylalanine concentration. Jevning R, Pirkle HC, Wilson AF: Physiol Behav 1977 Nov;19(5):611-4

The concentration of 13 neutral and acidic plasma amino acids was measured before, during and after either 40 min of control relaxation or 40 min of the process known as transcendental meditation (TM). An electro-oculogram, electroencephalogram, and electromyogram were simultaneously monitored in these subjects. Increased phenylalanine concentration was noted during TM practice with no change during control relaxation; no difference between the groups of total time slept or sleep stage percent was observed. The stability of phenylalanine concentration in controls and lack of correlation of increased phenylalanine with sleep in the long-term practitioners seem to suggest a relationship of the phenylalanine increase to TM practice.


STUDY: Meditation and somatic arousal reduction. Holmes, David S: American Psychologist, January 1984, pp1-10. Ensuing discussion follows in four more issues: June 1985, pp717-731; June 1986, pp712-713; September 1986, pp1007-1009; September 1987, pp879-881.

... Meditating subjects were found to have higher levels of phenylalanine that resting subjects, a finding which reflects high arousal in meditators.


STUDY: Relaxation-induced anxiety: mechanism and theoretical implications. Heide, Frederick J. and Borkovec, T. D. Behavioral Research Therapy, 1984, pp1-12.

STUDY: Relaxation-induced anxiety enhancement due to relaxation training. Heide, Frederick J. and T.D. Borkovec. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1983, p171.

These two papers by Heide and Borkovec disclose that 54 percent of anxiety-prone subjects tested experienced increased anxiety during TM-like mantra meditation.


STUDY: Metabolic Rate, Respiratory Exchange Ratio and Apneas During [TM] Meditation. John Kesterson and Noah F. Clinch. The American Journal of Physiology, March 1989, R637.

A careful, in-depth investigation into the effects of TM practice on respiration and metabolism, revealing that TM produces no deeper state of rest than from just sitting with eyes closed, even in advanced practitioners, and that the TM practice does not produce a hypometabolic state as claimed by MIU's Robert Keith Wallace.

They also discovered a decrease in respiratory exchange ratio in meditators during TM not observed in controls (i.e., an increase of carbon dioxide). Although this research was conducted at MIU, Kesterson and Clinch maintained their objectivity. Unlike most work by TM movement research, this particular study was published in a major journal.

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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: SarahL ()
Date: September 15, 2004 11:35PM

Good to see this being discussed, reminds me of my own experiences.
In the late 70s I worked at a health food store in Seattle. One of my co-workers raved often about a meditation group she was part of, she eventually convinced me to attend.
The meetings were held in a luxurious home of one of the devotees. Leader of the group was named Elizabeth Hamilton, she claimed to be the only true devotee of Yogananda, all the other disciples had gotten it wrong. She dressed in splendid white robes and had a signature lilac perfume. Her followers would often claim that they smelled this scent when in their own meditations elsewhere, it supposedly proof that Hamilton's spirit could get around.
Sessions consisted of lots of mind numbing chanting, Hamilton played the harmonium. Various prayers then a lecture from Hamilton, then an eagerly awaited chance to get a hug from the Mother.
I remember one of her lectures included a story of Mother Hamilton suddenly discerning her lamb dinner on the cellular level, she was able to see the cells.
I attended several of these Sunday sessions, and was noted to be unusual because after all the spaced out-ness of each meeting I didn't feel very sociable, and there was a huge push to be sociable after in this group. I'd go wait in the car til my friends were done. In hindsight, my following my instinct to leave each time was a good thing.
I heard from various devotees that Mother Hamilton could bi-locate, that being her devotee meant more financial success and a better love life. I heard from a former member that Hamilton decided who should marry who and that the inner circle of followers was quite regimented.
I eventually drifted away to other adventures.

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Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: SarahL ()
Date: September 16, 2004 12:03AM

I'd not found anything really on google for Elizabeth Hamilton, finally today did a search on "Mother Hamilton" and found all sorts of info:

[www.crossandlotus.com]


Also very worth checking out this board themed on The Self Realization Fellowship, lots of discussion of abuses and cultic behaviors:

[p203.ezboard.com]

"Open forum for the discussion of SRF (Mt.Washington - Los Angeles), it's practices, goals, and relationship to members and monastics/employees. Our aim is to help each other, provide an alternative source for information about SRF, and allow us all to share our opinions.
[b:abd97856fb]Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. - Martin Luther King[/b:abd97856fb]"

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