After reading the article about teen mental health (“Helping teens in affluent communities cope with mental health,” Scarsdale Inquirer, July 26), I wonder, what is mental health? Is it simply the absence of anxiety, depression and stress?
As a Scarsdale High School graduate, I understand the pressure to achieve. However, in my teens I wanted more then aspiring to good grades, attending an Ivy League school and making six figures. I didn’t know what I wanted until I found something that transformed my life.
At age 17, I learned a simple mental technique called Transcendental Meditation, which I have now practiced for 45 years. TM became a source of inner development that created a solid foundation of inner strength and bliss within me. From this experience, I believe the missing component of mental health for teens is inner development. I credit TM for providing me with an inner sanctum of peace and saving my life. Due to my experience, I feel the desire to help others lessen the stress of daily life, especially our youth.
As an elementary school teacher, I have witnessed the stress on students of having to gain knowledge of subjects and yet not be taught how to gain inner fulfillment. We train the mind and intellect of our youth to get into better and better elementary, middle, high schools and colleges. But, having achieved all this, are the students balanced, happy, loving adults? More importantly, is the journey from child to adult filled with love, happiness and a balance of heart, mind and spirit? Or is it a path riddled with stress, anxiety and depression?
I have watched students battling anger, low self-esteem, social troubles and academic issues change through instruction in TM. Students around the world have learned this simple mental technique and have had their lives transformed.
Students at The Thacher School, the oldest coed private boarding school for high school students in California, face many of the same issues that impact students from affluent communities: the stress of standardized tests, the pressure to get into good colleges, massive amounts of homework due daily, the pressure to excel in sports, etc.
Thacher students learned TM and found positive results. Michael K. Mulligan, head of the school, said, “Students today are under more pressure than ever to succeed. Standardized testing and grades play increasingly important roles in secondary and college placement outcomes — and many of our youngsters and teens are showing signs of folding under the stress of homework, grades, testing and parental expectations. Our kids need a break, and Transcendental Meditation is one great answer to helping them find rest, peace and calm. Simple, easy and effective, TM has provided for our students … a critical time-out from the stresses of the day. Our students who learned this technique last year report more peace and silence in their day and more resilience in their activities. It has been a gift and a blessing in their lives.”
The use of meditation as an intervention may seem ridiculous to some. Yet, many of the greatest ideas and inventions of our times started out as seemingly insane. For example, my father, the late Dr. Gilbert Baum, was a pioneer in diagnostic ultrasound. The chief of staff at the Veterans Administration Hospital, where my father did his research, told my dad, “Baum, I thought you were certifiable to think you could use sound to see.”
A new paradigm in imaging in the health field came about due to my father’s endless zeal to follow what he knew to be beneficial to the world.
TM has been scientifically validated in more than 600 research studies to reduce stress, anxiety, anger and depression. The research also indicates a greater sense of inner calm develops and a stronger sense of self. In some cases insomnia is alleviated.
The David Lynch Foundation has given TM to veterans, domestic violence victims, and students in schools around the world, transforming the lives of individuals from darkness to light.
Why not give TM to SHS students to develop inner contentment? Why not create a new paradigm of mental health for our youth? When inner development and outer achievement go hand in hand, the result will be true mental health for Scarsdale students.
Margo L. Baum, of Brite Avenue, received her bachelor’s in education from Boston University and her master’s in education from Maharishi University of Management, an accredited university in Fairfield, Iowa. She has taught elementary school and creative writing workshops around the world.