“Transcendental Meditation” lawsuit, and more

Yesterday, Religion News service (RNS) posted an article titled “Lawsuit alleges religious coercion through meditation in Chicago Public Schools.” The story tells about a former student in a Chicago public school who is suing the Chicago public schools and the David Lynch Foundation for engaging in religious instruction in a public school by teaching “Transcendental Meditation.” I put “Transcendental Meditation” in quotation marks because it’s a trademarked term for a specific form of meditation, originally taught in the U.S. by the self-styled Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi (birth name not known for certain). The RNS story is definitely worth reading, because the reporter makes clear the difference between teaching about religion, which is allowed in public schools, and actual religious instruction, which is not allowed in public schools.

The article also led me to the TM-Free Blog, which presents a critical view of “Transcendental Meditation.” This blog makes it clear, among other things, that “Transcendental Meditation” is a religious movement — I’d characterize it as a New Religious Movement based on Hinduism. Also of interest, a 2022 post alleges that “Transcendental Meditation” has links to right-wing politicians in India. And there’s a link to a document produced by the “Transcendental Meditation” folks titled “Introduction to the Holy Tradition,” which is worth reading by anyone interested in religious texts produced by New Religious Movements.

Another link from the article led me to a Penn State news release titled “People with anxiety may strategically choose worrying over relaxing” about a psychological study showing that persons with anxiety disorder or major depressive disorder may experience negative effects while using relaxation techniques — this is another study in a growing body of research showing that the benefits of relaxation techniques do not work equally well for all persons.

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