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New book shows meditation can aid governmental efforts to bring peace and heal divisions
An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence – publication date June 26, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has put societies everywhere under extreme stress, and collective stress is often a precursor to outbreaks of violence. Striking features of this global health crisis have been the collective anxiety of the population, the wide variations in the way governments have responded, and the varying degree of their success. While there is significant scientific research showing that meditation has a positive influence on the health and well being of individuals, is there any evidence that large-scale meditation can have a similar influence on societies in reducing stress and levels of violence?
“Yes” is the surprising inference from the authors of a new book. Published June 26, An Antidote to Violence: Evaluating the Evidence provides evidence that the level of collective anxiety and tension in society, or incoherence in collective consciousness, is the key element, which determines the success or failure of a government in tackling crime, violence, social unrest and ill-health.
Barry Spivack and Patricia Saunders describe how a rise in collective tensions spills over into increased social unrest, crime, violence, accidental deaths and hospital emergencies. They examine 20 peer-reviewed studies from over four decades, indicating that it is possible to neutralise or reduce stress in collective consciousness through the practice of Transcendental Meditation (TM) and its advanced programs by a sufficient number of individuals, which is amplified in groups.
“These findings are more relevant now than ever before at a time of pandemic, protest, and social unrest,” says Spivack, and offers three examples from the studies cited in the book. Each of these quasi-experiments consisted of sufficient numbers either meditating on their own or together for a period of weeks or months, in societies wracked by violence: on 93 experimental days in Lebanon between 1983 and 1985, Cambodia between 1990 and 2008, and USA between 2007 and 2010 compared with the previous four years. In each case measured statistically, significant drops in violence occurred during the periods when the numbers meditating were above the predicted threshold.
Written for the social scientist and the lay reader alike, An Antidote to Violence offers answers to key questions, including: does group meditation actually influence society? If so, how does it work? What is the evidence? What do skeptics say?
Weaving together psychology, sociology, philosophy, statistics, politics, physics and meditation, the book provides evidence that we have the knowledge to reduce all kinds of violence in society by creating coherence in collective consciousness and thereby neutralising collective stress.
In his introduction to the book, quantum physicist Dr. John Hagelin, and President of the Global Union of Scientists for Peace, suggests “the existing research, while compelling and rigorous, presents a direct challenge to established mainstream sociological paradigms and may be difficult for some to accept. Even more rigorous and repeated testing of the theories presented here is therefore essential to ensure widespread acceptance of this demonstrated sociological phenomenon.”
In the Foreword to the book, Bob Roth, CEO of the David Lynch Foundation, and author of the NY Times bestseller, Strength in Stillness: The Power of Transcendental Meditation, writes: “Barry Spivack and Patricia Saunders have opened our eyes to an entirely new vision of possibilities about human potential that is both sweepingly grand but also immediate and practical.”
What people are saying about An Antidote to Violence
I was initially skeptical that such a simple solution could be effective. However, after examining the evidence, I changed my mind. An Antidote to Violence is a serious and well-researched book that offers an unconventional but effective peaceful solution to violence and terrorism. – Lieutenant General Clarence E. McKnight, Jr, Former Director of Command, Control and Communications Systems for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington DC
This book is especially good at discussing the evidence and the alternative explanations that have been advanced for the results. I can recommend the book to all readers with an open mind. – Huw Dixon, Professor of Economics, Cardiff University
Barry Spivack and Patricia Saunders address the problems of preventing violence and war with a high level of professionalism, and, by examining a means to achieve sustainable peace supported by long-term research, have created a book that is hugely relevant. Most importantly, they highlight the interdependence of power, violence, security, and individual and collective consciousness. This book will be extremely useful for people of all nationalities, regardless of their status, different religious beliefs, personal preferences and life strategies. The theoretical and methodological principles outlined here deserve to be studied carefully and disseminated in the world – Lieutenant General Vasyl Krutov, former First Deputy Head of the Security Service of Ukraine and First Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine
My most sincere congratulations to the authors for their research and presentation of this book. I hope it will be read and applied by leaders of government and by all in general for the good of society and each person in particular. – Lieutenant General José Martí Villamil de la Cadena, former Chief of Staff of the Army and Commander of Ground Theatre Operations, Chief of Staff of the Joint Command, Vice-Minister of Defence, and General Secretary of the National Security Council in Ecuador
Based on hard evidence corroborated by rigorous scientific studies, …the book compiles an array of incredible success stories from all over the world in an easily readable style for all those interested in addressing the monumental challenge of eradicating violence and conflict. – Ved P. Nanda, Professor of Law, University of Denver
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Establishing causality in the social sciences is difficult. Nevertheless, the research provides evidence that is consistent with a causal interpretation as follows:
- Repetition – 20 peer-reviewed studies which show statistically significant results
- Dosage effect. The bigger the group the larger the impact
- The independent variable, the TM-Sidhi group often varies at random so you get a repeat effect when the relevant threshold of numbers is passed within the same experiment.
- Controlling for other possible causes such as population density, median years of education, per capita income, percentage of people in the age range 15-29, percentage unemployed, percentage below the poverty line, percentage of people over 65, the ration of police per population, weather, holidays, seasons, and political events.
- Normally unconnected variables (crime, accidental deaths, infant mortality, deaths from opioids) all move in the same direction at the same time.
- The change in the independent variable the numbers practising Transcendental Meditation and its advanced programs change before the dependent variable, such as crime or war fatalities or the misery index.