Dear Jerry:

My girlfriend, “Kristen,” has started the practice of meditation. Repeatedly and throughout the day, she meditates. Alone and in all kinds of groups, she spends mornings, afternoons and evenings meditating. When she is not meditating, she is talking about meditation.

Her latest "shtick" is about the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement. She claims that the large presence of TM groups in certain cities is the reason crime has decreased in those cities. Does that make any sense?

Andrew M.

San Francisco

Dear Andrew:

In my opinion, that makes no sense. By its mere presence, any outside group taking credit for reduced crime is absurd. There are multiple factors that contribute to crime reduction. The most prominent of those factors is probably law enforcement.

To be clear, I practice meditation and recommend meditation. Though I do not attend meditation meetings, I happen to practice Transcendental Meditation (TM) and use the original mantra I was assigned decades ago. That said, I believe there are hundreds of equally effective meditation methods. Except for individuals who select a career in meditation (e.g., lecturing, teaching, training), I also believe meditation should be a means toward enhancing one’s life and not the ultimate goal. Like other good practices, excessive meditation can be counterproductive.

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When practiced moderately, meditation has substantial benefits. My personal favorites are clarity, relaxation and tranquility. However, instead of defining or listing the advantages of meditation, I would advise my interested readers to research the topic independently.

At your public library or local bookstore, you can familiarize yourself with various meditation options. Simply visit the shelves that include “Meditation” books. Or online, peruse “Meditation” among your favorite shopping websites. A generous supply of books are accessible via www.abebooks.com, www.bookfinder.com, www.amazon.com and www.froogle.com, for example.

For those who want a jump-start, I will suggest a prolific author. Thich Nhat Hanh (pronounced phonetically “tik na honn”), a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist, has written widely on this and related subjects. While dozens of his books could capture your attention, you might begin with “Peace Is Every Step.” In case you are not fluent in Vietnamese, Thich Nhat Hanh’s books have been translated into English, Spanish and many popular languages. Even in translation, his intelligence and humor shine through.

Meanwhile, I have a final comment on your specific issue. Since Kristen believes the large presence of TM groups has decreased the crime rate in certain cities, you might ask Kristen this question: If the crime rate had increased during the large presence of TM groups, would those same TM groups be responsible for the increase?

Jerry Romansky is a syndicated columnist. Readers are invited to write in English or Spanish: Ask Jerry, Post Office Box 42444, Washington DC 20015. Email askjerry@earthlink.net and (because of spam situation) write the name of your newspaper in subject heading. Questions of popular interest are answered in the column. Unpublished letters cannot be answered individually.

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