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Mind-body connections: Authors with Fairfield ties explore ways to keep balance for wellness

This file photo shows students engaged in their daily practice of Transcendental Meditation, at what is now known as Mah
This file photo shows students engaged in their daily practice of Transcendental Meditation, at what is now known as Maharishi International University in Fairfield. A new book by three men with ties to the university and community examines the mind/body connection to wellness and handling stress. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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On the eve of its release, a book project that began five years ago in Fairfield has become especially timely in light of the pandemic and its inherent stressors.

It’s a guide for getting mind and body in sync to boost the immune system and facilitate healing through diet, exercise and meditation. It’s not a cure-all, but it does offer ways of coping, which the authors said can be applied during these uncertain times that take a toll on physical and mental well-being.

They discuss practical applications for reducing anxiety, depression, anger, PTSD, blood pressure, stress and insomnia, weight loss and tobacco use.

Don’t let the title scare you. In a recent Gazette Zoom interview, authors Jay Marcus and Robert Keith Wallace of Fairfield and Dr. Christopher Clark of Santa Rosa, Calif., said readers don’t need to be experts to glean useful information from “The Coherence Effect: Tapping Into the Laws of Nature that Govern Health, Happiness, and Higher Brain Functioning.”

It’s due out in paperback Wednesday at Coherenceeffect.com, but a Kindle version is available now on Amazon.com

“It has a lot of practical advice in it that’s very easy to understand,” said Wallace, 75, chair of the department of physiology and health at Fairfield’s Maharishi International University. He’s also founding president of the school, then known as Maharishi University of Management.

“It does have some nice scientific explanations in it, written for the layman,” he said. “It’s not written for a scientist. I write journal articles and they’re very different. It’s much harder to write for everybody than it is for scientists, at least, for me.”

So what is the Coherence Effect? On the book’s website, the authors explain:

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“Coherence heals. The coherence effect is the healing effect of creating order in the mind and body. All diseases are disorders, and the antidote is to create order in the disordered part of the body or in the body as a whole. That is what modern medicine seeks to do with its pharmaceuticals.

“But pharmaceuticals often just treat the symptoms and not the underlying disorder. If we want lasting health, we need to apply the coherence principle of creating order to what keeps us healthy on a daily basis — to our diet, exercise, and rest and relaxation or meditation practices.”

“The book lays out sort of an introduction for people to start to take part in participating in their own health,” said Clark, 70, who lived in Fairfield from 1982 to 2002, raised his family there, and served as psychiatric medical director at the Ottumwa Regional Health Center. He joined the book project three years ago.

Just as one size does not fit all in clothing, neither does one diet, one exercise plan or one discipline fit all people, so the book explores various paths readers can use to find what works for them.

It includes a quiz to help determine their body type and what foods are best suited to that type and disposition. For instance, Marcus, 78, a lawyer and lecturer who has taught meditation for 45 years, noted that a person with a medium build and a fiery temper should avoid hot, spicy foods that would inflame the situation.

“And alcohol is not so good for that person,” he added. “It’s like pouring kerosene on the fire.”

The authors practice Transcendental Meditation and have explored other meditation methods, as well. They also look for the ways to combine medicine with ancient traditions.

“I think that well-being is really a main theme now, and that people are able to participate in their own well-being and for prevention,” Clark said. “And so I think the technique of meditation is most profound because that sort of resets through deep, deep rest and achievement of brainwave coherence, which really has effects throughout the whole physiology, through the hormonal system, through normalizing sleep and to balancing blood pressure. The key is just the personalized and participatory nature of these recommendations.”

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The book doesn’t teach Transcendental Meditation, since that’s done on an in-person, one-on-one basis, Marcus said.

But it doesn’t have to be a solitary experience. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, meditation in a virtual group setting can give people a sense of connection to a community, Clark noted.

“Isolation is contributing to a lot of the mental health problems people are having,” he said. “And certainly, you can Zoom a meditation. Keith and Jay and I were all on a Zoom meditation last week.

“And it’s funny, you know, we’re all connecting right now (for the Zoom interview) and we’re in different locations, but there is a sense of togetherness and communication, and that actually helps,” Clark said. “And that helps people. And even in Zooming a meditation, eyes closed, there is the connectedness.”

At a Glance

• What: “The Coherence Effect: Tapping Into the Laws of Nature that Govern Health, Happiness, and Higher Brain Functioning”

• Authors: Dr. Robert Keith Wallace and Jay Marcus of Fairfield, Dr. Christopher Clark of Santa Rosa, Calif.

• Publisher: Armin Lear Press, 334 pages

• Where: Coherenceeffect.com/ and Amazon.com

• Details: Coherenceeffect.com/

Comments: (319) 368-8508; diana.nollen@thegazette.com

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