Amanda Hock Simpson—Learning Maharishi Vedic Science Online

Amanda Hock Simpson—Learning Maharishi Vedic Science Online

MUM distance education student Amanda Hock Simpson


In Fairfield at the TM-Sidhi course with course participants from the Laguna Beach area


Amanda with her family

Amanda Hock Simpson is a student in the MA in Maharishi Vedic ScienceSM program, which she has been pursuing online for the past two years. She lives in Laguna Niguel, California, with her husband and two children, so MUM’s distance education program allows her to take classes, which she wouldn’t be able to do full time.

Amanda earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from Arizona State University. She has worked as a public relations writer at American Express and at several technology companies. For the past ten years she has worked in commercial real estate investing.

Amanda says she has always been seeking knowledge about the full potential of life, so she had learned hatha yoga and taken classes on Indian philosophy. In 2014, after several friends had recommended it, she learned the Transcendental Meditation® technique. Immediately she began reading books by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and in 2015 enrolled in MUM’s online MA program in Maharishi Vedic Science.

“It is the most meaningful educational experience I have ever had,” said Amanda. “Our professors are experts in their fields and the online community is wonderful. I am so impressed with the whole structure of the program—the lectures, webinars, forums, essays, presentations. We are learning about everything that matters most in life.”

In 2017 Amanda visited Fairfield for the first time and completed the TM-Sidhi® program. Currently she is attending the Maharishi YogaSM Asana course in Laguna Beach. Amanda enjoys incorporating all the different branches of Maharishi’s knowledge and technologies in her life, as she feels they are complementary and enhance both her experience and understanding. She also enjoys sharing the knowledge she is gaining at MUM.

“You can reach a lot more people when the wisdom of the ancient teachings is confirmed by scientific studies showing how much the brain changes and evolves as a result of TM,” she said.

In her free time Amanda enjoys songwriting, photography, hiking, traveling, and interior design.

Students Launch Online Literary Magazine

Students Launch Online Literary Magazine

The cover of the magazine


Artwork included in the first issue by MUM alumna Nicole Winning


Metafore editor-in-chief James Davidson

Students in MUM’s BFA in Creative Writing program recently launched Metafore, a new online literary magazine that publishes poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

The idea to create the journal started with creative writing student James Davidson, who noticed a new trend in literary publishing: in addition to MFA programs, now BFA programs are publishing literary journals; so he conceived the niche literary publication in line with MUM’s unique Consciousness-BasedSM approach.

Metafore was founded with the purpose of promoting writing that fits within our literary paradigm here at MUM,” said James, who is editor-in-chief. “We hope to connect writers with awareness and experience of the transcendent with an appreciative audience.” One of the goals of the journal is to include diverse literary voices—including the marginalized—and use literature as a tool for humanizing different communities.

Metafore is listed on several writing resource websites, where writers can learn about the journal’s guidelines. Submission is open to anyone except current students. James said that serious literary magazines and journals affiliated with institutions typically bar those connected with their institution from submitting. However, Metafore is accepting submissions from alumni.

The winter 2017 issue features an accomplished group of international writers, including the American transcendentalist poet Erik Pankey, professor of English at George Mason University in Washington, D.C., who has published over ten books of poetry since 1982. The inaugural issue also features ceramic artwork by Nicole Winning, a graduate of the MA in Maharishi Vedic ScienceSM program at MUM.

The editorial board is comprised exclusively of students: James Davidson, editor-in-chief and poetry editor; Dylene Cymraes, fiction editor; Tamlin Day, creative nonfiction editor; Hallei Halter, editor; and Margaret Ventsias, fine art editor. Faculty adviser is Leah Waller, assistant professor of creative writing. “Running the magazine provides us with an extra level of professional experience and skill set we can take into the world,” said James.

Robert Herron Publishes New Study on TM’s Impact on Veterans’ PTSD

Robert Herron Publishes New Study on TM’s Impact on Veterans’ PTSD

Participants in the study went from an average PCL-5 pretest score of 51.52 (with a score of 33 or above indicating PTSD) to an average posttest score of 23.43 after 30 days of practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM)


Robert Herron, Ph.D., lead author of the study


Colonel Brian Rees, M.D., coauthor of the study


A veteran practicing the TM technique (photo by David Lynch Foundation)

Veterans of the wars in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) found significant relief from their symptoms as a result of practicing the Transcendental Meditation®technique, according to a new study led by MUM alumnus Robert Herron and published recently in Military Medicine.

The 41 veterans and 5 active-duty soldiers in the study had been diagnosed with clinical levels of PTSD. After one month, 87 percent had a clinically significant decrease of more than 10 points. The reduction was so great that 37 participants had their symptoms reduced to below the clinical level for PTSD.

“It’s remarkable that after just one month we would see such a pronounced decrease in symptoms, with four out of five veterans no longer considered to have a serious problem with PTSD,” Dr. Herron said.

By way of comparison the standard treatment, which entails veterans attending counseling and re-experiencing their trauma as part of the therapy, is typically only partially successful, with approximately two-thirds still suffering from PTSD after being treated.

In addition, research has shown that the Transcendental Meditation program has a positive benefit for many of the conditions associated with PTSD, such as high anxiety, insomnia, depression, and high blood pressure.

An interesting facet of the study was that the veterans were recruited through media advertising rather than through a veterans hospital.

“The importance of this study is that it shows that veterans are able to help themselves,” said Dr. Herron. “After learning about the opportunity to participate in the study, they went to local Transcendental Meditation centers to be instructed in the practice.”

The current study follows four previous studies on veterans that suggested a benefit for PTSD. Because of these promising findings, the U.S. Department of Defense has supported a randomized controlled trial involving 210 veterans that is now nearing completion.

“The evidence is mounting that Transcendental Meditation is an effective treatment for PTSD,” said Colonel Brian Rees, M.D., coauthor of the current study.

Funding for veterans to learn the Transcendental Meditation technique in this study was provided by the Wege Foundation, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and by the Maharishi Foundation.

Producer Andrew Runkle’s Short Film Competes at Sundance

Producer Andrew Runkle’s Short Film Competes at Sundance

MUM alumnus Andrew Runkle


With crew and cast on the set of a Moncler promo video at Lake Placid, NY


Testing a Steadicam rig in Kyoto, Japan, for a Louis Vuitton project

As a business and digital media major at MUM, Andrew Runkle got swept up in the world of filmmaking early on and never looked back—thanks to his MUM friends who were in the film program. Andrew is now a successful video producer, with a short film that made it to the Sundance Film Festival.

After graduating from MUM in 2003, Andrew moved to New York City and began looking for film production jobs. Working with various production companies, he freelanced his way up from production assistant to production coordinator and eventually producer. He has worked on a variety of media, including Indie films, commercials, documentaries, animation, and music videos. Recently he produced several big-brand commercials, such as a Gatorade spot, that featured celebrity athletes, including Michael Jordan.

“I get a lot of fulfillment from seeing a project realize from start to finish—being able to bring something to life and see that come to fruition in a relatively short amount of time,” said Andrew. “And then seeing the commercial on TV is a nice bonus.”

Last year Andrew got the opportunity to produce his first narrative short film titled “Cecile on the Phone,” which was screened in competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Inspired by the success of this project, Andrew now hopes to have more opportunities in the world of entertainment, such as feature films and television.

Andrew appreciates the time he spent with fellow filmmakers at MUM and has stayed in touch with many of them. “The takeaway from my MUM experience was having the community there, many of whom I have continued to work with over the years making stuff together,” he said.

Daniel Sharma–Sustainable Investing

Daniel Sharma–Sustainable Investing

Daniel collecting investment data for his internship


With Stuart Valentine, owner of Centered Wealth


Giving a presentation in class about his internship experience

MUM student Daniel Sharma began investing in financial instruments in high school. Inspired by his grandfather, who was a businessman, he opened a trading account so that he could buy shares of his favorite companies.

While earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration at the University of Toronto, Daniel completed a training program to obtain his investment banking certificate. In addition, he started his own investment club, wrote articles for the University of Toronto’s investment magazine, and regularly placed in the top three at the university’s stock market competitions. He also found the time to write and publish a book on Amazon advising students on creating a successful life.

After graduating in April 2017, he worked at a hedge fund in Montreal, and in August he enrolled at MUM. He chose MUM’s MBA program because of its focus on sustainability. “Learning about sustainable finance is much different from what you hear at every other university,” said Daniel.

“What I like about MUM is that they focus not only on your education, but on your well-being as an individual as well,” Daniel said. “I find TM very helpful, especially after a tiring day when you are looking at the screen all day—and it’s like throwing away the stress from your body.”

Daniel is motivated by long-term financial success which is not only dominated by profit but also by consideration of the environment and the stakeholders of the business. Soon after he arrived at MUM, he completed a two-month internship with Fairfield’s Centered Wealth, a socially responsible investment firm.

“Daniel helped us mine data on socially responsible investment funds and is now working to develop methods to construct model portfolios for our use next year,” said Stuart Valentine, owner of Centered Wealth.

Daniel also pursues investing as a hobby by trading stocks, futures, and cryptocurrencies, as well as sharing his tips and strategies with fellow students.