53-year-old Peter Mittermuller is an environmental engineer by profession. He wanted to save the environment from global warming. But he soon realized that in order to save the environment outside, we first need to save another environment inside us that is polluted with stress and anxiety.
That’s when he started teaching ameditation to people and started a revolution for [210102:inner peace.] Among the thousands that he has taught were trauma-struck people too. He believes that meditation is the best way to relieve people of trauma. Here he shares some success stories of how meditation can provide trauma relief to people.
Q1 Could you talk a little about how you got introduced to meditation and your journey from being a non-meditator to a meditator?
In the early 70s, I was working as an environmental engineer. At that time,global warming had just started to emerge as a problem.As an environmental engineer, I wanted to help the environment. So we started working towards that goal,but I soon realized that it was not easy to change people’s perspectives. People were so stressed out with their own worries and so tied up in their own lives that they had no time to worry about the environment.
This bothered me so much that I started depending on alcohol to calm my mind down. However, later, when I experienced meditation, it was so different. I was so naturally calm. And that’s when something struck me.
Everyone experiences two environments – an environment inside them and one outside them. In order to save the outside one, we first need to change the inside one. The inside one, which is so polluted with stress and anxiety, can be cleaned by meditation. Once that is done, people will automatically start thinking about saving the outside one. And then that became my mission.
I started teaching meditation to people, influencing the environment inside them in a positive way. I wanted to bring about an environmental revolution, so I started with revolution for inner peace. I still call myself an environmental engineer, just this time the environment I am trying to save is different.
Q2 Among the many people that you have taught, there were some people who suffered great trauma. Could you talk a little about their experiences with meditation?
Well, I have taken courses in tsunami-hit areas in New Zealand. The changes I saw have been truly amazing. All of a sudden, people felt calmer and more centered and strong. Many shared having felt less anxious.
Most of the people who were suffering from insomnia due to trauma were able to go to bed again. Some people hadn’t sleep peacefully in years. One participant shared that he had not been able to sleep for years and he had spent thousands of dollars all over the world trying different treatments; then he came and learned these techniques and suddenly he could sleep again. So it’s incredible that meditation relievs you from insomnia.
A lady who had learned meditation before she experienced trauma (a major earthquake) shared that it was only because she had learned meditation that she was able to handle her mind. She was trapped in a building for 12 hours. But she did not feel that scared; in fact, she was herself amazed how calm she was. She owed this calmness to meditation, which she had been practicing for sometime.
Q3 So how does meditation work? How does it have such an impact that people feel so transformed?
Basically, whatever trauma we experience gets stored in our cellular memory. It’s like each cell in our body has got its own memory chip, similar to that of a cell phone. And this trauma affects how we act in our daily life. Most times, this trauma induces all types of fears, leading people to feel anxious and irritated, insomniac, and so on.
Now what meditation does is that it gradually erases this cellular memory—what we call impressions. Once this memory gets erased, all fears, anxiety, and irritation goes away too and the person comes out calm and peaceful.
Meditation and breathing techniques like Sudarshan Kriya are the fastest ways to relieve people of trauma. It’s so evident from the experiences of people that I have taught.
If I have taught meditation to 1200 people, we have 1200 success stories at hand. It’s amazing how meditation works.
Q4 What kind of impact does trauma have on children? And how can meditation help them get out of it?
After experiencing trauma,parents shared that their children became unfriendly and arrogant. They started bullying each other. Many felt insecure. Some even lost their memory.
Seeing this, we have recently started meditation programs in schools. We believe with meditation as a tool, these children will come out much stronger.
Q5 What is your vision for the project?
Our vision is to gift every child this tool. We started with two different schools and now we are going from city to city and to other schools to help every child, because meditation really works.
In one of our courses, there was a boy who used to cause a lot of nuisance earlier.
After about 3 to 4 weeks of the course, his parents were called to school, but this time not to complain but to appreciate the positive change his teachers had seen in the boy.
The boy was more focused and was helping other children.
Q6 How do you think meditation empowers trauma-struck people with the strength to regain normalcy in their lives?
You see, when these people meditate, they are able to wipe off all the trauma-related impressions from their cellular memory. When that happens, their trauma or fear does not affect them as much. Gradually, they become mentally strong and are able to regain normalcy in their lives.
There was this student who had suffered trauma after an earthquake. Later, she came to the course and learned meditation. She found the techniques really helpful.And today she is a teacher.
Q7 Would you like to leave a message for the reader?
I would just like to say that if you learn meditation, there is nothing to lose, but you might be amazed to see how much you can gain from it. Even if you don’t believe in it, just give it a shot. Even I didn’t believe in it, but today I am glad I learned it.
You might feel your life is pretty good and you are happy and you do not need meditation. To that I would say: if your life is like any other car, with meditation it will become like a luxury car.
Interview taken by Divya Sachdev