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How an epidemic of stress is overwhelming students — and what you can do about it

This special event — Is College Bad for your Brain? — explores the epidemic of stress overwhelming college students and what you can do about it. It highlights a university that puts stress-busting meditation at the core of its curriculum. This is the second event in the ChangeMaking Series, hosted by MIU and the David Lynch Foundation (DLF).

If you were unable to attend the ChangeMakers event on campus in February, now you can view videos of highlights, individual speakers, and the full webcast.


Is college bad for your brain?

Video 3:52
Watch this short highlight video capturing the essence of this event, while exploring MIU’s innovative approach to dealing with college stress.

Individual talks (not in chronological conference order)

Heart to heart with a heart surgeon – Dr. Hassan Tetteh

Video 15:04

A conversation with renowned heart transplant surgeon, Dr. Hassan Tetteh, exploring his personal story of discovering “the healer within” as well as how to transform the effects of stress on the heart in order to lead a more happy, effective and healthy life. His favorite John Steinbeck quote captures his vision: “A sad soul can kill you quicker than a germ”; and he adds that “Identifying the goals, beliefs and human connections that enrich our souls can be just as essential to healthy living as any medical treatment”.

The crazy clown suit of stress – David Lynch

Video 15:04

Global Disruptor David Lynch takes us on a tour-de-force Q & A session with students exploring donut holes, creativity and transcending, how to run with great ideas, and especially how to take off this “crazy clown suit of stress” and keep it off for good. A deep dive into the world of David Lynch and his vision for a more enlightened future for higher education!

Who you gonna call? Stress busters! – Michael Sternfeld

Video 8:37

Setting the stage, producer Michael Sternfeld gives an overview on the epidemic of stress affecting college students and explores how this challenge creates an opportunity for changemakers to step forward to make a difference by transforming the situation for good.

Getting back in your “right mind” – William R. Stixrud

Video 15:04

Neuropsychologist William Stixrud, who’s been working on the front lines for over 30 years helping students cope, offers key insights on how to get students back in their “right mind”. Having a “right mind” is based upon a healthy brain– one with a healthy stress response that produces low stress hormones. This conversation explores how students can sculpt a healthy brain and lifestyle through exercise, sufficient sleep, and especially a solid meditation practice.

Meditating students get in the groove – MIU Student Panel

Video 11:05

MIU student leaders explore and discuss how they cope with stress, covering such topics as: listening to yourself, working with stress rather than against it, creating a safe environment for growth, and how to break out of an either/or mentality to develop an inclusive lifestyle in which you can take good care of yourself and get the job done at the same time.

What’s going on between your ears? – Dr. Fred Travis, Ph.D

Video 10:37

Gain a glimpse into the inner workings of your mind as neuroscientist Fred Travis conducts a live EEG demonstration on MIU student Chevonne Height. You’ll learn about the differences between a stressed and unstressed brain and how meditation can be a powerful transformative tool to create a healthier, more effective style of brain functioning and peak performance.

Falling into a total support environment – Steve Langerud

Video 8:29

Experiential education expert Steve Langerud distills the essence of his experience coaching and counseling more than 15,000 students in this conversation. The art of listening to students, breaking the cycle of stress, and the challenge of maintaining positive behaviors are the key topics explored. Mr. Langerud also describes the fundamental shift he experienced coming to work at MIU, where he found himself surrounded by people who supported each other in making healthy lifestyle choices.

Consciousness-Based education. What’s that? – MIU Faculty Panel

Video 13:58

Consciousness-Based Education is a great experiment that is enjoying boundary-breaking results. Real higher learning unfolds when the students’ inner capacity for learning becomes the foundation to gain outer knowledge. Join educators Craig Pearson, Vicki Alexander Herriott and Leslie Doyle in a conversation exploring how true learning begins within, the benefits being experienced by those who approach learning in this way such as increased IQ and ego development, and how a university based on these principles has created a like-minded community that supports growth and fosters a sense of belonging.

Oxymoron: unpressured medical students – Drs. Gruener and Carla Brown

Video 8:51

When it comes to a stressful learning environment, the extreme challenges of medical school are well-known. Medical wellness pioneers, Dr. Gregory Gruener and Carla Brown have developed an alternative–the first major medical school in the country to offer Transcendental Meditation (TM) as an elective to help students manage stress. You’ll hear how medical students, trained to look at things in an evidence-based way, responded to the program and the surprising successes they found along the way.

Boot camp meditation de-stressor – Dave Zobeck

Video 12:54

Imagine the regular challenges of being a first-year student in college. Now combine that with the rigors of military boot camp training. That is the pressure-cooker environment at Norwich University–the oldest military academy in the country. Air Force veteran Dave Zobeck shares his insights and experiences teaching TM to cadets at Norwich and the striking peace-creating results that are unfolding in this program.

Full webcast

Part 1

Video 55:13

Part 2

Video 1:03:36

Disruptors Transforming the World for Good Panelists: Medical & Keynote


Dr. Hassan Tetteh MD, MBA, FACH


Dr. Hassan Tetteh MD, MBA, FACH, was the Command Surgeon for National Defense University and is currently a thoracic and cardiac surgeon with Howard University Hospital and MedStar Washington Hospital Center. He also serves as the Chief Medical Informatics Officer (CMIO) for the US Navy. Dr. Tetteh was recently honored as a Hero of Medicine and listed as one of the Most Influential Black Doctors by Savoy Magazine in 2017.

Dr. Tetteh will speak on how meditation can create more resilient students by reducing substance abuse, anxiety and depression while improving cognitive function, behavior, and performance.


William R. Stixrud, Ph.D.


William R. Stixrud, Ph.D., is a clinical neuropsychologist; as well as Adjunct Professor Children’s National Medical Center and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, George Washington School of Medicine. A major contributor to scientific articles, including works on the benefits of Transcendental Meditation, Dr. Stixrud recently authored an article on stress and its effect on college students in the New York Times.

Dr. Stixrud will speak on the epidemic of stress facing college students today and explore developmental strategies that can transform learning outcomes in a positive direction through proper diet, exercise, sleep and the use of Transcendental Meditation (TM ).


Dr. Gregory Gruener, MD, MBA


Dr. Gregory Gruener, MD, MBA is a neurologist, professor and Associate Chair of Neurology, affiliated with Loyola University Medical Center and Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center. Dr. Gruener is also Assoc. Dean of Medical Education and has been guiding the elective at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine entitled Physician Wellness through the Transcendental Meditation Technique.


Carla Brown EdD


Carla Brown EdD, has a doctorate from Harvard Graduate School of Education and is now Adjunct Professor of Medical Education at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, where she co-leads their cutting-edge Physician Wellness program.

Drs. Gruener and Brown will speak on the benefits being experienced in overall wellness by medical students at the first major medical school in the country to offer TM as an elective to help students manage stress.


Fred Travis, Ph.D


Fred Travis, Ph.D, is a neuroscientist who heads the Brain, Consciousness & Cognition Center at MIU. The author of 83 papers and book chapters over the last 30 years, Dr. Travis' research has explored child development and ADHD, Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, brain patterns in higher states of consciousness, and most recently, the brain signatures of world-class performers profiled in his book, Excellence Through Mind-Brain Development: The Secrets of World-Class Performers.

Dr. Travis will conduct a live EEG demonstration at the event, contrasting stressed and meditating brains, with commentary on its significance in mind-brain development.

Panelists: Educators & Students


Dave Zobeck


David Zobeck is a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran with an MA in Counseling Psychology. He has worked extensively with veterans diagnosed with PTSD during his distinguished 28-year career in the Criminal Justice System. Mr. Zobeck is now completing his eighth year as the Director of the TM Program at Norwich University, the nation’s oldest private military university. During that time, he has supervised the teaching of TM to more than 1000 students, staff, and military personnel.

Mr. Zobeck will speak on the striking TM research results showing performance benefits at Norwich, as well as his personal insights from working closely with college students in the high pressure setting of a top military academy.


Vicki Alexander, JD, LL.M


Vicki Alexander, JD, LL.M, has a background in taxation law but shifted her focus to educational psychology when she co-founded with her late husband, Skip Alexander, the Institute for Research on Consciousness and Human Development. She is currently the Dean of Faculty and Chairman of the Department of Management at Maharishi International University.


Steve Langerud


Steve Langerud, a seasoned educator, coach and workplace culture consultant, has worked as Dean of Experiential Education at Grinnell College, and Director of Professional and Career Development at DePauw University. As a college counselor and coach over the past 30 years, Mr. Langerud has counseled over 15,000 students to become more resilient, better adapted and more fully integrated into life.


Craig Pearson, PhD


Craig Pearson, PhD is VP of Academic Affairs at Maharishi University and the author of the book The Supreme Awakening: Experiences of Enlightenment Throughout Time — and How You Can Cultivate Them. Mr. Pearson speaks around the US and internationally on the topic of human development and higher states of consciousness.

And featuring a panel of MIU Students

Chris Baluja

Chevonne Height

Kirby Shields

Emily Mauntel

Kent Kachejian

Maharishi International University (MIU), a private university in Fairfield, Iowa, features a “Consciousness-Based Education” system that includes the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique. Its key features include the total study immersion of the one-course-at time block system, self-discovery and self-development as core principles, and a progressive and inclusive campus culture. The university is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and offers degree programs in art, business, education, communications, mathematical science, literature, physiology & health, Vedic Science and sustainable living.

The David Lynch Foundation (DLF) is a global charitable organization with offices in New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles and Fairfield, Iowa. It was founded by film director and Transcendental Meditation (TM) practitioner David Lynch in 2005 to develop and implement scientifically proven stress-reducing modalities for at-risk populations, including inner city students, veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, American Indians, the homeless and incarcerated adults. The DLF also funds research to assess the effects of the program on academic performance, ADHD and other learning disorders, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, cardiovascular disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and diabetes.

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