Educating from the Inside Out in Thailand
A University that Develops the Full Potential of Students
(Part three of a three-part series)
Gail Connellee didn’t expect to go back to school in her 60s. She already had a BA in education and worked as a counselor. But when she heard about the opportunity to earn an MA degree at the Rajapark Institute in Bangkok, Thailand, she decided to return to the classroom.
“The difference at this school is that we all practice the Transcendental Meditation technique, and this is what made me even consider going back to school at this late stage in life,” says Gail. “Meditating has given me the confidence and ability to manage my studies. Learning comes easily—in some ways better than ever before. I feel young again. I attribute that to the TM technique—the rest it provides, the orderliness of thinking, and the ability to enjoy and experience the bliss of learning.”
Chen Au Teo, 24, whom the other students at Rajapark Institute call “Angel,” also finds that the addition of the Transcendental Meditation technique is a perfect complement to learning. “Back home in Malaysia, I used to only enjoy studying art, but now I enjoy studying physics, astronomy, history, economy — just about everything,” she says. “Because I am exploring my own consciousness, which is also the basis for every field of study, I feel connected with the knowledge, and that is fulfilling. This connection with knowledge brings me joy while learning.”
Gail is unique not only because her fellow students are much younger, but also because she is the only American to study at Rajapark Institute, which has 4,000 students (mostly from Thailand) at the main campus in Bangkok and in seven satellite campuses around the country. They are earning graduate degrees in four areas: Engineering, Management, Education, Political Science and the Science of Creative Intelligence for Management.
It is this last major that Gail chose. “I was interested in learning how to teach this unique subject, which studies the field of intelligence and creativity that underlies all disciplines and can be directly experienced through the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique. With my background as an elementary school teacher and counselor, I immediately recognized that the addition of the TM technique to education could help students rise to their full potential.”
Indeed, research published in peer-reviewed journals has shown that students who practice the Transcendental Meditation technique significantly improve in academic achievement, cognitive functioning, logical thinking, focus and even IQ. Other benefits to education include reduced teacher burnout, improved teacher-student relationships, higher levels of moral reasoning, and better health for teachers and students.
Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing the president of this unique university, Dr. RajaVikram Charoen-Rajapark, who founded Rajapark as a college in 1996 with less than 100 students. He was inspired by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation technique, to start a university to offer ideal education, to develop full potential for the students, and to establish a large group of students to practice TM and the more advanced TM-Sidhi program together to create peace and harmony for Thailand. In addition the Rajapark Institute currently donates most, if not all, of its profits to support large groups of people practicing the TM and TM-Sidhi program together to create world peace.
Based on positive government assessments, the college was able to upgrade its status to “institute” in 2008.
“The government sends teams to assess our programs on a routine basis, and they are very supportive,” says Dr. RajaVikram. “They not only support us in using the Transcendental Meditation technique to expand the students’ learning and earning potential, but they encourage us to emphasize it as our strong point. ‘Base your reputation on the TM program in your curriculum,’ they advised us.”
I found out that the “raja” in “Rajapark” means “administrator or king.” Dr. RajaVikram’s family has served the royal family in Thailand for three generations. His maternal grandfather, a top-ranking administrator, was the Chief of Justice of the judges under the King of Thailand, and the beautiful campus, which is graced with tropical gardens and trees, is built on land that his mother purchased for her family.
I get the feeling from Dr. RajaVikram that here is an extraordinarily compassionate man who, with his wife, Varaporn Charoen-Rajapark, feels responsible for the well-being of people in Thailand and the whole world, not just his own family.
“We feel that our students are creating an atmosphere of peace for the whole country through their practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique,” he says. “And the Science of Creative Intelligence for Management Master degree program was inspired by recent visits from the representatives from the Ministry of Educationthat emphasize the importance of full human development, creating a happy society, and protecting the environment.”
For the students of Rajapark Institute, daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique has far-reaching benefits. Man Yin Chen, a student from Hong Kong, says, “Every morning and evening I attend a group meditation. It gives me the support I need for my research. When I get stuck, somehow after meditation the answer comes to me. Sometimes the quote that I’m looking for is right there in the next book I open. I also feel that with the help of the Transcendental Meditation technique I can expand my consciousness and explore my inner self, to know my true self.”
Man Yin also feels that the benefits of the TM technique extend beyond the classroom, to the rest of her life. “Practicing TM not only helps me with my studies, but to be a better person as a whole. I feel nourished by the beautiful experience of transcending, and then I can nourish my friends and classmates.”
Gail Connellee agrees. “TM allows you to manage your time efficiently and allows you to handle challenges without stress,” she says. “You enjoy your life more.”
About the Author
Linda Egenes writes about green and healthy living and is the author of six books, including The Ramayana: A New Retelling of Valmiki’s Ancient Epic—Complete and Comprehensive, co-authored with Kumuda Reddy, M.D.
More Posts by Linda
- Tired and Burned Out? Transcendental Meditation Can Help: An Interview with Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf, MD
- Worried About the Future? Six Ways to Calm Your Anxiety
- What Do You Carry in Your Self-Care Tool Kit?
- Five Strategies for Family Caregivers
- From the Streets to College in Four Months: The Communiversity of South Africa Empowers Underserved Youth in Cape Town