Spiritual Living in Fairfield, Iowa
Grace Bello`s story “GROWING UP IN FAIRFIELD, IOWA — AMERICA’S TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION MECCA,” Paper, 17 March 2015, (http://www.papermag.com/2015/03/fairfield_iowa_maharishi_transcendental_meditation.php)
Since the 1970s, a small town in the Midwest United States has become to training grounds for one of the most prominent meditation techniques. In Fairfield Iowa, the Transcendental Meditation (TM) movement has created and maintained a school that trains the techniques of Transcendental Meditation since 1974. Devotees have been traveling to Fairfield since the school was started to learn the ways of meditation and strive to create world peace.
The founder of the TM movement, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, started the school with only 12 students in the first year but soon attracted many idealists to come to the small town to learn from Maharishi. Many of the people who have done the pilgrimage to Fairfield, do it under the pretense that a massive group of people meditating together would result in a decrease of poverty, crime and war.
The TM movement began as a new religious movement that supposedly used science as one of its cornerstones and this attracted many people who were drifting away from traditional religions. As time went on though, the movement became more and more spiritual and people in the community began to feel separate and segregated from people in the town not involved in the movement. It left many families feeling isolated in a community where they were supposed to be supported.
Rodney Stark talked about how this focus on spirituality had alienated many of the recruits and gurus in the movement and decreased the popularity in the movement. Many of the former recruits were university students who were searching for a scientific method to achieve a higher state of consciousness. When the TM movement drifted away from that goal it lost many of its members and lost a central cause and reason to join the movement.
The article refers to this exact situation with some of the kids who grew up in the movement. They began to feel out of place and secluded from the people around them and this ultimately led them to abandon the movement. Although they did keep a lot of what they learned about meditation and transferred that over to their currents lives.