Photographs by Christopher Medak ©
Thom Knoles is a maharishi (or pre-eminent master-teacher) of Vedic Meditation (an effortless mental technique that allows one to experience fully-awake restful consciousness and its many physiological benefits). He has tens of thousands of personally-taught students worldwide.
Thom is a thought-leader and celebrated speaker on the cognitive sciences, on the potential of the brain and health of the body, on the relationship between quantum physics and human consciousness, and on the 5,000 year-old body of wisdom known as the Veda (knowledge governing the unity of the laws of nature and human consciousness from which yoga, meditation, and Ayur Veda are derived).
In India, he is called “Maharishi Vyasananda.” It means “the great seer who sequentially elaborates knowledge blissfully”.
Born in the 1950s to American parents in post-war Germany, Thom grew up traveling extensively and was educated in Southeast Asia, Hawaii, California, and Washington, DC. His father was a highly-decorated US Air Force general and his paternal grandfather was a senator in Arizona.
In the ’60s, Thom discovered yoga and his life was changed. He learned Vedic Meditation from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who became Thom’s personal mentor and his predominant spiritual and educational influence over the next two decades. After basing himself in Australia, Thom became an acclaimed teacher of yoga and meditation before the age of twenty.
Continuing his training with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India and in Europe, Thom spent most of the 1970s teaching in Australia and researching abroad at Maharishi European Research University (MERU), a prestigious post-graduate neuroscience-and-consciousness research institute based in Switzerland which attracted the support of several Nobel laureates, eminent scholars and researchers.
He received an honorary doctorate, “Doctor of Science of Creative Intelligence” (D.Sci) in 1978 and quickly became a sought-after public speaker and educator, consulting to more than 40 top corporations and federal and state governments in Australia and abroad, as well as government-funded meditation programs in prisons in Australia and in the United States.
Thom became the national coordinator of a meditation-teaching organization in Australia, coordinating public relations, teaching activities, and advanced training of some 85 Australian meditation instructors. He oversaw the organization’s expansion of physical facilities and real estate holdings into the 1980s. He had taught 3,000 new meditators before the age of thirty
Photographs by Christopher Medak ©
After graduating from advanced training in the Vedic sciences with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India, Thom co-founded and co-managed a meditation-inspired private high school in Sydney. He worked in the Himalayas for King Birendra of Nepal siting and developing a foreign-aid funded Vedic university to preserve the Nepalese Vedic knowledge and culture.
He had a key role in a major meditation-for-peace teaching project in the Philippines during the People Power revolution. It culminated in 60,000 new meditators in Manila — ushering in a peaceful transition of power through group meditation practice.
The rest of the 1980s saw Thom carrying out extensive consulting work with Australian corporations and federal and state government bodies. He trained alongside Deepak Chopra in India under pre-eminent Ayur Vedic masters to become an Ayur Veda practitioner and educator. Lecturing widely and sharing the stage with Chopra and other eminent medical practitioners, he presented Ayur Veda to principal medical chiefs of major hospitals and the full board of the National Health and Medical Research Council (“NHMRC”) of Australia.
He began conducting several large-scale meditation retreats with upwards of 800 participants and was the subject of a major article in The Australian Financial Review reporting on the popularity of meditation programs in governments and corporations.
In the 1990s, Thom travelled the world lecturing, teaching and consulting. He taught meditation at the highest level in the United States and Australia to captains of industry and to government bodies, as well as privately mentoring hundreds of highly influential decision makers and celebrities. His total number of personally taught students surpassed 10,000 by the mid-90s.
After moving his family from Australia to reside in Arizona, Thom chaired the board of the Museum of Northern Arizona, the state’s premier institution of native American culture, anthropology, archaeology, and geology, guiding the museum through a critical and turbulent phase of its growth and funding requirements.
In the last decade, Thom began teaching widely in the United States, bringing Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City (starting a few days after September 11th, 2001) into a continuous rotating international teaching tour that reaches Australian major cities annually. His 108-day residential teacher-training programs in India continue to provide new teachers of Vedic Meditation internationally and his annual 10-day meditation and knowledge retreats in the Indian Himalaya, have been attended by hundreds of participants from six countries studying advanced elements of Vedic wisdom.
Today, Thom continues to teach Vedic Meditation worldwide. In addition to a public client-base of tens of thousands of personally-taught students, he’s taught meditation to, and consulted to, the heads of many major Hollywood studios, several award-winning film industry leaders, two heads of state, and one Nobel Peace prize laureate.
Currently working with a stellar team of visionaries and organizers, Thom looks forward to spreading the joy of meditation to all who have the curiosity and desire to learn…
A short video about Vedic Meditation. For more video content, please click here.
Music courtesy of Rolfe Kent / The Zen Effect and Tanam Raga Aberi
Photographed by David Rodriguez, produced by Bradley Raider, directed by Jonni Pollard.