As a US Navy Seal, Troy van Beek worked for 9 years in some of the most hostile and dangerous places on Earth. His last tour of duty was in Afghanistan, where he was the lead sniper protecting the Afghan president for two years. Car and road bombs and suicide attacks were a part of his daily life.
Today, by contrast, aged 42, he lives in a charming bungalow with his girlfriend, Amy, in the idyllic town of Fairfield, Iowa, one of the safest, greenest and most peaceful communities in the USA, where over 5,000 residents practise group meditation twice daily.
Troy is now a renewable energy expert and works just as assiduously to secure our civilisation, but now his focus is on protecting us against the threat of global environmental meltdown rather than terrorism. He and Amy live completely ‘off the grid’, as do many in the neighbourhood in Fairfield, and his life’s work is to inspire others to live sustainably.
Speaking to Oprah Winfrey on an episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter exploring Transcendental Meditation and Fairfield, Troy said that the turning point for him came after he’d completed his last tour of military duty.
“I googled Enlightenment”
Troy and his partner Amy Greenfield live in a community of 27 homes that are virtually off-the-grid.
“I found myself at a crossroads. I was living two lives. I had to work very hard to be a security professional, but also the spirituality of me was really driving me as well. I realised there was a kind of split in my life. At one point, I was looking for what was out there, and I googled ‘enlightenment’ online and the town of Fairfield kept coming up.”
Fairfield – or TM town, as Oprah named it – is the centre of Maharishi University of Management, and is home to many practitioners of Transcendental Meditation and others seeking a more spiritual and green way of life.
Eleven months later Troy was visiting family in Michigan and decided to make a detour to Iowa.
“It was an amazing place. It was filled with people having conversations about their spirituality, and I realised it was a town that desired evolution and I was taken by it immediately.”
He enrolled at Maharishi University of Management and pursued a degree in Sustainability.
“Right away, as part of the curriculum, they start teaching you Transcendental Meditation and the way that comes through you, it connects you with a more holistic understanding of yourself and of how you connect with everything else. … From this I’ve been able to rest and take in a whole new world of possibilities.”
After graduating from MUM, he started the company Ideal Energy: “It is part of my attempt to be the change I wish to see in the world.
“What I was doing overseas as part of the military was, I hoped, helping but I realised I couldn’t possibly be helping by pointing guns at people. … If I wanted to see a positive peaceful change, I needed to embody that myself.”